Mercy Corps co-founder Dan O'Neill retires

United States

Last updated: June 5, 2019

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After 40 years of leadership, Dan O’Neill, Mercy Corps co-founder and global humanitarian, has retired.

At an intimate celebration in March 2019 honoring his contributions, CEO Neal Keny-Guyer said, "Dan is an incredible man and dear friend. His passion and perseverance will always be reflected in the work we do, and we are grateful for his founding vision and lifelong dedication to Mercy Corps."

For most of Dan's adult life, he pledged himself to helping those suffering around the world, first as an international humanitarian volunteer in 1972. In 1979, he co-founded the Save the Refugees Fund, an emergency relief task force assisting refugees in response to the Cambodian war and genocide.

Dan O'Neill and two children at the Mesa Grande refugee camp in El Salvador on April 22, 1982. PHOTO: Team member/Mercy Corps

A few years later, the Save the Refugees Fund officially became Mercy Corps. "It all began," Dan told us, "with a handful of committed volunteers determined to make a positive difference. Thanks to our donors we have provided $4 billion in lifesaving assistance to more than 220 million people over the last 39 years."

Over the years, Dan has logged tens of thousands of miles in the air and on land, meeting presidents, statesmen and religious leaders, visiting Mercy Corps programs and responding personally to humanitarian crises.

His mission to build a better world has led him to refugee camps in Lebanon, swamps in South Sudan, conflict zones in Africa and other places across the globe.

Dan O'Neill has spent four decades working tirelessly to make the world a better place. What began as a fund to help Cambodian refugees turned into a humanitarian organization that provides aid and support in over 40 countries. PHOTO: Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps

"Now, more than ever, we face tough challenges that can only be solved together, in partnership with communities and in service to them," Dan said early this year.

In 2006, Dan received the Mother Teresa Award, an award honoring individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting peace and social justice. Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s "GPS," stated at Mercy Corps' 2013 board dinner that the best thing Dan O'Neill has done for the world and himself, was to start Mercy Corps.

"I believe that if you connect people to the resources they need, they can strengthen their communities from within," he said.

In almost 40 years, Mercy Corps has provided support to over 220 million people with over $4 billion of support from donors worldwide.

"We could not have accomplished this work without the public's support," Dan said. You can join us to celebrate Dan and his 40 years of service. If you would like to honor Dan O’Neill’s life of service with a personal message — or make a donation to Mercy Corps in his honor — click here.