Dr. Peter Ackerman is the Founding Chair of ICNC, and one of the world’s leading authorities on nonviolent conflict. He holds a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School, Tufts University, where he presently is the Chairman of the Board, and he is co-author of two seminal books on nonviolent resistance.
Ackerman was born in New York and graduated with a degree in political science at Colgate University. He also holds three advanced degrees from Tufts University's Fletcher School in Boston, where he wrote his thesis on Mahatma Gandhi, and how his passive resistance movement helped India win independence from England.
Peter is married to Joanne Leedom, and has two children with the journalist/novelist.
Ackerman turned to business when he took a job at Drexel Burnhan in 1973. He worked his way up to head the firm's junk-bond team, helping raise funds for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts's 1988 takeover of RJR Nabisco -- the deal at the heart of the book, Barbarians at the Gate. He took home a $165 million salary that year, the second-largest in Wall Street's history at the time, according to BusinessWeek,
The devout Christian is said to live a relatively frugal life. Ackerman is notoriously secretive, rarely granting media interviews.
But his name was tarnished when Drexel filed for bankruptcy in 1990. The firm collapsed under the weight of a huge inventory of junk bonds accumulated months before the market faded, erasing almost all their value. According to BusinessWeek, many of Ackerman's colleagues held him responsible for the mistakes that caused the bankruptcy, although he escaped charges by paying millions to settle a slew of resulting civil claims.
Ackerman brushed himself off during the 90s, when he set up private investment firms Rockport Capital, in London, and Crown Capital in the US. He is also the majority owner of web-based grocer FreshDirect, which operates in New York.
Fresh Direct has been a great success but he has seen his fair of failure, too. Peter and FreshDirect are also being sued by Rick Braddock, the group's former CEO. Peter Ackerman fired Braddock in 2011, replacing him with Jason Ackerman, the older Ackerman's nephew. Braddock told Bloomberg he received no severance after the surprise ousting and that his $6.5 million investment in the group was frozen without talk of a settlement.
Ackerman funded the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, whose founders went on to train some of the members of the Egyptian movement that took down President Hosni Mubarak last year.
He also helped set up the Albert Einstein Institution, which advises protestors how to take down dictators via peaceful protests, and co-wrote two books on non-violent action.