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  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff.


    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Lisa Woodson (pictured) is working with Indigenous populations in the Amazon basin on health research. A new film produced by Bryn Mooser on the 2021 Refugee Olympic Team. Entrepreneurial success. Honoring an advocate for the land.

    Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.

     

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Dancing with Angels book coverW. Brunhofer has recently released Dancing with Angels: Songs and Poems from the Millennium. The exploration of poetry is produced by Christian Faith Publishing. From Shakespeare to Yeats, Brunhofer explores favorite poems of inspiration and presents a series of personal writing dating back to the 1970s.

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Andy Dieckhoff (2017–19) has joined the staff of the Madras Pioneer in Madras, Oregon, as its new sports editor. He is a lifelong Oregonian and was raised in Corvallis. 

     

     

     

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    Douglas and Cheryl Hunt were honored on September 1, 2021 by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship with the Barstow Driver Award for Excellence in Nonviolent Direct Action in Retirement. They are both retired educators who have been peacemakers for most of their lives. They have devoted themselves to gun violence prevention, climate change, and efforts to support communities in Colombia.

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Stephen Foehr (1964–66) has published Warrior Love in July 2021. The novel is a murder mystery.

     

     

     

     

     

    Asian Trail Mix book coverEric Madeen has published Asian Trail Mix: True Tales from Borneo to Japan. He is an associate professor of modern literature at Tokyo City University and an adjunct professor at Keio University.

     

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Bryn MooserBryan Mooser (2001–04), an Oscar-nominated producer who founded the nonfiction film and television studio XTR in 2019, will produce with Waad Al-Kateab a documentary film on the 2021 Refugee Olympic Team. Al-Kateab is the director of the documentary. Mooser is also part of the inaugural NPCA “40 Under 40” cohort.

     

     

     

     

    GUINEA-BISSAU / CAPE VERDE

    Estela Divino (1988–90) is a McKnight Senior Living 2021 Women of Distinction honoree. She is the Palliative Care Coordinator at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens County, New York.

     

     

     

     

     

    IRAN

    Harry Conklin (1968–71) died in 2021 and, in addition to a long career in law, served on the board of the Community Land Trust (BCLT) in the Southern Berkshires for more than four decades. The BCLT will honor his legacy through the establishment of the Harry Conklin Fund for Farmsteads. The purpose of the Fund is to support secure, long-term access to land for farmsteads for small-scale farmers, while retaining ownership of the land in a community organization.

     

     

     

     

    JORDAN

    Allison Monroe (2002) is the CEO at Language Learning Market (LLM) – Educational Resources in All Languages. LLM joined nonprofit accelerator Impact Ventures’ Spring 2021 cohort, later receiving a $10,000 prize at its 2021 showcase pitch competition. LLM comprises a marketplace to buy educational resources from businesses large and small and micro-entrepreneurs worldwide, a directory of resources and places to learn, and an education-focused media network.

     

     

     

     

    MACEDONIA

    Mary O’Connor (2006–08) is an architect, educator, and writer. She is the recent author of Free Rose Light (University of Akron Press, 2021), a story of Akron’s South Street Ministries and its founders Duane and Lisa Crabbs. Duane Crabbs was a Cuyahoga Falls firefighter disturbed by the lack of diversity in the department.

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Ron Ryanson (1964–66) has produced “'Tattooed Trucks of Nepal – Horn Please” — a documentary film that draws on his own experience of traveling on the back of a truck from Kathmandu to villages 57 years ago. He was 23 years old at that time, and the film has knit together the varied stories of road travel in Nepal as well as the multi-dimensional cultural aspects of Nepal. 

     

     

     

     

    Lisa Woodson has received a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship toward a year in Peru where she will conduct research among an Indigenous population within the Amazon basin. Her research focuses on perceptions of health seeking behaviors and changes to those behaviors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, as experienced by Indigenous Amazonian peoples.

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Robert Frisch (2007–09) was awarded Cornell University’s Stein Family Prize in 2013 in the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan MBA Competition. He is the founder of Firelight Camps — inspiring adventure and getting more people outside by means of stylish, social, eco-friendly, and rejuvenating upscale campgrounds.

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Laura Johnson, a board member of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, has been appointed University of Vermont’s new extension pollinator support specialist with the Applied Research and Education Pollinator Program. She started with the Migrant Education Program in 2017 before moving to an agronomy outreach role with the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

     

     

     

     

    VANUATU

    Santiago Pardo Sanchez (2017–18) is now completing an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, focusing on sustainability and entrepreneurship. He is a managing editor of Harvard Mapping Past Societies, a digital atlas project within the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard, where he focuses on climate change, and on economic and political projects.

     

     

     

     

    ZAIRE

    Charles Kosak photoCharles Kosak is presently the Department Of Energy Faculty Chair at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs. In this role, he helps prepare U.S. and partner-nation national security professionals and future leaders to better understand emerging threats to peace and security and develop innovative approaches to strengthen U.S. and partner-nation capabilities and capacities.

     

     

     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

     

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Carol Anne “Aziza” Reid (Moldova and Eswatini, pictured) honored with the Lillian Carter Award. Writer George Packer (Togo) serves up a stark and compelling analysis of the state of American politics. Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador) tells a remarkable tale of a Jewish family’s flight to Latin America to escape the Nazis. Kim Mansaray, country director for Peace Corps Mongolia, is presented with that nation’s highest honor, the Order of Polar Star. Honors for a librarian, a sustainable kids clothing line, and a new beat for a journalist — and much more.

    Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.

     

    BURKINA FASO

    Tyler LeClear Vachta (2009–11) has been recently appointed Human Resources Systems and Data Analyst at Augsburg University (Minneapolis).

     

     

     

     

     

      

    ECUADOR

    Moses Manning (2016–18) has been appointed a policy intern at the World Resources Institute (June 2021). He is a graduate student in Duke University’s Master of Public Policy, Energy and Environmental Policy program.

     

     

     

     

    Doris Rubenstein (1971–73) is an author and journalist who recently published The Boy with Four Names (iUniverse, 2021). The book is the story of one Jewish family who left Europe and what was an almost certain death by the Nazis to find freedom and safety in Ecuador.

     

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Janet Lee (1974–76) has been named the 2021 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) International Relations Committee’s John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award, presented to a librarian or person who has made significant contributions to international librarianship. The award consists of $1,000 and a plaque presented at the ALA 2021 Annual Conference. Following her tenure as dean at Regis University, Lee received a Fulbright Scholarship (2017–18) to study in Ethiopia.

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Kayla Canne (2018–20) has taken on a new beat with the Asbury Park Press, covering the affordable housing shortage at the Jersey Shore and the Garden State. 

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Chris Jage (1993–96) joined the staff of the Adirondack Land Trust in July 2021 as conservation program director, overseeing its land protection and land stewardship teams. Since 2016, he has worked as land protection manager with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
     

     

     

     

     

    HONDURAS

    Raymond Limon is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital and Diversity, and Chief Human Capital Officer with the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has been recently nominated for vice chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board of Directors.
     

     

     

     

     

    HUNGARY

    Cordes Lindow (1991–93) has been selected as one of five participants in C-SPAN’s 2021 Teacher Fellowship Program. She will collaborate with C-SPAN's Education Relations team for four weeks to create content for C-SPAN Classroom, a free online teaching resource for educators. She is piloting International Relations Honors at Allen D. Nease High School (Ponte Vedra, Florida) in the upcoming school year.

     

     

      

     

    MOLDOVA

    Carol Anne “Aziza” Reid (2016–18) was recognized with the 2021 Lillian Carter Award. The Lillian Carter Award honors outstanding returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served at age 50 or older. Reid served as a  community organizational development volunteer in Moldova from 2016 to 2018, and later as youth education volunteer in Eswatini from 2018 to 2020. Her projects centered on organizing community programs to empower women and youth through both African dance classes and social justice. She is now starting a new position as a Peace Corps Recruiter.
     

     

     

     

    MONGOLIA

    Kimberly Mansaray (2018–present) is Peace Corps Mongolia Country Director. On June 24, 2021 she was presented the Order of Polar Star, the highest state honor. This honor was awarded by Mongolia’s president to Peace Corps and its leadership, including Kim Mansaray, for their invaluable contribution to advancing the friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and the United States.

     

     

     

     

    Katie Murray (2003–05) is the executive director of the nonprofit food and fiber trade organization Oregonians for Food and Shelter. She has led the organization since December 2020. 

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Gordon Brown (1996–98) was appointed in July 2021 to serve as director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. He served as a Peace Corps Country Director in Ghana (2018–21) and Benin (2015–18).

     

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Brian Washburn (1998–2000) has published What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training. His new publication offers a “periodic table of learning elements” modeled on the original periodic table of chemical properties providing metaphors for the tools and strategies of the field of learning design. Brian is the co-founder and CEO of Endurance Learning, a boutique instructional design company.

     

     

      

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Kya O’Donnell (2019–20) is a legislative aide at the Connecticut State Capitol. She was recently hired as head coach of field hockey at Cheshire High School.

     

     

      

     

     

     

    RWANDA

    Nicholas Sung (2016–18) published a research paper exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the U.S. Ambassador Corps for the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. He graduated with a master’s degree in public policy from the school this year. With Peace Corps, he served as an education coordinator in Rwanda 2016–18 and a food security specialist in Nepal 2012–14.

     

     

     

     

    TOGO

    George Packer (1982–83) published Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal in summer 2021, recognized as an editor’s choice by the New York Times Book Review. As a journalist, novelist, and playwright, Packer has covered a broad range of of U.S. foreign and domestic policies through his work. Last Best Hope offers an examination of the conflicting interests that define contemporary American politics, free agency, morality, meritocracy, and justice. 

     

     

     

     

    TONGA

    Seth Hershberger (2004–06) was appointed in July 2021 as executive director of Wicomico Public Libraries in Maryland. He previously served as public diplomacy professional associate and community liaison office coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana.

     

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE

    Emmery Brakke (2017–20) is a candidate at Brown University for a master of public affairs degree. Her career focus has been refined by the domestic challenges associated with COVID-19.

     

     

     

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    John Mark King (2001) is the co-founder of Muse Threads, a bamboo children’s clothing line based in Washington, D.C. Alongside his wife and co-founder, he has turned what started as a pandemic passion project inspired by his newborn daughter into a successful, sustainable kids’ clothing line with a growing cult following. He is also a professional voice actor and music producer/songwriter.

     

     

     

      

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    For the first time women lead the Poetry Foundation and the YMCA of the USA see more

    Meet the new presidents of the Poetry Foundation and the YMCA of the USA. For the first time at both of these venerable institutions, there’s a woman at the helm.

     

    Michelle Boone

    President of the Poetry Foundation

    CHAD | 1994–96

    Photo courtesy the Poetry Foundation

     

    Named in April as the new president of the Poetry Foundation, Michelle Boone is the first woman of color to lead the storied Chicago-based institution, which publishes the century-old journal Poetry, one of the most prominent literary journals in the United States. Along with her Peace Corps service, Boone brings over 20 years of experience to the new role, including prominent positions at the Navy Pier; the Joyce Foundation; and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

    During her tenure at DCASE, she helped facilitate the Chicago Cultural Plan and also championed the Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015. Boone told The New York Times that she was heavily influenced by poetry while growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, when the Black Arts Movement saw the emergence of poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Oscar Brown Jr. 

     

     

    Suzanne McCormickSuzanne McCormick 

    President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

    THAILAND | 1989–91

    Photo courtesy YMCA

     

    The YMCA of the USA announced its new president and CEO in August: Suzanne McCormick, who becomes the first woman to lead the Y in the United States. McCormick brings more than 27 years of experience as a senior and executive leader, most recently serving as U.S. President of United Way Worldwide. She has been responsible for helping the 1,100 local United Ways across the U.S. address communities’ most pressing challenges.

    Prior to assuming this national role, she spent five years as president and CEO for United Way Suncoast and 13 years at United Way of Greater Portland in Maine — including four as president and CEO — during which she set strategic direction for Let’s Go, a preventative childhood obesity project, and three school district community-based partnerships focused on school success. McCormick was just recognized by The NonProfit Times as one of 2021’s NPT Power & Influence Top 50.

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Pictured: Children’s Literature Legacy Award Winner — author Mildred Taylor 

     

     

     

    BENIN

    Marieme Foote (2018–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. In Benin, she served as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Agent until evacuated due to COVID-19. Upon her return to the United States she accepted a position with the National Peace Corps Association where she has worked on advocacy and issues pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Peace Corps Agency and community.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Natalie Obaldia (2019–20) is the Southern California Regional Volunteer Coordinator for California Volunteers, the governor’s and State Legislature’s continued investment in service and volunteering. 

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Jerome Siangco (2019-2020) taught News Listening and Spoken English to first-year, sophomore, and junior English majors at Liupanshui Normal University until his pandemic-impacted evacuation. He now serves as COVID-19 contact tracer with the National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. 

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Mildred (Milly) D. Taylor (1965–67) is the winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her award-winning works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” which won the 1977 Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award; “The Friendship,” “Road to Memphis,” and “The Land,” all recipients of the Coretta Scott King Award. Her most recent work is “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” (Dial, 2020). In addition to numerous awards for individual books, Mildred Taylor is the 2020 recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

      

     

     

    GHANA

    Meghan McCormick (2011–13) co-launched OZÉ, a Ghana-based financial tech startup that helps small to medium enterprises to record their daily activities ranging from expenses to sales. And in January 2021 news stories noted that OZÉ had raised $700,000 for micro, small, and medium enterprises in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa. The startup then combines these data to offer insights useful for recommendations. She also co-founded of Dare to Innovate. McCormick is committed to ending unemployment in West Africa through investments in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Norma Royale Wilder is the author of “The Longer I Live the Wilder it Gets: A Memoir of Adventure.” Wilder’s adventures have taken her around the world. She was interviewed on the radio about her book and life experiences on February 10, 2021. 

     

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Sandra Adounvo has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will pursue a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Humanitarian Assistance. She intends to join the USAID Foreign Service as a Health, Population, and Nutrition Officer. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    John Fleming (1967–69) has a lengthy career in museum management. He has served as president of the Ohio Museums Association and the Association of African American Museums. He is currently writing a book about his Peace Corps service in Malawi.

     

     

     

     

     

    Austin Fraley (2017–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship. He will attend the University of Wisconsin to pursue a master’s degree in international public affairs in preparation to join USAID as a crisis, stabilization, and governance officer. Prior to his experience in Malawi, Austin worked with Kentucky Refugee Ministries as an ESL intern and a driver. He also worked at Quest Farm, a Kentucky non-profit that works with people with intellectual disabilities. 

     

     

     

    Vishakha Wavde (2018–20) is currently a physical therapist in Illinois. With a health services career in progress, she sought a two-year assignment in Malawi, focused on HIV and Malaria prevention, youth capacity building and working with HIV support groups. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALI

    Molly Mattessick (2002–04) is Managing Director of Project Delivery at Forum One, an organization that amplifies the impact of mission-driven organizations through transformational digital solutions. In fall 2020 she led the team at Forum One to collaborate with National Peace Corps Association to launch and publicize the NPCA Emergency Response Network.

     

     

     

     

    MICRONESIA (Chuuk)

    Aydin Nazmi (1999–2001) since early 2020, has served as the Cal Poly Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. He is a professor in Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department and is one of four faculty members from across the California State University (CSU) system to earn the Wang Family Excellence Award. He earned the award in the Outstanding Faculty Service category in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the CSU.

     

     

     

    MOROCCO 

    Paige Beiler (2018–20) has served since November 2020 as a COVID-19 contact tracer with National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. During her Peace Corps service she started a library at the local youth center through a USAID funded grant.

     

     

     

     

     

    MOZAMBIQUE

    Emily Wood (2019–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will use her fellowship to continue her education and foster her dedication to public service as a Foreign Service Officer. She hopes to work with indigenous communities, helping them regain their self-reliance after centuries of marginalization.

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Leala Rosen (2014–15) is a program officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conservation Leadership Programme.

     

     

     

     

     

    SAINT LUCIA

    Jennifer Leshnower (2007–09) is volunteer director for California Volunteers — a statewide organization building critical connections and partnerships between public, private, and community-based organizations in order to mobilize human and social capital to eradicate California's most pressing social and economic injustices. 

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Carolee and Art Buck (1968–70) have been invited by the president of Senegal, their original Peace Corps host country, to return for a visit, which they both anticipate occurring later in 2021. The invitation resulted from Carolee’s pandemic writing project (a record with photos) documenting their years in Senegal. The self-published book impressed the Senegalese president so much that he extended an invitation 

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE AND GUINEA, BURKINA FASO, SENEGAL, SIERRA LEONE, MORROCO

    Doug Teschner (1971–73; 2008–17) is the president of Growing Leadership LLC, which supports nonprofits, governments, and businesses by partnering to strengthen their capacity to achieve the highest level of performance. Services include leadership training, coaching and mentoring; public speaking; organizational development and strategic planning; public policy support and legislative advocacy; resource development, communications and public relations.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

     

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    The latest from renowned writer Paul Theroux and a World War II thriller from Mark Sullivan. Former “Hardball” host Chris Matthews pens a memoir. Honors for journalist Maureen Orth and public health leader Peter Kilmarx. An ongoing project involving the personal stories of Peace Corps Volunteers impacted by COVID-19. Running for mayor in Anchorage. The memorialization of historic moments by the founder of JUSTUS Kitchen. World Gin Awards gold medalists. Cheers!

    Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    Maureen OrthMaureen Orth (1964–66) received a 2021 Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award from the Cal Alumni Association, in partnership with the UC Berkeley Foundation, for pushing boundaries whenever possible. She is an award-winning journalist, best-selling author, and founder of the Marina Orth Foundation.

     

     

     

     

      

    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

    Peter KilmarxPeter Kilmarx (1984–86) has been presented with the 2021 Daniel Webster Award for Distinguished Public Service by the Dartmouth Club of Washington, D.C. for his work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Public Health Service, and Peace Corps (among other accomplishments). He is deputy director at Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.

     

     

     

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Tiffani JarniganTiffani Jarnigan (2012–14) has been named a 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Women of Excellence award winner. She is manager of environmental, social, and governance process and innovation with the company.

     

     

     

     

     

    ESWATINI

    Chris MatthewsChris Matthews (1968–70), who served as a Volunteer in the country when it was known as Swaziland, has published a memoir titled This Country: My Life in Politics and History. It chronicles his life and career in post-World War II America and includes discussion of his Peace Corps service. He hosted the show “Hardball with Chris Matthews” from 1997 to March 2020.
     

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Kyle HenningKyle Henning is publishing a book entitled From Afar about his journey in 2013 from Lake Assal in Djibouti to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds and public awareness for The New Day Children’s Centre in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. He also has 11 YouTube videos of his journey from Djibouti, through Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

     

     

     

     

    GABON

    Erick Guerra Erick Guerra (2002–04) is an associate professor and the associate chair of city and regional planning in the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. He has received the G. Holmes Perkins Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award for Outstanding Faculty.


     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Mark DonahueMark Donahue (2017–19) has enrolled in the University of Georgia Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership to help propel his career and impact as a nonprofit leader. Having grown up in Zimbabwe to parents who worked in the international development sector, he witnessed his father serve an important role in one of the largest international nonprofits in the world.
     

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Molly MattesonMolly Matteson (2017–19) is program administrator for the Yale Young African Scholars Program and is completing her master’s at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was recently interviewed by Borgen magazine about her experience as a Volunteer. While serving she was also known as Adwoa Serwaa, the name given to her during her welcome ceremony. She had the title of Community and Youth Development Advisor. Through community-focused projects, her primary task was bettering education, involving a “school building project, developing a school health curriculum and engaging students in empowerment and academic capacity building activities.”

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Rush HarrisRush Harris (2002–04) now serves as the executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO). He was appointed to the position in October 2020 after serving with the company for nearly six years total, including 2011–13 and then again from 2016 onward.
     

     

     

     

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Forrest DunbarForrest Dunbar (2006–08) represents East Anchorage in the Anchorage Assembly. He is running for mayor of the city in 2021. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    Paul TherouxThe most recent novel by renowned writer Paul Theroux (1963–65) is Under the Wave at Waimea, published in April. A “full-fat epic,” in the words of The Guardian, it tells the tale of Joe Sharkey, a big-wave surfer who experiences tragedy on an island paradise. Theroux turned 80 this year. In April The New York Times Book Review carried an interview with him under the headline “Would the Pandemic Stop Paul Theroux From Traveling? No. Of course not.” It was the meeting of Peace Corps writerly generations: a conversation with Gal Beckerman, editor at large with the Book Review, who himself served as a Volunteer in Cameroon. Earlier this year Theroux’s 1981 novel The Mosquito Coast premiered as a series on Apple TV+ with Theroux’s nephew, Justin Theroux, in the starring role as Allie Fox, “a ‘radical idealist’ and inventor who uproots his family and heads to Mexico, where they suddenly find themselves on the run from the government,” as The Hollywood Reporter puts it. The series has just been renewed for a second season. 

     

     

    MALI

    Jocelyn JacksonJocelyn Jackson (2005–06) the founder of JUSTUS Kitchen and co-founder of People’s Kitchen Collective, regularly gathers people together for community meals. By bringing together artists and chefs, they memorialize historic moments such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the Great Migration of African Americans from the South in the early 20th century, and the so-called Muslim ban of 2017. “Social justice and food and art can intersect in a way that is so powerful and compelling,” Jackson recently told Nonprofit Quarterly. “It really invites people to step into their power.”

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Juanita LimasJuanita Limas (2000–02) received the Boka W. Hadzija Award for Distinguished University Service by a Graduate or Professional Student. The award recognizes the graduate or professional student at the University of North Carolina who has been judged most outstanding in character, scholarship, and leadership.

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Mark SullivanMark Sullivan (1980–82) has published The Last Green Valley, a historical novel inspired by the Martel family’s true story of daring and survival in 1944. Ethnic Germans whose ancestors had lived in Ukraine for more than a century, they had seen family members sent to the gulag by the Soviets. With two boys aged 4 and 6, they fled toward Poland before the advancing Red Army. Sullivan lives in Bozeman, Montana, and is the author of the 2017 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky as well as the “Private” series co-written with James Patterson.
     

      

     

     

    THE PHILIPPINES

    Matthew WestfallMatthew Westfall (1983–85) and Laurie Westfall, founders of Full Circle Craft Distillers, have won two gold medals at the World Gin Awards in London. They were among those recognized in 2021 by Tatler Asia as the most influential individuals in the food and beverage industry in Asia: The Tastemakers list.
     

     

     

     

     

    ROMANIA

    Carol SpahnCarol Spahn (1994–96), Acting Director of the Peace Corps since January 2021, announced on March 31, 2021 that the Peace Corps and FEMA have struck a historic partnership to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. For the second time in the agency’s history, Peace Corps volunteers will serve a domestic deployment, at FEMA’s request — the first following Hurricane Katrina and now at federally supported Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) across the country. Spahn has also served as Country Director for Peace Corps Malawi (2014–19) and Chief of Operations, Africa Region (2019–21).
     

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Ruth KauffmanRuth Kauffman received Bucknell University’s 2020 Service to Humanity award in recognition of her 30-year career in international women’s health and midwifery.
     

     

     

     

     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

    A newly appointed Assistant Secretary for the Department of State. Two non-profit success stories. An award winning art professor. Peace Corps writers write. And a Peace Corps themed photographic exhibition in Las Vegas.

     

    COLOMBIA

    Ron DizonRon Dizon (1971–1973) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps with a three-month photographic exhibition at the City of Las Vegas Library Art Gallery. The exhibit entitled “Afghanistan Black and White 2021” highlights Peace Corps Afghanistan’s “War on Hunger 1971-1973.”  August 10 – October 12, 2021.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Matt Kuhn was promoted to the position of Aspen, Colorado’s Director of Parks and Open Space. He had been serving as interim director since June 2020, and previously served as the business services director, operations manager and trails manager for parks and open space.

     

     

     

     

    CHAD

    Michelle T. BooneMichelle Boone (1994–96) was named in April as the new president of the Poetry Foundation. She is the first woman of color to lead the storied Chicago-based institution, which publishes the century-old journal Poetry. Boone offers over 20 years of experience following prominent positions at the Navy Pier; the Joyce Foundation; and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. During her tenure at the DCASE, she helped facilitate the Chicago Cultural Plan and also championed the Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015. Boone told The New York Times that she was heavily influenced by poetry while growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, when the Black Arts Movement saw the emergence of poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Oscar Brown, Jr. 

     

     

    Audrey ZibelmanAudrey Zibelman (1977–79) recently took up a new post as Vice President at X, the Moonshot Factory, where she works to develop tools and capabilities as a systems operator, to decarbonize the electrical system. In April she was invited by the Biden administration to join the Leaders Summit on Climate to present ways in which steps can be taken to counter the detrimental impacts of the climate crisis. During the Summit, Zibelman announced that the United States and the United Kingdom would be joining the Global Power System Transformation Consortium, an organization she helped create during her time as CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator. 

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Peter HesslerFor three stories published last year on China, Peter Hessler (1996–98) garnered for The New Yorker a nomination for best reporting as part of the 2021 National Magazine Awards. The stories: “Life on Lockdown,” “How China Controlled the Virus” and “The Sealed City.”Hessler has been a staff writer at the magazine since the year 2000 and has covered events in China and Egypt. He is also the author of five books, with some of the most prominent being “Oracle Bones,” which was a National Book Award finalist; and “The Buried,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hessler was also named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011. 

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Javier ValdésJavier Valdés (1999–2001) has been named U.S. Director of Civic Engagement and Government for the Ford Foundation. Valdés was previously the co-executive director at Make the Road New York, the state’s largest immigration advocacy organization. In his work Valdés has been instrumental in increasing affordable housing, expanding translation services in government offices, and reducing bias in policing. His professional initiatives and résumé of promoting social change will make him pivotal in the Ford Foundation’s ambitions on strengthening representation, participation, and leadership in U.S. democracy. 


     

     

     

    INDONESIA

    Rayna RogersRayna Rogers (2014–16) is an upcoming graduate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where she has pursued her master’s degree in nonproliferation and terrorism studies. She was recently selected by her fellow students to be this year’s student speaker as a result of her exemplary academic performance and professional work. Rogers also has experience in teaching, having been an English Second Language Instructor for five years in South Korea, and having served in the Peace Corps as an education Volunteer in Indonesia. During her time as a graduate student, Rogers has written about nuclear safeguards implementation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and also served as content director for the West Coast Chapter of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformations (WCAPS). She has also rendered three-dimensional models of ballistic missiles for use by the University’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
     

     

    IRAN

    Tom KlobeTom Klobe has been awarded the Preis Honor from the Hawai 'i Arts Alliance. He is a professor of art at the University of Hawaii. He is the author of Exhibitions: Concept, Planning and Design.

     

     

     

     

    MALI

    Kathi Seiden-Thomas (1996–98) is the co-founder and editor of Whose Stories Will We Hear?, a website and storytelling project uplifting stories of Black Africans in Africa. Series I: The Lives of Africans during the COVID-19 Pandemic has published 28 stories from 16 African countries on the website. “We believe that every story is worthy of being listened to and being heard,” she says. “In our attempt to understand and tell African stories, we also recognize that our role is not limited to compiling these stories but is also extended to prioritizing the narrative of the communities that have given us the privilege of collaborating with them.”
     

     

     

    MOLDOVA

    Kelly King HorneKelly King Horne (1995–97) is the executive director of Homeward, Virginia’s regional coordinating agency for homeless services, including the development and implementation of a regional strategic plan, board relationships, development, organizational management, and research and analysis.

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Amy MaglioAmy Maglio (1996–99), following her Peace Corps service, founded the Women’s Global Education Project, a global nonprofit organization with a goal of helping young girls across the world. In March 2021 the organization received a $750,000 grant from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey through his #StartSmall initiative. “This all really came from my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal,” Maglio told the Chicago Tribune. “I helped my host sister go to school for the first time. I saw firsthand the impact school can have on a girl’s confidence and her future.”

     

     

     

    Katie SpeicherKatie Speicher (2016–18) has published The Giant Tangerine Sunball, her first collection of poems that spring from her Peace Corps service. (Peace Corps Writers, March 2021). She is also the farm manager at Common Ground Farm in Beacon, New York — a nonprofit with a mission of food access and food education.

     

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Donald Lu (1988–90) was nominated on April 23, 2021 as Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State. He has been U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic since 2018. The portfolio of the region’s assistant secretary of state consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In his three decades as a diplomat, Lu has been the ambassador to Albania, charge d'affaires at the embassy in Azerbaijan, and deputy director of the State Department's Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs. He also has experience of handling a health emergency having worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa as Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response in the State Department.

     

     

    SOMALIA

    Martin GanzglassMartin Ganzglass (1966–68) has published Goats: And Other Stories (Peace Corps Writers, March 2021). His collection of short stories merges the mundane and the supernatural. 

     

     

     

     

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    C.D. GlinC.D. Glin (1997–99) has been appointed the Vice President, Global Head of Philanthropy for The PepsiCo Foundation. He begins his new role on May 17. Glin will be responsible for the daily management of the Foundation, and will oversee the Foundation's strategic direction and continued focus on driving progress towards a more sustainable food system. Glin has been serving as president and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), an Africa-focused philanthropic organization established by Congress to invest grant capital, build capacity, and scale locally-owned, sustainable solutions for underserved and agricultural-dependent populations. He also previously served as associate director in Nairobi, Kenya, at The Rockefeller Foundation and before that was the first director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Global Partnerships at the Peace Corps. He was part of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in South Africa. Read and watch his remarks from the 2020 panel “African Americans and the Future of the Peace Corps” here.
     

      

    TUNISIA

    Jody OlsenFormer Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen (1966–68) received the University of Maryland Alumni Association’s President award on April 23, 2021. She is one of six recipients of the Maryland Awards, which celebrate and honor the achievements of outstanding alumni. The award cites her lifelong championing of service, learning, and international opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds. Olsen served as Peace Corps director from March 2018 through January 2021.
     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across generations and around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

    A mayoral candidate for Boston. A recipient of American Institute of Architects’ highest award. Peace Corps writers write. And a big winner on “Wheel of Fortune”! 

    Photo: A Twitter moment with Jon Santiago, a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature and ER phyiscian — and now candidate for mayor of Boston. 

     

    AZERBAIJAN

    Patrick Newman wearing shirt and tiePatrick Newman will become CEO and president of Fort Worth Botanic Garden and Botanical Research Institute of Texas effective May 1, 2021. He has been serving as executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin since 2016, with more than 14 years in public gardens. At the Lady Bird, he oversaw a $5 million annual budget and supervised a staff of 60 employees and 800 volunteers.

     

     

     

     

    CAMBODIA

    MelanyMelany Danielson smiling Danielson (2015–18) is a recipient of the Priscilla Perry Memorial Scholarship. She is enrolled at the University of Miami Law School and plans to pursue a career in public interest law fighting for marginalized groups.

     

     

     

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Jon Santiago posing on rooftopIn February, Massachusetts State Representative Jon Santiago (2006–08) declared his candidacy for mayor of Boston. His launch video, titled “Our Boston Story,” tells how his early years in Boston led to a life of service – in the Peace Corps, as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve deploying overseas, an emergency room physician, and as a state representative. Santiago is currently serving his second term as the State Representative for the 9th Suffolk District representing the South End, Roxbury, Back Bay, and Fenway neighborhoods of Boston. He is an emergency room physician employed at Boston Medical Center, the city’s safety net hospital. 
     

     

     

    FIJI

    Carissa Wills-DeMello posing in front of a treeCarissa Wills-DeMello (2014–16) is co-founder and CEO of Town Farm Tonics, along with her partner and fiancé Adam Davenport. Their herbal medicines business is located in Rhode Island.


     

     

     

    GHANA

    Melissa FischerMelissa Fischer is the author of “The Advocacy,” a novel focusing on the gold-mining region in Ghana, and on a village whose drinking water supply is a river, which is ruined by the construction of a dam by the local gold mine. 
     

     

     

     

     

    Rahama WrightRahama Wright (2002–04) was recently featured by Nasdaq.com in an interview, “The Poverty-Alleviating Power of Shea Butter: Rahama Wright's Mission of Empowerment.” After her Peace Corps service, Wright launched Shea Yeleen, a social impact company that creates living wage jobs for women-owned shea butter cooperatives in Ghana. “As a first generation Ghanaian American,” she says, “the lives of women in rural Ghana reflect the life of my mother who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s to give her kids a better future. I grew up in a household where my father, an American, had a master’s degree and my mother had a sixth-grade education. I was acutely aware of the inequalities in the world simply from seeing our family dynamics, and my passion for women’s economic empowerment developed at a young age. As a result of my heritage, I identify deeply with African women and I know how economic opportunities can transform their lives.”

     

    GUATEMALA

    Liat Perlin with basket of fruitLiat Perlin joins the Tulane University’s Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies to continue her Food Studies research by conducting ethnographic work with Guatemalan farmers.  She is also the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship in community engaged scholarship.

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    David Chard wearing a suitDavid Chard has been appointed permanent Dean of Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and Professor of Special Education. He had been serving as interim dean. Dr. Chard previously served as President of Wheelock College until the 2018 merger with Boston University. Prior to that, he was Dean of Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development for nine years. He holds a Ph.D. in special education from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in mathematics and chemistry education from Central Michigan University.

     

     

     

     

    Thomas SouciaThomas Soucia (1981–84) is seeking election to a vacant seat on the Franklin County Court bench in New York State. He has worked as a public defender since 2007 and was a child support attorney for the Department of Social Services in Franklin County from 2000 to 2007. In addition to his work in Franklin County, Soucia worked as a public defender in Micronesia, an island nation in the western Pacific, from 1997 to 2000, was in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Crops from 1989 to 1995, and served on the USS Cape Cod during Operation Desert Storm.

     

     

     

    LIBERIA

    Shelton Johnson in park ranger's uniformShelton Johnson (1982–83) has worked as a park ranger in Yosemite National Park for over 20 years. He recognized the disconnect experienced between Black Americans and natural spaces, saying “one of the great losses to African culture from slavery was the loss of kinship with the earth.” Johnson advocates for representation and inclusion in National parks and still works as a park ranger at the age of 63. He was recently featured by University of Wisconsin-Madison among Black Leaders in Environmentalism. Johnson grew up in Detroit, but discovered his love for nature while living in Germany, where his father was stationed in the army. He received his B.A in English Literature from the University of Michigan and served with the Peace Corps after graduation. Johnson then began working as a park ranger and was soon inspired by the work done by the Buffalo Soldiers at Yosemite in the early 1900s. Johnson thought of his own upbringing in Detroit and decided to focus his efforts on bringing people of color to the great outdoors.  

      

    LITHUANIA

    Patrick ChuraPatrick Chura (1992–94) is the author of “Michael Gold: The People’s Writer,” published by SUNY Press in December 2020. It is an authoritative biography of the dean of American proletarian writers during the interwar years. Jewish American Communist writer and cultural figure Michael Gold (1893–1967) was a key progressive author of his generation, yet today his work is too often forgotten. His acclaimed autobiographical novel Jews without Money (1930) is a vivid account of early twentieth-century immigrant life in the tenements of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. 

    Chura is Professor of English at the University of Akron. He is the author of “Thoreau the Land Surveyor” and “Vital Contact: Downclassing Journeys in American Literature from Herman Melville to Richard Wright.”

     

     

    MICRONESIA

    Tim Cureton in his coffee shopTim Cureton, along with Abby West, opened the first Rise Up Coffee in St. Michaels, Maryland. And what started as one small coffee trailer in a parking lot has evolved into five iconic locations.


     

     

     

    MONGOLIA

    Jeffrey ReevesJeffrey Reeves (2001–03) is vice president of research for the Asia Pacific Foundation (APF) of Canada. Prior to joining APF Canada, Reeves was the director of Asian studies at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 
     

     

     

     

    MOROCCO

    Robert K. MillerRobert K. Miller was appointed to the Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Foundation Board of Directors in December 2020. He joined the SBCC District Board of Trustees in March 2018.
     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Miriam Welderufael posing outsideD-M-H-A ... and what words begin to appear? Miriam Welderufael served as a Volunteer in Paraguay 2013–16. And here’s a moment of true delight for her in a bonus round on “Wheel of Fortune” in February 2021. Welderufael is a portfolio manager at AmeriCorps in Los Angeles. For those who want to know how things turned out on the show, be sure to watch the video in the link. (Here’s a clue: Her winnings include over $57,000 and a Mustang convertible.)
     

     

     

     

    PERU

    Edward MazriaThe American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded Edward Mazria (1963–65) the 2021 annual gold medal, AIA’s highest honor. As the founder of Architecture 2030, Mazria is attempting to transform the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central solution to the climate crisis.
     

     

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    Tom BissellThe latest from writer Tom Bissell (1996) is a collection of short stories, “Creative Types and Other Stories,” published by Pantheon Press (March 2021). As Publishers Weekly notes, “The seven stories in Bissell’s droll, thoughtful collection (after the travelogue Apostle) portray artistic people in the midst of unfortunate circumstances, often due to their own actions.” There’s a confrontation with a Roman tour guide during a honeymoon trip that goes awry; a married couple who’s hiring of a female escort leads to more serious problems revealed, and comeuppances for both a schoolyard bully-turned-magazine editor and for a former lawyer for the Justice Department who is accused of war crimes overseas for his advocacy of torture during the Iraq War.

    Many readers know Bissell’s work through the film adaptation of “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room,” made into a film by James Franco. In the new collection, “The Hack” follows an assistant for Franco navigating the actors’ demands during an appearance on Saturday Night Live. 

    Bissell’s books include “Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia,” “The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam,” and “Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation.”

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Achievements in the Peace Corps community from across the country -- and around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Pioneering Black women in leadership roles with the Department of Labor and Department of State. Bringing expertise to work on the National Security Council and in the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador. Recognition for work toward equity in health and forest stewardship. And a new role in journalism. 

    Photo: A Twitter moment with Janelle Jones, the new chief economist for the Department of Labor. She’s the first Black woman to serve in that role. 

     

    CAMEROON

    Erin Swiader took on responsibilities in January 2021 as Acting Forest Supervisor for the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico. She will oversee the management, protection, and productivity of the 1.6 million acres of the national forest. Swiader comes to this role from the Northern Region for the Forest Service, where she serves as chief of staff. The Northern Region is headquartered in Missoula, Montana, and encompasses nine national forests and the Dakota Prairie Grasslands across five states.

     

     

     

    CAMBODIA

    Jalina Porter (2009-2011) was appointed in January 2021 to serve as deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. She is the first Black woman in history to serve in that role. She was formerly communications director for Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who has been appointed a senior advisor to the Biden Administration. Learn more about Porter and read her interview with civil rights attorney Elaine Jones in the new edition of WorldView magazine.

     

     

     

    ECUADOR

    Maurice Lee has received the Fifth Annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity. The award, presented by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, began in 2016. Dr. Lee is Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Medical and Dental Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2016 Dr. Lee founded the Arizona Safety Net, collaboration among 40+ Phoenix-area free and low-cost clinics aimed at improving health equity for Arizona’s uninsured. 

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Topaz Smith is the founder and CEO of EN-NOBEL, with a vision to improve global peacefulness and sustainable socioeconomics in culturally rich communities.

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Megan Vigil was recently appointed by the Lake County Commissioners as the county’s new Public Health Officer. She is a family practice physician with St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan, Montana. 

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Juan Gonzalez (2001–04) has taken on responsibilities as Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere. He previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs during the Obama administration. 

     

     

     

     

    JAMAICA

    Steven Lawrence is an adjunct professor of American government at Walters State Community College. He has been appointed as a Hamblen County Election Commissioner by the Tennessee State Election Commission.

     

     

     

     

    KOSOVO

    Michaela Washington (2018–20) was sworn in in December 2020 as an Equal Opportunity Specialist with the Chicago’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

     

     

     

     

    MOLDOVA

    Robert Allen Jr. (2019–20) has been selected as a 2021 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow. The fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of State, administered by Howard University, attracting and preparing outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State. It welcomes the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the State Department.

     

     

     

    MOZAMBIQUE

    Ethan Fogg (2017–19) has begun an 11-month internship to bolster community and economic development efforts undertaken by Grow Gillespie, the local volunteer group focused on the economic growth of Gillespie, Illinois.

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Stacie Haines (1997–2000) is the development director at Maine Conservation Voters, and has been appointed by the governor as an expert in the delivery of environmental services to communities and individuals.

     

     

     

     

    John D. Mann (1988–91) has been reappointed by Californiia Governor Gavin Newsom as Deputy Director of Legislation at the California Department of Technology, where he has served since 2017. He served as communications director in the Office of California State Senator Tony Mendoza from 2014 to 2017, and as communications director on the Alex Padilla for Secretary of State Campaign from 2013 to 2014, and in the Office of California State Senator Alex Padilla from 2011 to 2014. 

     

    Robin Martz (1993-1995) is the director of the USAID Rwanda Health Office. She has worked on maternal and child health in Laos, polio in Afghanistan, HIV in Haiti, and emerging pandemic threats in Thailand and Cambodia.

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Brendan O’Brien assumed the position of the Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in San Salvador in January. Previously, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission (2019–21), Consul General at the United States Embassy in San Salvador (2017–19), and at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. Aires, Argentina (2014–17). 

     

     

     

    PERU

    Janelle Jones has taken on the role of Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor — the first Black woman to serve in this top post. Previously, she has worked for the Economic Policy Institute (2016–18) and the Center for Economic and Policy Research (2011–14). One place to start to learn more about her work and ideas: a piece she co-authored last summer for the Washington Post, “The Federal Reserve could help make the job market fairer for Black workers.”

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Rajiv Joseph’s play, “Red Folder,” is the opening production for the new year by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. It is the third of six productions debuting on its Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage.

     

     

     

     

    TOGO

    E. Scott Osborne (1980–82) is the president of the board of the Gulf Coast chapter of UN Women USA. She leads seminars on gender equality and speaks often to young people in the Sarasota, Florida, area. She has also raised the profile of the nonprofit organization’s Through Women’s Eyes film festival, an annual event that screens films by women directors from around the world. The festival is now in its 22nd year.

     

     

    UGANDA

    James Wilterding was appointed in January to serve as executive director of University of New Mexico Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). The pandemic has emphasized the essential role healthy campus communities have on student success.

     

     

     

      

    ZAMBIA

    Andy Blye (2017-2018) was hired by the Phoenix Business Journal to cover financial services and technology. Previously, he was a reporting intern at Dow Jones News Fund. He was also a graduate assistant at Arizona State University and has served as a market intelligence specialist at bChannels.

  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    Community news highlighting achievements of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers see more

    Achievements in the Peace Corps community from across the country — and around the world

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

    From new books to leadership roles, working with students and refugees, in conservation and the church. Plus a story of gratitude for all the Volunteers who served in Korea — with a thank-you and help in a time of pandemic.

    Photo: Shenna Bellows, who served as a Volunteer in Panama, is sworn in as Maine’s Secretary of State — the first woman to serve in that role. 


     

    BOTSWANA

    Connie Czepiel (2009–11) has a career in international finance. She is also recently author of Dream On! The Alarm Clock of Your Life Hasn’t Gone Off Yet, a chronicle of her overseas work for Mission Aviation Fellowship, Peace Corps, Mercy Ships, and Samaritan’s Purse.

     

     

     

    Marni von Wilpert (2006–08) was one of five new members joining the San Diego City Council in December 2020. She was a social worker for the Peace Corps in Botswana during an AIDS epidemic there, providing experience with virus testing and contact tracing for today’s pandemic. 

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Felicia Singh (2013–15) is a Democratic Party candidate for New York City District Council 32, with education reform as a major campaign objective along with utility management and women’s empowerment. The election will be held in June 2021.
     

     

     

     

    COSTA RICA

    Jim LaBate began his Peace Corps service in the mid-1970s in Costa Rica. He recently retired from Hudson Valley Community College where has was a writing specialist. His sixth novel, Streets of Golfito, published in 2020 is loosely based on his Peace Corps experience. 

     

     

     

     

    COTE D’IVOIRE

    Polly Dunford was named president and CEO of IntraHealth International, a large global health organization based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina just as Covid-19 was emerging as a threat to the world.

     

     

     

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Edward Crawford (2004–06) is the co-founder and president of Coltala Holdings in Dallas, Texas. He recently announced a $150 million partnership with Trive Capital. He has authored works regarding “conscious capitalism” and the potential rise of this socially responsible economic and political philosophy. Crawford is also in the inaugural cohort of the National Peace Corps Association 40 Under 40.

     

     

     

    ECUADOR

    Mildred Warner (1979–81) received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, Inc. (ACSP) Margarita McCoy Faculty Award for the advancement of women in planning in higher education through service, teaching, and research in November 2020

     

     

     

     

    ESWATINI

    Father Michael Fuller, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, has been named associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in November 2020. Before arriving at the USCCB, he served as chairman of the Department of Spiritual Theology from 2011 to 2016 and chairman of the Department of Christian Life from 2002 to 2011 (University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary). He also was editor of the Chicago Studies Theological Journal.

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Christen Marie Smith (2007–09) has taken a new role as Vice President of LMI federal health and civilian market. She aims to continue LMI's efforts to help government customers manage health care delivery and federal work environments as well as drive scientific and space innovation efforts.

     

      

     

     

    GUINEA

    Jackson Willis has been named a Rhodes Scholar in the first-ever virtual selection process, necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He will pursue Master of Science degrees in economics for development and in global governance and diplomacy at Oxford.

     

     

     

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Michael Hotard (2009–11) manages research projects related to undocumented immigrants and health care at Stanford University’s Immigration Policy Lab. In late October 2020 he discussed the experiences and struggles that have shaped his career in an online presentation to current Stevenson Center Fellows at Illinois State University.

     

     

     
     

    KOREA

    Sandra Nathan (1966–68) was among the Korea RPCVs who received a surprising gift from the people in her Peace Corps community more than fifty years earlier – a "COVID-19 Survival Box."  The box containing expressions of concern and support was sent to former Volunteers who served in Korea during the early 1960s. Here’s the story from The New York Times.

     

     

     

     

    KYRGYZSTAN

    Michael Drake is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Taza Aya (“fresh air” in Krygyz). The company has been named an awardee in the Invisible Shield QuickFire Challenge, a competition created by Johnson & Johnson Innovation in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The program seeks protections from airborne viruses with minimal impact on daily life.

     

     

      

    LIBYA

    Randy Hobler (1968–69) interviewed 101 of his fellow RPCVs in depth for his new book: 101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya.

     

     

     

     

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Zac Schnell (2012–14) was named the Pamlico Community College’s 2020 Instructor of the Year. He also began assisting with Occupational Safety and Health Administration training for Continuing Education students.

     

     

     

     

    MACEDONIA

    Cal Mann (2017–20) will share his experience as a Rotarian serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Eastern Europe before the 2020 pandemic evacuation. Tune in on February 11, 2021 with the Rotary Club of Northfield at 12:00 PM via Zoom (Meeting ID: 853 8396 5788; Passcode: 601997).

     

     

     

     

    MEXICO

    Kyle Fredrickson (2014–16) is District Forester for Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District. His work with an aerial drone for conservation purposes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has deepened understanding and created new educational opportunities. “To cross a wetland, it could take two to three hours to reach the site,” Hughes told a reporter recently. “The drone can do it in five minutes, plus we can’t get that perspective from the ground.”  

     

      

     

    MONGOLIA

    Katie Murray is the new executive director of Oregonians for Food & Shelter (OFS), a nonprofit agribusiness group. At OFS she aims to safeguard necessary tools for natural resource industries while ensuring users aren’t left without alternatives if regulatory changes occur.

     

     

     

     

    PANAMA

    Shenna Bellows (2000–02) has been elected by Maine’s 130th Legislature to be Maine's new secretary of state. She is the first woman elected to serve in the role. During her remarks at her swearing-in in January, she noted that her grandmother, who celebrated her 101st birthday just days prior, was born in the year that saw the final ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

     

     

     

     

     

    PAPUA NEW GUINEA

    Christopher Davenport (1994–96) published the memoir Tin Can Crucible through Lume Books in December 2020. The title, an account of modern-day sorcery, was previously available via NetGalley. The author is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.

     

     

     


     

    PARAGUAY

    Estee Katcoff (2011–14) founded in 2016 the Superkids Foundation, a nonprofit in Paraguay that fills in literacy gaps and trains students to be educational leaders. In 2017 she founded GMAT/GRE test prep company PrepCorps in Seattle to recruit top test-takers to teach courses while fundraising $60,000+ for international education.

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Jet Richardson (2008–10) has completed his first year as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Tri-County Partners.  Prior to that he has completed nearly four years with the International Crisis Group — an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

     

     

     

     

    TANZANIA

    Adeel Amed has been appointed by the University of Nevada, Reno, Extension, College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources as Lyon County educator, focusing on community and economic development. He was born in Pakistan and immigrated to the United States as a child before entering college and serving in the Peace Corps.

     

     

     

     

    THAILAND

    Kari Miller (1997–99) is the Founder and Executive Director of International Neighbors. She works with Charlottesville, Virginia's refugee and SIV population (special immigrant visa holders, who worked for the United States during the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq), equipping these new neighbors with the network and skills needed for them to thrive — not just to survive — as aspiring Americans.

     

     

     

    Dick Sandler is known as Thailand’s “Grandfather of eco-tourism” and was one of the early pioneers in Thailand’s now burgeoning eco-tourism sector.  A Fulbright scholarship in research economics led to him joining Peace Corps staff in Thailand. He has also worked for the United Nations Development Fund and the World Bank, focusing on rural development projects. His latest resort project in Thailand is Our Jungle Camp in Khao Sok.

     

     

    Melissa Wurst (1989–92) is the owner and founding member of Language Solutions, Inc. Founded in 1998, the enterprise is assisting those with limited literacy, translation, and interpreting skills.

     

     

     

     

     

    UGANDA

    Renee Manneh (2007–09) is a doctoral candidate at Campbell University for a degree in Health Sciences. She is the Executive Director at her private practice where she also sees clients as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. 

     

     

     

     

    VANUATU

    Brianna Russell (2008–10) is the Founding Executive Director of Girls Leading Girls, Inc., a nonprofit organization in San Francisco that trains young women in leadership and life skills. 

     

     

     

     


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

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

     

    ALBANIA

    Ackeem Evans (2018–20) is the co-founder of EVERYONE EATS FOUNDATION, Inc. He is the project manager for World Central Kitchen, helping feed Louisiana refugees and first responders in the 2020 aftermath of Hurricane Laura

     

     

     

     

    BENIN

    Megan McComb (2018–20) received a Fulbright fellowship for the 2020–21 grant year. She will serve as English Teaching Assistants (ETA) abroad. While the COVID-19 pandemic postponed travel plans, she will be able to begin her placement as soon as January 2021, conditions permitting.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Cody Grasser has been promoted to the position of Ohio State Coordinator of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. Grasser will lead the organization’s partnerships in the state, including relationships with the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Division of Wildlife, and other partnership efforts. 

     

     

     

    Mauricia Baca was recently named by The Nature Conservancy in Nevada as the chapter’s new state director. She began her new role on November 16 and is based in Las Vegas. ­­She brings 25 years of experience in nonprofit and conservation organizations.

     

     

     

     
     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Danielle Nierenberg received the Smithsonian Institution’s Julia Child Award in October 2020. She is an activist, an advocate who works behind the scenes to find ways of making the world’s food system more equitable through her seven-year-old nonprofit Food Tank.

     

     

     

     

    ECUADOR

    David Schweidenback founded and runs New Jersey-based Pedals for Progress and Sewing Peace. The organization partnered with the Newtown Rotary Club in October 2020 for its 18th annual bike and sewing machine collection drive. Bicycles collected by Pedals for Progress are reconditioned and shipped overseas to needy countries where they are used as vital transportation modes and to move goods from one village to another.

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Andrew Tadross (2011–2013) served as a lecturer at the University of Mekele in the Tigray region and has recently published an all-ages coloring book, What is Ethiopia? It depicts various subjects in the country during the current turbulent time.

     

     

     

     

    GEORGIA

    Terrell J. Starr is a senior reporter for The Root whose writing covers Russia, Ukraine, the 2020 election, race, and security issues. He recently joined the Hamilton Lugar School (Indiana University) as part of its speaker series on Race, Gender, and Power in Global Affairs. He is working on a book project that examines U.S.-Russia relations from a Black perspective.

     

     

     
     

    GHANA

    Jacob Foss wrote “Let’s Talk About Food Loss” for the October edition of Whole Foods Magazine. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Agricycle Global Inc., an organization of ethical brands using a systems-based zero waste approach to international development.

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Joi Latson (2019) joined the World Food Prize Foundation as a Program Coordinator. She will be responsible for assisting the Director of Youth Leadership Development in the implementation and creation of the annual World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, which brings together over 200 students and teachers from around the globe each year.

     

     

     

    Nora Wynne is a middle school Spanish teacher in California. She was selected as one of only five teachers statewide to be named “Teacher of the Year” for 2021 by the California Department of Education. During her Peace Corps service, her original assignment was to help farmers learn about organic agricultural methods, but she ended up teaching in elementary schools, changing her future career path toward education.

     

     

     

    HONDURAS

    Paul Hicks (1993–95) is a project manager for Catholic Relief Services. Living and working in El Salvador for the past 11 years, he and his colleagues have spearheaded an initiative called Blue Harvest around sustainable agriculture related to coffee.

     

     

     
     

    INDONESIA

    Paige Stewart (2018) was nominated for the Kansas Horizon Award, a program that identifies and recognizes first-year teachers who perform with distinction. 

     

     

     

     

     

    KOREA

    Gerry Krzic accepted the national Peace Corps Association’s Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service on behalf of the Friends of Korea. He is the president of Friends of Korea and the Ohio Program of Intensive English.

     

     

     

     

    KYRGYZSTAN 

    Jia Tolentino (2010–11) is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Jai hosted a virtual reading and Q&A for Manhattan College’s Major Authors Reading Series in October 2020. 

     

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Paul Johnson (1995–97) has been named Chief Information Officer at Poly, a global communications company supporting connections and collaboration.  

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    James Melonas has been named the next Forest Supervisor of the National Forests in North Carolina. He began his new role in late November 2020.

     

     

     

     

     

    PANAMA

    Zach Barricklow (2005–10) is the Vice President of Strategy at Wilkes Community College. Zach has been named as a 2020 Trailblazer by Business North Carolina magazine.

     

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Ben Doyle (2001–03; regional recruiter, 2004–06) started his job as president of the Preservation Trust of Vermont in early October 2020. He served as Assistant State Director for Rural Development from 2018–20.

     

     

     

      

    Nick Gengler, a wildlife ecologist and conservationist at the University of Florida, has received a National Science Foundation research grant. The COVID-19 travel restrictions have put his research in Paraguay’s Atlantic Forest on hold for the time being. Right now he is analyzing data from other studies that are similar to his planned project while he waits.

     

     

     

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Diane Glover (2018–20) served through October 2020 as a Community Compact coordinator at Emory’s Oxford College, helping inform Emory students about her service and supporting them in upholding the Community Compact, introduced in Fall 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was evacuated from Peace Corps service in the Philippines in March 2020. She recently began a position as program analyst with the General Services Administration. 

     

     

     

      

    SENEGAL

    Amy Maglio (1996–99) received the Gender Equality Award from the UN Women USA Chicago Chapter in October 2020. She is the founder of Women’s Global Education Project, which creates opportunities and equality for girls in marginalized and rural communities.

     

     

     

     


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    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
     

     
    BENIN

    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.

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    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.

     
     

     

     

    CAMBODIA

    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.

     

     

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    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.

      

    GHANA

    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.

     

     

     

    HAITI

    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. 

     

     

     

     

    JORDAN

    Shaylyn Romney Garrett (2009–2011) has collaborated with Dr. Robert Putnam on researching and writing The Upswing: How 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.

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    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 Committees litigation efforts.

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

    NAMIBIA 

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    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.

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY 

    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 Childrens 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.

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL 

    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.

     

     

      


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

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–1970)




    Angell Kim (far right) served in the northern coast of Colombia as a Peace Corps Volunteer in education and community development from 2016- 2018. Picture courtesy of Peace Corps. 


    BULGARIA

    Jerramy Dear-Ruel is a candidate for Montana’s House District 6 in 2020. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, detention officer, anf law enforcement park ranger. Jeremy is also the founding executive director of Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless high school students.

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    Angell Kim (2016-2018) was selected as a 2020 Donald M. Payne International Development Fellow and upon receiving her master's degree, she will serve as a U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) Foreign Service Officer with a commitment of five years.

     
     

    CZECH REPUBLIC

    Maria Patrizio is a candidate for the Orange County (NY) Family Court judge position in 2020. She has twenty years of service exclusively with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and is now a supervising attorney. She was a teacher during her Peace Corps service.

     

     

    ECUADOR

    Trent Blare (2005-2008) has become the newest researcher and assistant professor at Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC) of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).  In his new role at TREC he will facilitate policy development at the local and state level to promote agriculture sustainability that can also preserve natural resources.

      

    Juan David Ospina (2010-2012), a public health advocate and Army Combat Medic veteran, is running for state representative for Connecticut’s 145th district, representing Stamford.

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Madelynn Hirneise (2011-2012) is the CEO of Families Forward. The nonprofit, formed in 1984, helps at-risk and homeless families to regain economic independence and find a stable home for their children, among other services.


     

    KENYA

    Dan Weinberg (1968-1970), a former Montana State Senator, donated a personal collection of art books to the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana in 2018. The museum hosted a new exhibition of his art books in September 2020, lasting into December 2020. The art books were published by the New York-based Vincent FitzGerald & Co., honoring the lifelong work of his friend Vincent FitzGerald, a fellow RPCV.

      

    MALAWI

    Jack Allison (1967-1970) was honored with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award the Governor of North Carolina can bestow on a civilian. He has recently published a memoir (January 2019) entitled The Warm Heart of Africa, documenting his Peace Corps experience as a health clinic Volunteer and unexpected pop star in the country. During his service he wrote a jingle encouraging the use of peanut butter in children's diets for protein. The tune became the number one hit song on Malawi's single radio station for three years.

     

    MEXICO

    Merle Parise (2007-2009), a Newcastle (ME) farmer and forestry consultant, is the Republican candidate for Maine House District 90 in 2020.

     

     

    MONGOLIA

    Anne Tulkin (2003-2005) is the founder and director of Accessible College, providing support for students with physical disabilities and health conditions and their families to ensure a successful transition to and through higher education. In September 2020 Accessible College and The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation have announced their new partnership.

     

    MOROCCO 

    Mark Apel (1982-1986) pictured second from left, has been volunteering in his original Peace Corps assigned country of service. He returned to Morocco in 2017 and 2018 as a Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer with the High Atlas Foundation, which he continues in 2020 virtually.

     
     

    TURKMENISTAN

    Peter Rengstorf (2010-2012) became the Senior Customer Success Agent at Meister (Seattle) in August 2020. Prior to his current appointment, he was Customer Success Manager at Raken Inc.

     

      


    Please share your news with us! Email Peter Deekle.

     September 28, 2020
  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
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    Achievements of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Across the country — and around the world

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–1970)

     

    BURKINA FASO

    Tyler E. Lloyd (20122014) is an environmental protection specialist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and author of a memoir, Service Disrupted: My Peace Corps Story (August 2017). Tyler hosts My Peace Corps Story podcast, aiming to tell some of the many diverse and rich stories of Peace Corps Volunteers in their own words. The podcast is temporarily suspended, to be resumed later in 2020.

     

    Yoruba Mitchell is a community health educator with Doctors without Borders, teaching people how to prevent malaria, cholera,  Zika, and Ebola. Since early 2020, she has been addressing community readiness in the face of COVID-19.

     

     

    CAMBODIA

    Darlene Grant (20092011; Mongolia 20122015; Kosovo 20152019) was appointed in August 2020 as the Senior Advisor to the Director of the Peace Corps. She will work to increase and champion a diverse staff and Volunteer corps, aiming at increased inclusiveness, removing barriers for underrepresented groups, and creating a more just and equitable Peace Corps. During her career in higher education administration, she was named 2006 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

     

    CAMEROON

    Kristen Walker (20132015) is a biologist at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Agriculture Research Service (ARS), where she investigates the genomics of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and works to create a toolkit of immune reagents for swine. 

     

     

    CHILE

    John Tapogna (19951997) is President of ECONorthwest, a consulting firm based in the Pacific Northwest specializing in economics, finance, and planning. Since his arrival in 1997, he has built consulting practices in education, healthcare, human service, and tax policy.

     

     

    CONGO

    James Ross (19751977) published Hunting Teddy Roosevelt (Regal House Press) in July 2020, a fictional account of Roosevelt’s 1909 African safari. Ross’s short fiction has appeared in various print and online publications including The South Dakota Review, Santa Clara Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Phantasmagoria, The Distiller, Lost River Lit Mag, and Embark.

     
     

    THE GAMBIA

    Ashley Garrison has received the 2020 Young Forester Leadership Award from the Colorado-Wyoming Society of American Foresters. The award recognizes outstanding leadership by a young forestry professional. She is pursuing a Master of Natural Resource Stewardship degree from Colorado State University.

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Imani Lucas (20012003) has been appointed regional program manager for Region One at the California Complete Count – Census 2020. Lucas has been director of the Safe Neighborhoods Health Education Council since 2015.

     

     

    HONDURAS

    Amy Pressman (19871989) was appointed to the OpenGov board in August, 2020. Amy is the co-founder of Medallia, which makes software for businesses to measure and improve the customer experience in real time.

     
     


    KENYA

    Nancy Stearns Bercaw (19881989) is the new Senior Director of Communications and Marketing at Johnston Community College’s in North Carolina. She has written for publications around the world including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Korea Herald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CBS 48 HOURS, MariaShriver.com, and U.S. News & World Report. She is a 17-time All-American swimmer, National Champion, and Olympic Trials qualifier.  
     


    KYRGYZSTAN

    Scott Frederick (20032005) has been elected as one of 15 new shareholders for the law firm of Baker Donelson. He recently worked in Washington, D.C. for USAID.

     

     

    MALI

    Paul Dragon has been appointed to the Vermont Adult Learning Board of Trustees. Over the past 15 years, he has worked at the Agency of Human Services, including as the Deputy Secretary for the Agency, the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and most recently as the Director for Field Services.

     

     

    MOROCCO

    Stacey Ann Ferguson (20052007) has been selected as the new administrative and business services officer at Cape Cod National Seashore. Since 2018, she served the National Park Service as business manager for the deputy director for management and administration in Washington, D.C. She was a staff member at the Peace Corps in Washington for more than eight years.

     
     

    PARAGUAY

    Chris Heppe has been appointed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) central California district manager. He most recently served as the assistant field manager for the BLM Arcata Field Office, overseeing a variety of natural and cultural resource programs.    

     
     

    Besem Obenson (19921993) has been recognized as one of three “Hometown Heroes” by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as part of its annual World Humanitarian Day (August 2020). She heads the UNHCR office in Medellin, Colombia, where she helps Venezuelan refugees. 

     
     


    PERU

    Greg Emerson (Morocco 2003; Peru 20032006) has been appointed Senior Director of Product at The Atlantic following several editorial positions. He oversees the end-to-end story experience for the magazine. He was transferred to Peru within months of Peace Corps service in Morocco following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.   

     

     

    RUSSIA

    Jonathan Slaght (19992002) has published Owls of the Eastern Ice (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux), a memoir of his work with Blakiston’s fish owls in Russia’s far east. He is the Russia and Northeast Asia Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, working for both the Asia and the Arctic Beringia Regional Programs. He earned a Ph.D. in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Minnesota in 2011, and this year received an Early Career Alumni Award from the University.   

     

     

    SLOVAK REPUBLIC

    Kim Warren (19941995) was appointed as the new Associate Dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at The School of Social Welfare at The University of Kansas in July 2020. Kim is a specialist in U.S. women’s history, has held the positions of director of undergraduate studies and director of graduate studies in two departments, and has been a faculty fellow in the Center for Teaching Excellence.  

     
     

    TANZANIA

    Donald Wright became the 19th U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania in April 2020. Prior to being named Ambassador, he served as the acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He also directed the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the Office of Research Integrity, and the Office of Occupational Medicine. In addition, he served as the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. 

     

     

    THAILAND

    Alan Abramowitz (19901992) has been reappointed as executive director of the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office for another three-year term. The Guardian ad Litem Program represents abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Florida’s dependency system. Abramowitz has been the program’s executive director since 2010. 

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    Jessica Jackson Shortall (20002001) is a founding board member of The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom by and for women that launched in August 2020, reporting on gender, politics, and policy issues.

     
     


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    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-1970)
     

    RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS (RPCV) MADISON 

    The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, Wisconsin, is the recipient of the Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Association of America, recognizing its annual production of an international events calendar, ongoing community programs (such as Freeze for Food walk), and a long history of service reflecting the United Nation’s mission, values, and goals.

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Alexander Battaglia (2018–20) has received a Fulbright award for the 2020–21 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. His Peace Corps Spanish literacy service was interrupted due to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, his award to teach English in a Madrid high school is expected to begin in January 2021.

     

    FIJI

    Courtney Finkbeiner (2017–19) is the Student Engagement Coordinator for SolarSPELL, a solar-powered backpack library that empowers learners globally by providing localized educational information and the training to build 21st-century skills in offline environments. She used the backpacks in her community in Fiji and is now working with about a dozen returned volunteers in Help from Home.

     

    GUATEMALA

    Samra Brouk (2009–11) led health equity initiatives as a Peace Corps Volunteer and is a nonprofit leader. She is also a 2020 candidate for the New York State Senate, 55th District.

     

     

    Nora Wynne (1997–99), a Spanish teacher and instructional coach at California’s McKinleyville Middle School, has been named the 2020 Humboldt County Teacher of the Year.

     

     

    JORDAN

    Marty Feess (Jordan 2005–07, Albania 2013–15) has received his third award for his 2019 book, American Heroes. This book has won the Arizona Authors Association 2019 first place for non-fiction books; Story Monster 2019 Certificate of Excellence for educational reference works; and Skipping Stones Magazine 2020 Honor Award for multicultural children’s books.

     

    REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA

    Kim Dixon (2014–18) has accepted a temporary position with the National Peace Corps Association, leading its community development campaign and cultivating greater diversity and inclusion of RPCVs. Kim has over two decades of experience in sales, marketing, project management, and consulting capacities with IBM and other professional engagement.

     

    MALAWI

    Brendan Manning (2006–08) became Laguna Beach, California’s Emergency Operations Coordinator this July. He last served as a disaster management advisor with the U.S. Forest Service embedded with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission in Ethiopia.

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Rajiv Joseph (1996–98) is the playwright of Letters of Suresh, which is anticipated to have its world premiere at New York Second Stage’s off-Broadway Tony Kiser Theater in the Spring of 2021.   

     

     

    Nick Roll (2018–20) served as a health extension agent until COVID-19 ended his Peace Corps service. He is currently a Case Investigator employed by the Cincinnati Partners in Health in coronavirus contact tracing.

     

     

    TANZANIA

    Peter Reid (1964–66) has published Every Hill a Burial Place (September 2020, University of Kentucky Press), an account of the trial concerning the death of PCV Peggy Kinsey in 1966.

     


    THAILAND

    Quilen Blackwell (2007–09) leads the Chicago Eco House, an inner city sustainability social enterprise with the mission of reducing poverty. The Chicago Eco House has sites in three Chicago neighborhoods as they operate their flower farm and 3D printing social enterprises for at-risk youth.

     

     

    TOGO

    Dario Borghesan (2002–04) has been appointed as a new justice to the Alaska Supreme Court, announced in July 2020. He previously worked as the chief assistant attorney general for the Alaska Department of Law in Anchorage and supervised the department’s civil appeals section. Borghesan graduated from Michigan Law School in 2008 and clerked in Fairbanks for Justice Daniel Winfree.

     

    TONGA

    Kaitlyn Fontaine (2017–19) is heading up an effort to put books in the hands of Hollister, California’s youth to help bridge the gap created by distance learning and issues of limited access due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In just over a month, Fontaine has collected and distributed nearly 3,500 books to K–8 students.


     

    ZAMBIA

    Chloe Blaisdell (2019–20), following her pandemic-related evacuation from Zambia, is now the farm assistant at Matthew 25, a non-profit farm serving those in need in Central New York. Matthew 25 includes some multicultural farmers who cultivate assigned plots at the farm.

     

     


    Please share your news with us! Email Peter Deekle.

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Community News — Achievements of RPCVs see more

    Community News — Achievements of RPCVs | June 2020

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-1970)

     

    ETHIOPIA

    John Garamendi (1966-1968) along with his Congressional colleague Chris Van Hollen (MD) is calling for an expansion of the AmeriCorps program as a way to battle the coronavirus in the U.S. — a role aptly suited for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers.

     

    Julien Joy (2016-2018) is a master in public policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School. He wants to advance equitable access to quality education and is a Mayoral Leadership in Education Network Student Fellow for the summer of 2020.

     
     

    GUATEMALA

    Russell Nylen (2019-2020) recently evacuated from his host country due to the pandemic. He is planning to make a career working with food-access-development projects nationally and abroad.
     

      

    MOLDOVA 

    Brannon Brewer (1997-1998) and former Peace Corps country director, Ethiopia (2014-2018) suggests that Peace Corps Volunteers — who build relationships in their communities and work with them hand in hand  for two years — support change and establish practices that persist well beyond their departure. Climate is an issue that would be well served by this sustained model of support to the communities that suffer impacts of climate change. .

     

    PANAMA 

    Soraya Valdez Place (201-2014) is a Spanish professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University (North Carolina) and a Hispanic community outreach specialist for Catawba County Library System. She also volunteers and serves as the treasurer with Centro Latino.

     

    PERU

    Evelyn Kohl La Torre (1964-1966) is the author of a recent memoir. Between Inca Walls: A Peace Corps Memoir will be published by She Writes Press in August 2020.

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN 

    Brian Kiger (2004-2006) has pursued a variety of international development initiatives since his Peace Corps service.  He is currently the Head Representative for DAI (Development Alternatives, Inc.) working on a USAID-funded project to improve abilities to grow, harvest, sort, pack, store, and market select horticultural crops.