PCYP is honored to be named after its founder, Peter M. Cicchino, a dedicated activist, advocate, visionary and professor.
Peter was born on August 12, 1960 and grew up in Kearny, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Scranton in 1982 and joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). As a member of the Jesuits, Peter spent seven years working in soup kitchens, housing projects and prisons. Upon leaving the Jesuits, Peter worked in a homeless shelter, taught Peace and Justice Studies at Fordham University, and was arrested over two dozen times in civil disobedience actions protesting U.S. policy in Central America, nuclear arms proliferation, and police brutality. Peter then attended Harvard Law School, where he successfully represented eight fellow students who were threatened with expulsion for sitting in the dean’s office to protest inadequate hiring of women and minority faculty members. Upon graduation from law school, Peter was chosen to deliver the University-wide graduate student address; entitled “Educating Our Vices,” Peter cajoled Harvard graduates to use their vices — arrogance, contentiousness and a sense of entitlement — to “console the afflicted and afflict the consoled.”
Following law school, Peter served as special death penalty clerk for a New Jersey Supreme Court judge who was a death penalty abolitionist, and assisted the American Civil Liberties Union in its lawsuit that struck down Colorado’s statewide referendum prohibiting gay rights legislation.
In 1994, Peter then founded the Gay and Lesbian Youth Project at the Urban Justice Center, since renamed the Peter Cicchino Youth Project, where he served the legal needs of homeless and indigent gay and lesbian teens, ranging from welfare benefits and foster care issues to criminal matters.
In 1998, the following month after Peter had accepted a tenure track position teaching law at American University in Washington, he was tragically diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. Peter nonetheless moved to Washington to spend the final two years of his life teaching Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, Torts, and Sexual Orientation & the Law. Peter passed away on July 8, 2000, at the age of 39.