PEAC Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity incorporated in New Jersey. PEAC stands for Peace, Education, Art, Communication, and is built on these four pillars. We believe that 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 explore and self-express.
Peace Culture Village (PCV) is a PEAC campus and nonprofit organization in Hiroshima Prefecture. Aside from being a Japanese nonprofit, international community, organic farm, and experiential peace training camp, PCV hosts PEAC programs where underserved youth from around the world can experience peace culture lifestyle, reflect on what peace means to them, and learn skills to bring back to their communities.
The PEAC Board:
Rebecca Irby, Founding Partner & President
Rebecca is a Founding Partner and President 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
Steve is a Founding Partner & Vice President 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
Maurice 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
Gary 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:
Steven Leeper, Executive Director
Steve has spent about half of his 69 year life in Japan as a counselor (10 years), management consultant (14 years), translator (30 years) and peace activist (18 years). He is proud to have translated, edited and interpreted more atomic bomb victim testimonies than anyone in the world, other than his wife, Elizabeth. Since 2002, he has been the New York contact person for Mayors for Peace. From 2007-2013 he was chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He was also a visiting professor a Hiroshima Girl's College and Nagasaki University. Steve has a Master's degree in clinical psychology from West Georgia University. His books include Hiroshima Resolution (in Japanese and English), Japan Saves the World - Best Scenario to Remove Nuclear Weapons, and Hiroshima: The American's Report.
Ryoichi Kondo, Program Director & Secretary
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 "Bei" Kondo, Farm Manager & Treasurer
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 Director
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.