RPCV Congressional Staff Association
By Guest Contributor on Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Chris Robinson and Matt Colvin are the sort of guys you might expect to run into on Capitol Hill. They lead hectic existences with Blackberries always close at hand, working in the offices of Representative Laura Richardson and Senator Robert Menendez, respectively. What makes them remarkable is the two years they spent serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Jamaica from 2007 to 2009 and the way they have decided to continue to maintain their commitment to the Peace Corps.
The pair have played a lead role in the formation of a Congressional Staff Association made up of returned Peace Corps volunteers. “The surest way to succeed in congress is to build coalitions and partner with like-minded individuals,” says Chris. “Peace Corps Volunteers are a naturally diverse population who remain united by their shared experiences in the field.” Chris believes this valuable shared history is worth molding into an active organization that continues to enrich the lives of its members.
The overarching objective of the association is to bring together a diverse and capable group of professionals so that they may draw on their shared Peace Corps experience in propelling their current endeavors forward. But they also have some more specific goals in mind: An internship program to provide opportunities for RPCVs to gain employment in congressional offices is a top priority. So is growing the RPCV legislative community in a professional development sense. Lastly, upholding the values espoused by the Peace Corps (while not advocating for the agency outright) including an interest in international affairs and a focus on public service.
The group is still in its early stages of development. The four RCVP Congressmen (Sam Farr, Tom Petri, Mike Honda and John Garamendi) sponsored the group which was formally approved in late April. They are in the process of setting up a flexible framework which will allow RPCV Hill staff to participate without the level of activity becoming repetitive or tedious. An interim committee has been formed to run the group with elections to be held in the near future.
Back in March, Matt, Chris and the (then proposed) Staff Association were featured in The Hill newspaper.
Thanks to NPCA Advocacy Intern Greg Doolittle for this post.