How We Started

Educating for Peace the Wholistic Peace Institute is a 501(c)3 non-governmental  organization of professional volunteers founded in 2001 by US Senator Mark O. Hatfield and Oregon’s senior religious leaders by Gary Alan Spanovich. Our organization was formed to bring to bear the creativity and the unique knowledge of the Nobel Peace Laureates who bring their unique and diverse perspectives coming from different genders, faiths, nationalities, ethnicity, and backgrounds. Wholistic Peace Institute is not and never has been affiliated with any religious or political group or mandate.  Consistent with our mission to stop senseless violence and killing in the world through the collective wisdom of global peacemakers, our approach to our work is based on inclusiveness and the interconnections of people from all walks of life.  We believe in the wholism and interconnection of body, mind and spirit and the possibility of ending all forms of humans killing humans through adopting the wisdom of the great peacemakers of our time.



A Letter from the Institute’s Founder, Gary Alan Spanovich



We discussed the visit of the Dalai Lama proposed for May 2001 and formed ourselves into a planning committee for his first visit. In my meditation practice which I had been teaching many years at Marylhurst University in the Religion & Philosophy Department, I heard the Still Small Voice of the Lord say to me “suggest a conference on “how to achieve world peace and invite more Nobel Peace Laureates”. Everyone liked that idea and as they left my living room, the Still Small Voice said, “Stay the course”. From that point on for the next two years I did all I could to create the conference which occurred on May 15, 2001 at Portland State University. In the process we gathered many people to this cause, such as US Senator Mark O. Hatfield; Oregon’s Senior Religious leaders, such as Rabbi Joshua Stampfer and others. We realized that the Nobel Peace Laureates of the world are our “architects of world peace”! For they have ended a war or conflict or prevented one from starting. They have displayed great creativity; great courage – a number of them were tortured or placed on death row; proposed a peaceful solution; the peace held; and they have been awarded the most prestigious peace prize in the world. The Nobel Peace Laureates at that first conference were: the Dalai Lama; Adolfo Perez Esquivel; Betty Williams; Lech Walesa; Dr. William Schulz of Amnesty; Dr. Robert Musil of Physicians for Social Responsibility.


We told the world that world peace was achievable and slowly our message was heard around the world; I became increasingly invited to attend world peace conferences all over the world, organized by various NGO’s. I delivered our message that we can achieve peace by researching, listening to and applying the peace lessons of the Nobel Peace Laureates; many people heard this message and welcomed us back. I delivered my message in so many different countries; even once at the United Nations – I also realized that there was a bubbling up of all over the world of this world peace movement. This world peace movement was bigger than me or you; it was the soul of collective humanity realizing that “was no longer feasible to end conflict” that with the existence of nuclear weapons we may all perish if they are ever again used.


This was how the Wholistic Peace Institute was born and grew: reliance on the wisdom of the Nobel Peace Laureates our greatest world peacemakers; a realization that world peace is happening all over the world; that it involves all of us; and most importantly it must involve a Wholistic Approach© one that involves: our thinking; our heart; putting our shoulder to the work; and most importantly our spirit or spiritual side.




Founder & Executive Director of the Institute has accomplished humanitarian work in India since 1992 and in 1995 built a school for street children there with Rotarian assistance. Through this work he began to do humanitarian work for 53 Tibetan Refugee camps in India. Gary has worked with five large Universities in Oregon along with a planning committee of Oregon's senior faith leaders. He has accomplished many student peace activities involving Middle, High School and College students all over Oregon. He also has worked with Oregon's Governor and First Lady, the Mayor of Portland and former US Senator Mark O. Hatfield. 


Gary directed the first World Peace Conference Portland in 2001 and the Dalai Lama came to Portland Oregon. Since then, Wholistic Peace Institute has hosted 12 Nobel Peace Laureates and presented more than a dozen major events in Oregon and an International conference in Seoul, Korea. Author and professor of peace, Gary has taught at Marylhurst University, Religion and Philosophy department and has published the Book of Gentleness, the Wholistic Approach © A decision making framework for organization leadership and Workplace Spirituality.


The Wholistic Peace Institute was born in my home in Canby, Oregon in 1999.  There were a group of us who had lunch, I remember it was fresh Columbia River Salmon and I always considered that we feasted on “fish or brain food”. It was a small group: Abbot Joseph Wood, OSB of Mt Angel Monastery and the Dean of the Seminary; Jigme Topgyal; a colleague of the Dalai Lama – 1989 Nobel Peace Prizewinner and who was in charge of the Dalai Lama’s first visit to Oregon; Fr. Tom Yurchak of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church; and my young son, Chris Spanovich.

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