Atwater joins nonprofit that his great-grandfather established in 1956 to help build peaceful relations between nations.


KANSAS CITY, MO— (January 24, 2018) — People to People International (PTPI) announces that Merrill Eisenhower Atwater has been appointed as chief operating officer. Atwater joins the organization after leading the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division. 
"We are thrilled to have Mr. Atwater join the People to People family,” says Teresa Loar, Chairwoman of the PTPI Board of Directors. “The depth and breadth of his experience in business, as well as in government, will prove to be an asset that PTPI can capitalize on.”
A Kansas native, Atwater is the great-grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“It is impressive to see the 61-year-old organization founded by my great-grandfather be so successful in its global efforts,” Atwater says. “People to People International has spent its entire existence helping hundreds of thousands of people in more than 160 countries throughout the world. I am proud and humbled to be able to help continue the momentum and progress of PTPI.”
Atwater believes that PTPI’s purpose of championing peace is even more significant today.
“There is much turmoil on the global stage, with negative news and trials and tribulations, regardless of where you live,” Atwater says. “PTPI helps bring a measure of calm and rational thinking in the midst of uncertainty. I believe, as my great-grandfather did, that if you sit two people down who are reasonable and agree to put their differences aside, they can become friends. Frankly, we all need to stop and determine what we can do help someone else, rather than the other way around.”
Atwater holds a Bachelor of Science in History and Interpersonal Communications from Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.
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About People to People International
The concept of People to People represented part of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s lifelong crusade for peace. He believed that everyday citizens wanted a more peaceful world and could achieve it more effectively without government interference. After a July 1955 meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, President Eisenhower shared in his report to the nation: “The subject that took most of my attention was the possibility of increased visits overseas by the citizens of one country into the territory of the other nation.” The result was the launching of the “People to People” initiative on September 11, 1956, under the U.S. Information Agency. This program of “personal diplomacy” emphasized nongovernmental contacts between people. With his term of office nearing an end, he sought a way for the organization to be funded in the private sector. President Eisenhower engaged his good friend, J.C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards, Inc., to help continue this valuable work. Hall agreed, and People to People International (PTPI) was incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization in the State of Missouri on October 31, 1961, with the offices moving from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City. Eisenhower’s vision to enhance international understanding and friendship translates into action by thousands of members around the world. For more information on People to People International, visit