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  • 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. 



    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. 







    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.





    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. 






    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.






    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.





    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






    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.





    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.






    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.






    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.





    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.






    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.





    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.







    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.






    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).






    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.”  





    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.






    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.







    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.







    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. 






    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. 





    Please share your news with us! Email Peter Deekle.

     January 04, 2021
  • Communications Intern posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.


    By Catherine Gardner and Molly O’Brien

    Our tributes include Joyce M. Bowden (pictured), an early Peace Corps Volunteer who helped treat leprosy in Bolivia and authored over 600 endnotes about four generations of her mother’s family in South Carolina. We remember William Chris Jeffers, co-founder of the Science Teaching Enrichment Programme that has boosted science education in Nepal. We also recognize a committed elementary school teacher with 30 years of experience teaching and advocating for the education of young children everywhere.

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.


    Joyce M. Bowden (1938–2022), an early Volunteer of the Peace Corps, graduated from Florida State University before joining the service in 1963. She served in Bolivia 1963–66 at a leprosarium. Since there was no effective treatment for leprosy until the 1940s and more effective drugs were only discovered in the 1960s, people were still very afraid of the disease. Though scared at first and with little idea of what leprosy truly was, Bowden retained a positive attitude through training and helped leprosy patients in Bolivia rejoin their families and their normal lives. She emphasized that complex situations such as Peace Corps service were not something to be afraid of, rather they should be viewed as a way to learn more about the world and one’s own self. “I think you don’t know your capability, your real capability, until you’re faced with very difficult circumstances … and it’s a great thing to learn that you’re far, far more than you thought, than you have ever imagined.” After her time in the Peace Corps, Bowden went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then served as a Central American field representative for a League of Women Voters education project, a women-led political grassroots network with a dedication to empowering voters and encouraging people of any political opinion to exercise their freedom to vote. Her dedication to helping better the lives of others remained apparent throughout her life.


    Adam D. Goldberg Cohen (1992–2022)often described by friends and family as “many people’s favorite person,” graduated from Tulane University in Louisiana with a degree in anthropology. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and served in Togo 2014–16. While there, he worked with farmers, women’s groups, and youth organizations to implement sustainable farming practices. He also founded Cadeau de la Terre, an agribusiness that helped local coffee farmers to package and retail their coffee beans. Additionally, he worked in food preservation and security, and toured surrounding villages to help train other Volunteers and Togolese partners. Cohen made consistently positive impressions on those he met, especially in regard to his determination. While in Togo, he made the rare effort to learn Akebu, the local language spoken in his host village of Kougnohou. This served as testament not only to his respect for the local culture, but also his linguistic ability, being conversant in at least five languages. He was adored by the local Togolese community, often serving to bridge the gap between Togolese and Peace Corps Volunteers through his warmth and humorous nature. After returning from service, Cohen earned a master’s at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he published articles in Smithsonian magazine while working as a writer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He moved to Tel Aviv in 2021 where he worked as a content writer for


    William Chris” Jeffers (1941–2022), renowned for his positive spirit and ability to connect with people of all backgrounds, grew up in Long Island before graduating from the University of Colorado in 1964. After graduating, Jeffers joined the Peace Corps, serving in Nepal 1964–67. Though he graduated with a degree in chemistry and music, he always held interest in travel and children’s education. His Peace Corps service in Nepal allowed him to combine these two interests with his science background. While in Nepal, he rewrote the country’s middle school science curriculum alongside a local Nepali science specialist. The method of science teaching they developed was novel in Nepal and was dubbed the Science Teaching Enrichment Programme (STEP). Scientific principles and processes had previously been taught by rote, but with the new model scientific theory was taught by experiment and discovery. STEP was a quick success in Nepal, encouraging curiosity in students and increasing the level of science education in the country. It is still largely in use in Nepal to this day. In 1968, Jeffers moved to Washington, D.C., where he served on the Peace Corps Headquarters Staff for two years and helped train and prepare many groups for their Peace Corps service in Nepal. Jeffers was a man of many interests and talents, and he loved to make music wherever he went. His many areas of expertise allowed him to inspire the many lives he touched.

    John G. Kovac (1938–2022)
    renowned for his hardworking nature and love for music, graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey. During the intense Blizzard of 1977 that hit upstate New York, he read the entire Whole Earth Catalog. This sparked his interest in the Peace Corps, which he joined that same year. He served in Colombia 1977–79. Kovac continued his career in law after his service, working for Blue Ridge Legal Services until 1991. It was at this point he made a career switch, choosing to do what he called “[giving] up the practice of law for the practice of music.” He made a legacy for himself as an avid harpist, having instruments in all seven continents of the world. Kovac became a music teacher, lectured at the Library of Congress, and recorded with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra while traveling in Cyprus. He was also a harp-maker, founding John Kovac Harps. He was a beloved mentor to many harpists who respected him not only for his ability, but also for his kindness and humility.

    Joan (Ward) Shaffer Swee (1924–2022), a
     strong proponent of the saying “Peace Corps is the toughest job you will ever love,” was an advocate for education, especially at the elementary level. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a degree in elementary education in 1945. She taught first grade for 30 years, in schools from the Birmingham School in Alabama to Brownhelm Elementary School in Ohio. She retired from teaching in 1980 and spent the time traveling, visiting Israel, Australia, and Greece. At the age of 64, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Liberia 1988–89. While there, she continued to demonstrate her dedication to education, monitoring schools supported with funding from the World Bank. Upon returning stateside, Swee continued to live a life committed to service and education betterment. She volunteered at Meals on Wheels, United Way, the Oregon History Museum, and the Children’s Museum. She also consistently donated to charities, especially the Trinity Lutheran Church of Vermilion, Ohio, and Doctors Without Borders. Her life was full of advocacy and adventure, and she is fondly remembered for the impact she made on her students.

    Thomas Warren (1933–2022), a
     natural born leader, graduated from David Lipscomb College in Nashville with a degree in accounting before going on to Peabody Vanderbilt with the intent to earn a master’s degree. While enrolled, he was recruited as business manager for Peabody’s AID project in Korea. The focus of this project was rebuilding the Korean education system in the aftermath of the Korean War. This project sparked new interest, inspiring him to return to Peabody Vanderbilt to earn a Doctor of Education degree. This fascination and dedication to the betterment of education continued throughout his life, opening a junior high and high school in Maryland. After the opening of Wootton High School in 1970, he took a leave of absence to serve as director of Peace Corps Micronesia for two years. As country director, Warren was responsible for the management and direction of Peace Corps activity and Volunteers in Micronesia. After returning from service, Warren supervised major renovations of schools, served as principal for a school in Singapore, and opened a second high school. His dedication to education was not something only lauded by his friends and family, and in 1992 he was awarded the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award by the Washington Post. 



    Theodore Aranda, Ph.D. (Country Director, Belize), 7/10/22

    Joseph G. Bodensteiner (U.S. Staff), 6/29/22

    Joan T. Edgren (U.S. Staff — Recruiter),  8/1/22

    Jay D. Gaines (Staff, Liberia), 6/12/22

    William “Chris” Jeffers (U.S. Staff), 6/27/22

    Peter Jenkins (U.S. Staff — Recruiter), 7/17/22

    Burce T. MacDonald (U.S. Staff), 6/1/22

    Anita J. Parks (U.S. Staff — Recruiter), 8/1/22

    Barbara L. Schlindwein (U.S. Staff), 7/23/22

    Russell J. Tershy (Deputy Director, Bolivia), 6/29/22

    Thomas E. Warren (Country Director, Micronesia), 6/23/22



    Susan A. Colburn (Liberia  1983–86, Jamaica 1988–90), 7/24/22

    Bonnie (Ness) Hall (Tunisia 1962–64, Venezuela 1970–72), 6/10/22



    Gary L. Fair (1971–73), 7/14/22

    David “Michael” Hicks (1968–69), 6/6/22

    Jon A. Wicklund (1963–64), 8/4/22



    George Michael Constantino (2012–14), 6/6/22



    Ruth Ann Baltz (1985–87), 6/5/22



    Joyce M. Bowden (1963–66), 6/12/22

    Roger K. Mitchell (1962), 7/14/22

    Robert Rosenbloom (1967–69), 6/21/22



    John H. Goddard (1967–69), 6/28/22



    Richard A. Bartlett (1969–70), 7/23/22

    John G. Kovac (1977–79), 7/6/22

    Mark C. Lindsay (1965–68), 7/17/22

    Richard W. Saiser (1962–64), 5/26/22



    Daniel A. Olson (1973–75), 8/9/22



    Richard M. Cabrera (1962–64), 5/28/22

    Harold “Casey” C. Case (1964–66), 7/22

    Joan T. Edgren (1985–87), 8/1/22



    Neil B. Mann (St. Kitts, 1985–89), 7/25/22



    Robert “Fred” G. Loose (1981–83), 10/20/21



    Mary A. (McNichol) Dick (1962–64), 7/8/22



    Hilvie E. Ostrow (1995–96), 7/27/22



    James F. Browne (1970–75), 8/11/20

    Michael F. Mazzone (1985–87), 6/17/22



    Richard E. Heft (1965–67), 6/3/22

    David W. Moore (1967–69), 7/1/22

    Sylvia Rochester (1964–66), 7/25/22



    Sylvia C. Goins (2002), 7/20/22



    James D. Bourcy (1985–87), 5/19/22



    Beverly (Hovendick) Tisdell (1962–64), 6/12/22



    Robert C. Holmes (1963–65), 8/7/22

    John R. Long (1968–70), 7/9/22



    Patricia A. McKissick (1966–68), 7/1/22



    Kathleen N. Carson (1971–73), 7/4/22

    Patricia K. Seiler (1988–90), 6/9/22



    Charles G. Burney (1971–73), 6/3/22

    Barbara C. Deshler (1969–71), 5/23/22

    Joseph G. Wcislo (1964–66), 6/30/22



    Carol S. (Hagar) Ramsey (1995–95), 6/1/22



    Margaret D. (Holt) Sammons (1971–74), 8/3/22

    Joan (Ward) Shaffer Swee (1988–89), 6/12/22



    M. Margaret Castro (1966–68), 6/8/22



    Lowell “Sam” D. Duval (1962–64), 6/26/22

    Ingrid J. (Schindler) Lemarie (1966–67), 6/27/22



    Janet M. Bennett (1968–70), 1/27/22



    Daniel M. Bowler (1988–90), 5/21/22

    Bernard “Buck” B. Trawicky (1968–70), 6/6/22

    William “Chris” Jeffers (Nepal 1964–67), 6/27/22



    Michael C. Tighe (1964–66), 11/20/21



    Leonard A. Hoge (1964–65), 5/23/22

    Natalie M. Murray (2013–16), 5/14/22



    Ursula H. Osborne (1996–98), 2/28/22



    Brenton E. O'Neill (1994–96), 11/27/21

    Susan C. Schulz (1993–95), 8/3/22



    James L. Firth, Ph.D. (1964–66), 8/1/22

    Peter G. Moller (1965–67), 5/29/22



    Marthlu Bledsoe (1961–63), 5/19/22

    Edith A. Sihvonen (1967–69), 6/7/22

    Marcia L. Weinhold (1968–72), 8/3/22



    Teresa “TJ” C. Johnson (1997–98), 7/1/22

    Ann W. Newman (1990–92), 5/23/22



    Elena Serrano (Herbst) Karr (1972–74), 6/14/22

    Charles H. Morris (1985–87), 6/22/22

    Eugene Wesolowski (1969–71), 8/8/22



    Christopher L. Keefe (1967–69), 12/21/21



    Paul E. Holmes (1974–77), 6/12/22

    Anita J. Parks (1965–67), 8/1/22



    Richard M. Carmean (1997–99), 5/23/22



    Dennis G. Kerfien (1971–73), 7/9/22



    Eugene C. Canepa (1966–67), 6/7/22



    Deborah S. Hammond (1973–76), 6/16/22

    Rev. Jennifer Haynes Stiefel, Ph.D. (1966–69), 6/9/22

    Winston J. Kavanaugh (1965–67), 7/2/22

    John A. Nania (1981–83), 5/30/22



    Thomas H. Post (1967–69), 5/18/22



    Fr. Lawrence W. Flynn, M.M. (1962–64), 7/9/22

    Adam D. Goldberg Cohen (2014–16), 6/14/22



    Abigail Arnold (1966–68), 5/26/22

    Francis “Sarge” S. Cheever, Jr. (1966–68), 7/23/22

    Bruce P. Isaacson (1981–82), 6/26/22

    Paul W. McVey (1973–76), 7/27/22

    Elizabeth J. Platt (1964–66), 8/2/22



    Thomas DeCoursey (1968–69), 7/29/22

    Don C. Rosick (1963–65), 6/23/22



    Della “Eileen” (Shively) Ambos, 6/28/22

    Jeannie L. Farman, 7/4/22

    Elbert C. Ulshoeffer, Jr., 5/30/22






    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at

     August 18, 2022
  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.


    By Molly O’Brien and Tiffany James

    Our tributes include Elizabeth M. Giles (pictured), a two-time Peace Corps Volunteer, public transit advocate, and committed teacher who taught English and writing both domestically and abroad. We remember Stephen Reid, a former associate director of Peace Corps Senegal who chose to stay and assist those most affected by the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti instead of evacuating. And we recognize a professor with 50 years of experience teaching and conducting research on topics ranging from public policy analysis to public administration.

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.


    Stephen Reid (1955–2022) — born in Concord, New Hampshire — earned a degree in English from the University of Notre Dame with highest honors. Afterwards, Reid received full scholarships to several law schools. Instead of attending law school, he joined the Peace Corps, embarking on a career in public service. Reid served overseas in Niger 1979–81, where he taught English in the town of Madaoua. After returning to the United States in 1982, he worked as liaison to several West African countries at Peace Corps headquarters before being promoted to associate director of Peace Corps Senegal. In that leadership role, Reid led numerous projects on issues including reforestation, water supply, community development, and intercultural language training. After his Peace Corps service, Reid earned a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University before joining USAID, where he was assigned to work with a local NGO dedicated to addressing climate change and food security issues in West Africa.

    Dr. William N. Dunn (1939–2022) enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and earned a diploma in Russian language from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. Afterwards, he joined the Peace Corps and received a certificate in African Studies and French from the Peace Corps Training Program at the University of Massachusetts. Dunn continued his studies by obtaining a bachelor’s from University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a master’s and doctorate from Claremont Graduate School. In 1969, he started working as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). Throughout his 50 years at GSPIA, Dunn taught, conducted research on topics ranging from public policy analysis to public administration, supervised more than sixty doctoral theses, and attained the position of Associate Dean and Director of the Doctoral Studies program. Though retiring in 2020, Dunn continued to offer his wisdom and serve his community. As a life-long soccer enthusiast, Dunn coached youth teams for decades and was the biggest fan of watching and cheering on his grandchildren from the sidelines as they played soccer.

    Elizabeth M. "Betsy" Giles (1964–2022), grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s in communications. After a brief two-year stint in Boston, Giles returned to Buffalo and worked at Travelers Insurance Co before joining the Peace Corps, where she taught English to high school students in Poland. Following her Peace Corps service, she earned a master’s in teaching English for speakers of other languages at the University of Buffalo before working at the university’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions. She returned to the Peace Corps and Poland in 1995 to teach writing at the Teachers College for Foreign Languages in Cieszyn. While there, Giles secured grant funding to purchase computers for the school. Giles moved back to Buffalo, where she leveraged earlier real estate investments to become a stay-at-home mom and look after her children. During this period of her life, Giles’ interest in public transportation skyrocketed, motivating her to join the Citizens for Regional Transit (CRT) advocacy group and later Citizens Advisory Committee for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. She advocated for public transit by developing the CRT brochure to help advocate for a light rail extension to the airport and helping to secure a fellowship to conduct studies for the route.

    Jim Goering (1935–2022) grew up on his family’s farm near Pretty Prairie, Kansas. After high school, he earned a bachelor’s from Kansas State University in 1957 before receiving both a master’s and doctorate from Michigan State University. Goering’s graduate studies in international economics helped him land job opportunities that sent him, his wife, and children to locations across the globe — focusing on global poverty and income inequality. For more than a decade, he took on roles as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, an Administrator for the Peace Corps Guatemala 1963–65, a Staff Economist in the Executive Office of the US President, and an Agricultural Policy Advisor at the Harvard University Development Advisory Service in both Malaysia and Ethiopia. For more than a decade, Goering joined the World Bank, where he served in various positions in Washington, DC, Beijing, and Addis Ababa. His last job was as the Director of International Programs for World Vision Relief and Development. Retiring in 1999, Goering turned his attention towards advocating for environmental projects in his home of North Newton, Kansas.

    Charles Stroth (1943–2022) embarked on a long and fulfilling teaching career after earning his bachelor’s from Northern State University as well as two master’s from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At first, he stayed in the States and taught in both Colorado and Wisconsin. Then, he decided to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he taught English as a foreign language. Following his return to the States, Stroth became a visiting professor at Northern Michigan University, an Assistant Professor at Roanoke College, an Associate Professor at Coe College, a Professor at and Head of Kansas State University’s Art Department, and a Professor at and Head of Western Michigan University’s Department of Art. In spirit of his earlier Peace Corps experience, he traveled to India twice to teach art. While there, he conducted research for the American Institute of Indian Studies and the Smithsonian Institution, while also becoming a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer to India. Aside from education, Stroth had a distinguished career as an artist, with his work from photography to oil paintings displayed in the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Roanoke Museum of Art, and the DeVos Art Museum. After retirement in 2007, he continued his passion for art at the Yavapai Community College print studio in Prescott, Arizona.

    Mary Jane “M.J.” Lucas (1939–2022) lived an extraordinary life, devoted to helping and caring for others. She began her career as a licensed practice nurse, serving in the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps, the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and the Wyoming Army National Guard. After her service, she worked at various hospitals in hospice care all while raising four children. This great care for others at the end of their lives informed and influenced her decision to join the Peace Corps at age 60, serving as a four-time Peace Corps Volunteer. During her first term of service in Malawi, Lucas proved that her age didn’t matter and surprised her village by doing more than previous, younger volunteers ever did. She took on many projects in Malawi from creating a mobile clinic to bring healthcare to remote villages to starting rural Malawi’s first hospice program. She created a rural home-based care model for use anywhere in the world and presented at the 5th Annual International Conference for Home Community Care for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After finishing her service in 2001, Lucas entered Crisis Corps/Peace Corps Response in Tanzania 2002–03. Two years later, she worked with the American Refugee Committee in South Sudan, providing care amidst a civil war. Later, she continued her Peace Corps service in Uganda and Ghana with her unfailing optimism and inspiring spirit. Lucas specialized in developing simple but effective techniques for rural HIV/AIDS awareness, wound care, hospice, and community outreach. The magnitude of Lucas’ spirit not only touched the lives of the communities she lived in, but those of other Volunteers. She is remembered as an incredible mentor and friend, helping her cohorts navigate through the highs and lows of service. Lucas lived her life by the motto: “If you can’t make someone feel better, make them feel special.” According to her family and friends, she did all of that and more.



    Mary W. Abbott (U.S. Staff), 5/23/22

    Theodore "Jim" J.  Goering (Guatemala, 1963–65), 4/13/22



    Mary J. (Tolland) Lucas (Malawi 1999–01, Tanzania 2002–03, Uganda 2009–11, Ghana 2013–15), 5/17/22

    Michael A. Meshak (Guatemala 1988–91, Ecuador 1995), 5/18/22

    Stephen L. Reid (Niger 1979–81, U.S. Staff, Associate Director of PC Senegal), 4/18/22



    Pamela J. (Wright) Procella (1970–73), 4/24/22

    Charles L. Stroh (1969–71), 5/7/22



    Claire S. Dyckman (1967–69), 4/28/22



    Hermina E. Sikkema (1966–67), 5/6/22



    Daniel R. Ayala (1963–64), 4/11/22

    Juliana K. Dulmage (1970–75), 5/29/22



    Bruce A. Hogel (Barbados,  1975–76), 4/16/22



    Rebecca M. Harrison (Unspecified), 5/1/22



    Alexandra P. Kincannon (1991), 5/16/22



    Robert J. Marshall (2002–04), 4/19/22



    Charlotte J. Lefebvre (1966–68), 5/16/22



    A. Jordan Safine (1963–65), 5/8/22



    Melvin D. Lee (1970–72), 5/11/22



    Peter J. Hughes (1963–65), 5/12/22

    Carol E. (Weeks) Smith (1962–64), 4/23/22



    Ernest Mora (1983–85), 4/12/22



    Gerald Cleveland (1968–69), 5/17/22



    Max H. Brandt (1963–65), 5/10/22

    Donald K. Ross (1965–67), 5/14/22



    Marthlu Bledsoe (1961–63), 5/19/22

    Mary "Cathee" C. Marston (Unspecified), 5/13/22

    Robert G. Yuille (1965–67), 5/15/22



    Elizabeth "Betsy" M. Giles (1991–93, 1995–97), 4/29/22



    William N. Dunn, Ph.D. (1963), 5/16/22



    David R. Barker (1965–66), 5/13/22

    Timothy R. Elmer (1967–69), 5/3/22

    Martha A. Eshleman (1976), 5/25/22

    Joseph D. Hammons (1971–73), 5/10/22

    Robert W. Hopkins II (1962–63), 5/21/22



    Sara A. Officer (1962–64), 5/9/22



    Alan M. Bertaina (1964–66), 1/10/22



    Jacqueline D. Yakovleff (1977–82), 4/21/22



    Donald J. Quillan (1968–71), 5/10/22



    Brian R. Hare (1995–96), 5/29/22



    Glendon J. Williams (1967–69), 5/14/22



    Allen L. Carver, 4/29/22





    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    A new foreword for 100 interviews of Kentucky Peace Corps Volunteers spanning five decades. see more

    Voices from the Peace Corps

    Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers

    By Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson

    University Press of Kentucky


    Review by Steven Boyd Saum


    A decade ago, Angene and Jack Wilson published Voices from the Peace Corps. Now comes a tenth anniversary edition with a foreword by National Peace Corps Association President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. This is a very different time. As the new edition was released in 2021, there were no Volunteers in service overseas. Some were serving across the U.S. in partnership with FEMA on community vaccination efforts; others were taking part in virtual volunteering with partners around the world. One ongoing effort that did not stop, as Blumhorst writes, is the work of returned Volunteers to bring a deeper knowledge and understanding of the world to people across the U.S. “That is the long-term domestic dividend of a truly life-transforming experience.”


    Bringing a deeper knowledge and understanding of the world to people across the U.S. “is the long-term domestic dividend of a truly life-transforming experience.”


    In his original review of Voices from the Peace Corps, David Searles lauded the book for telling stories “using the voices of Volunteers who have served in many countries at different times to collectively present a picture of the Peace Corps experience that has the ring of truth to it.” Searles served as country director for Peace Corps in the Philippines (1971–74) and Peace Corps regional director for the Near East, Asia, and the Pacific (1974–76).

    Authors Angene and Jack Wilson were both Volunteers in Liberia 1962–64. Jack worked with the agency in Sierra Leone (1966–68), as a Peace Corps desk officer in Washington, and as country director in Fiji (1970–72). The book began life as an oral history project at the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. Angene Wilson taught at the university for three decades and is professor emeritus of education there. She and Jack have also been effective advocates and ambassadors for the Peace Corps in their home state, repeatedly earning praise in that regard from GOP Congressman Andy Barr.

    Among 100 interviews spanning five decades: a physics teacher who served in Nigeria in 1961; a smallpox vaccinator who arrived in Afghanistan in 1969; a 19-year-old Mexican American who worked in an agricultural program in Guatemala in the 1970s; a builder of schools and relationships who served in Gabon 1989–92; and a retired office administrator who taught business in Ukraine 2000–02.

    The last couple of years have seen the Nunn Center collaboration take on a new dimension: In 2020, the center began partnering with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Archives Project on in-depth interviews. They completed some 200 interviews in the first nine months alone. Set these alongside stories from communities where Volunteers have served, and an even larger view of the world starts to take shape.


    This review appears in the special 2022 Books Edition of WorldView magazine. Story updated April 30, 2022.

    Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView.

     April 18, 2022
  • 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.



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








    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.







    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.






    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. 






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.





    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. 







    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).







    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.






    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.








    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.






    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. 






    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.







    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.







    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.





     August 06, 2021
  • Communications Intern 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)


    Photo courtesy CARE


    Diane Carazas is the new director for CARE in Latin America and the Caribbean, where efforts include supporting thousands of Haitians like Natacha (pictured) who lost her home in a devastating earthquake last year. Ruth Rosas is the first-ever dedicated, bilingual Latine Communities Reporter for a sustainable transportation news source in Chicago. Peter Riley was sworn in as the first Mission Director for USAID in Tajikistan. RPCVs appointed to leadership positions in local and international nonprofit organizations — and seeking to empower a diverse, inclusive, and effective generation of public servants in Congress. Recently published books. Specialists making an impact in herbal medicine and agronomy.

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




    Kate Hammond (1992–94) will step into the interim superintendent position of Glacier National Park this month, amid new regulations during peak hours for visitors due to COVID-19, and she is prepared for a busy summer. Prior to her new role, Hammond served as the deputy director and chief of staff for the National Park Service's Intermountain Region in Denver since 2016.





    Michael Mulvaney (1995–97) is the new Edgar E. and Winifred B. Hartwig Endowed Chair in Soybean Agronomy at Mississippi State University. Two of Mulvaney’s goals as chair include identifying inefficiencies and designing research to improve soybean production. His interest in and aptitude for agronomy originated in Peace Corps, where he served as an agricultural extension Volunteer. Mulvaney brings to his new role international agronomy experience, and he worked as a certified crop advisor conducting research with the Global Conservation Agriculture Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.




    Diane Carazas (198385) recently started as the new regional director for CARE’s Latin America and Caribbean region. She worked with the Peace Corps for eight years, including her most recent role as the Botswana Country Director. For over 20 years she worked with several international humanitarian organizations – specializing in poverty reduction, international development, humanitarian relief, and public health programs in six Latin American countries.






    Kat Maier (1978–79) currently works as director of Sacred Plant Traditions in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she offers a three-year clinical and community herbalist training program. She began studying plants in Chile during her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and she is a founding member of Botanica Mobile Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to providing accessible herbal medicine to local communities.






    David Wertime (2001–03) has been selected as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow for 2022–23. Since 2018 he has served as the executive director of Protocol and is also a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Contemporary China. Wertime held senior positions as a writer for different newsrooms and served as senior editor for China at Foreign Policy magazine, where he introduced the publication’s first Chinese-language articles.





    Dominique Thurmond (2017–20) is a newly appointed paralegal associate at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, focusing on worker’s rights.







    Ruth Rosas (201518) was appointed Streetsblog Chicago’s first-ever dedicated bilingual Latine Communities Reporter. Rosas’ voice will help Streetsblog expand its coverage of livable streets relevant to Spanish-speaking communities. Rosas is an advocate for active transportation and co-founded a community bike shop for at-risk youth while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji. Rosas also works at the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children at Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she addresses pedestrian and walkability issues, focusing on vulnerable communities.






    Marc Sabin (198890) is the City of San Raphael’s new manager for its homelessness program. One of Sabin’s first tasks include spearheading a grant proposal to support mental health services and identifying opportunities for temporary shelter to get more people into supportive housing. He brings to the role more than 30 years of experience in social services for other California nonprofits and initiatives. 





    Justin Bakule (200406) is the vice president of advisory and corporate engagement for Social Finance, a pioneering impact investing nonprofit organization. Recently he was the founder of Tidepath, a new company strategically centered on improving freelance careers through income stability and long-term wealth creation.






    Kiana Graves (201719) is the Program Director for College to Congress, a non-profit organization that seeks to systemically change Congress by empowering a diverse, inclusive, and effective generation of public servants, located in Washington D.C.






    Martin do Nascimento (201012) began his new assignment this month as the Assistant Photo Editor at CalMatters, a nonpartisan nonprofit newsroom committed to explaining California politics and policy, Nascimento is an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker, who is based in Oakland, CA. He is a trilingual RPCV with work featured in various publications ranging from The New York Times, The Washington PostForbes, and National Public Radio. 





    Peter RileyPeter Riley (1983–85) was sworn in as the first Mission Director for USAID in Tajikistan in December 2021. He is a career USAID Foreign Service Officer with over 30 years of international development experience, which includes serving as Director of USAID in Tunisia, Senior Stabilization Advisor for USAID in Afghanistan, and Senior Regional Advisor for Africa for the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in Nairobi, Kenya.






    Deborah Francisco Douglas (201114) published her memoir, Somewhere in the Middle, which documents her three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and the connections made to her culture as a Filipino American while serving in the Philippines. She also started a blog called Halo-Halo, Mix-Mix as a way of further cataloging her journey to discover her cultural roots and share her love of her culture. 






    Daniel Robinson (196668), a retired lawyer from California, published a new book in October 2021 by Atmosphere Press. Hitchhiking Across America: 1963 is a fictional version of the author’s August 1963 cross country trip from Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., New York City, and back to Los Angeles. The book examines the ways life in America is changing through brief encounters with strangers — exploring war stories, new social issues, and political views that deepen his understanding of America.

     January 03, 2022
  • Communications Intern 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)


    Katrina Fotovat is appointed Senior Official to the Secretary of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues. Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, Assistant Director for Climate and Biodiversity by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), helps lead efforts to combat climate change. Newly published books, such as Elana Hohl’s (pictured) collection of letters documenting her Peace Corps service. Recognizing gender equity public health initiatives. Expanding research on ocean sustainability.

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



    Elana Hohl (1971–73, pictured) wrote A Few Minor Adjustments, a collection of letters sent home to friends and family, started over 40 years ago. Published in May, the book is a way of preserving memories from her time volunteering at 21 years old with her new husband Michael. The Hohls can now share those memories with their five children and ten grandchildren.



    Mike Kiess (2002–06) and Cambodia (2006–08), Workforce Housing Coordinator in Vermont, is relocating to Kampala, Uganda, in December 2021 to work as the Operations and Management Director for the Peace Corps.






    Anne Rimoin (1993–95) was named the new Gordon-Levin Chair in Infectious Diseases and Public Health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in November. Dr. Rimoin is an internationally recognized expert on emerging infections, global health, infectious disease surveillance systems and vaccinations. She has been engaged in pandemic preparedness and response work for more than two decades. Read more about Dr. Rimoin in “A Matter of Life and Death” in WorldView magazine.





    Lucy Ruderman (2016–18) is an FHI 360 Research Fellow and Master of Public Health candidate at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a gender equity and public health professional with a focus on women’s health.






    XiNomara Velazquez Yehuda (1993–95) became the Chief of Staff of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation in June. She has held many professional leadership positions since her Peace Corps service, including over eight years as Executive Director, Chief of Staff at The Hispanic Institute in Washington, D.C. In September, she became a member of the National Peace Corps Associations Board of Directors.






    Brian Arbic (1990–93), a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, recently founded the Global Ocean Corps and Conveyor, a program he hopes will foster sustained, long-term ocean science education and research collaborations among countries around the world.






    Bennett VanOudenallen (1999–2000) received the 2021 Jane Ortner Education Award, which is given to K–12 teachers who use music as an academic tool in the classroom. VanOudenallen teaches social studies at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, where he is also the Academic Teach Coach, Province Leader, and member of the Professional Development team. In addition to his service with the Peace Corps, VanOudenallen volunteered with AmeriCorps and the National Park Service.






    James F. Goode (1968–71) recently published his book Living, Loving Iran: A Memoir in which he shares his reflections from his time serving in Tuyserkan in western Iran. Goode also writes about his wife, Virginia, whom he met in Tehran, and their experiences in a country that shaped their personal and academic pursuits. Goode’s memoir highlights the discrimination of Iranians and attempts to share his insight with Americans through his writing. He is also emeritus professor of history at Grand Valley State University and the former director of its Middle East Studies program.





    Katrina Fotovat (2000–02) is the Senior Official to the Secretary of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, where she leads a team of gender experts promoting gender equality efforts including support of women, peace, and security to counter violent extremism, promote women’s economic empowerment, and combat gender-based violence.





    Renee Wizig-Barrios (1993–95) has recently been appointed as president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. She previously worked as the senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer for the Greater Houston Community Foundation where she led initiatives in community engagement and philanthropy.






    Hannah Baysinger (2019–20) was among the RPCVs evacuated during the pandemic. In the spring, she enrolled at the University of Iowa to purse a master’s of teaching in world language education with endorsements in Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL). She is the 2021 Obermann Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar.





    Patrick Gonzalez (1988–90) has been appointed Assistant Director for Climate and Biodiversity by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Gonzalez is a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley and will participate in a thought leaders and influencers panel discussion hosted by the Peace Corps on December 9, 2021.







    Craig Sholley (1973–75) is Vice President at the African Wildlife Foundation, a conservation nonprofit focused exclusively on Africa's wildlife and wild lands. His mentor, Diane Fossey, motivated his long-term study of mountain gorillas. 

     December 01, 2021
  • 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.




    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.







    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. 







    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.






    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.







    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.






    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.







    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.






    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.




     October 08, 2021
  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    We are listening, and we stand in solidarity with all who are actively driving efforts for change. see more

    Ideas and actions — and the principles that guide us

    By Maricarmen Smith-Martinez and Glenn Blumhorst

    As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, current and former staff, host country nationals, family, and friends, we uphold a commitment to creating a better world, one that promotes world peace and friendship. In this spirit, National Peace Corps Association envisions a united and vibrant Peace Corps community. We Stand Against Racial Injustice and affirm our commitment to empathy and justice — around the world, and here at home.

    Yet in the midst of national unrest ignited by systemic injustice, a vision of unity and vibrance is not enough. We must take more concrete steps to ensure a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture for all RPCVs and members of our community. 

    Evidence of racial inequity exists in many forms, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed deep systemic problems in our country. Continued violence and police brutality against the Black community has ignited protests from coast to coast — and in scores of other countries. Economic insecurity, impacting tens of millions of Americans, disproportionately impacts people of color. Black Americans are dying at higher rates due to health disparities rooted in a problematic healthcare system. And while the ongoing struggle for racial equity and social justice resonates strongly with core Peace Corps values, Volunteers of color continue to share challenges of racism, bias, and exclusivity, describing experiences during recruitment, in service, and after returning home. 

    It is humbling to acknowledge shortcomings, and it is difficult to change a system — but we will not succeed if we do not try. Inherent in this effort is the need for change within NPCA itself. Our staff and Board of Directors must consistently reflect the diversity we champion. Our programming must proactively incorporate values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


    Roadmap for the Future

    To that end, the NPCA Board of Directors is charting a course for progress toward a more diverse and inclusive culture within our Board of Directors, our staff, and our Peace Corps community. We are developing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Framework with cross-cutting priorities across our strategic plan, addressing the need for systemic change not only within our organization but also within Peace Corps, in our membership and Affiliate Group Network, and in our global social impact. 

    As a starting point, the policy will serve to:

    • Ensure diversity and inclusion within the NPCA staff and Board.

    • Ensure training to improve the organization and the workplace, such as training to better understand unconscious bias.

    • Support efforts to help the Peace Corps be the best it can be and address racism and inequity within the institution.

    • Support efforts to empower members and affiliate groups to thrive by ensuring opportunity for diversity and inclusion at NPCA events such as Peace Corps Connect; enhancing outreach efforts to RPCVs and affiliate groups of color; and building capacity for the Affiliate Group Network to facilitate conversations about social justice and to mobilize members to take action.

    • Support efforts to amplify the Peace Corps community’s global social impact by proactively seeking applications for projects that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion — bolstering work with minority-owned startup enterprises and leveraging our new home at Peace Corps Place in the Truxton Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., to engage in activities that address systemic racism.


    Join Us in this Work

    Our board and staff have taken the first steps to demonstrate NPCA’s proactive and deliberate leadership reflected on our new We Stand Together For Change web page. NPCA has also adapted existing tools to contact Congressional representatives, leveraging opportunities for RPCVs to advocate for racial equity and social justice legislation. We facilitated a Group Leaders Discussion: Affiliate Group Stand for Racial Justice. Our staff has formed a DEI Working Group with dedicated hours and budget. And we have more work to undertake together. 

    We understand that RPCVs are ready to support this cause. We recognize the difficulty of sharing experiences with racism and bias — from decades past or just last week. And we applaud those who are able to speak out and voice their experiences. We also acknowledge the discomfort of approaching conversations about race from a point of privilege. We commend the RPCVs and affiliate groups that have facilitated events, such as the RPCV/W Town Hall for Racial Justice, to not only advance the conversation but also take action. 

    We are listening, and we stand in solidarity with all who are actively driving efforts for change. On behalf of the NPCA Board and leadership, we seek your feedback, encourage your recommendations, and invite your ideas. And we welcome your shared commitment to this crucial work now — and for the long haul. 

     Visit Page

     Maricarmen Smith-Martinez is Chair of the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association. She served as a Volunteer in Costa Rica 2006–08.

    Glenn Blumhorst is President and CEO of National Peace Corps Association. He served as a Volunteer in Guatemala 1988–91.


  • 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. 



    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.





    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.





    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. 





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






    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. 






    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. 






    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.






    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.






    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.





    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.






    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.






    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). 





    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.”





    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.






    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.




    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.






    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.

     February 01, 2021
  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    Priority funding is available for projects that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion see more

    National Peace Corps Association seeks proposals from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former Peace Corps staff, and affiliate groups for small projects that contribute to amplifying the Peace Corps community's global social impact


    As part of National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) mission to amplify the Peace Corps community’s global social impact, the NPCA Community Fund supports community-based projects that make global giving more efficient, transparent, and effective through small grants. The Community Fund supports projects both internationally and in the United States in a variety of sectors. Projects are funded primarily through crowdfunding, and may be eligible for supplemental funding from NPCA on a case-by-case basis. NPCA seeks proposals from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), former Peace Corps staff, and affiliate groups for small projects that contribute to amplifying the Peace Corps community’s global social impact. In our commitment to support communities of color, priority funding is available for projects that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, inclusive of minority-owned startup enterprises and initiatives that advance racial justice. 


    Small Grants Program: Approach and Methodology

    As a first step, prospective applicants should complete an expression of interest form. Eligible applicants will be invited to submit a grant application to NPCA in accordance with the established policies and procedures for the Community Fund. Applications for grants of less than $3,000 will be evaluated by an internal ad hoc grants committee. Applications for grants of $3,000 or more will be evaluated by NPCA’s Community Fund Advisory Committee.

    Successful applicants will be invited to enter into a partnered campaign agreement with NPCA. Through NPCA’s Community Fund, the applicant and NPCA will jointly promote the applicant’s project or initiative to our public audiences, endeavoring to meet the mutually agreed upon fundraising goals through a crowdfunding approach. As appropriate, NPCA may seed or contribute to the campaign from other sources in order to reach fundraising goals in a timely manner. 

    Upon completion of the partnered campaign, NPCA will disburse the grant to recipient by installments in accordance with an agreed-upon schedule of disbursements.



    Eligible Applicants | Eligible applicants must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:

    • Social enterprises founded by individual RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff in the process of incorporation (fiscal sponsorship required)
    • Social enterprises founded by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff and incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations
    • Groups of RPCVs and former Peace Corps that are formally affiliated with, or in the process of affiliation with, NPCA
    • Community-based organizations or enterprises incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations and with substantial RPCV or former Peace Corps staff involvement (volunteers, staff, or board of directors)
    • Private enterprises established as limited liability companies (LLC) by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff and in early startup


    Ineligible Applicants | If one or more of the criteria below is true, applicant is not eligible:

    • Proposals for enterprises that have annual operating revenues of $500,000 or more
    • Proposals presented or directed by government entities
    • Proposals from groups that do not contribute financial or in-kind resources to the proposed activities
    • Proposals associated with political parties or partisan movements
    • Purely religious or sectarian activities
    • Proposals solely for construction and/or equipment
    • Requests for grants more than $50,000 total
    • Social enterprises that are not incorporated or in the process of being incorporated
    • Social enterprises that are not established by RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff, or do not have substantial involvement from RPCVs or former Peace Corps staff


    Evaluation Criteria

    NPCA looks for the following criteria in a project it funds:

    • Innovative solutions to community problems
    • Creative use of the community’s resources
    • Evidence of commitment to social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
    • Diverse, equitable, and transparent array of community voices in project development and execution
    • Substantial stakeholder engagement in:
      • the identification of the problem addressed
      • the identification of intended beneficiaries
      • the approach chosen to solve it
      • the design of the project
      • management and evaluation of activities
    • Partnerships with local government, the business community and other civil society organizations
    • Potential for strengthening all participating organizations and their partnerships
    • Financial and technical feasibility, including detailed budget and capacity and history of managing grants
    • Evidence of eventual sustainability
    • Counterpart contributions from the proponent, the beneficiaries and other sources
    • The potential to generate learning
    • Measurable results (short- and long-term)

    Application will be evaluated on the above criteria using a grant application scoring rubric that reviews and weighs grant proposal components, using a 50-point scale. All applications receiving 35+ points will be considered for funding support. Applications receiving 34 points and below will either be informed that they are not being selected for funding or will be asked to strengthen their application to meet specific criteria.


    Award amounts

    Up to $50,000 per recipient, of which a maximum of $10,000 will be awarded from NPCA resources, with the remainder from crowdfunded or jointly identified funding sources.



    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 2021.


    Funding Source

    NPCA will utilize donor advised funds donated to NPCA for use in advancing the mission and reach of the Community Fund. NPCA will also capitalize on grant opportunities that emerge and which align with the mission and scope of the Community Fund’s Small Grants Program. 



    NPCA’s Community Fund Small Grants Program is overseen by NPCA’s President and CEO. NPCA’s Community Fund Advisory Committee, made up of appointed Board Members and volunteer NPCA members, will advise on procedures and policies for the initiatives of the Community Fund, as well as, approve grant applications requesting grants $3,000 and larger.

    The daily management of applications, communications with stakeholders, crowdfunding process, grant payout, and grant reporting will be managed by NPCA's International Programs Coordinator.

    The seeking out of supplemental funding opportunities, such as the submission of foundation grant proposals, will be led and managed by NPCA’s development team.


    Submit an Expression of Interest Form

     November 12, 2020
  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    Images of the coronavirus have come from the laboratory of RPCV Elizabeth Fischer see more

    Making SARS-CoV-2 tangible helps demystify the challenges we face with the COVID-19 pandemic

    By Markian Hawryluk  


    From her laboratory in the far western reaches of Montana, Elizabeth Fischer is trying to help people see what they’re up against in COVID-19.

    Over the past three decades, Fischer, 58, and her team at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have captured and created some of the more dramatic images of the world’s most dangerous pathogens.

    “I like to get images out there to try to convey that this is an entity, to try to demystify it, so this is something more tangible for people,” said Fischer, one of the country’s leading electron microscopists.

    Now, as her renderings of the coronavirus flash across screens worldwide, she said: “You often hear people call it the invisible enemy. It’s trying to put that face out there.”

    Working in one of the nation’s 13 “Biosafety Level 4” labs — those equipped to safely handle the most dangerous pathogens — Fischer and her team visualize the world’s deadliest plagues from Ebola to HIV, salmonella to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.


    Viral particles being released from a dying cell infected with coronavirus. The dozens of small, blue spheres emerging from the surface of a kidney cell are the virus particles themselves. The images produced by the electron microscopes are actually black-and-white; a visual artist colorizes them. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Fischer


    The breathtaking images allow people to see a virus as elaborate biological structures with weaknesses that can be exploited, yielding clues for researchers about how to develop treatments and vaccines. 

    “If there is a disease, we have seen it,” she said.


    “Making SARS-CoV-2 tangible helps to demystify the challenges that all of us now face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” NIH Director Francis Collins wrote on his blog in noting the value of Fischer’s images. “The hope is it will encourage each and every one of us to do our part to fight it, whether that means digging into the research, working on the front lines, or staying at home to prevent transmission and flatten the curve.” Image courtesy Elizabeth Fischer


    Originally from Evergreen, Colorado, Fischer completed a degree in biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and contemplated going to medical school, before deciding instead to join the Peace Corps. She taught math and science for two years in Liberia, and then took time to travel through East Africa and Asia, including a trek into the Himalayas.

    Returning to Colorado, she immersed herself in the outdoor world she loved. She worked as a rafting guide on the Arkansas River for several summers, and as a children’s ski instructor at the Monarch Mountain ski resort during the winters.


    Macro and micro: Fischer’s work with microscopes reveals a hidden world. She has also worked as a rafting guide. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Fischer


    She later enrolled in graduate school, thinking she might teach biology. But when she took courses in electron microscopy, she was hooked.

    It appealed to her sense of exotic adventure. “You’re looking at a world that most people don’t get to see,” she said. She switched gears and completed a master’s degree in biology.

    Upon graduation, she sent her résumé to a national microscopy job placement office and soon received a call from Rocky Mountain Laboratories. In 1994, she moved with her family to Hamilton, a city of fewer than 5,000 people about 50 miles south of Missoula, then worked her way up to become chief of the lab’s microscopy unit.


    Some of the more stunning images of the coronavirus — about 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair — have come from Fischer’s microscope.


    Some of the more stunning images of the coronavirus — about 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair — have come from Fischer’s microscope. One is Fischer’s photograph of viral particles being released from a dying cell infected with the virus.

    As NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins highlighted in his blog earlier this year, the photo shows the orange-brown folds and protrusion on the surface of a primate’s kidney cell infected with SARS-CoV-2. The dozens of small, blue spheres emerging from the surface are the virus particles themselves. (The images produced by the electron microscopes are black-and-white, so Fischer hands them over to visual artists who colorize the image to help identify different parts of the cell and to distinguish the virus from its host.)

    “This image gives us a window into how devastatingly effective SARS-CoV-2 appears to be at co-opting a host’s cellular machinery,” Collins wrote. “Just one infected cell is capable of releasing thousands of new virus particles that can, in turn, be transmitted to others.”

    Scientists like Fischer have used electron microscopes to uncover the unseen world of viruses and bacteria dating to the 1930s. In the past two decades, however, new technologies have unleashed a resolution revolution, allowing researchers to see down to the near-atomic level. Microscopists have come up with better ways to prepare samples for viewing and have written sophisticated software programs to sharpen images.


    In early February the lab received material from one of the first U.S. patients to be infected with the novel coronavirus. Image courtesy Elizabeth Fischer


    Through her lab, Fischer receives samples from all over the world, and was sent viral material in early February from one of the first U.S. patients to be infected with the novel coronavirus. Often, her samples come from vials that have been stored in a freezer for decades, or from cultures routinely grown in a lab. “It’s very sobering when you know it came from a human patient.”


    Significance of a sample: “It’s very sobering when you know it came from a human patient.” Image courtesy Elizabeth Fischer


    For example, in 2014, a sister lab in Mali sent over an Ebola sample from a 2-year-old girl who had lived in Guinea when her mother died of the disease. Her grandmother traveled from Mali to attend the funeral, which involved touching and bathing the body, and to take the girl home with her. Both got infected and brought the virus back with them as they returned to Mali by public transportation. They both died.


    In 2014, Elizabeth Fischer received a sample of Ebola from a 2-year-old girl in Mali. The cell border and nucleus shape resemble the shape of the continent of Africa. Image courtesy Elizabeth Fischer

    “This one particular cell, it looked like the continent of Africa,” Fischer recalled. “It was a very powerful moment. You see that virus growing in there, it takes you back around to not only the lab work we do, but that there’s an impact on human health.”

    Despite the deadly nature of the viruses, she still appreciates the “beautiful symmetry in many of them,” she said, adding: “They’re very elegant, and they’re not malicious in and of themselves. They’re just doing what they do.”

    This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. It also appears in the Fall 2020 edition of WorldView magazine.


     November 02, 2020
  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Community news highlighting achievements of RPCVs. see more

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

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-1970)


    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.



    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.



    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.



    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.




    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.



    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.



    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.




    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.




    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.



    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.




    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.



    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.



    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.

     August 03, 2020
  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    Join us on Monday, June 15 for an hour-long conversation on climate change. see more

    We are living in unprecedented times, facing crises of immense scale. Join us June 15 for an important conversation.

    As a Peace Corps community, we saw all Volunteers evacuated from around the world in March.

    We’re living amidst a global pandemic — with more than 100,000 Americans dead, tens of millions unemployed.

    And we’ve seen — once again — the death of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police, a brutal reminder of a legacy of racial injustice, that has led to protests in towns and cities across the nation and around the world.

    Amid all of this, here at home and across the planet, we witness the escalating effects of climate change — hitting poor and marginalized communities particularly hard.

    As members of the Peace Corps community, we embrace each of these crises with a sense of purpose, empathy, and understanding — putting skills and experience to work.  

    As part of our efforts to confront these crises, join us on Monday, June 15 for an hour-long conversation on climate change. Learn how RPCVs are working to address climate change within their communities as well as nationwide and around the world. Learn what our recent research shows about RPCV attitudes and goals in tackling this critical issue. Help us stake out top priorities and bring together RPCV advocates in a way that empowers us to work together as changemakers. When it comes to motivating others in your community to address climate change, your Peace Corps experience can make a difference.

     Register Now!


    In January 2020 National Peace Corps Association conducted a national survey asking you about the global issues that you care about most — and what actions you might take to address these issues in your community.

    More than 3,000 members of the Peace Corps community responded. Nearly two thirds of you said climate change was by far the global issue you cared about most. You also showed strong support for global health, access to clean water, and women’s empowerment and girls education. See the results below.



    NPCA conducted four focus groups in May 2020 among 37 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers as another step in its efforts to lay the groundwork for a community-based social action campaign for members of the Peace Corps community. 


    Conclusions From the Focus Groups

  • Ana Victoria Cruz posted an article
    An ideas summit to ask some big questions about the Peace Corps community in a changed world. see more

    We’re convening for an ideas summit to ask some big questions about the Peace Corps community in a changed world. 

    In the next few weeks, we’re also bringing together members of the Peace Corps community around issues of racial injustice and climate change — to help shape our agenda for the future.

    In March 2020, Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated globally because of a global pandemic still taking its toll. That created an unprecedented and enormous challenge on its own.

    We want to help reignite the work of Peace Corps around the world. So how do we do that, and make sure that Peace Corps — and our community — is the best that it can be?

    Join us to help answer these questions — and take action.


    Learn More & Register