December Featured Advocate – Kate Schachter
By Jonathan Pearson on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
In so many ways, Kate Schachter (Ghana 04-07) of Fitchburg, Wisconsin is committed to the work of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and the general Peace Corps community.
She has the very important role of serving as NPCA’s Group Leaders Forum (GLF) Coordinator, a position designed to bring together NPCA member groups to share ideas, challenges and best practices in efforts to bring the world back home.
For the past two years, Kate has also been very active with NPCA’s advocacy program. Her experiences include meeting with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), running into Congresswoman (now Senator-elect) Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in her waiting room in Washington, connecting with Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) in his district office in Janesville and engaging in a seriously interesting conversation with Harry Stein, Legislative Assistant to outgoing Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI). Kate also had the opportunity to shake hands with Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) , a personal hero of hers.
The self-described political junkie and activist notes she participated in many forms of advocacy and activism before. But her work with the NPCA is the first time she engaged directly with her elected representatives.
“I was nervous, not so much because I was afraid or intimidated by the individual, but because I didn’t really feel I had the information necessary to advocate effectively. Could I really remember any of the details I’d read in the Advocacy newsletter before agreeing to show up on Capitol Hill in Washington? Did I have the ‘street cred’ to walk into an office and not have some DC hawk look down their nose at my midwestern peace-dove self?”
Kate says the training and preparation NPCA provided helped to put her at ease. And she found she was greeted warmly and treated respectfully in every single office she visited, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology.
In her role as GLF Coordinator, Kate is encouraging RPCV group participation in advocacy. She believes advocacy is a tool that focuses on the power of individuals.
“Imagine the power that 210,000-plus RPCVs could have in Congress to change the budget focus from investment in war to investment in community business development, health and education! Did you know that the entire Peace Corps budget since 1961 is equal to less than 2% of military spending in Fiscal Year 2012? The thousands of individuals represented in the member groups of the NPCA can make a real difference.”
Kate says we should all do whatever we can to contact our representatives in Congress. ”Our advocacy, like Peace Corps, is non-partisan, and we could be providing a shining example of how to work together to accomplish great things.” And she encourages RPCV member groups to designate a volunteer to serve as an Advocacy Coordinator. ”A Coordinator can let us know when it’s time to sign-on to a particular letter, when it’s time to start gathering together to gather locally at our Congressional leaders’ offices, and be the organizing focal point for this activity locally.”
While she wears numerous hats within the Peace Corps community, Kate’s passion for advocacy is far from over. She has been extremely engaged in the recent effort to secure member group signatures on a letter to President Obama concerning Peace Corps funding and the nomination of the next Peace Corps Director. And, Kate is among the first individuals to sign up for the Capitol Hill portion of NPCA’s National Day of Action, coming up on February 28th.
Congratulations to Kate Schachter for her efforts as a citizen advocate and her many contributions to the Peace Corps community!
(Thanks to NPCA Advocacy Intern Zahara Nakibuule-McCoy for her assistance with this post)