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Helena Meyer-Knapp




On June 9, 2021, Helena Meyer-Knapp was inducted to the Berkeley Rotary Club. Helena is a first-generation American, an immigrant from the UK, though few people think “immigrant” when they meet her, given that English is her native language.

In 1972, she and her family moved to Olympia, WA, where she combined young parenthood with national leadership in a Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. She spent the next 30 years as a college professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

To this day Helena remains active in research and writing, primarily focusing on international peacemaking. For the last 20 years, issues in NE Asia (particularly Japan) have been at the center of this work. The key topics include the means by which conflicts get passed from generation to generation, and also the tensions and misunderstandings that too easily arise when attempting to repair past wrongs or to express remorse. Such issues also reverberate as a result of our own US history and generate some of the public tensions pressing in on this country today. Her mother was a WWII refugee, which puts some personal experience behind her professional work.

Since her move to Berkeley just a year ago, Helena has become an avid gardener and thoroughly enjoys learning the art in a new climate. For nearly 20 years she devoted considerable volunteer and leadership time in Olympia to Garden Raised Bounty, a nonprofit organization focused on helping at-risk teens stay in school. It was through this that she worked alongside West Olympia Rotary members who helped Garden Raised Bounty build raised bed gardens for low-income families.

Helena is the mother of three and grandmother to five–one child lives in Berkeley and the other two children live in New York City and London.

On June 2, 2021, even before Helena’s induction to the Berkeley Rotary Club, she spoke to the club on “Mapping COVID from Outbreak to Vaccination: Japan and Other International Perspectives,” which can be viewed at Welcome, Helena!

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