Eric K. Ward
Western States Center
A national expert on the relationship between hate violence and preserving democratic institutions, governance, and inclusive societies, Eric brings nearly 30 years of expertise in community organizing and philanthropy to his role as Western States Center’s Executive Director.
Originally from Los Angeles, Eric began his civil rights work when the white nationalist movement was engaged in violent paramilitary activity that sought to undermine democratic governance in the Pacific Northwest. Eric founded and directed a community project to expose and counter hate groups and respond to bigoted violence with the Community Alliance of Lane County (1990–1994). With the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment (1994-2002).
Eric worked with government leaders, civil rights campaigners, business leaders, and law enforcement officials to establish over 120 task forces in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. As one of a handful of prominent leaders of color working to counter this new manifestation of organized hate, Eric successfully encouraged some violent neo-Nazi leaders to renounce racism and violence. Joining the Center for New Community as National Field Director (2003-2011), Eric assisted immigrant rights advocates in addressing the growing influence of xenophobia on public policy.
As Program Executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies’ U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme (2011-2014), Eric led grantmaking in immigration and national security and rights. Eric’s grantmaking as a Ford Foundation Program Officer (2014-2017) supported efforts to combat inequality. Eric has consulted extensively with philanthropic institutions across the country including the Open Society Foundation, and co-founded Funders For Justice (a project of the Neighborhood Funders Group). Eric has volunteered with numerous philanthropic and community-based organizations and is currently on the boards of The Proteus Fund and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), a nonprofit agency that provides artists with strategy and support for their activism and philanthropy.
A contributor to the Progressive Media Project from 2008-2014, Eric has been quoted and cited extensively by national media and is the editor of three published works: Conspiracies: Real Grievances, Paranoia and Mass Movements; Second Civil War: States’ Rights, Sovereignty; and Power of the County and American Armageddon: Religion, Revolution and the Right.