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Speaker Series


Ethos Water

February 10, 2009

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Bio (PDF)

Learn more about Ethos Water

Peter Thum is the founder of Ethos™ Water ( and a pioneering social entrepreneur.

Ethos is sold in Starbucks and marketed by Pepsi to other retailers across North America. Ethos grants to humanitarian water programs exceed $6 million, and are helping over 420,000 people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to get safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education. Ethos will grant at least $10 million to such programs by 2010.

Thum had the idea for Ethos in 2001 while working in South Africa, where he saw water issues firsthand. He left his job to pursue his vision and led Ethos as its President through its acquisition by Starbucks in 2005. From 2005 to 2008 he managed Ethos and other businesses as a Vice President of Starbucks and served as a Director of the Starbucks Foundation. Thum currently serves as Senior Advisor to Starbucks on the Ethos brand and mission. He is pursuing a new venture and advises various for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Various media have profiled Thum, including: USA Today, National Public Radio, CBC News, Fortune Small Business, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Business Week, and The Yale Journal of Public Health. He speaks regularly about the founding of Ethos Water, social entrepreneurship, ethical branding, and corporate responsibility. He has been a guest lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, among others.

Thum is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College.

Prior to founding Ethos, Thum was a consultant with McKinsey & Company in London. He previously held various marketing and sales roles with Gallo Winery in the US and Europe. Before Gallo, Thum was an English teacher for Siemens A.G. in Munich, Germany.

Thum holds a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.

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