New Board Members, New Strategy, New Life After 50th
By Molly Mattessich on Monday, October 31st, 2011
As the 50th Anniversary year of the Peace Corps draws to a close, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is picking up speed, enhancing our efforts to connect and support the Peace Corps community. There are exciting plans in the works for 2012 — and several new members are joining the Board of Directors to help us get there. Together they will collaborate with the 8-member NPCA staff to refine and fulfill NPCA’s mission through the coming years.
As Board Chair, Tony Barclay (Kenya 68-70) will lead the Board and work closely with the NPCA staff in a strategic planning process to make NPCA into the most robust organization that it can be.
“I am very honored to lead the NPCA’s Board of Directors. It’s a terrific group, with diverse membership that reflects the values and wide ranging experience of RPCVs — both during and after their Peace Corps service,” says Tony. “Supporting NPCA’s mission, in particular the Third Goal, sustains values and connections that have been important to me since the day that I showed up for training in September 1967.”
Tony served as a high school teacher in Kenya’s Rift Valley province, arriving four years after the country gained independence. His first job was to introduce African history into the curriculum – a good fit, because that was his undergraduate major. Recalls Tony, “Teaching in a well run boarding school kept me productive and happy: I taught an average of 30 classes a week, coached basketball and track and field (dozens of Kenya’s gifted runners come from that area), and produced several school plays. By staying on for a third year (1970), I sunk deeper roots and made many friendships that have lasted over four decades.”
Several boys whom he taught came to the U.S. for university, earned graduate degrees, and went home to have successful careers in Kenya. Now some of them have children studying in the U.S., among tens of thousands of Kenyans who are in colleges and universities across the country.
“One of of my old students, now a successful executive in the insurance industry, told me: ‘You may think you left Kenya long ago, but Kenya has never left you.’ I know he’s right about that, because Peace Cops service attached me to Kenya in ways both personal and professional. I returned there in the mid 70s to do research for my PhD in anthropology, and then worked on a project for UNEP in Nairobi. Later, during my 30-year tenure at DAI, a global development consulting firm, I was lucky enough to get there at least once every year, working on numerous projects, renewing old friendships, and creating new ones. I feel enormously lucky to have such continuity and deep feeling for the country where I was privileged to serve as a PCV.”
Adding an international member to the Board, Stephen Groff (Philippines 87-89), will represent NPCA members who served in the Asia and Pacific region countries, while living in the Philippines. Stephen says, “Like many of us, Peace Corps had a profound effect on me personally and professionally. Were it not for that experience, I wouldn’t have had a career in development – one that gives me perspective on Peace Corps as an instrument of socioeconomic transformation.”
A new West Coast member, Darryl Johnson (Thailand 63-65), hails from Burien, Washington. Darryl will be representing the West Coast states on the Board. “Serving in Thailand was challenging and fulfilling; a life-changing experience,” Darryl says, “I re-connected with the Peace Corps through NPCA, serving on the Board for the past year representing the Asia-Pacific region, and through SEAPAX, which is very active. I am familiar with how much more there is to do for NPCA following this 50th anniversary year, especially in the areas of membership, funding and mission.”
Barbara Junge (Togo 85-87) is a member of the RPCV’s of South Florida and was nominated to represent NPCA members who live in the Southern Tier of the United States. Barbara says, ”I want to contribute to making NPCA more effective in representing the diversity (in every sense of the word) of the RPCV community. I plan to work to make NPCA the “go-to” source for RPCV community information and encouragement of RPCV public service initiatives. I also hope to strengthen NPCA by closely connecting NPCA to RPCV groups, and encouraging increased membership in those groups and the NPCA.”
Advocacy is what initially brought Jayne Booker (Benin 73-75) to the NPCA. Jayne served as the California Coordinator for NPCA’s MorePeaceCorps Campaign, advocating for a greatly expanded Peace Corps budget. She marched with the Peace Corps contingent in Barack Obama’s inaugural parade in 2009 and now serves on the board’s Business and Development Committee. Jayne’s professional life has focused on private sector economic development, primarily in Africa.
Joby Taylor (Gabon 91-93) is Director of the Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Program, a graduate level service-learning program located at The Shriver Center, University of Maryland Baltimore County. Through this position, Joby has supported recently returned Peace Corps Volunteers from over 60 Peace Corps countries of service, advising them as they earn graduate degrees in over a dozen disciplines and engaging them in service leadership positions with over 50 community organizations in the Baltimore region. Joby teaches courses and advises on internships and research for doctoral-level students as well as regularly teaching undergraduate seminars in peace studies, service-learning, and other special topics for diverse programs.
Tony is excited about the task ahead. “The NPCA, in partnership with many RPCV groups and serving volunteers across the U.S., and overseas, has just completed a stellar effort that made the Peace Corps 50th celebration a stunning success. We have no plans to rest on those laurels, however. The recently published survey of more than 11,000 RPCVs reminds us just how loyal, optimistic, and principled our community is. If we can mobilize and organize that passion, I believe the NPCA can expand its membership and increase its influence in pursuit of the Third Goal.”
Welcome to all of these newly elected Board Members and welcome back to the returning Board Members as the National Peace Corps Association starts off the next 50 years of Peace Corps!