Peter Ackerman, F69, F71, FG76 longtime friend of Fletcher, passes away

Former Fletcher Board of Advisors chair worked to advance the field of dispute resolution, helped to found the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Peter Akerman portrait

Former Fletcher Board of Advisors chair worked to advance the field of dispute resolution, helped to found the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict 

The Fletcher School is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Peter Ackerman, F69, F71, FG76, A02P, F03P, longtime Fletcher Board of Advisors chair and friend of Fletcher, on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 

Mr. Ackerman held a Master of Arts, a MALD, and a PhD from Fletcher. He was a member of the Fletcher Board of Advisors from 1993-2011 (serving as chair from 1996-2011), and also served on the Tufts University Board of Trustees from 1996-2006. His leadership in the pursuit of strengthening the quality of a Fletcher education was instrumental in creating a myriad of initiatives and programs across the school.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ackerman recognized that Fletcher needed to change its strategic direction to remain competitive and to attract the next generation of students, whose interests were in conflict resolution, international business, law, and security. In his role as chair of the Board of Advisors, he worked closely with the leadership of the school on new directions for Fletcher, providing the inspiration for the Institute for Human Security (now the Henry J. Leir Institute). The institute seeks to advance human security through pioneering research, education, and policy engagement that ensures the protection, empowerment, and well-being of all people.

Among his other contributions, he played a critical role in the development of Fletcher’s Master of International Business (MIB) and its Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP).

An accomplished businessman, Peter began his career in investment banking and went on to found several companies including the online grocery retailer FreshDirect.  

Ackerman was also a series editor and principal content advisor in the television version of the 1999 Emmy-nominated film “A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict,” which chronicled the history of 20th-century civilian-based resistance. He co-authored with Jack DuVall a book of the same title. In 2002, Ackerman co-produced “Bringing Down a Dictator,” a Peabody-Award-winning documentary for PBS on the nonviolent actions that led to the resignation of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. Ackerman was a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide as well as a guest contributor to major newspapers on the topic of nonviolent political action.

Committed since his days at Fletcher to the concept of nonviolent resistance and nonviolent dispute resolution, he was a longtime supporter of the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit specializing in the study of the methods of nonviolent resistance in conflict, and later helped to found the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. 

“The Fletcher School community mourns the sudden passing of Peter Ackerman. After earning three degrees from Fletcher, Peter went on to become an active and engaged alumnus, including serving several years as Fletcher Board chair”, said Rachel Kyte, Fletcher Dean. “His commitment to the school was incalculable, and his lifelong work beyond Fletcher advancing the field of nonviolent resistance has long exemplified Fletcher's mission for a more just and peaceful world”.   

In addition to his volunteer leadership roles at Tufts, he was a trustee of Colgate University, from which he earned his undergraduate degree, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the board of the Atlantic Council. He also chaired the board of trustees of Freedom House.

Mr. Ackerman is survived by his wife, Joanne, and his sons Nate and Elliot A02, F03.