From Dusty Roads to Marbled Halls
By Guest Contributor on Friday, August 30th, 2013
Without a doubt, the Peace Corps community has a lot of support from our bi-partisan group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) congressmen! Whether, they served almost 50 years ago or returned more recently, their service positively impacts the work they do on Capitol Hill.
Each year around March 1st at the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) National Day of Action, RPCV members of Congress engage with fellow advocates about the importance of our community’s grassroots efforts to support the Peace Corps. It’s a great way to kick off a day of citizen advocacy.
This past year as I helped introduce Congressman Sam Farr (Colombia 1964-66), Tom Petri (Somalia 1966-67), Mike Honda (El Salvador 1965-67), John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68) and Joseph Kennedy III (Dominican Republic 2004-06) to nearly 100 NPCA advocates, I thought about how their success as public officials is enhanced by the skills they used during Peace Corps service. Skills such as learning to listen to your community, doing projects that their communities want, working with a diversity of individuals to reach a common goal, compromising to move their community/district forward and much more!
Idea Takes Shape – Connecting RPCV Leaders
These experiences had myself and others thinking is successful day had many of us thinking 1) Imagine the accomplishments if there were more RPCVs in Congress! 2) There are surely lots of other RPCV lawmakers and public servants at the state and local level. 3) All within our community would certainly be interested in working with their fellow RPCV political leaders on key issues. 4) It would be useful if RPCV political leaders were better connected to their counterparts all around the country.
One of the best attended workshops at Peace Corps Connect – Boston was a session entitled “RPCVs in Public Service”, featuring former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, former Massachusetts State Senator David Magnani, and Boston Mayoral Candidate, Charlotte Golar Richie. All three shared their experiences and insight regarding the important role the Peace Corps community can play in shaping public policy.
From Peace Corps to Politics
With these realities in mind, the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee of NPCA’s Board of Directors is launching an effort to identify fellow RPCVs either currently or formerly serving as political leaders. Some have taken the plunge to run for highest level of state or federal positions. All show admirable qualities that are typical of RPCVs, for example a city council member who communicates both in English and Spanish to their constituents, or a lawmaker working on issues such as education, immigration and the environment and willing to work in a bi-partisan manner to move their communities forward
As many RPCVs can be humble in their accomplishments, we seek the assistance of others to share their stories. With this blog, we ask for your help. Who do you know who is currently a political leader at the local or state level? What do you think are their admirable Peace Corps traits? How are they impacting your community?
Let’s celebrate, better connect and learn from our fellow RPCV political leaders. Let us know who these RPCVs are and please email me at Kristina.firstname.lastname@example.org if you have information to share.
Our thanks to Kristina Owens for submitting this post.