Alumni Spotlight

Peter Dwares '69: Carving Paths for Kids

by Betty Lynne Leary

Forty years after the Summer of Love rocked the San Francisco area with its celebration of the hippie counterculture, Peter Dwares '69 finds himself as much in love with this city as when he arrived shortly after the famed, free love gathering. For this attorney-turned-real estate developer, the Bay Area still offers the perfect environment for a free-wheeling lifestyle that includes love for his work, his family and friends, and for the communities around him.

After working as a securities lawyer in D.C., Dwares traveled to San Francisco for an interview and never looked back. In the mid-'70s he began dabbling in real estate, and by the mid-'80s discovered that he enjoyed it enough to go full time.

"I'm motivated by doing deals," Dwares says. "I buy older shopping centers and fix them up. They're privately held in states all over the country."

Dwares lives and works in the heart of San Francisco in a four-story building he purchased, gutted and remodeled. Wraparound windows highlight views from the Bay Bridge to the city's thriving financial district. His success in business stems from a discipline he learned back in law school.

"I got serious about school at WCL. Law school molded and disciplined me," he says. "When I was practicing law, I felt I could go against anyone. There was no intellectual superior to me." Dwares parlayed his self-confidence and hard work into the highly successful Dwares Group, Incorporated, which seeks to improve communities through investment. Communities are not simply rehabbed buildings however, and Dwares takes an active role in supporting the people within the community.

The American Institute for Public Service recognized Dwares earlier this year with the 2007 Jefferson Award. The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America, on both local and national levels. Dwares was honored for his Pathways for Kids organization, which matches disadvantaged, inner-city youth with mentors with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty.

"Many kids don't have role models to teach them how to choose a good career or how to make or invest money," Dwares explains. His organization gives kids the chance to meet, work with, and learn from a variety of professionals including doctors, plumbers, electricians and chefs. With in-school and off-campus programs, career fairs and field trips, kids learn the ins and outs of establishing a promising career.

Dwares also served for many years on the board of Adopt a Special Kid (AASK), which finds families willing to adopt children with special needs. For more than 20 years, he has hosted Uncle Nathan's Day, a festive annual event for AASK families with food, gifts and entertainment held during the December holidays.

"I think it was Plato who said, ‘We do this for the good we feel out of it' and that's OK!" Dwares says laughing. "I feel great on Uncle Nathan's Day, and I feel great knowing we've counseled 8,000 kids in eight years through Pathways for Kids."

Dwares cannot point to any one part of his life that he finds the most satisfying.

"The balance gives me the greatest satisfaction," he says. "Whether I'm doing a deal, giving back to the community, or having great parties, these three together make a great life."