Cecil Apostol

When something has the support of 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners, people tend to listen up. Nothing of this scale has ever been attempted before…

Twitter: @cecilapostol

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Tell me about 1 Billion Acts of Peace and how Google and you got involved?

The One Billion Acts of Peace (1BAOP) campaign is a groundbreaking global citizens’ movement that’s being led by 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners (such as the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu). Under their guidance, PeaceJam (a nonprofit dedicated to youth leadership development) and current Founding Partners (Google, Wells Fargo, Hill + Knowlton, Chadbourne & Parke) are creating a platform to help tackle the world’s toughest issues like poverty, human rights, and environmental sustainability. In this effort to show the world that 1,000,000,000 different projects or concrete actions can be achieved from now until 2019, the 1BAOP campaign will document every act of peace and create an online hub for inspiration and collaboration. The campaign itself also received 7 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

At a Social Innovation Summit a few years ago, Google’s resident Jolly Good Fellow, Chade-Meng Tan, learned about the campaign from PeaceJam founders, Dawn Engle & Ivan Suvanjieff. He immediately whisked them away to the Google campus with the promise of great food and even greater resources to make their audaciously ambitious vision a reality.

Googlers are able to devote 20% of their working time towards projects outside of their core roles. When I discovered a 20% opportunity on the 1BAOP team, I offered up my marketing and business development skills and now serve as the Strategic Partner Manager. My main responsibility is finding more companies to join our efforts as Founding Partners.

How has having 13 Nobel Laureates spearhead this initiative had an impact on the success of this program?

When something has the support of 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners, people tend to listen up. Nothing of this scale has ever been attempted before. But these 13 extraordinary public figures have issued this massive call-to-action because they truly believe that the world is ready for change. But it won’t be nations or governments who lead this charge because there’s too much gridlock and red-tape. Instead, it will be the motivated citizens, or ordinary philanthropists of the world, who will contribute their acts of peace towards the goal of 1,000,000,000 so that by 2019, we can all look back and say, “We might not have achieved total world peace, but one billion acts of peace is a giant step in the right direction.”

Are there any Acts in this initiative that stand out or have really inspired you?

For Earth Day 2015, Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, came to Google’s campus to lead a habitat preservation project at a nearby park. That day, she shared the following: “Conscientiousness and communication are vital to peace. Show the world when you’re doing good things, or no one will know… Spread the message. We live in the age of technology… An action you do here, it can be replicated elsewhere, and echo throughout the world.” Her words encompass the enormous potential our current technology can have on connecting communities and motivating each other to do good. Her bit of wisdom has inspired me to not just act, but also to share the work that I have done (like what I’m doing now on this blog). However, it’s important to note that she’s not endorsing boastfulness; instead, she’s encouraging us to inspire others around the world with our acts of peace.

Have you created an Act?

I created my first Act of Peace when about 40 Googlers and I helped package 10,000+ meals in under two hours for Stop Hunger Now. These nutritiously-sound & vitamin-packed meals will be sent to in-need communities across the world.

How do you find opportunities to get involved? How important to you was it that you found an opportunity at work?

At Google, we have plenty of resources to help employees get involved with fantastic causes and incredible non-profits. Our GooglersGive team has a great internal site filled with opportunities to get involved both locally and globally. And every year, the company participates in GoogleServe, a two-week program for employees to give back to their communities. Googlers are able to use 20 hours of their work time a year towards volunteer efforts. And if there’s something you’re particularly passionate about, you can use your 20% time to pursue it. Personally, I find it really important to find an opportunity to give back through work. We spend at least 40 hours of every week at our jobs, so it’s nice to know that we can utilize some of those hours in meaningful ways.

How has getting involved in 1 Billion Acts of Peace changed your work life?

After joining the 1BAOP team, I have approached my work life with a renewed sense of purpose. At Google, my core role is Account Manager for our Advertising Sales division. Much of my day-to-day focus remains on driving revenue for my clients and ultimately for Google. So I sometimes forget about the amazing things that Google is doing outside of digital marketing. For example, our Google[x] team is developing cars that drive themselves, balloons that provide internet access, and contact lenses that measure glucose. Google[x]’s mission is to solve huge problems with radical solutions using breakthrough technology. I like to think of 1BAOP as the Google[x] of Social Good because we’re essentially following the same formula and applying it to world peace. But all of these initiatives and innovations are only made possible because my team brings in the revenue to help fund them. So I have a newfound appreciation for my work because I know it’s contributing to our company’s effort to build a brighter future.

Do you have advice for how people can champion this type of program within their organizations? Or does it have to come from the top down?

While these programs do not have to begin from the top down, you’ll eventually need executive support for it to really take off. In the meantime, recruit others who are just as passionate about your cause to start building a critical mass. Find ways to align your efforts with your organization’s existing philanthropic objectives. Tap into your organization’s existing strengths and skill sets. For example, Google has offered a team of engineers to work on website development, mobile app creation, and impact measurement for the 1BAOP campaign.

What motivates you to give?

My mother, a devout Catholic and dedicated nurse, instilled a strong sense of compassion and generosity in me growing up. Having worked in hospitals, community clinics, and a state prison, she’s exemplified what it means to be selfless and charitable each and every day. She encouraged me to attend a Jesuit high school, where I learned about being “a man for others”, a concept that emphasizes service, benevolence, and social justice. So when I give, I do so in the hopes that I’m serving as a “man for others” and that I’m making my mom proud.

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Jess Stowe


Jess Stowe is a research analyst at Finch15, a product innovation company that helps well-established brands build revenue-generating digital businesses. She is also the Managing Director of Greatest Good, an online platform that allows industry experts to raise money for charitable organizations by providing business advice and consulting while commanding the market value of their time. She recently joined the junior board of TASC, a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing education and enrichment opportunities to kids who need it most. Jess graduated from Wesleyan University.

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