Heidi Kuhn, Founder and CEO, Roots of Peace, was deeply inspired in September 1997 to create an organization dedicated to the eradication of landmines worldwide. With a simple toast in the living room of her home that the world may go from Mines to Vines™, a global initiative was launched from the heart of a mother of four children following the death of the late Princess Diana who catapulted the issue of landmines to the forefront of the international agenda.
Turning “ideas into reality”, Kuhn sought the support of the Napa Valley vintners to replace the scourge of landmines with the nectar of grapes in war-torn countries. Seeking to transform “seeds of terror” into “seeds of hope”, Kuhn attracted the support of legendary vintners such as Robert Mondavi, Mike Grgich, Diane Disney Miller, and over 400 California vintners—replacing the scourge of landmines with the nectar of fresh grapes, raisins or a fine bottle of wine. She envisions the “grapevine” as a symbol of hope—reminding global citizens of the seeds we have in common rather than those which separate us. The planting of a grapevine is a time-honored symbol of hope as generational wisdom reminds us that regardless of the political ideologies of our mind, the color of our hand or the faith in our hearts—a seed will grow when nurtured and cultivated. The planting of a landmine only yields a lethal harvest for generations to come. Her vision to transform “swords into plowshares” is grounded by transforming toxic minefields into bountiful fields creating sustainable economic programs for future generations.
Kuhn’s grounded vision has been recognized by the United Nations , the U.S. State Department, former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Stepan Mesic of Croatia, The First Lady of Angola Ana Paula dos Santos, The First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Vice President Al Gore, Robert Redford, Sir Ben Kingsley, and many other global dignitaries in support of her quest to “plant the roots of peace on earth.”
Heidi is a fifth generation descendent of a Marin County family, and remains true to her roots by respecting the value of the land. Her pioneer spirit inspires her to heal the wounds of war from the ground up!
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley in Political Economics of Industrial Societies, Heidi received the prestigious Cal Berkeley Alumni Award for Excellence and Achievement in 2002. At the Washington, D.C. Award Ceremony in June 2007, Heidi received the esteemed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award/ National Jefferson Award for Public Service. Prior to Roots of Peace, Heidi was awarded a Gubernatorial Appointment to the California Council of the Humanities in 1996. Additionally, in the ten years since Roots of Peace was formed, Heidi has received many other awards and recognitions on both a local and international level for her vision and work creating a humanitarian organization with a mission to build “peace from the ground up.” Awards include, the Skoll Social Entrepreneurship Award, the WANGO World Association of Non-Governmental Award for Peace & Security , The “Walk the Talk” Award from UN World Environment Day, The Rotary International “Service Above Self” Award, the Spirit of Marin Award and The Marin Women’s Hall of Fame Award. Additionally, for her dedication and leadership on the “landmine issue,” on April 30, 2007, aboard the Queen Mary 2 in New York City Harbor, Heidi Kuhn accepted a formal Proclamation from the United Nations Environment Programme, officially recognizing that “Landmines are an environmental concern.”
Prior to her work on the landmine issue, Heidi owned her own television news organization, NewsLink International, reporting for CNN and other news organizations on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the Melting of the Ice Curtain between US/Soviet relations. Raising her children in Juneau, Alaska, she earned a reputation for bridging borders for peace—reporting for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Nippon Television and other major media organizations. As a cancer survivor, she envisions the issue of landmines as a curable disease—removal.
Kuhn has been married to her husband Gary for over 35 years, and they have four children, Brooks, Tucker, Kyleigh and Christian.
Roots of Peace Tree of Life, by Heidi Kuhn
A tree was planted on a former minefield;
The trunk grew strong, as there was hope for a yield.
Branches became heavy with bouquets of fruit ;
And, thousands of farmers began to follow suit.
Millions of trees are now planted on former war-torn land;
Children are educated, as their family livelihoods expand.
Farmers now sit beneath the shade of the tree;
Roots of Peace planted a future for all to taste and see.