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Daniel F. Wilhelm, President of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

Daniel F. Wilhelm, President of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, on creating knowledge against violence.

The President of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Daniel F. Wilhelm, explains why it’s important to create and disseminate knowledge against violence.

At the Foundation, they support research across all forms of violence, including war, crime, and human aggression, with the aim of understanding the causes of violence, how it manifests itself and how to control it. They inform policymakers and practitioners, and drive public discourse.

We get insight into their various partnerships, including the work they’re doing with the MacArthur Foundation and others on the Global Innovations on Youth Violence, Safety and Justice initiative, which seeks to tackle youth violence and promote youth safety and criminal justice reform.

We discuss specific areas of research, such as the implications of adolescence and brain development, where young persons aged 18 to 24 are legally adults but may not physically be fully developed adults just yet. The brain is physically developing until the age of 24 and consequently young persons are more involved in the commission of crimes and acts of violence than older adults. From a policy perspective, this begs the question: how do you deal with this cohort of young persons whose brains are still developing, who are more likely to commit crimes and who are different than older adults?

We also hear about the funding the Foundation provides researchers across different phases of their careers, from identifying up-and-coming ‘emerging scholars’ (junior researchers who are PhD candidates focused on violence) to supporting established academics via their ‘distinguished scholars’ program, and their ‘African Fellows’ initiative focused on those academics who are conducting research on violence at African universities.

This episode provides a fascinating look into the world of knowledge-creation to tackle violence.

About Daniel F. Wilhelm

Daniel F. Wilhelm is President of The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, a leader in examining enduring and urgent problems of violence, such as war, crime, and human aggression. Through basic and applied research, the Foundation aims to understand the causes, manifestation, and control of violence in the United States and across the globe.

Under Daniel’s leadership, the Foundation has increased its focus on research to inform policy and practice while maintaining its commitment to the highest standards of scholarship. The Foundation awards competitive research grants and fellowships, conducts and commissions original research, publishes reports, and hosts conferences, research seminars, and public conversations on topics of violence, often in collaboration with peers in academia, philanthropy, and civil society.

The Foundation has strengthened its international activities through support of place-based research on Africa, Asia and Latin America, and the investigation of transnational issues such as terrorism, migration, and genocide. The Foundation has fortified its program for African Fellows, increased partnerships with non-U.S. universities, and invested in global exchanges.

Prior to his appointment in 2017, Daniel served for 14 years at the Vera Institute of Justice, a nongovernmental organization working to improve systems of justice. As Vice President and Chief Program Officer, he was responsible for developing and overseeing the institute’s programmatic efforts, including those on immigration, racial justice, mass incarceration, and crime victimization. He also supervised Vera’s Washington, D.C., office and its communications and development activities. Mr. Wilhelm joined the institute in 2001 to work with government leaders on sentencing and corrections reform.

Previously, Daniel was an attorney at Sidley & Austin and served as senior law clerk to U.S. District Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has testified on crime policy before some 20 federal and state panels. Daniel has written for Vera, the American Journal of International Law, the American Bar Association, where he examined U.S.-China trade and human rights, and the Federal Sentencing Reporter, where his work was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Daniel is a founding director of the Council on Criminal Justice and was a member of the Steering Committee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge from 2015 to 2021. He advises a number of university research initiatives on crime and justice issues. He is a member of the Working Group on Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions of 17 Rooms, a global partnership between the Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation to generate practical action to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Daniel is a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar and a member of Chatham House.

Daniel is a cum laude graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business, Harvard Divinity School, where he concentrated on the influence of ethics and morality on U.S. foreign policy, and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he majored in International Politics.


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