Dick Simon is an entrepreneur, social enterprise philanthropist and catalyst for change. After September 11, 2001, Simon left the for-profit real-estate development world to co-found and chair the Peace Action Network (PAN) of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a network of over 27,000 CEOs in more than 130 countries. By convening top business leaders, senior policy makers, religious figures and other experts, PAN leverages personal and business relationships, resources, and expertise to address conflict resolution on local and global levels. Simon’s work has earned him recognitions including YPO’s Global Humanitarian, Best of the Best and New Frontier Forum Awards. In addition, Simon received the Making a Difference Award from Harvard Business School (where he received his MBA) and was one of Real Leaders Magazine‘s “100 Visionary Leaders.”
Drawing on his work with PAN facilitating communication between business leaders on opposite sides of geopolitical and religious divides, Simon launched the kNOw THEM Initiative to raise awareness about the most dangerous four-letter word in the English language, THEM, which marginalizes, dehumanizes and creates conflict. The Initiative includes print and social media campaigns and public lectures, as well as educational curricular materials.
Simon travels extensively and leads delegations of business leaders to areas that are traditionally difficult to access and understood only as adversaries in the West. When their three children were young, he and his wife took them out of school and spent a year traveling throughout the developing world in order to give them a broader perspective. Simon has photographed and gathered the stories of people on all sides of conflicts, and his photographs and personal accounts from areas such as North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Israel/Palestine have appeared in major media including the New York Times, BBC, NPR/PBS, Boston Globe and Huffington Post, as well as national galleries and museums. He speaks about his work in presentations all over the globe.
Currently, Simon has been involved with organizations pursuing FDA and European Medical Association clinical trials of psychedelic medicines as treatments for mental health issues (PTSD, depression). He is working to shift public perspective and reduce stigmatization (THEMification) related to the use of these medicines and is also working with researchers studying psychedelic treatments for a wide range of indications as well as their possible use in conflict resolution.