China, Colombia, Congo, Ghana
By JoAnna Haugen on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Peter Hessler is one of the 2011 winners of the MacArthur Fellows “Genius” Grants program. The award is given annually to people who have “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction” and consists of a $500,000 cash prize. Hessler has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2000 and has written several books and articles about China. He currently lives in rural Colorado but will be moving to Cairo in the near future to cover the Middle East for The New Yorker.
British Columbian ecologist Don Gayton was awarded the 2011 Peace Corps Travel Book Award for his book Okanagan Odyssey: Journeys Through Terrain, Terror and Culture. The prize is presented annual to an author with Peace Corps experience. It comes with a cash award and special citation on the Peace Corps Writers blog.
Former Associated Press deputy Asia editor Beth Duff-Brown (79-81) has accepted a reporting position covering San Francisco and Northern California. Duff-Brown has worked with AP for 20 years in a variety of reporting and editing assignments. She covered wars in West Africa in the mid-1990s and served as bureau chief for Malaysia, New Delhi and Toronto. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a story about her return to her Peace Corps village in the Congo and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 2010-2011, where she focused on creating a digital platform to tell stories about women and girls, particularly in the developing world.
Paul W. Johnson (62-64) has been committed to service since his Peace Corps tour. He was in the Iowa Legislature from 1985-1990, leading several bills regarding environmental protection and energy. From 1993-1997, he served as the chief of the National Resources Conservation Service for the USDA. After that, Johnson was the director of the Department of National Resources in Iowa. He also served two terms on the National Research Council’s Board of Agriculture.