Peter Teague is Executive Director at the Breakthrough Institute, with responsibility for Breakthrough’s Energy for Development (E4D) Program. Before joining Breakthrough Institute, Peter was Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York.
Peter has over 30 years experience in the area of energy and environment. He served as the chief energy and environment advisor to US Congressman Leon Panetta, working most notably on successful legislative and other strategies to prevent offshore oil development along the California coast. He served in a similar capacity for US Senate candidate Dianne Feinstein and later for US Senator Barbara Boxer. He served as the Senator’s primary advisor on energy and environmental issues in her Washington, DC, office and in her work on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Since joining Breakthrough, Peter has travelled to Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa in order to learn more about the three billion people who rely on burning wood and dung to meet their energy needs. He also investigated the experiences of people whose countries have recently emerged from that economy. He has subsequently engaged senior officials at the United Nations, the World Bank, the White House, the US Congress, international aid agencies, and philanthropy to better understand the international community’s responses to the problem of three billion people living in poverty.
In his initial work developing E4D, Peter has focused on the significant gap between the problems and solutions observed on the ground and the responses offered by significant international leaders and institutions. He is working with partners from around the world to develop better problem definitions, frame more constructive ways of thinking about the problems, and propose policies that reflect the dynamism of a world that is rapidly urbanizing, where modern industry, cities and agriculture are key to human development, and where the risks of climate change are real and must be meaningfully addressed.
Peter’s work in philanthropy spans two decades and includes time in a senior program position with the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, three years as the Executive Director of the Horizon’s Foundation, America’s oldest and largest LGBT community foundation, and service as a consultant to the Marguerite Casey Foundation (MCF) in Seattle. Peter developed the original vision, mission, and grantmaking strategy for the $600 million philanthropic program at MCF.
At the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Peter recommended grants totaling over $60 million. He developed a track record of funding leaders and programs before they became well known, helping to create a number of important institutions including the Breakthrough Institute, Van Jones’s Green for All, the Apollo Alliance, the Blue-Green Alliance, and George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute. He was influential in introducing cognitive framing, “green jobs,” and “disruptive ideas” to the philanthropic discourse. He lead the Cummings Foundation through the only “clean-sheet” strategic planning process in its 25-year history, a process that included leading scholars, artists, political strategists, theologians, and activists and focused on the central importance of creating useful problem definitions.
Teague previously worked as a business litigator and bankruptcy attorney in San Francisco.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Harber Photography