Notre Dame College Offers Free Lecture by Global Advocate Working with Celebrity Activists

Notre Dame College welcomes an international human rights activist who is working with Hollywood celebrities and NBA stars for peace and justice, particularly in Africa, as its Abrahamic Distinguished Lecturer for 2017.

John Prendergast, founding director of The Enough Project, an international movement to end mass atrocities, political corruption and commercial criminality in African nations, will present Notre Dame’s Abrahamic Distinguished Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 16, in Regina Auditorium on the College campus. He will discuss "10 Building Blocks for Making a Difference in the World and in Your Neighborhood." The event is free and open to the public.

Prendergast also will provide the keynote address at Notre Dame’s 2017 InnerCitySaints Award luncheon at noon Thursday, November 16, at the Tudor Arms Double Tree Hotel at University Circle in Cleveland. The award, established to honor local unsung heroes who are making a difference in the Northeast Ohio community, will be presented to the Rev. James P. “Jim” O'Donnell this year. Proceeds of the InnerCity Saints event benefit the Notre Dame Caring Hearts Fund.

Former director for African affairs of the White House National Security Council, Prendergast has spent more than 30 years working alongside people in Africa, among government officials and now with cultural icons around the world to end genocide and crimes against humanity.

In addition to traditional efforts involving research, education and public policy reform, Prendergast is known for innovative applications of media and technology, engagement of financial forensic investigators and commitments to empowering those who are victims of war, poverty, famine and rights violations.

Celebrity Partners

Prendergast serves as executive director of Not On Our Watch, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization founded by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney and Don Cheadle. The group targets mass media as well as global policymakers to bring attention to international crises and aid people who are marginalized and displaced around the world, particularly in Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe.

With Clooney, Prendergast is co-founder of The Sentry, a new initiative of Not On Our Watch to investigate and track assets of international war criminals and their facilitators especially in Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and the Central African Republic. The Sentry builds on the Satellite Sentinel Project, previously co-founded by Prendergast and Clooney, which used satellite imagery to draw attention and urge response to human rights and security concerns in Sudan.

Through the Enough Project, Prendergast also has teamed with Tracy McGrady and other NBA professionals to launch the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, which educated and engaged students in the United States to help empower children by supporting primary schools in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Popular Media

Prendergast not only works with celebrities behind the scenes but also in the spotlight. He appears with Reese Witherspoon in the “The Good Lie.” The 2014 motion picture by Warner Brothers is inspired by the true tale of Sudanese refugees who resettle in America. 

With Martin Sheen, Prendergast co-produced the documentary After Kony: Staging Hope, which focuses on Northern Uganda. He is featured in several documentaries, too: Merci Congo, When Elephants Fight, Blood in the Mobile, Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points, Son of South Sudan and War Child.

Prendergast has been featured on numerous television news shows, including multiple Emmy Award-winning episodes of 60 Minutes. He traveled to Africa with NBC’s Dateline, ABC’s Nightline, The PBS NewsHour and CNN’s Inside Africa. He also has contributed to storylines about the recruitment of child soldiers and rape as a war strategy and helped create African characters for episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

His activist efforts cross over into the music industry, as well. Prendergast contributed to the Downtown Records and Mercer Street Records compilation album “Raise Hope for Congo,” to create awareness and generate funds in opposition of sexual violence against women and girls in Africa.

He has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Men's Vogue, Time, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, Oprah Magazine and Newsweek/The Daily Beast and is featured in the book “A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil: Charities, Hollywood, Joseph Kony and Other Abominations” by humorist Jane Bussman. Bussman is inspired to leave her career as a celebrity gossip columnist to follow Prendergast to Uganda where she witnesses attacks on schools and military interference in peace processes.

Published Author

Prendergast is not just the subject of publications but also author or co-author of 10 books. He and his Not On Our Watch co-founder Cheadle co-wrote the publication Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond (2007), which was a New York Times bestseller and won an award for best nonfiction from the NAACP. The pair also penned The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes (2010). Additionally, Prendergast is collaborating with actor Ryan Gosling on a book project about the Congo.

His most recent book Unlikely Brothers: Our Story of Adventure, Loss and Redemption is co-authored by Michael Mattocks. Prendergast served as mentor to Mattocks in the Big Brother program. Their joint memoir chronicles their dual journeys. Mattocks, who grew up homeless, became a drug and gun kingpin in Washington D.C., while Prendergast worked with Congress and the White House. The book is the featured selection to be discussed in the November meeting of the College’s Books that Change the World seminar.

Public Service

Prendergast has worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department and multiple members of Congress. During his time in government, he helped facilitate the end of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, aided in peace talks for Burundi with President Nelson Mandela and worked to resolve armed conflicts in Sudan and Congo.

He has served with the U.S. National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and U.S. Institute of Peace. 

With the Enough Project, Prendergast has contributed to numerous missions. Programs range from addressing conflict minerals and aiding in peace processes in Congo to promoting a peaceful referendum in South Sudan. 

He has been a big brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program for three decades, as well as a youth counselor and basketball coach.

Academic Credentials

Prendergast has worked as a visiting professor at Stanford University, Yale Law School, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Claremont McKenna College, Kean University, American University, American University in Cairo, the University of San Diego, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, Albright College, St. Mary's College, the University of Massachusetts and Eckerd College.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Temple University and a master’s in international development from American University in Washington, D.C. He has been awarded seven honorary doctorates.

Honors and Awards

Throughout his career, Prendergast has been recognized with a myriad of honors. A few are the United Nations Correspondents Association Global Citizen of the World Award, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award, the U.S. Department of State Distinguished Service Award and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, the Global Action Humanitarian Award, the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution Award and the Champion of Human Life Award from The Values Network.

October 2017


About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or


October 23
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