After graduating from college, Brendan's brother Sean played professional basketball in Northern Ireland and operated basketball clinics for Protestant and Catholic children in Belfast. The clinics showed Sean that basketball – one of the few neutral sports in Northern Ireland – could help overcome deeply entrenched barriers between the two groups. Sean recruited Brendan, who had played basketball professionally in Ireland, to his cause, and together, the Tuoheys established PeacePlayers International [PPI] in 2000, grounded on their own life experiences that showed that "children who play together can learn to live together."
While Sean led PPI’s efforts in the field as it started its first operations in South Africa, Brendan built the organization from Washington, DC. He has led the organization in its expansion to Northern Ireland (2002), Israel and the West Bank (2005) and Cyprus (2006), and launched PPI’s first domestic program in New Orleans (2008), which was transitioned to full local ownership in the summer of 2009. Brendan lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Jody, and three children. He is a 1996 graduate of Colgate University where he majored in Philosophy and Religion and played basketball. He is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Master’s Program in Sport Management.
Awards and Recognition
Over the past ten years, PeacePlayers International has worked with over 55,000 children in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus, New Orleans and the Middle East. PeacePlayers International has been featured by The Today Show, by an Emmy Award®-winning piece on CBS News Sunday Morning, CNN, BBC, ESPN, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, Parade and other media outlets. In July 2007, two PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland leaders were awarded the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2007 ESPY Awards. Brendan has received the following awards and honors in conjunction with his work with PPI:
- Named one of the "Top 40 International Development Professionals Under 40" by Devex and Chevron
- Term Member, Council on Foreign Relations.
- 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar.
- Laureus Sport for Good Award, 2008.
- Named one of the "The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America" by the Institute of International Sport in October 2007.
- Recognized with his brother Sean as two of the "Washingtonians of the Year" by Washingtonian magazine in 2005.
- Named one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans by Irish America in 2004.
On April 1, 2006, former United States President Bill Clinton recognized Brendan at a press conference announcing plans for the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative. President Clinton spoke in detail about PeacePlayers International’s project in Israel and the West Bank, applauding the organization’s efforts to "promote understanding, tolerance and peace among Jewish, Israeli Arab, and Palestinian youth." In 2008, President Clinton cited the work of PeacePlayers International in Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.