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Remembering Peter Larson

October 5, 2023

Community Solutions lost a beloved friend and catalytic force in our work with the recent passing of founding Board member Peter N. Larson. 

Peter and his equally dedicated wife, Lee, discovered us in 2000. Their passion was to find solutions to youth homelessness. Through their family foundation, they provided generous gifts to help underwrite two residences in New York City for young people experiencing homelessness or aging out of foster care. Peter’s vision was much larger, though, and his encouragement and mentorship helped shape our plans for a national organization, Community Solutions, to work with communities toward comprehensive and lasting solutions to homelessness itself. 

Peter and Lee’s engagement and generosity enabled us to begin our work on youth homelessness with Built for Zero communities, including developing and testing definitions and verification measures for preventing or quickly resolving youth homelessness overall. Thanks to their investment, this work has already spread to 28 communities that are specifically focused on solving youth homelessness. The first are on track to reach “functional zero” youth homelessness in 2024.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Oregon, following graduation from Oregon State Peter spent seven years as a Naval officer aboard nuclear submarines before starting a career in business. He held senior leadership roles at Johnson and Johnson, Kimberly Clark and Brunswick, and as a Director of many Fortune 500 companies. He brought the same wisdom and drive to his civic commitments. In addition to supporting young people in crisis, Peter focused on legal education, veterans’ needs, innovations in nursing, and food security. He strengthened every organization he touched, in part by connecting the leaders of the organizations he supported with each other and by looking upstream to the sources of problems. 

To solve youth homelessness, Peter and Lee supported not only Community Solutions but Boys and Girls Clubs near their homes that provided art programs, STEM learning, sports and wellness, life skills, and a range of support to at-risk teens. As one of “Peter’s Leaders”, Holly West, director of the Evanston, WY Boys and Girls Club reflected, “The Larsons provided places where thousands of young people feel they belong”.

We are grateful for the vision, unfailing support, and mentorship of this remarkable man.