Marty Krasney is an educator and "peripheral visionary" who is the founding Executive Director of the Dalai Lama Fellows
, a global community of mindful, compassionate, and ethical social innovators, established in 2010. Marty was asked in 2008 to conduct a feasibility study for the creation of an international fellowship, in the name of the 14th Dalai Lama, dedicated to developing and supporting young leaders guided by universal ethical values. In 2010, he was invited to make operational a fellowship program that now supports selected young leaders to create yearlong, mentored "compassion-in-action" projects, while guided and coached through a distinctive "head, heart and hands" curriculum that focuses on three core competencies: attaining self-knowledge, working across differences, and designing ethical systems. At the conclusion of their Project Year, young fellows become Lifelong Fellows, joining a global learning community intended to serve them as a continuing support system and point of reference. Projects address major, interconnected global challenges including poverty, violence, gender inequities, cross-cultural antagonisms, health, education, and the environment. To date, there have been nearly 90 Fellows worldwide drawn form 30 nationalities; more than half of the Dalai Lama Fellows are women.
"Our mission is to build a world that works for all of us," Marty says, "because we believe that it is increasingly evident that it otherwise won't work for any of us. We are dedicated to forging a new cadre of authentic and reflective leaders, driven by mutuality rather than a dedication to growth and profits." To accelerate that process, DLF Labs was instituted in 2014 to offer elements of Dalai Lama Fellows' curriculum, culture, and community beyond the intimate circle of the Fellowship to academic, corporate, and philanthropic audiences and the public at large, through publications, social media, workshops, and partnerships.
Though Marty is severely nearsighted, he sees things differently. "My visual condition is that I don’t have the full load of rods and cones at the front of my eye," Marty says
. "So, at some level, I see straight ahead about as well as most people see out of the corner of their eyes. About twenty years ago, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson wrote a book called Peripheral Visions,
partly about how the reality that what you only glimpse can sometimes be more important than what you see straight ahead. From it, I've derived the concept the idea of peripheral visionary. And I have a friend who teaches at the Mind and Brain Center at UC Davis, who said to me, 'You know the reason that you think outside the box is because you can’t see what’s inside the ... damn box.'" "Sometimes, what we notice out of the corner of our eyes," Marty says, "is what we ought to pursue, rather than what seems to be right in front of us and obvious, but which can occlude what is behind it."
Marty himself has heeded these words, as his career has involved the serial co-creation of opportunities in which he believed and to which he could commit himself wholeheartedly. "In forty-five years of worklife, I have been extraordinarily fortunate in never having had a position in which I had a predecessor." A sometimes fiction writer who revels in insights from history, poetry, philosophy, he served as the first director of the famed Aspen Institute Seminar Program
, which promotes values-based leadership among corporate executives and leaders from other sectors through text-based discussions, initially derived from the University of Chicago's Great Books curriculum. His other prior work in the not-for-profit sector includes having served as Program Director of the National Humanities Series, founding president of American Leadership Forum and executive director of The Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center. His corporate employment includes directing public affairs for Levi Strauss & Co. and managing executive development at ARCO.
Marty graduated with honors from Princeton University, pursued graduate work in English Literature at the University of Michigan and in Communications at Stanford, and earned an MBA from Harvard. He just completed eight years as treasurer of the Compton Foundation and is currently Vice President of Commonweal and a member of the boards of the Butler Koshland Fellowships, Cutting Ball Theater and Heyday. He serves on the Executive Committee of Human Rights Watch's California Committee North and the Advisory Boards of the Regeneration Project and the Sausalito Library Foundation. As a writer, he has had short stories and poetry published in American and British literary journals, has completed a novel, and edited six volumes of the Aspen Institute Readings and The People's Treaties from the 1992 Earth Forum in Rio de Janeiro.
Marty and his wife Pamela Krasney, a criminal justice activist, have lived in Sausalito, California, for thirty years. They have a daughter and son, and two grandsons.