Jerry White

Jerry White has dedicated his life to building resilience in individuals and communities affected by violent conflict.  White lost his leg to a landmine explosion while hiking in Israel in 1984.  It is his core belief that, with the right tools, everyone can rise above trauma and give back to their communities.  His co-founding in 1995 of Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) led him to pioneering techniques in victim assistance strategies.  LSN peer support and vocational training networks grew to serve tens of thousands of amputees with home visits, job training, artificial limbs, small business grants and, as its foundation, a peer mentor who had been through the same experience to help each person on the path to recovery. 

LSN programs were the basis of White founding Survivor Corps in 2008.  This new movement built on the principles of peer support and expanded services to other kinds of conflict survivors, including U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  White’s concept of ‘survivorship’—building resilience in each individual, taking them from victim to survivor to citizen—has transformed thousands of lives.  It’s also made him one of the world’s leading experts on survivorship and resilience.  He wrote about his philosophies in Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down: Five Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis (St. Martin’s Press). 

White has over twenty years’ experience building history-making campaigns, working on large-scale change with leaders from over a hundred countries.  As Assistant Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, White co-founded and edited the Risk Report, the first open-source electronic publication tracking dual-use technology sales contributing to the spread of weapons of mass destruction.  White has led civil society efforts to develop three major international treaties: the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Cluster Munitions Treaty, and the Landmine Ban Treaty.  White shared in the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.  Most recently, White chaired the successful Campaign for a Mine-Free Israel, passing historic legislation unanimously in the Knesset that obliges Israel to clear all non-operational minefields to UN humanitarian standards. 

White has worked with people from all walks of life to promote and create comprehensive laws to protect the rights of over 650 million people worldwide.  He has sat with the poorest and most marginalized of citizens, and with celebrities, royalty and leading politicians.  His August 1997 trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina with Diana, Princess of Wales, was the event credited with putting the spotlight on the plight of hundreds of thousands of victims wounded and killed by landmines.  His subsequent work with Their Majesties King Hussein and Queen Noor resulted in Jordan becoming the first Arab country to join the Mine Ban Treaty and lead efforts to protect the human rights of survivors living with disabilities. 

White grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated magna cum laude with honors in Judaic Studies from Brown University.  He earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and an Honorary Doctorate from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.  In 2011, White began graduate studies in theology at Cambridge University in the UK, while serving as Executive Co-Chair of Abraham’s Path Initiative, dusting off the footsteps of Abraham across ten countries in the Middle East to create a platform for conflict transformation.  

As a social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow, White has helped develop next-generation leadership to transform highly contentious issues into opportunities to unify local communities and generate jobs.  White has received numerous awards for his work; testified and spoken frequently before national parliaments, the United Nations, corporate audiences; and appeared in hundreds of media interviews.  White and his wife Kelly Gammon White live in Maryland and have four children. 

Explosive Wisdom: What Landmines Teach Us About Liberation and Leadership


I had never thought much about landmines until I stepped on one in 1984, when I was twenty years old. I was camping in northern Israel with two friends and suddenly the earth exploded around me. I looked down at my shredded bloody legs in confused horror, wanting to know where my right foot had gone. Our hike had led us through an unmarked minefield left from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.