About PEAC Institute

PEAC Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity incorporated in New Jersey. PEAC | Peace, Education, Art, Communication. PEAC is built on these four pillars. We believe education, art, and communication are the avenues which lead to peace. Through transformative educational projects, we strive to reach the most marginalized youth and use art and communication activities to help them further delve into self-expression and exploration. 

Peace Culture Village (PCV) is a PEAC campus and nonprofit organization in Hiroshima Prefecture that cultivates peace as a way of life. The devastating consequences of war are visible around the world, but even in Hiroshima, there is little discussion of how human hearts, minds, conversations, and social/economic/political systems have to change if we hope to create a culture of peace. PCV is working to fill this gap by providing hands-on, skills-based training. Because we believe that peace among humans and peace with nature are equal requirements, our training focuses on conflict resolution and environmentally sustainable living. 


The PEAC Board:

Rebecca Irby, Founding Partner & President

RebeccaIrby.jpgRebecca is a Founding Partner and Director of PEAC Institute.  Over the last ten years, Rebecca has worked as an education and technology consultant on diversity and cultural awareness initiatives with the NJ Department of Education, Rutgers University, the National Liberty Museum, Nagoya University and many others. Rebecca also sits on an advisory board working on incorporating social skills into the core program of schools in the United States. She recently completed a cross-cultural communications textbook for the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. Additionally, she created a business English communication curricula for some of the world’s largest organizations such as the Red Cross, Toyota, and Mitsubishi among others. When Rebecca is not consulting on education initiatives she works on social documentaries and charity events. She produced and debuted her first film ‘That Day’, the story of a Hiroshima bombing survivor, on August 6, 2013. For her last charity event in March 2015 she organized and rode in a 500km bike and run through the areas affected by the tsunami of 2011. She is currently working as the Dean of Special Education for BRICK Peshine Academy in Newark, NJ.

Steve Leeper, Founding Partner & Vice President 

SteveLeeper.jpgSteve is a Founding Partner & the Outreach Director of PEAC Institute. Steve has spent about half of his 67 years in Japan. He has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and has worked as a family counselor (10 years), management consultant (14 years), translator (30 years to present) and peace activist (16 years). He believes until he encounters facts to the contrary, that he has translated, edited, or interpreted more A-bomb survivor stories than anyone in the world except his wife. He began working for Mayors for Peace in 2002, which led to his appointment in 2007 as chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He stepped down in 2013 and currently is visiting professor at Hiroshima Jogakuin University, Nagasaki University, the Kyoto University of Art and Design and Omikyodaisha Gakuen (high school). His publications include Hiroshima Resolution (bilingual) and Nihon ga Sekai wo Suku(Japanese). 

Maurice Elias, Trustee

 MauriceElias.jpgMaurice J. Elias is Professor, Psychology Department, Rutgers University and Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org). He has received the Sanford McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education and the Joseph E. Zins Memorial Senior Scholar Award for Social-Emotional Learning from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Books include Emotionally Intelligent Parenting, The Educator’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom, Talking Treasure: Stories to Help Build Emotional Intelligence and Resilience in Young Children (www.researchpress.com), Schools of Social-Emotional Competence and Character (www.nprinc.com), The Other Side of the Report Card (how schools and districts can integrate SECD systematically into their ongoing student report cards--Corwin), Urban Dreams: Stories of Hope, Character, and Resilience, and forthcoming, The Joys & Oys of Parenting (Behrman House). He writes a blog on Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) at (www.edutopia.org). 

Gary Laurie, Esq., Trustee

GaryLaurie.jpgGary is an attorney located in Clifton, NJ. His practice focuses on business and contract law, corporate governance, intellectual property, and entertainment law. The majority of his clients work in the entertainment industries including film, music, television, print publishing, websites and mobile apps, visual arts, art galleries, graphic design, restaurants and other edible entertainment.
He is a Past Chair and current Board Member of the Entertainment Arts and Sports Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and a member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association. He is a frequent lecturer and teaches courses in contract, business and entertainment law at Montclair State University, as well as Music Business Law at New Jersey City University.

Juliet Sutherland, Trustee

Peace Culture Village Staff:

Ryoichi Kondo
Program Director

When Ryo was a college student he spent two weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, volunteering at a support facility for people born with disorders or mutations induced by defoliants dropped during the Vietnam War. After returning to Japan, a newfound concern for problems of poverty in developing countries led him to volunteer with several related NPOs. At the same time, he steadily realized the extent and complexity of structural and fundamental problems within his own country. Hoping to explore these topics in more depth, he quit his job at Hewlett-Packard, where he had been for 4 years, to volunteer for a year at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). At ARI, located in rural Tochigi Prefecture, trainees and volunteers live and work together while learning about rotation-style agriculture. While at ARI, Ryo felt increasingly drawn to living in community and in harmony with nature so, when he heard about PCV, he was eager to be involved.

Atsuko Yamabe
Farm Manager

Bei first visited ARI as a university student interested in international development. There, she participated in challenging farm work and livestock care, coming away with a new appreciation for what we eat and how it's grown. She visited ARI several times after that, and worked to deepen her knowledge of agriculture in developing and developed nations. After graduating from University, Bei worked for 3 years in food safety at a food coop in Tokyo. In 2015, she decided to take a 9 month break from work to train at ARI. She studied organic agriculture and lived in an international community, working with local people to spread awareness about the importance of organic, healthy farming practices. During her training, she heard Steve speak about PCV, and decided to join PCV's team after finishing.

Mary Popeo
English Program Director
Public Relations Manager

As a student at Boston College, Mary had two opportunities to visit Japan. During her trips, she conducted independent research on Hiroshima, interviewed 25 people familiar with nuclear issues, interned at the World Friendship Center, participated in the World Conference Against A & H Bombs, and helped organize the YMCA's International Youth Peace Seminar. Returning to Boston profoundly influenced, Mary began volunteering with organizations like the American Friends Service Committee and Global Zero. In 2015, she participated in the Japan Council Against A & H Bomb's annual Peace March as an international youth relay marcher, walking from Okayama to Hiroshima to spread awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons. Her dream was to move to Hiroshima, and after hearing about PCV she was determined to live there.

Elizabeth Baldwin
Public Relations Director

Elizabeth grew up in Japan during the post-war period, a child of the US occupation and Christian missionaries, which made her a lifelong student of how differing backgrounds shape people’s values, beliefs, and worldviews. She has translated documents and books from Japanese to English for 30 years. A great portion of that work was related to the atomic bombings of Japan, their short- and long-term effects, and their meaning in the world and for the future. Elizabeth is committed to PCV's development because of the urgency of the need to live in harmony with the Earth and to shift from talk to BEING the change.


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