By Nancy Dahlberg / firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Kellner has always been a builder.
In high school he created the National Forum, a large program involving U.S. high schools pressing President Ronald Reagan and other leaders to discuss nuclear weapons on TV. After graduating from Princeton, he went to Hungary on a Fulbright scholarship and built the Environmental Management and Law Association, a still-active and respected environmental NGO in his family’s homeland. Then he was off to Russia to create a company that would clean up oil wells.
While at Princeton, Kellner met Bill Drayton, who founded and heads Ashoka, the global nonprofit network for social entrepreneurs. “I remember emerging from my first meeting with him and thinking, ‘I am going to attach myself to this guy for the rest of my life,’ ” said Kellner, who calls him his “hero, mentor and close friend.” Drayton, the Johnny Appleseed of the modern social entrepreneurship sector, and Ashoka also had a leading role in what would come next for Kellner.
After taking a leave from Harvard Business School and jumping to Yale Law School (he actually took several leaves from both universities but eventually finished both degrees), Kellner traveled with Drayton in Latin America and observed the Ashoka selection panels, where the organization selected the social entrepreneurs it would support.
There he met Linda Rottenberg, who worked with Ashoka then. They got to talking. “We had all these theories of entrepreneurship and said, ‘Let’s see if we can find the Steve Jobs of the emerging world,’ ” Kellner said.
That effort would become Endeavor, a global nonprofit that identifies and supports high-impact entrepreneurs who stimulate their economies with job growth and, in turn, give back to their communities. Borrowing heavily from the Ashoka model that Kellner had so admired, he and Rottenberg hatched their Endeavor business plan in 1996.