Executive Director of the Giraffe Heroes Project and former US diplomat, speaks on courage, service, and living a meaningful life.

John Graham

Executive Director of the Giraffe Heroes Project and former US diplomat speaks on courage and service.

John Graham shipped out on a freighter when he was sixteen, took part in the first ascent of Mt. McKinley's North Wall at twenty, and hitchhiked around the world at twenty-two.

A Foreign Service Officer for fifteen years, he was in the middle of the revolution in Libya and the war in Vietnam. For three years in the mid-seventies he was a member of NATO's top-secret Nuclear Planning Group, then served as a foreign policy advisor to Senator John Glenn. As an assistant to Ambassador Andrew Young at the United Nations, he was deeply involved in U.S. initiatives in Southern Africa, South Asia and Cuba.

Graham's first job upon leaving the Foreign Service in 1980 was lecturing aboard a luxury cruise ship. 140 miles out into the Gulf of Alaska, the Prinsendam caught fire and began to sink. His lifeboat lost in a violent storm, Graham was finally pulled to safety, and to a new sense of what his life was about.

He began by creating a series of lectures and workshops on creating political and social change. In 1983, these merged with the Giraffe Project, a national program inspiring people to stick their necks out for the common good. The Project finds ordinary people acting with extraordinary courage on a broad range of important issues-then tells their stories to millions of others through the media, and in schools.

Graham, now the Project's Executive Director, is a familiar keynote speaker on themes of leadership, courage, meaning and service. He has done TV and radio all over the world and articles about him have appeared in major magazines and newspapers. His work in mediating conflict has brought him eye-to-eye with, among others, leaders of apartheid and of the Khmer Rouge.

Graham is the author of Outdoor Leadership; It's Up to Us (a mentoring book for teens) and The Giraffe Project Handbook: A Guide to Effective Community Service and Social Action.

He has a degree in geology from Harvard and one in engineering from Stanford, neither of which he ever expects to use.