Is co-founder and president of Commonweal, a nonprofit institute in Bolinas, California,. He is co-founder and president emeritus of Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Born in 1943 in New York City, Lerner is the eldest son of the political philosopher Max Lerner, author of America as a Civilization and psychologist Edna Albers Lerner. He received a B.A. from Harvard University in 1965 and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1971. He taught political science and psychology at Yale before moving to Bolinas and co-founding Full Circle, a residential center for children with learning and behavior disorders. In 1976, Lerner co-founded Commonweal.