John Prendergast is a human rights activist and best-selling author who has worked for peace in Africa for nearly thirty years. He is the co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity affiliated with the Center for American Progress. Prendergast has worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department, two members of Congress, the National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has been a Big Brother for over 25 years, as well as a youth counselor and a basketball coach.
Prendergast is the author or co-author of ten books. His newest book, “Unlikely Brothers,” is a dual memoir co-authored with his first little brother in the Big Brother program. His previous two books were co-authored with Don Cheadle: “Not On Our Watch,” a New York Times bestseller and NAACP non-fiction book of the year and “The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes.”
During his time in government, Prendergast was part of the facilitation team behind the successful two-year mediation led by Anthony Lake which ended the 1998-2000 war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the deadliest war in the world at the time. He was also part of peace processes for Burundi (led by Nelson Mandela), Sudan (led by Lazaro Sumbeiywo) and Congo.
Under the Enough Project umbrella, Prendergast has helped create a number of initiatives and campaigns. With George Clooney, he co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project, which aims to prevent conflict and human rights abuses through satellite imagery. With Tracy McGrady and other NBA stars, Prendergast launched the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program to fund schools in Darfurian refugee camps and create partnerships with schools in the United States. Through the Enough Project, he conceived the Raise Hope for Congo Campaign, highlighting the issue of conflict minerals that fuel the war there and supporting a more comprehensive peace process. He also helped direct the Sudan Now campaign, which supported the holding of a peaceful referendum for South Sudan. Prendergast is a board member and serves as Strategic Advisor to Not On Our Watch, the organization founded by George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt.
In 2014, Prendergast will appear in the motion picture “The Good Lie,” starring Reese Witherspoon. He is a primary subject of the forthcoming book by Jane Bussman, “A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil.” Also in 2014, he will launch his newest project on Congo with Ryan Gosling.
Prendergast has been awarded six honorary doctorates. He is or has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Yale Law School, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, American University, the University of San Diego, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, Albright College, St. Mary's College and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Prendergast has appeared in four episodes of “60 Minutes,” for which the team won an Emmy Award and helped create African characters and stories for two episodes of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” one focusing on the recruitment of child soldiers and the other on rape as a war strategy. Prendergast has also traveled to Africa with NBC’s “Dateline,” ABC’s “Nightline,” “The PBS NewsHour,” CNN’s “Inside Africa,” Newsweek/The Daily Beast and The New York Times Magazine.
He has appeared in several documentaries including: “Blood in the Mobile,” “Sand and Sorrow,” “Darfur Now,” “3 Points,” and “War Child.” He also co-produced with Martin Sheen and Melissa Fitzgerald the documentary “After Kony: Staging Hope,” which focuses on Northern Uganda. John partnered with Downtown Records and Mercer Street Records to create the compilation album “Raise Hope for Congo,” combating sexual violence against women and girls in Congo.
He has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Men's Vogue, Time, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, Oprah Magazine, Capitol File, Arrive, Interview, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Prendergast has received the following awards: The Huffington Post 2011 Game Changer Award; the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award; the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award; the Princeton University Crystal Tiger Award; the U.S. Department of State Distinguished Service Award; the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution Award; Outstanding Literary Work for Not on Our Watch at the 39th NAACP Image Awards; 12th Annual Moste Lanterns Award; Global Action Humanitarian Award; American University School of International Services Alumnus of the Year; Southern California Mediation Association Randolph Lowry Lecturer Award; Dispute Resolution Services Louis M. Brown Conflict Prevention Award; Leon H. Sullivan Foundation Special Service Award; Temple University Alumni Fellow; Kean University 2013 Human Rights Institute Award; and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.