Sally Lilienthal

Sally Lilienthal had a vision of a future where weapons no longer threaten our families and our world, and where relations between nations are driven by respect for international law and cooperation rather than by fear of annihilation.

An artist and a lifelong activist for human and civil rights, Sally Lilienthal founded Ploughshares Fund in her San Francisco living room in 1981, in the belief that the threat of nuclear war overshadowed everything else."I thought that if a lot of people felt the same way I did but didn't know what to do about it, we might get together and search for new ways to get rid of the nuclear weapons that were threatening us all,'' she told an interviewer in 1996. Sally envisioned the Ploughshares Fund as a way to get money quickly to people with practical ideas for stopping the buildup of nuclear weapons. Ploughshares Fund was structured to respond and adapt to emerging threats to global security, and indeed, has been at the forefront of supporting innovative responses to unforseen challenges.

Working actively as Ploughshares Fund’s president until the end, Sally Lilienthal died on October 24, 2006. She was 87. 


“Her energy and drive, her clarity of purpose and positions, her always stated opinions and her brilliance for finding ‘the best’—best minds for a project, best art for a wall, best Napa lettuces for a salad—made her an unforgettable force of nature. I don't think Sally knew how to give up—or give in to nonsense.”

- Eleanor Friedman, Jewish Women’s Archive (

"Sally is timeless to me and was the reason I became a global advocate for peace, security and rights. She has left a beautiful and eternal legacy through people she touched around the world."

- Jerry White,  Landmine Survivors Network

"Sally was an absolutely vital figure in supporting researchers, policy activists and scientists in the U.S. and overseas who were trying to change government policies while [governments] were inflating the powers of nuclear weapons."

- George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC

"I regard myself as fortunate for having interacted with her over more than two decades...I am confident that Ploughshares Fund will remain a living testament to her vision for a better and more secure world."

- William C. Potter, Monterey Institutefor International Studies

"She was a truly special person, with a vision and a determination not just to do the right thing for peace and justice, but to persuade, cajole and enable others to find the best in themselves to do right."

- Rebecca Johnson, Acronym Institute of Disarmament and Diplomacy


Remembering Sally Lilienthal:

San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
Washington Post