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Peace Corps Achievements — November 2020

Achievements of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Across the country — and around the world

By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–1970)

Photo: Tavish Fenbert, evacuated from Peace Corps service in Senegal in March — and recognized in August for his work to help food insecure families in Seattle




Leif Brottem  (2002–2004) is an assistant professor of Global Development Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa. He currently conducts academic field research on resource use outside of Park W in Benin and Niger, and at Zakouma National Park in Chad. He recently penned “Protecting African Wildlife: A Defense of Conservation Territories” for Mongabay.





Jomara Alexandra Laboy Rivera (2015–2018) currently works in the Peace Corps’ Office of Programming and Training. She was a full-time teacher in the northwest region of Cameroon during her service, where she taught mathematics, biology, and citizenship to the equivalent of seventh and eighth graders. Each class had an average of 65 students.





Beth Ann Lopez (2012–2014) is the co-founder and CEO of Docosan, a healthcare desktop computer and mobile app for use in Viet Nam. Docosan lets patients compare healthcare providers across a wide range of specialties, book appointments online 24/7, chat with primary care assistants, and manage their own health data for free.





Jerry W. Sanders (1967–1969) received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2020 for achievements, leadership qualities, and the successes he has accrued in the fields of higher education, academic and policy research, and peace advocacy.



Jessica Hancock-Allen (2005–2007) is a Saint Paul epidemiologist working with Catholic Charities. Her work is primarily with those who are homeless and ill. Prior to her current post, she was the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer stationed at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.




Maya Penn (2018–2020) is a deaf education teacher. She taught integrated science and creative arts at a school for Deaf students in eastern Ghana. Her projects included teaching hospital staff Ghanaian Sign Language, running the HIV/AIDS club, and hosting a leadership camp at her school. Before her pandemic-related evacuation in March, she was successful in getting a grant approved for the renovation of an old building in order to make it a health clinic.





Angela Scott practiced law for many years before devoting attention to the wine profession, pursuing the elite Master of Wine degree (held by only 393 people worldwide). She was accepted into the program in 2018. If she passes on her timetable, she will become the world’s first Black person to hold the Master of Wine title.






Shaylyn Romney Garrett (2009–2011) has collaborated with Dr. Robert Putnam on researching and writing The UpswingHow America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020, Simon and Schuster) – a timely analysis of economic, social, and political trends over the past century. She is also a weekly contributing writer at Weave: The Social Fabric Project founded by David Brooks and housed at the Aspen Institute.





Emily Brown (2014–1017) has received a year-long fellowship from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. As a litigation fellow, she conducts legal research, drafts friend-of-the-court briefs, and completes other assignments to support the Reporters Committee’s litigation efforts.





Mark Baetzhold (2014–2015) began his leadership as executive director of Heart, Love & Soul, a nonprofit food pantry in Niagara Falls, NY on October 1, 2020.






Meghan Mclnerey (1982–1986) has been named Intensive Care Unit medical director at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. She has extensive experience in Africa, having worked as a medical officer in South Africa and as an HIV/AIDS Training Coordinator.





Anna Vasquez (2014–2016) was recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month (October 2020) for her service and leadership as a community health registered nurse at Lawndale Christian Health Center in Illinois. She has worked daily with underserved and uninsured individuals, the majority of whom are Spanish speaking.






Crystal Mojica (2017–2019), along with Valentina Stackl, started Planeta G, the latest project out of Greenpeace, highlighting Latinx who are in the fight to save the planet and reverse climate change.





Dr. Amy Myers (1995–1998) was a finalist for the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards for Central Texas. She is a New York Times bestselling author and the CEO of Amy Myers MD, a physician-designed and formulated nutritional supplement company.





Leilani Sabzalian has received the American Educational Research Association’s 2020 Outstanding Book Award for her 2019 publication, Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools. She is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsikwałá (Teacher) Education Program at the University of Oregon.






Tavish Fenbert (2018–2020) was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award promoting volunteerism in August 2020 by Points of Light. He was evacuated from Senegal after 18 months of service, and has been volunteering with the University District Food Bank and at Solid Ground to support food insecure families and those who lack access to nutritious foods in his own community in Seattle, Washington.




Please share your news with us! Email Peter Deekle.