Since the tragic loss of his son, Daniel, one of 20 first-graders murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with six educators on December 14, 2012, Mark has dedicated himself to bringing people together to find sensible solutions that will prevent future tragedies and spare other families the pain of losing a child to gun violence. As Managing Director, Mark leads the organization with Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan who was also killed that day, and Tim Makris, whose children survived the tragedy. Mark focuses on policy and outreach efforts for Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) and frequently serves as a spokesperson for the organization.
Mark’s belief that thoughtful, sincere dialogue will lead us to shared common ground set him on a path he never anticipated. His journey has taken him from introducing President Obama in the Rose Garden after the 2013 Background Check vote and when the President implemented Executive Actions in 2016, to meetings with over half of the United States Congress, media interviews on every major network, and speaking engagements before civic and religious groups, high school and college audiences and more, all focused on creating a safer future for our children and our communities.
An accomplished professional musician with a B.A. in music and formal training in jazz and composition, Mark stopped touring to spend more time with his family. He still performs regularly with his own band and others in New York City and New England, and prior to joining SHP, he played recording sessions, taught guitar and wrote music for film, radio, and television. A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Mark is also a licensed commercial pilot.
Mark lives in Sandy Hook, CT with his wife Jackie, a school teacher, his son James, and daughter Natalie. In addition to his work with Sandy Hook Promise, Mark’s immediate and extended family have created a foundation called “What Would Daniel Do?” to honor the extraordinarily generous and empathetic spirit of Daniel Barden.