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Peter Thum

Founder, Ethos Water, Founder and CEO, Liberty United & Recognized Social Entrepreneur


He is CEO and founder of Liberty United, which recycles illegal guns from American cities into jewelry that funds programs to stop gun violence and save the lives of children growing up in neighborhoods under the constant threat of gun violence. To date these programs have funded programs helping 2,000 at-risk children across the United States. He is CEO and co-founder of Fonderie 47, a venture that transforms AK47s from Africa into rare jewelry and accessories, the sales of which fund disarmament in Africa. It has destroyed over 55,000 assault rifles in African conflict zones.

Thum previously founded and was president of Ethos Water, which was acquired by Starbucks. Thum served as Vice President of Starbucks where he ran several businesses for the company. Ethos has donated over $13.8 million to fund water access for over half a million people around the world.

Thum is the founder and president of the non-profit Giving Water, which has helped over 6,000 schoolchildren in Africa get water and sanitation access.

Thum was recognized in 2013 by Vanity Fair, as one of the top 50 Philanthropists in the US. He received the Writing Wrongs Award at Basel World in 2013.

Levi Strauss, UBS and AT Cross have featured Thum’s work and personal story in their advertising and marketing campaigns. He speaks regularly about entrepreneurship, corporate responsibility, and how to change the world.

Prior to starting his first venture, Peter worked at McKinsey & Company and E&J Gallo Winery. He holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA from Claremont McKenna College. After the fall of the Berlin wall, Peter moved to Berlin and lived in Europe for most of his twenties and early thirties. Peter was captain of his college football team. He is an Eagle Scout. He was raised in Southern California, where most of his family still lives.

Thum is an adviser to FEED Projects and formerly served as a Board Director of: The Fund For Global Human Rights; USA for UNHCR, The Starbucks Foundation, and; The Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College.

He lives in New York City with his wife, actress Cara Buono, and their daughter.


Leading Forward: Social Responsibility in the Corporate World

As corporations play an ever-expanding role in our lives, it is now more imperative than ever before that they take the steps necessary to improve the lives of their employees, their consumers, their communities and of society at large. A dedicated social entrepreneur who has successfully established businesses that are driven by a social mission of helping those in need, Peter Thum delivers lessons on the importance of corporate social responsibility from which any organization can learn and benefit. From ethical branding and leveraging philanthropy, to emboldening a corporate message, to building a culture where giving back is a standard operating procedure, Thum helps companies of all sizes to understand the steps they need to complete to put social responsibility at the core of their mission and performance.

Are You Seeking Out Deeply Moving Experiences?

Countries all over the world are experiencing a water crisis. Millions of people in developing countries lack clean and safe drinking water. As the founder of Ethos™ Water, Peter Thum turned his idea of getting clean water to children into a successful social venture that has changed an industry, generated millions of dollars and changed lives. Thum talks through his eight-year odyssey starting in the townships of South Africa, to brokering an acquisition by Starbucks, and finally running Ethos today as an international brand and social movement. Thum’s story is one of passion, perseverance and success. His story motivates people to dream big and turn thoughts into action. He takes audiences on a tour of the world and shares the importance of addressing the world water crisis, how to build a brand from the ground up and the personal upside of working toward the common good.

Successful Social Entrepreneurs

Peter Thum discusses his work since 2009 to reduce the impact of assault rifles in Africa and to reduce gun violence in the U.S.A. He tells the story of starting the brands Fonderie 47 and Liberty United, which transform illegal guns and bullets into high-end jewelry, watches and other accessories. His companies have funded the removal and destruction of over 45,000 assault rifles in Africa and funded not for profits working to reduce gun violence and helping provide at-risk children opportunities to learn and play safely in America’s most dangerous communities.

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