José Ramos-Horta. Chairman
Before winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, Dr. José Ramos-Horta was known internationally as a peacemaker. In exile from his country for the better part of three decades, he had been the international voice of the Timorese people while they fought for survival against the occupation of their island by Indonesian forces — an occupation that would prove to be one of the most brutal regimes of our time.
One third of the Timorese population perished under the occupation — a tragedy largely ignored by the West.
In exile for the entire occupation, from 1975 to 1999, José Ramos-Horta built a human rights network to defend the rights of the Timorese, and kept the story of his people’s struggle and their suffering alive. In 1996, he and Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor.”
His work paid off when East Timor (now renamed Timor-Leste) achieved its independence and in 2002 became the first new democracy of the millennium. Maintaining the country’s international relations, Ramos-Horta served as Senior Minister and Foreign Minister of the new democracy.
In 2006 Timor-Leste erupted in civil conflict from a renegade military unit, forcing 150,000 from their homes. Ramos-Horta was asked to step in as the country’s Prime Minister. When he did, peace immediately began to return to the country and the citizens began returning to their homes. As President of the country in 2008, he survived an assassination attempt, putting an end once and for all to the young democracy’s civil conflict. The country has remained at peace.
In 2013, Ramos-Horta was asked by the UN Secretary General to head a UN Mission in Guinea Bissau, a small African nation that was under military coup at the time. He brought Guinea Bissau through two peaceful elections and restored democracy in the country.
He is currently Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Peace Operations and is completing a global project for the Secretary-General: a worldwide review of the UN Peacekeeping and Mediation efforts with the goal of making the UN “peace and security architecture” more efficient in preventing and revolving conflicts. He will be presenting the report to the Secretary General in late May.
more information: http://ramoshorta.com
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Human Rights Advisor.
For decades of racial struggle in South Africa, Desmond Tutu was the international voice for equality. Today he is one of the world’s prominent voices for human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.
In 1948, when Tutu was 17 years old, the National Party won control of the government and codified the nation’s long-present segregation and inequality into the official policy of apartheid. In 1953, the government passed the Bantu Education Act, a law that lowered the standards of education for black South Africans to ensure that they only learned what was necessary for a life of servitude. The government spent one-tenth as much money on the education of a black student as on the education of a white one. Tutu, a school teacher at the time, and no longer willing to participate in an educational system explicitly designed to promote inequality, quit teaching in 1957 and began his study of theology.
He quickly international prominence in the international religious community when he became the first black person to be appointed the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975. In 1976 he was appointed Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978, the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches.
Tutu continued to use his position in the South African religious hierarchy to advocate for an end to apartheid. In 1976, he fervently protested the South Africa government’s use of Afrikaans as the compulsory language of instruction in black schools. He supported an economic boycott of his country and with a gift for oratory and skillful use of media, became the prominent voice in the movement to divest from South African countries in protest of the country’s apartheid policies. The divestment movement is largely credited with toppling the apartheid policies.
Archibishop Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
While his opposition to apartheid was vigorous and unequivocal, Tutu consistently advocated reconciliation between all parties involved in apartheid. After the fall of apartheid he was named by Mandela to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, bringing the victims and perpetrators of atrocities under apartheid together for reconciliation a crucial step in South Africa’s non-violent transition to democracy and an often used model for international peace building.
Today he campaigns to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Mary Wald, Founder and President
Before entering the Internet arena Mary worked in marketing, promotions and public relations for the publishing and graphic design industries in California. She directed promotional and marketing campaigns for four New York Times best sellers and acted as Account Executive and/or Art Director on promotional projects for clients that have included Pepsi, Sprint, Warner Records, and more.
Over 15 years, while running Silverado Trail Media, a web design and Internet strategy firm in Northern California, she has served in numerous PR, editorial and and web strategy functions for Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta.
Mary has launched actions and campaigns involving 27 Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, AP and more. She was a partner in the annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome for five years.
more information: http://marywald.com
Bonnie Abaunza, Board Member and Advisor
Bonnie founded and ran the Artists for Amnesty International program, activating the entertainment community, from 2001 to 2007.
She served as Vice President, Social Action and Advocacy at Participant Media for two and a half years, developing and executing social action campaigns to promote the documentaries and feature films produced by Participant Media, and served as Director of Philanthropy for Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer.
She has worked closely with thecommunity.com and has been an integral part of our activities since 2001.
more information: http://abaunzagroup.com
Jesse Kornbluth, Board Member and Editorial Director
New York based writer Jesse Kornbluth has been a Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Architectural Digest, and a contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times.
In l996, he co-founded Bookreporter.com. From 1997 to 2002, Jesse was Editorial Director of America Online.
He currently writes and edits Head Butler, a cultural concierge site he created in 2004. His books include Airborne: The Triumph and Struggle of Michael Jordan; Highly Confident: The Crime and Punishment of Michael Milken; Pre-Pop Warhol; The Other Guy Blinked (with Roger Enrico); and Notes from the New Underground. He has written numerous screenplays and, for a decade, taught screenwriting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Larissa Peltola, Youth Ambassador
18-year-old Larissa Peltola is a human rights journalist and advocate. She attends Claremont McKenna College in the fall of 2014 where she is majoring in International Relations with a concentration in genocide, holocaust, and Human rights studies. The daughter of an Amnesty International executive, Larissa has been TheCommunity.com’s Youth Ambassador since she was in 7th grade, interviewing Nobel laureates, attending the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and activating other young people in the causes of the Nobel laureates.
Michael Collopy, Director of Photography
Michael Collopy is one of the preeminent portrait photographers of our time and has gained worldwide recognition for his commissioned portraits of hundreds of public figures. His portfolio includes a vast array of portraits from world leaders such as Pope John Paul ll, Mikhail Gorbachev and 5 U.S. Presidents, and many others.
Michael traveled with Mother Teresa for more than 10 years, resulting in “Works of Love are Works of Peace,” a critically acclaimed coffee table book that has sold more than 100,000 copies and was selected as one of the top coffee table books of 1996 by USA Today. This was followed by Architects of Peace, which profiles 75 peacemakers, and formed the base for his Architects of Peace Foundation.