John Prendergast: A Larger-Than-Life Humanitarian With an Undying Mission

This Berwyn-raised human-rights activist has become a poster boy for peace in Africa. But has he made peace with himself?

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Three years ago, when his father’s pancreatic cancer spread to his brain, JP tried his best to reconcile the past. But his dad’s memories were much different than his. Was it denial? Irish stubbornness? His illness?

It wasn’t until the eulogy that JP came to the realization that he’d become his father’s son—a showman, a salesman. In the end, there was no space in his life that his father had left untouched.

“Any success I’ve had is because of the personal characteristics I learned by osmosis from him,” Prendergast admits now. “It was his ability to connect with people, his unending curiosity and style of diplomacy, his ability to sell you anything.”

Prendergast gets back to Berwyn at least once a month to see his mom. Often, he’s on the way out the door, as was the case the morning after a mid-September conference at Millersville University. This time, it was a fundraising trip to Hong Kong with Clooney.

After JP’s appearance at Millersville, a 30-year-old government and public affairs major put the experience into perspective. “For me, it was like seeing a president,” says Abraham Awan, who comes from South Sudan.

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