Elevating Impact Stories: Eric Dawson
Leading up to the Elevating Impact Summit on June 21, we’ve invited event speakers and panelists to engage in a storytelling project. We believe that storytelling is an essential part of effective social innovation. How can we tell stories in a way that generates interest and creates connections? How can we listen to the stories of others with the empathy needed to achieve true understanding? We hope that by sharing stories of failure, transformation and success, you’ll learn more about our speakers and the promise and challenges of social innovation.
Eric Dawson answers the question, “What are your hopes for the future?” with a story about the importance of combining direct service with advocacy, and the power of small choices:
“I’m really hopeful about this new way of doing work, this blended model of advocacy and service, of mobilizing people for change but also living and doing that work for change yourself.”
Eric Dawson is the co-founder and President of Peace First, an organization he helped launch when he was just 18. Peace First works on the twin challenges of youth violence and disengagement by preparing young children with the skills to be peacemakers. For over two decades, Peace First has successfully taught the critical skills of peacemaking (conflict resolution and civic engagement skills) to young people ages 3–14, providing training in 32 states and 23 countries. With extremely promising data (a 60% decrease in disruptive incidences at schools, 81% of students reporting they can walk away from a fight), the organization is exponentially increasing its reach and impact. Most recently, Peace First has launched the Peace First Prize, modeled as a “Nobel Peace Prize” for young people, to celebrate youth peacemaking across the country.
A native of the Midwest, Eric was lured away by a college scholarship to Harvard where he stayed on to get his M.Ed in Human Development Psychology and an MDiv, focused on pastoral care and counseling. He is an Ashoka, Echoing Green, and Pop!Tech Fellow. Besides the odd jobs of bartending, electron microscopy, regional TV commercials, and serving as the driver for the author of Curious George, Eric got his professional start directing a summer camp in Boston’s public housing complexes and doing organizing around disability awareness. He currently lives in Boston, MA with his wife and three children.
Eric Dawson will keynote the Elevating Impact Summit on June 21.