Lewis M. Randa
Founder/Director of The Peace Abbey
Lewis Randa is a Quaker, pacifist, vegan, educator and social change activist. He is the founder and director of The Life Experience School for children with disabilities (1972); The Peace Abbey, an Interfaith Center for the study and practice of Nonviolence and Pacifism (1988); The Special Peace Corps., an organization that provides community service programs for adults with mental challenges (1990); The Courage of Conscience Award, an international peace award for nonviolent contributions to peace and justice (1991); The National Registry for Conscientious Objection, a register for people of all ages to publicly state their refusal to participate in armed conflict (1992); The Pacifist Memorial, a national Monument honoring pacifists throughout history (1994); The Veganpeace Animal Sanctuary, a safe haven for animals that have escaped from slaughterhouses following the rescue of Emily the Cow (1995); Stonewalk, a global peace walk that involves physically pulling a two-ton memorial stone for Unknown Civilians Killed in War (Documentary shown on PBS) (1999 – 2005); Citycare, an empowerment program for the homeless (2000); R.A.T.C., the college-based Reserve Activist Training Corps; and The Lavender House, a Group Home for adults with disabilities (2002).
Since his discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector in 1971, Lewis has devoted his life to creating innovative models for social change through programs that change the way meaning is produced in society. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, he received a B.S. from the University of Iowa in 1969, where he helped to coordinate the 1968 presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He received an M.A. in Social Change from Goddard College in 1971 with a specialization in Alternative Education for the Disabled.
Before establishing The Life Experience School at the age of 24, Lewis directed the Therapeutic Activities Department at the Kennedy Memorial Childrens Hospital in Boston (69-70). He was hired as a house parent at one of the first group homes for adults with a diagnosis of mental retardation in Massachusetts as part of the state de-institutionalization mandate (1971) while maintaining a teaching position in a special education classroom at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Dorchester, MA (1970-71). He also served on the faculty at Lincoln College of Northeastern University (1972-77).
Lewis has traveled extensively on peace-related projects in Central America (El Salvador, Nicaragua & Guatemala), in Europe (Northern Ireland, England, Italy), in India, and in the former Yugoslavia. He maintains an affiliation with the UN University of Peace in Costa Rica, the Department of Religious Life at Wellesley College and supervises graduate interns at The Peace Abbey from Harvard Divinity School, Boston University and Andover-Newton Theological School. Lewis is also the founding Peace Chaplain, an interfaith pastoral role within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, headquartered at The Peace Abbey.
Lewis has written and spoken on a broad range of issues in the fields of education, peace and social justice, nonviolence and pacifism, interfaith dialogue and disability rights. He was honored with a Resolution from the Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the 20th anniversary of The Life Experience School, received the Person of Peace Award (with Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop) in 2001 at the 16th International Peace Day in Santa Fe, New Mexico was recognized with the Massachusetts Doctors Group Humanitarian Award, received the Champion of Peace Award from Salem State University in 2011 and the 2012 Humanitarian Award from the Boston Theological Institute. In addition to consulting on numerous boards of non-profit organizations, he is a Commonwealth Justice of the Peace.
Lewis lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts with his wife Meg (with whom he operates the educational programs of the Life Experience School) They have three grown children: Christopher, Michael and Abbey.
Dan grew up in the Chicago area, and has degrees in Anthropology (BA) and Education (MST) from the University of Chicago. He has taught students from preschool to graduate students, and has homeschooled his own children. Dan is a Vietnam-era Conscientious Objector, has been a vegetarian for almost forty years, and vegan for about eight years.
Dan was commissioned a Peace Chaplain in September, 2005, in the words of Lewis Randa, “in recognition of his long unofficial service as Peace Chaplain to the Peace Abbey community.” He especially enjoys helping couples envision a wedding ceremony that reflects their unique relationship and values. Dan is an active member of the Abbey community. His contributions include planning, political actions, musical events, website maintenance, hosting, and assisting with ongoing operations.
Dan plays a variety of folk instruments in several bands that perform at the Abbey’s Coffeehouse, and enjoys walks in the woods. He lives in Natick, MA with his wife, Carol, a women’s health advocate, and his teen son, Jonah. Daughter Leah attends Smith College.
You can meet Dan most Sunday mornings at the Abbey’s Pacifist Meditation Service.
SPED Coordinator, Teacher / Special Peace Corps
The joy, vitality and creativity that has come to characterize the Life Experience School require the involvement of everyone, but especially Meg who for 3 decades awakens each morning with her husband Lewis to co-create the dream of a place we call the Life Experience School. With the care a mother bear gives her cubs, Meg looks after everyone as though they were family. And rarely seen without the School’s mascots, Journey the Golden Retriever and Chester the Collie, Meg’s love of animals is ever present. Like her daughter Abbey, her love of horses has created the School’s equestrian program which is centered at August Farm in Holliston where Cupid our pony lives. Meg is the touchstone for parents and state agencies as she and Ruthanne work collaboratively to meet the ever-changing needs of each person and animal at the School and Abbey. She is, as everyone would agree, the heart and soul of the place as she has devoted well over half her life to keeping the dream alive with a level of devotion and love that serves as a halo around the place.