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John Prendergast

United States

Former director of director of African Affairs in the Clinton administration's National Security Council,e is currently Co-chair of the ENOUGH project, which brings attention to the conflicts in Darfu

More by user: esmith
Created: 9th Jul 2008
Modified: 30th Sep 2009
Professional Information
Humanitarian relief organizer

Description of Work:

For five years Prendergast was the director of African Affairs in the Clinton administration's National Security Council. Currently he is the co-chair of ENOUGH, an initiative founded by the International Crisis Group and The Center for American Progress to confront genocide and crimes aganist humanity worldwide. Prendergast personally focuses on bringing international attention to the genocide in Sudan and the atrocities of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda.

Predergast says that the inspriation to do work in Africa came to him in 1983 when he was channel surfing. He stumbled upon a Sally Struther infomercial that showed starving children in Ethipoia. Immediatley moved and outraged, Prendergast spent what little money he had to buy a plane ticket to Mali. From there he began to network and build relationships. He met and stayed with a Malian agriculture official who recognized him from Georgetown basketball courts and showed him around the country. During this first trip to Africa, Prendergast says he was left "spellbound".

While attending five colleges and universities, he worked at a volunteer project with children in Zanzibar and then in Somalia, where he worked in an orphanage. This is where he witnessed firsthand how annual US aid of hundreds and millions of dollars were used to sustain the rule of the brutal dictator Siad Barre. He realized that for many parts of Africa, the US was doing more to exacerbate existing problems than  provide solutions to them. This realization led him to study foreign policy.

Prendegast enrolled in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and American University where he studied for a masters degree in International Relations. During that time he took jobs at Human Rights Watch, the US Institute of Peace and UNICEF. In 1996 he was hired to work for the Clinton Administration. He was still at the State Department five years later when the Bush Administration came to power. At this time he started being excluded from key meetings and pushed out of the Africa team. Feeling constrained, Prendergast made the decision to leave one night and started at the International Crisis Group the next morning.

Since 2003, Prendergast has made it his personal mission to stop the genocide in Darfur. Christopher Hitchens, a journalist who had visited Africa with him said, "Every time you take your eye off the ball with Darfur there is another op-ed by John recalling your attention to it." He has also been described as, "One of those rare people who go out in the field, cut through the BS and the bureaucracy, come back and tell the truth."

Prendergast is a leader of the Save Darfur Coalition, an umbrella group of disparate human rights relief organizations that are speaking out for peace with one loud voice. The group has attained a cult status on college campuses across the United States.

He is well known and well connected among the entertainment community. Although Prendergast has received critcism for his work with Hollywood, celebrities he insists that without Hollywood's attention, saving Dafur would not make anybody's to-do list. "Celebrities are master recruiters" he says. "Now suddenly Africa is hip. That wouldn't have happened unless people like Don (Cheadle) and George (Clooney) had been talking about this crazy place half way around the world." Footage was taken on a trip to Congo he took with actress Angelina Jolie. The online travelougue appeared on the website of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. It received so many hits that the museums server crashed. An example of why he pairs up with celebrities, Prendergast said "These are situations that the main stream media and most of the world ignore." Jolie added, "I have seen how John's work helps shine light on some of the worlds worst injustices."

Prendergast has written a number of books on Africa. His most recent book was written with actor Don Cheadle titled "Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Dafur and Beyond."

He has also produced numerous broadcast pieces with advocate actors. John Prendergast held the position of Joan B. Kroc Peace Scholar at the University of San Diego, California from 28 January 2008 to 2 March 2008. During this time Prendegast gave many presentations concerning genocide and other atrocities abroad during film viewings and discussions.

Prendergast can also br credited with bringing the private sector to the cause, as he prepared an anti-genocide campaign with the founders or Timberland,eBay and Lions Gate with Bono's ONE campaign.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Prendergast http://www.enoughproject.org/node/570 http://wweek.com/editorial/3421/10754/ http://www.mensvogue.com/business/politics/feature/articles/2006/10/23/prendergast

Biographical Information
John Prendergast
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Mar/21/1963
Gender: male
Place of Origin: United States

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