USIP mourns the tragic passing of Jeremy Richman, founder of the Avielle Foundation, an organization dedicated to understanding what drives violent behavior and what can be done to prevent it. An accomplished neuroscientist, Richman started the organization in honor of his daughter, Avielle, who was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
In the years since, the Avielle Foundation has been a powerful platform—and Richman an unwavering advocate—for research into the psychology of violence and trauma. In 2017, Richman’s mission led him to join USIP in Dharamshala, India, where he spent time alongside the Dalai Lama as a thought leader for USIP’s Generation Change Fellowship Program.
“Jeremy worked with boundless optimism in pursuit of a better, more peaceful world,” said USIP President Nancy Lindborg. “It was a joy to have him with us in Dharamshala, where he was genuine and kindhearted in listening to our many youth leaders’ stories. His energy and enthusiasm radiated out and touched everyone around him.”
Many in the program considered Richman a mentor, an individual who used his experiences with loss and grief to guide them through their own journeys. He believed sharing his story—and listening to others—was one of the best ways to find solidarity and solace in the face of loss, telling youth leaders, “You have to process your trauma with others who have the capacity to understand, through either common experience or common context.”
Richman also passed on the importance of compassion. In the wake of violence, the physical injuries are apparent. But for Richman and the Avielle Foundation, the mental and spiritual scars were just as important. He promoted better mental health care at the local, state, federal, and international level; using the foundation’s research to inform new policies for prevention and treatment. Richman wished to create peace and healing, both for the victims of violence and for those at risk of engaging in it.
Richman never wavered from this mission. Honoring his daughter’s memory became his life’s purpose, and as he told our youth leaders in Dharamshala, “You need purpose. Purpose is one of the critical paths to healing, and I think it’s the secret to any fulfilling life.”
USIP sends our deepest condolences to Jeremy’s family and friends and will honor his memory by continuing our shared purpose of promoting peace and healing around the world.