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SFL News & Press

Students For Liberty mourns the passing of long-time supporter Phil Harvey

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[Washington, DC] — The Students For Liberty community deeply mourns the loss of a long-time supporter and a friend of liberty, Phil Harvey, who passed away last week at his home in Maryland aged 83. 

Phil Harvey was an entrepreneur who founded thriving businesses, a philanthropist who created several nonprofit organizations, the author of five books, and an extraordinary individual who believed in the cause of liberty. This came alongside supporting initiatives that advanced freedom of expression, promoted reproductive health, and developed programs delivering subsidized contraceptives in the developing world. 

He served as a chairman at Adam & Eve, a business that sells products for a better sex life, and founded DKT International, an organization that provides family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention programs in more than twenty countries in the developing world. He was also a co-founder of Population Services International, a nonprofit active in more than 70 countries, among other organizations.

Phil Harvey first donated to Students For Liberty in 2012. His giving philosophy focused on considering the gift’s impact, whether these efforts help solve a systemic social problem or just “help out” temporarily. He took this attitude to maximize the effectiveness of his philanthropy, so charities delivered measurable results at reasonable costs.

Phil brought the same hard-headedness to his relationship with SFL. He had concrete ideas about how SFL could be better and where we could focus our efforts to have more impact,” said Kenneth Wagner, Students For Liberty’s Director of Development, who worked with Phil on expanding Students For Liberty’s activism over the past year. 

“Phil gave clear and specific advice about how we could present our case better and communicate our values more clearly. He recognized Students For Liberty’s strengths and saw where we could be even stronger. He challenged us to raise our game and it made us better.”
“Phil was passionate about liberty and was willing to engage in long-term efforts to bring about a freer future. SFL was fortunate to be one of his partners in those efforts. Phil Harvey left the world a freer and better place. He will be sorely missed,” said Students For Liberty’s CEO, Dr. Wolf von Laer.

On the value of activism, Phil Harvey used to say, “We need more people who are actively involved in local communities. If you learn how to bring change in your local community, you learn how working with other people can actually change policies. It is a long journey, just like freedom — it is a constant never-ending battle, because encroachments on freedom will be never-ending. There is no solution except to keep doing it.” He emphasized this point during a live conversation with Lisa Conyers hosted by Students For Liberty in October 2020 on the topic of their book, Welfare for the Rich

Students For Liberty community extends our deepest condolences to Phil Harvey’s wife, Harriet Lesser, and his extended family. Phil Harvey was a true champion for liberty and will be fondly remembered by all of us at Students For Liberty.

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