State-by-State Advocacy Coordinators

The success of our advocacy program is very much due to the hard work and commitment of our dedicated NPCA  Advocacy Coordinators.  Read below to meet our advocacy coordinators.  Connect with an advocacy coordinator in your area.  If there is currently no coordinator in your state/region, read our descriptionabout this volunteer position and contact us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org to let us know your are interested.  It takes all of us to build and strengthen our nationwide network of advocates!


Looking for our state-by-state advocacy toolkits? Click here.


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Alabama

Name: Sam Ryals
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Fort Deposit)
Peace Corps Service: Ukraine 2010-12
Contact Information: samryals@gmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

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California

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Name: Marjory Clyne
State/Region of Coverage: San Diego Area
Peace Corps Service: Samoa 1972-1974
Contact Information: marjoryclyne@att.net
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Our elected officials want to know who is serious about and willing to take time to advocate for their issue.  It is very easy for these people to say no when they are far away in Washington, not so much when you are in their office, face to face.
Fun Fact: Has helped organize the joint San Diego Peace Corps Association/Peace Corps Earth Day presence in Balboa Park for the past ten years.

Name: Tiffani Jarnigan
State/Region of Coverage: San Francisco Bay Area
Peace Corps Service: Dominican Republic 2012-14
Contact Information: tiffani.jarnigan@gmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

Colorado

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Name: Suzanne Smith
State/Region of Coverage: Enitre State (based in Denver)
Peace Corps Service: Mongolia 2005-2007
Contact Info: advocacy@rpcvcolorado.org
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Members of Congress are representing the interests of everyone in the U.S. Advocating on the importance of Peace Corps, including funding for the program, lets them know what we are interested in and what we think is important for the US to spend money, time and effort around.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: In 2014, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) of Colorado decided to invite members of Congress to our long term service project, a vegetable garden in the center of the city that we maintain and donate all produce from to a local day shelter for homeless, impoverished or transient women and children. Though the member of Congress was unable to meet with us, we were able to show off the garden and the work of Peace Corps and RPCVs to Congressional staff.
Fun Fact: In Mongolia I learned a traditional dance and when the organization I worked for found out they made me perform it at the company New Year party, which included both coworkers and key partners for the organization. Though I still remember parts of the dance, I won’t be performing it for any more holiday parties.

 

Connecticut

Name: Joan Leonard
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Guilford)
Peace Corps Service: Kenya 1969-72
Contact Information: jaleonard@snet.net
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

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Florida

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Name: Ana Ciereszko
State/Region of Coverage: South Florida
Peace Corps Service: St. Vincent & the Grenadines 1969-1971
Contact Info: aciereszko@yahoo.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: One of many ways to continue giving after Peace Corps service is to ensure that others have the opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps AND for people throughout the world to get to know Americans one-on one.
Advocacy Success Story: At the 50th Anniversary celebration I walked the halls of Congress all day long, a very invigorating, exciting day. And then I got to visit with Rep. Allan West from Florida who, to my surprise, was a charming individual. He even made a commitment to our request.
Fun Fact: I love to host the Returned Peace Corps of South Florida Holiday Party at my home and have done so for the past 8 years!

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Name: David A. Miron
State/Region of Coverage: Jacksonville Area (Districts 4,5, & 6)
Peace Corps Service: Colombia 1963-1965, Peace Corps Washington 1966-1970
Contact Info: damiron@comcast.net or (904)-614-1177
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Peace Corps is too good of an idea to remain underfunded. My goal is to engage other Florida RPCVs in advocating to their local Representative.                                                                                         Advocacy Success Story: Regular meetings with with local Congressman Ander Crenshaw contributed to his joining – and now co-chairing – the House Peace Corps Caucus.
Fun Fact: It is easier to get an RPCV to go to the Dentist than it is to get them to spend five minutes advocating for Peace Corps.

 

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Georgia

Name: Mary Novotny
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Atlanta)
Peace Corps Service: Gambia 1988-91
Contact Information: marysmail2000-rpcv@yahoo.com
As a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa Mary Novotny lead teams which developed the first national curriculum in environmental conservation for the Ministry of Education and created an exhibition on the environment for the Gambia National Museum. She is passionate about local foods and food security and worked previously as the director of the Heckscher Farm for Children at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center in Stamford, Connecticut and the Heritage Farm Museum in Metro Washington D.C. Mary currently is the NPCA Advocacy Coordinator for Georgia and volunteer coordinator for the American Alliance of Museums 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta.

 

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Illinois

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Name: Kara Zucker
State/Region of Coverage: Chicago Area
Peace Corps Service: El Salvador 2011-2013
Contact Information: Kara.Zucker@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: In order for Peace Corps to continue making a positive impact for future generations both internationally and domestically.
Advocacy Success Story: We have a fairly large region and at one of our Third Goal events, we had everyone sign a pre-written letter to one of our Illinois Senator’s regarding Peace Corps funding. By the end of the event, we had over 50 letters ready to be mailed, the best part was people was very willing to sign and add their personal story on why an increase in funding is essential for the future of Peace Corps.
Fun Fact: After returning from Peace Corps and moving to Chicago, joining the CAPCA definitely made the culture shock a lot easier being around a bunch of RPCV’s! Bachata mix and pupusas never get old.

 

Indiana

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Name: Faith Van Gilder
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Fort Wayne)
Peace Corps Service: Botswana 1986-1988
Contact Infod.vangilder2@frontier.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Being an advocate for Peace Corps is a small way I can stay connected to the Peace Corps community as well as a way I can hopefully improve conditions for current Volunteers in the field.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: After a spring blizzard shuttered most congressional offices on Advocacy Day on March 5, 2015, I was able to reschedule two meetings for the next day before my train left D.C.
Fun Fact: We have not had a TV in our house since 1986. We raised two intelligent daughters, now young adults, without it!

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Name: David Van Gilder
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Fort Wayne)
Peace Corps Service: Botswana 1986-1988
Contact Info: d.vangilder2@frontier.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Spreading the message of peace requires constant work from people who have been volunteers for peace.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: I represent community organizations in the process of civil discourse and decision-making.
Fun Fact: I play snare drums in a Scottish pipe and drum band.

 

Iowa

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Name: Sharon Wegner
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Des Moines)
Peace Corps Service: South Africa 2009-11
Contact Information: sharon.wegner@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: While serving with the Peace Corps, we touch and are touched by so many lives. We can continue to have an impact after we return home through various outlets, one of which is NPCA.
Fun Fact: I read every John Irving book I could get my hands on while in the Peace Corps!

 

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Kansas

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Name: Jessica Szalawiga
State/Region of Coverage: Kansas City Area
Peace Corps Service: Mali 2012, Burkina Faso 2012-2014
Contact Info: jszalawiga@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: I strongly believe in the Peace Corps mission and would like to continue to serve this great organization at the grass-roots level. Together we can work to increase resources for PCVs and RPCVs and see the number of RPCVs continue to grow!
Fun Fact: I was born in Texas, raised in Kansas, but I will always be a Nebraska fan. Go Huskers!

 

Kentucky

Name: Will and Amy Glasscock
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Lexington)
Peace Corps Service: Indonesia 2012-14
Contact Information: will.glasscock@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Without the connection between the funding and policy decision-makers with RPCVs, the narrative of Peace Corps is just data. Bringing RPCVs and their Members of Congress together allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation of what Peace Corps Volunteers are doing around the world. NPCA does that and makes possible the continued success of this incredible 50+ year program.
Advocacy Success Story: In just our first year being involved with the Kentucky RPCVs, we’ve witnessed the incredible relationships that many of our members have with our Congressional delegation. There are some surprising supporters of Peace Corps among the delegation.
Fun Fact: Amy and Will grew up 45 minutes apart in Kentucky, but met while working for their Congressman in Washington, DC. Eight years later (including two in the Peace Corps in Indonesia), they have moved back to central Kentucky and recently had their first child, Eliza.

 

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Louisiana

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Name: Kendra LeSar   
State/Region of Coverage: Louisiana
Peace Corps Service: Honduras 2007-09
Contact Information: kendra.lesar@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Advocacy allows us to share our stories as RPCVs so that others will have a chance to create their own Peace Corps stories.

Fun Fact: New Orleans has the largest Honduran American community in the United states and I’m happy to live in a place where I can have a taste of Honduras anytime I want!

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Maine

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Name: Richard MacIntyre
State/Region of Coverage: Enitre State (based in Swanville)   
Peace Corps Service: Korea IV 1967-1969
Contact Info: macinmaine1@aol.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: The only way to keep Peace Corps functioning and hopefully increase its effectiveness, number of volunteers, and level of activity is through the Congressional Budget.  As former volunteers we must push our own US Senators and Representatives to sustain and increase the funding lever in each year’s Federal budget.
Advocacy Success Story: By visiting our congressional offices on the NPCA Day of Action for several years now, I have established a friendly and cooperative relationship with their staff members in DC and can communicate with them about various issues, especially Peace Corps, and get a response as well as often securing action on the issues we have shared as former PC volunteers.
Fun Fact: It was by reading the monthly NPCA newsletter I learned two years in a row that The Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service was awarded to Maine leaders who had served in Peace Corps.  I was able to share that with our Congressional representatives.

 

Massachusetts

Name: Tim Garvin
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Worcester)
Peace Corps Service: Jamaica 1991-92
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

Name: Vanessa Porter
State/Region of Coverage: Boston Area
Peace Corps Service: Honduras 2008-10
Contact Information: porter.vanessa@gmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

Michigan

Name: Jeff Jenks
State/Region of Coverage: Southeast Michigan
Peace Corps Service: Philippines VII 1962-1964
Contact Info: jeff.jenks5@gmail.com 
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Peace Corps provides needed services at the most cost-effective level to communities around the world. Peace Corps trains and gives American PCVs an in depth understanding of the peoples  of the world and gives the peoples of the world an understanding of Americans and American values.
Advocacy Success Story: I’ve helped educate via full scholarships for tuition, books, living expenses and transportation grants over the past 50 years, about 10 non-family Filipinos from the school where I taught, who were poor and the top in their elementary school graduating class,  paying for high school and then college. They are my “anchors” and they have each supported three to five students through high school and college.
Fun Fact: After 50 years I’ve been re-engaged with my school for the past few years, helping with a computer teaching lab – remotely connected via wireless phone connections, new books for their library and hopefully will begin a nutrition program for children in the school, and an adult literacy program soon – in cooperation with the Kiwanis Club of Davao City – which is 75 kilometers away.

 

Minnesota

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Name: Edward J. (Jack) Bardon
State/Region of Service: Minnesota (Minnesota Returned Peace Corps Volunteers)
Peace Corps Service: Turkmenistan, 03-05.
Contact Info: jackbardon@ymail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Advocating for Peace Corps agenda items such as budget support and promoting a positive image in congress is crucial. Special issues as periodically identified by NPCA deserve our support as they positively impact our Returned Peace Corps volunteers and help develop our third goal of bringing the Peace Corps home.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: With my wife Jane, privately meeting with President George Bush as Peace Corps invitees in 2003. This resulted in extensive state and national publicity for Peace Corps. We were able to create a most favorable Peace Corps image, and President Bush was understanding and supportive. He certainly understood what Peace Corps is striving for. An additional success story is for two years being an advocate in D.C. on Advocacy Day. I believe our combined efforts on Advocacy Day were helpful in obtaining the recent increase in Peace Corps funding from congress.
Fun Fact: Stimulated by Peace Corps experience, I wrote and published my book “The Knowledge Drive: Confronting Mythological Beliefs.”

 

Mississippi

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Name: Carley Lovorn
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Oxford)
Peace Corps Service: Nicaragua 1999-01
Contact Information: carleycat8@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: We never really stop being Peace Corps Volunteers.  Peace Corps’ Third Goal is to share our experiences when we return home and our legislators are no exception!  I think people get intimidated by advocacy, but really it’s just about sharing your story.  Tell your member of Congress how Peace Corps has impacted you and by extension, your community and your state.  That’s all it takes to be an advocate!
Fun Fact: In addition to a wonderful full-time job at the University of Mississippi, I also volunteer at a regional free health clinic as the volunteer coordinator, grants manager, and a translator.  In my free time, I like to go camping or to hear live music with my husband and son.

 

Missouri

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Name: Amy Morros
State/Region of Coverage: St. Louis Area
Peace Corps Service: Mali 1996-98
Contact Information: amymorros@yahoo.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: I want to give back to the Peace Corps because I believe in the power of international service. I have been lobbying for years in Washington, DC and in-district, and I feel that it is an essential part of being an engaged citizen. My wish is that recently returned RPCV’s would take action because we need their collective voices to ensure a bright future for the Peace Corps.
Success Story: Every meeting I schedule is a success to me. Missouri can be a conservative state so every little bit sends a message that what we do is important.
Fun Fact: I love travelling and I have lived in Maine, France, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Mali, Washington, DC, Vermont, and now Missouri (where I was born).

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Name: Matthew Sakow
State/Region of Coverage: Columbia Area
Peace Corps Service: Burkina Faso 2012-14
Contact Information: matt.sakow@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: With continued rapid progress in both transportation and communication, the U.S. can simply not avoid an increased exposure to and participation in global culture. Our crucial role is to demonstrate to our leaders how the Peace Corps’ goals truly take advantage of this, not only benefiting those in other countries but also each American back home.
Fun Fact: My pinkies are of different lengths. I have yet to decide how this will influence my advocacy efforts, however…

Montana

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Name: Otto Koester
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Missoula)
Peace Corps Service: Ethiopia 1968-69;  Ghana 1969-70;
Contact Information: otto.koester@mso.umt.edu
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: We emphasize that Peace Corps is as important today as it was in 1961 — for Montana and the country, both internationally and at home.  Abroad, it promotes international peace and cooperation by providing development assistance that allows communities to interact with American citizens; at home, it provides a rural state like Montana with former volunteers who give presentations in small town schools and before civic groups that help community citizens gain a better understanding of the challenges and conflicts facing the developing world today.  Montana’s three-member Congressional delegation and staff generally are within each reach, but we need strong NCPA advocacy in D.C. for Peace Corps to continue its work.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: Several years ago we decided to generate more public recognition for Peace Corps with an entry in the University of Montana’s homecoming parade, an annual event that attracts large numbers of spectators from across the state in a football-crazy state like ours. Lo and behold, we were awarded first prize in the non-profit organization category! We had great fun doing it.
Fun Fact: The coordinator ‘s grandchildren call me Desta, the Ethiopian nickname given to me as a volunteer.  Before Peace Corps, I lived where “Sound of Music” was filmed.

 

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New Jersey

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Name: Joanne Armstrong Brandwood
State/Region of Coverage: Northern New Jersey
Peace Corps Service: Botswana 1981-1983
Contact Info: brandwood@aya.yale.edu
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Peace Corps Volunteers do amazing work throughout the world, and, since government workers cannot advocate for themselves, it falls on RPCVs to spread the word about the ongoing mission of the Peace Corps and to convince our representatives in Washington of the value and importance of support for the Peace Corps.
Share an Advocacy Success Story: Last year, after meeting with an RPCV constituent, Representative Leonard Lance became the first Republican co-sponsor of the International Volunteer Service Day Resolution.
Fun Fact: I currently have two children serving in the Peace Corps: one in Ethiopia and one in Vanuatu.

 

New York

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Name: Eliot Cresswell
State/Region of Coverage: Northeastern New York State
Peace Corps Service: Morocco 2000-2002
Contact Info: eliotcresswell@gmail.com & www.rpcv-neny.org
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: The Peace Corps means so much to so many people. Advocacy through NPCA is a powerful and organized way to keep Peace Corps’ ideals alive year to year.
Fun Fact: Got involved in Peace Corps related advocacy after attending PC Connect in Boston in 2013.

 

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Ohio

Name: Susan Kay
State/Region of Coverage: Northeast Ohio
Peace Corps Service: Azerbaijan 2010-12
Contact Information: suziandsnickers@yahoo.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

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Pennsylvania

Name: Emily Anderson
State/Region of Coverage: Pittsburgh Area
Peace Corps Service: Indonesia 2012-14
Contact Information: e.joyce.anderson@gmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

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Tennessee

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Name: Lacey Cook
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Nashville)
Peace Corps Service: Togo 2002-04
Contact Information: laceycook12@gmail.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Advocacy is vital in making sure the Peace Corp’s goals of capacity building and cross cultural exchanges here and around the world can be met through continued funding and program support. I look forward to ensuring that TN’s leadership stays informed on the importance of the Peace Corps for returned, current, and future PCVs and host countries.
Fun Fact: Thanks to my PC service, I carry dice and a book everywhere I go. You never know when you can make friends over a game or may need to make a long wait feel less so.

Name: Elizabeth Ellis
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Nashville)
Peace Corps Service: Honduras 2008-10
Contact Information: elizabeth.ellis417@yahoo.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

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West Virginia

Name: Scott King
State/Region of Coverage: Entire State (based in Charleston)
Peace Corps Service: Chad 1970-71
Contact Information: tskwvu70@hotmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

Wisconsin

Name: Judy Figi
State/Region of Coverage: Madison Area
Peace Corps Service: Sierra Leone 1964-67
Contact Information: salonesix@aol.com
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Some in Congress are always interested in cutting the PC budget which will cut programs and prevent PC from opening new programs. We need to convince them that this is not good policy.
Advocacy Success Story: Through Friends of Sierra Leone we advocated for the return of PC to Sierra Leone after the war and PC finally did return in 2010.
Fun Fact: I met my husband as a PCV in Sierra Leone and our daughter was also a PCV on Yap Island, Micronesia.

Name: Cheryl Nenn
State/Region of Coverage: Milwaukee Area
Peace Corps Service: Ecuador 1995-97; Honduras 1999
Contact Information: cheryl_nenn@milwaukeeriverkeeper.org
(Full Profile Coming Soon)

 

Wyoming

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Name: Mandi Jean Mosher
State/Region of Coverage: Wyoming (based in Casper)
Peace Corps Service: South Africa 2013-15
Contact Information: mmosher@dfscholars.org
Why NPCA Advocacy is Important: Peace Corps is an amazing organization that has the potential to grow and build on their strengths and learn from their weaknesses, and by serving as an advocate as an RPCV I can help do just that. Advocate change where change is needed and help strengthen areas where potential growth can happen.
Fun Fact: I studied abroad in 5 different countries before I served in Peace Corps.

 

Serving Volunteers

Name: Jeremy Kyle Houston
(Jeremy is the Advocacy Coordinator on NPCA’s Serving Volunteers Advisory Committee)
Peace Corps Service: 
Contact Information: jeremykhouston@gmail.com
(Full Profile Coming Soon)