A Conversation With Peter Samuelson and Pete Linnett

Peter Samuelson, “serial pro-social entrepreneur”


Peter Samuelson has been described as a “serial pro-social entrepreneur”. In 1983, inspired by a little boy battling an inoperable brain tumor, Peter conceived of the Starlight Children’s Foundation—an international charity dedicated to granting wishes for seriously ill children www.starlight.org. Starlight has grown to offer eight core psycho-social programs, each restoring some of the laughter, happiness and self-esteem that serious illness takes away from kids and those who love them.

As parents and healthcare providers confirmed the positive psychological and often medical impact of Starlight programming, in 1991 Peter brought together leaders including Steven Spielberg and General Norman Schwarzkopf to create Starbright World www.starbrightworld.org an online social network to educate, encourage and empower children to cope with the medical, emotional and social challenges of their illness. In 2005, Starlight and Starbright World merged and became the Starlight Children’s Foundation, with offices throughout Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, Japan and across the United States. Starlight now has a combined operating budget of $50 million and serves over 5 million children annually. Since inception, Starlight has raised and deployed internationally over $1 billion and served 60 million seriously ill children.

In 1999, Peter co-founded with Sherry Quirk, First Star www.firststar.org, a separate national 501(c)(3) charity headquartered in Washington, D.C. that works to improve the public health, safety, and family life of America’s abused and neglected children. With Peter as President, First Star provides “top-down” systemic leadership to provide quality and compassionate care for children within the child welfare system, basic civil and legal rights for every child and safe, stable and permanent homes for all children. First Star's program to create permanent residential high schools for Foster Children on university campuses nation-wide began at UCLA in 2011, and has thus far replicated to the University of Rhode Island and George Washington University in the District of Columbia. Negotiations are underway to expand to campuses in Northern California, Illinois and Connecticut.

In 2008, Peter founded EDAR, “Everyone Deserves A Roof” www.EDAR.org to develop and widely distribute through established service agencies a mobile single-user homeless shelter on wheels. EDARs cost $500 each and so far 300 homeless clients use them nightly.

Peter is a graduate of Cambridge University with a Masters in English Literature and the fourth of five family generations employed in the film industry. After serving as production manager on films such as The Return of the Pink Panther, he emigrated from England to Los Angeles and produced Revenge of the Nerds, Tom & Viv, Wilde, Arlington Road and 20 other films. Peter served on the founding Board of Participant Media Inc., Jeff Skoll’s pro-social media company. In 2012-13, Peter Samuelson was the first Managing Director of the Media Institute for Social Change at the University of Southern California.

Pete Linnett, Founder and CEO, Life Adjustment Team


Founder and CEO, Pete Linnett, developed the Life Adjustment Team concept in 1977 in response to the need for effective community-based mobile outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation. The Life Adjustment Team has helped thousands of patients overcome the high rate of re-hospitalizations due to the structure and support systems provided to patients to help them become stable, active, and productive, once discharged from an inpatient setting.

In 1988 Pete was hired by the UCLA Research Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation for a project to field test protocols of outpatient service delivery systems and in-vivo skills training.

In the early nineties, Pete developed the Life Adjustment Team Method of outpatient treatment, combining the in-vivo skills training modules developed at UCLA and the fifteen years of experience in developing and implementing successful intervention and outpatient rehabilitation plans in the community.

In 1991, Pete started the Westside Mental Health Provider Network to help mental health service providers deliver the highest quality of care possible through networking and resource sharing. The Network began with just six members, and has grown to 300 members in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Orange County.