November Featured Advocate – Barbara Kelly
By Jonathan Pearson on Thursday, November 1st, 2012
When Barbara Kelly moved to Kinnelon, New Jersey two years ago, that was one of the major changes going on in her life. Another change came from the realization that in terms of her commitment to service and good causes, she had spread herself way too thin.
She asked herself a question. ”What is it that I want to do? What are the (activities) that make a lot of difference for me?”
Barbara says in her case, the answer boiled down to her church…and the Peace Corps.
Her commitment to the Peace Corps is a major benefit to the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and our advocacy program. That’s especially the case when Barbara agreed to serve as the advocacy coordinator for the RPCVs of New Jersey.
“I felt like this was where I could have an impact,” says Barbara, noting that while many great organizations have an entire community to draw assistance from, the Peace Corps community is really geared to the 200,000 of us who have served overseas.
Since signing on as advocacy coordinator for the New Jersey RPCVs, Barbara has been quite active. She did a great job with outreach and organizing several meetings with Members of Congress during NPCA’s August District Advocacy initiative. This included a meeting with her Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen, who became the latest co-sponsor of Peace Corps commemorative legislation.
Back on October 20th, Barbara also worked with NPCA to coordinate two advocacy workshops in Princeton and Whippany. Fifteen Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) gave up part of their Saturdays to share advocacy experiences and learn more about how they can take effective action.
Barbara says she was pleased with the response from the people who attended. ”We had a lot of interest,” noting that one lesson learned was that the level of comments, questions and interaction stretched the planned hour-long sessions to 90 minutes.
“Barbara did a great job organizing these workshops,” notes NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson. ”I was especially impressed with her approach at the end of the sessions. Barbara conveyed to participants concrete actions they could take in the next several weeks, and engaged them in a discussion of how to further build New Jersey’s Peace Corps advocacy network.”
“If we start small, we can probably build (our network) up into something bigger,” says Barbara. A next step for her is to work with the NPCA further to determine the most efficient ways to promote advocacy and connect with other RPCVs across the state.
The New Jersey Peace Corps community has benefited over the years from the work of many great advocates. And with Barbara Kelly’s leadership, the future for effective advocacy in the Garden State is getting even stronger.