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Center for Professional Development
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Dartmouth College
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Alumni Stories: Duane Peterson '78

Chief of Stuff


Everyone at Dartmouth knows Ben and Jerry's, but what most people don't know is that a Dartmouth alumnus is the right-hand man to "Ben" of this world-famous dessert duo.

Duane Peterson '78 is Ben's Chief of Stuff. He began his post in 1996, helping the creative ice cream magnate implement his vision for values-led business and non-profit activism.

They were unsuccessful in preventing the sale of the business in 2000, however, and since then Ben and Duane have focused their energies on starting new businesses and pioneering on-line citizen activism through an organization they started called

Over 300,000 people joined the effort during the first year and have sent their Congressmembers 2 million communications -- uniting the power of personal computers and people's yearning for meaningful activism.

Duane's path to the world's most famous ice cream entrepreneur has been anything but typical.

A government major originally from the Los Angeles area, Duane rose through the ranks at The Dartmouth newspaper to Editorial Page Editor, served as a firefighter with the Hanover Fire Department and was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity and the Green Key Society while in Hanover.

After graduation, he began work as the foreign and defense policy analyst for the campaign of Paul Tsongas for U.S. Senate. He then worked as a regional organizer for the Kennedy presidential campaign, and as research director for the Tom Bradley For Governor campaign.

Duane was also the Press Secretary to the California Attorney General for seven years. In 1990, he became Press Secretary for both the Van de Kamp For Governor campaign and the Big Green Initiative.

Duane's political experience led him to a position on Tom Hayden's successful campaigns for State Senate where he served as Chief of Staff to Hayden and chaired the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

Duane has been active in numerous community service projects as well. Since 1990, he has been the president of the Sacramento Valley Toxics Campaign Board, organizing the community to phase out rice field burning, end rice pesticide contamination of the Sacramento River and ban a $2 million polluting industrial plant on the river. In addition, he exposed and limited the practice of defense contractors billing taxpayers for cleaning up their toxic messes and passed the nation's toughest home lead exposure bill.

Despite his already busy schedule, he made time to serve on the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, an urban job corps that restores the environment, from 1985-90 as a board alternate. From 1981-90, he also served as a weekend police officer on patrol in Watts for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Duane jokes that he's now on his sixth career.

His current job description combines together his background in legislation, social policy issues, community service, public relations and campaigning.

Duane's partnership with Ben perfectly blends all of his interests and experiences together and the resulting concoction couldn't be any sweeter.

Last Updated: 6/21/12