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Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Honoring global leaders in the Peace Corps community from Senegal, the Philippines, and the U.S. see more

    Every five years, Peace Corps presents the John F. Kennedy Service Awards to honor members of the Peace Corps network whose contributions go above and beyond for the agency and America every day. Here are the 2022 Awardees.


    By NPCA Staff


    Photo: Dr. Mamadou Diaw, Peace Corps staff recipient of the 2022 JFK Service Award. Photos Courtesy of the Peace Corps

     

    On May 19, at a ceremony at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., the Peace Corps presented The John F. Kennedy Service Awards for 2022. Every five years, the Peace Corps presents the JFK Service Award to recognize members from the Peace Corps community whose contributions go above and beyond their duties to the agency and the nation. The ceremony as also live-streamed around the world — since this is a truly global award, with honorees from Senegal, the Philippines, and the United States.

    Join us in congratulating this year’s awardees for tirelessly embodying the spirit of service to help advance world peace and friendship: Liz Fanning (Morocco 1993–95), Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse (PCV: Guinea 2006–07, Zambia 2007–08; Response: Guyana 2008–09, and Uganda 2015–16), Karla Sierra (PCV: Panama 2010–12; Response: Panama 2012–13), Dr. Mamadou Diaw (Peace Corps Senegal 1993–2019), Roberto M. Yangco (Peace Corps Philippines 2002–Present).

     

    RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER

    Liz Fanning | Morocco 1993–95

    Liz Fanning is the Founder and Executive Director of CorpsAfrica, which she launched in 2011 to give emerging leaders in Africa the same opportunities she had to learn, grow, and make an impact. Fanning has worked for a wide range of nonprofit organizations during her career, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Schoolhouse Supplies, and the Near East Foundation. She received a bachelor’s in economics and history from Boston University and a master’s in public administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She received the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service from National Peace Corps Association in 2019 and a 2021 AARP Purpose Prize Award.


    RETURNED PEACE CORPS RESPONSE VOLUNTEERS

    Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse, DNP, RN | Guinea 2006–07, Zambia 2007–08, Response: Guyana 2008–09, Response: Uganda 2015–16

    Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse grew up in the Philippines, then emigrated to the United States in 1997. She pursued a career at the intersection of nursing, public service, and volunteerism, earning her doctor of nursing practice in 2020 — while continuing to serve as a full-time school nurse for the San Francisco Unified School District. As a compassionate, socially conscious nurse dedicated to providing care and developing nurse education, Evenhouse has a keen affinity for teaching, community service, and cultural exchange that led her to serve in four countries — Guinea, Zambia, Guyana, and Uganda — as a Volunteer and Peace Corps Response Volunteer. She also volunteered at two health offices in the Philippines as a public health nurse as well as the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco as a clinician.

      

    Karla Y. Sierra, MBA Panama 2010–12, Response: Panama 2012–13

    Karla Yvette Sierra was born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican American parents. Sierra graduated from Colorado Christian University with a bachelor’s in business administration and a minor in computer information systems. Elected by her peers and professors, Sierra was appointed to serve as the Chi Beta Sigma president as well as the secretary for the student government association. Sierra volunteered with Westside Ministries as a youth counselor in inner city Denver. Shortly after completing her Master of Business Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso, she started working for Media News Group’s El Paso Times before being promoted to The Gazette in Colorado. Sierra served as a Volunteer in Panama for three years as a community economic development consultant focused on efforts to reduce poverty, increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and assist in the implementation of sustainable projects that would benefit her Panamanian counterparts. Her Peace Corps experience serving the Hispanic community fuels her on-going work and civic engagement with Hispanic communities in the United States.


     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Dr. Mamadou Diaw Peace Corps Senegal 1993–2019

    Dr. Mamadou Diaw — born in Dakar — is a Senegalese citizen. He studied abroad and graduated in forestry sciences and natural resource management from the University of Florence and the Overseas Agronomic Institute of Florence. He joined the Peace Corps in 1983 as Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for Natural Resource Management. In that capacity, he managed agroforestry, environmental education, park and wildlife, and ecotourism projects. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the coordinator of the USAID funded Community Training Center Program. In 2008, he switched sectors, becoming Senior APCD Health and Environmental Education. He received a master’s degree in environmental health in 2014 from the University of Versailles, and a doctorate in community health from the University of Paris Saclay, at the age of 62. Dr. Diaw coached more than 1,000 Volunteers and several APCDs from the Africa region, notably supporting Peace Corps initiatives in the field of malaria and maternal and child health. He retired from Peace Corps toward the end of 2019 and is currently working as an independent consultant.

     

    Roberto M. Yangco (“Ambet”) | Peace Corps Philippines 2002present

    Ambet Yangco, a social worker by training, started his career as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for Children’s Laboratory Foundation. He then served as a street educator in a shelter for street children and worked for World Vision as a community development officer. Twenty years ago, Yangco joined Peace Corps Philippines as a youth sector technical trainer. It wasn’t long before he moved up to regional program manager; then sector manager for Peace Corps’ Community, Youth, and Family Program; and now associate director for programming and training during the pandemic.

     

     

    READ MORE and SEE PHOTOS from the 2022 JFK Awards ceremony here.

     

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Volunteers have begun to return to service. Yet millions in Ukraine are now in harm’s way. see more

    Volunteers have begun to return to service. Yet millions in Ukraine are now in harm’s way.

     

    By Glenn Blumhorst

     

    This is a hopeful time for the Peace Corps: On March 14, a group of Volunteers arrived in Lusaka, Zambia. Just over a week later, on March 23, Volunteers arrived in the Dominican Republic. They are the first to return to service overseas since March 2020, when Volunteers were evacuated from around the globe because of COVID-19. The contributions of Volunteers serving in Zambia will include partnering with communities to focus on food security and education, along with partnering on efforts to disseminate COVID-19 mitigation information and promote access to vaccinations.

    We’re thankful for the Volunteers who are helping lead the way, with the support of the Peace Corps community. And we’re deeply grateful for the work that Peace Corps Zambia staff have continued to do during the pandemic — work emblematic of the commitment Peace Corps staff around the world have shown during this unprecedented time.

     

    Returning to Zambia: Two years after all Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from around the world because of COVID-19, in March the first cohort returned to begin service overseas. Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Lusaka 

     

    Invitations are out for Volunteers to return to some 30 countries in 2022. Among those who will be serving are Volunteers who were evacuated in 2020, trainees who never had the chance to serve, and new Volunteers. Crucially, they are all returning as part of an agency that has listened to — and acted on — ideas and recommendations from the Peace Corps community for how to ensure that we’re shaping a Peace Corps that better meets the needs of a changed world. Those recommendations came out of conversations that National Peace Corps Association convened and drew together in the community-driven report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future.” We’re seeing big steps in the Peace Corps being more intentional in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion; working with a deeper awareness of what makes for ethical storytelling; and better ensuring Volunteer safety and security.

     

    Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, NPCA has shared information and links to other ways you can help. One of the most important: Do not turn away.

     

    At the same time, while we are buoyed by the fact that Volunteers are returning to work around the world building the person-to-person relationships in communities where they serve, we must not diminish the scale of the tragedy we are witnessing in Ukraine. More than 10 million people have fled their homes in the face of an invasion and war  they did not provoke and did not want. Across this country and in Europe, thousands of returned Volunteers are working to help Ukrainians in harm’s way.

    Thank you to all of you who are doing what you can in this moment of crisis: from the Friends of Moldova working to provide food, shelter, and transportation to refugees — to the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine putting together first-aid kits, leading advocacy efforts to support Ukraine, and so much more. Since the beginning of the war, NPCA has shared information and links to other ways you can help. One of the most important: Do not turn away.

     

    Donate to the Friends of Moldova Ukraine Refugee Effort.

     

    At a time like this it’s important to underscore a truth we know: The mission of building peace and friendship is the work of a lifetime.

    That’s a message we need to drive home to Congress right now. With your support, let’s get Congress to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act this year. It’s the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in 20 years. Along with instituting further necessary reforms, it will ensure that as Volunteers return to the field it is with the support of a better and stronger Peace Corps.

     

     

    President Biden will formally nominate Carol Spahn to lead the Peace Corps at a critical time. 

    It is becoming increasingly clear that we are entering a new era — one that desperately needs those committed to Peace Corps ideals. With that in mind, I am heartened by the news we received in early April that President Biden intends to nominate Carol Spahn to serve as the 21st Director of the Peace Corps. A returned Volunteer herself (Romania 1994–96), she began serving as acting director in January 2021 and has led the agency for the past 14 months, one of the most challenging periods in Peace Corps history.

    We have been honored to work with Carol and her strong leadership team over the past year on collaborative efforts to navigate this difficult period of planning for the Peace Corps’ new future. We have full confidence in her commitment to return Volunteers to the field in a responsible manner and offer the next generation of Volunteers a better, stronger Peace Corps ready to meet the global challenges we confront. The continuity of this work is key. We are calling on the Senate to swiftly bring forth this nomination for consideration and bipartisan confirmation.


    Glenn Blumhorst is president and CEO of National Peace Corps Association. He served as a Volunteer in Guatemala 1988–91. Write him: president@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Jamie Hopkins, who served as a Volunteer in Ukraine 1996–98, leads the Eagan Community Foundation in Minnesota and spearheaded a three-day film festival in support of Ukraine in April and May. Krista Kinnard (Ecuador 2010–21) has been named a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, for her work spearheading new, efficiency-boosting and cost effective technologies for the Department of Labor (DOL). Rob Schmitz (China 1996–98) had a stint as guest host of NPR’s All Things Considered radio show. Tommy Vinh Bui (Kazakhstan 2011) was nominated as Local Hero of the Week for his good deeds and unwavering commitment to serving his Los Angeles community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We share news about more awards, medals, and director roles.

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

     

    CHINA

    Rob Schmitz (1996–98) became a guest host of NPR’s All Things Considered radio show in late April. As NPR’s Central Europe Correspondent, Schmitz covers the human stories of a vast region, such as Germany’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic. Before reporting on Europe, Schmitz worked as a foreign correspondent covering China and its economic rise and increasing global influence for a decade. He also authored the award-winning book Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road which profiles the lives of individuals residing along a single street in the heart of Shanghai. During his first week as guest host, Schmitz talked with a Shanghai resident who discussed her experience with Shanghai’s zero-COVID strategy and the recent pandemic restrictions. Listen here.

     

     

    COSTA RICA

    Lane Bunkers (1989–91) took on responsibilities as of Peace Corps Country Director of Costa Rica in March. Bunkers steps into this new position a year before Peace Corps Costa Rica’s 60th anniversary and amidst the first wave of Volunteers returning to service overseas. In his director’s welcome, Bunkers wrote, “In Costa Rica, the pandemic impacted the social, economic, and political environment, as it did throughout the world. The country’s recovery will take time, and Peace Corps is well-positioned to support the communities where our Volunteers serve.” He brings an extensive career in leadership and international development, including three years serving as Peace Corps program and training officer in Romania and in the Eastern Caribbean. Prior to his new role, Bunkers worked for Catholic Relief Services for more than two decades. While there he oversaw a $25 million annual budget invested in initiatives ranging from water and food aid for drought-stricken regions to improving educational outcomes for malnourished children.

     

      

    ECUADOR

    Krista Kinnard (2010–2012) was named a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, for her work spearheading new, efficiency-boosting and cost effective technologies for the Department of Labor (DOL). Since starting her role as DOL’s chief of emerging technologies in 2021, Kinnard has focused on ways to use artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning to reduce the time employees spend on repetitive tasks. She also collaborated with the department to establish a technology incubator, inviting DOL staff to propose ideas that could benefit agencies and the public. Before working at DOL, Kinnard was the director of the U.S. General Service Administration’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence. Her data-driven expertise sharpened during her Peace Corps service where she was able to apply her quantitative skills to real-world problems. Afterward, she pursued a master’s in data analytics and public policy before building AI and machine learning tools for federal clients as a data scientist at IBM.

       

     

    GUYANA

    Nadine RogersDr. Nadine Rogers, who serves as country director for Peace Corps Guyana, is a 2022 recipient of the Global Achievement Award from the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association. “This well-deserved and extraordinary accomplishment highlights her incredible contributions in the international arena," says Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. Dr. Rogers has almost 30 years of experience in management, health policy implementation, science administration, and education and communications across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. She has previously served as a foreign service officer at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator under the U.S. State Department, and for 10 years she worked at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, handling scientific review of multi-million dollar research grant applications focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and services in populations at risk-for or addicted to drugs, both domestically and internationally. She has served the U.S. government across the globe, including in Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, and in the Caribbean.

       

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Tommy Vinh Bui (2011) was nominated as Local Hero of the Week in April for his good deeds and unwavering commitment to serving his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bui was working as a Los Angeles Teen and Adult Services Librarian when the pandemic shut down libraries. With a love for his community and a penchant for service, he sprang into action seeking ways to help such as donating blood to the Red Cross to help with the blood shortage; delivering convalescent plasma to hospitals around and outside of Los Angeles; assisting Project Roomkey — an initiative started by the California Department of Social Services, providing shelter for unhoused people recovering from or exposed to COVID-19 — in its efforts to help vulnerable people get off the streets and find resources. As part of the last cohort to serve in Kazakhstan, Bui’s Peace Corps service began in March 2011. He served as a community development and education Volunteer until he was evacuated in November of that same year and credits his experience as a major contributor to his personal and professional growth.
     

     

    KENYA

    Josh Josa (2010–12) is a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, an honor reserved for the most innovative and exceptional federal workers. As a member of the Deaf community and a first-generation Hungarian-American, Josa’s commitment to equity and inclusion in education is fueled by his first-hand experience with the stigma, barriers, and lack of resources students with disabilities face in school. While working as an inclusive education specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Josa has sought to design and implement programs delivering quality, equitable, and inclusive education to all children and youth. He has worked tirelessly to advance educational inclusivity for students with disabilities, whether it be in Morocco, Kenya, or the United States.

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Travis Wohlrab (2013–15) received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for developing a livestream production capability and supporting agency communications programs. This medal recognizes those who significantly improve NASA’s day-to-day operations. Wohlrab is the engagement officer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he has worked since the end of his Peace Corps service. During the onset of COVID-19, Wohlrab used his video production expertise to produce livestream events — such as Town Halls and public outreach events — which were crucial to helping the center continue to disseminate information and operate as it had before the pandemic.

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Lowell Hurst (1976–78) received the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, along with his wife Wendy, from the Pajaro Valley Chamber Of Commerce and Agriculture. Hurst has dedicated his life to education, public service, and volunteerism starting with his Peace Corps service — followed by the more than three decades he spent teaching science and horticulture at Watsonville High School. In 1989, he was elected to the Watsonville City Council, served on the body for three stints over three decades, and served three mayoral terms, retiring from the political arena after his final term.

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Heather Laird was appointed the new medical director of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) in April. She first got involved with VIM by serving as a volunteer nurse practitioner in 2013, while working at her full-time job in telemedicine. Laird shifted away from telemedicine to work with patients in person at Mosaic Medical — a community-founded health center focused on making high-quality healthcare available to Central Oregonians, regardless of life circumstances. Inspired by her Peace Corps experience, which allowed her to learn technical skills that would help her community, Laird pursued a master’s in environmental and occupational health sciences at University of Washington before attending University of California, San Francisco, and obtaining a degree to become an adult nurse practitioner. “I am looking forward to harnessing my experience and education to help the underserved in Central Oregon through my role at Volunteers in Medicine,” Laird said.

     

     

    UKRAINE

    Jamie HopkinsIn April and May, Jamie Hopkins (1996–98), who serves as executive director of the Eagan Community Foundation, spearheaded the Twin Cities Ukrainian Film Series. “It’s important for me to tell people about Ukraine,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been trying to do that for 25 years, and for the first time people are really anxious to learn.” Together with the Emagine Theaters, the foundation put on a three-day film fundraiser to benefit a variety of needs in Ukraine, including funding for filmmakers documenting the current war and community foundations in the areas hardest hit. “I want to make sure that opportunity exists today to do that (make Ukrainian films) in the future,” Hopkins said. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Hopkins served as a teacher trainer in the town of Ukrainka in the Kyiv Region — something she describes as “most rewarding experience of my life.” Hopkins has served as the Eagan Community Foundation’s executive director since 2016. She originally joined the foundation as a board member in 2013. 

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Peace Corps Community members testify for RPCVs to receive Maryland in-state tuition. see more

    It’s a change long overdue. And advocacy from NPCA and dozens of returned Volunteers ensured support for bipartisan legislation signed into law in April.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Far too often, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are left behind at the state government level when it comes to benefits that are afforded others for their service to our nation. In the state of Maryland, a bill was just signed into law to address one of those inequities: who qualifies for in-state tuition.

    Marylanders seeking in-state tuition have to prove they have lived in the state for the past two years. Because returning Peace Corps Volunteers serve overseas, they have been found to be ineligible for the tuition benefit once they come home—because of the residency requirement. This is despite the fact that other forms of public service, including military service and AmeriCorps, have an exemption to this rule. Now RPCVs do, too.

    In January of this year, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst and former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen appeared (virtually) at a public hearing before the Maryland State Senate’s Education Committee to testify on legislation for RPCVs to receive in-state tuition. One of NPCA’s goals was to have Peace Corps service treated on par with other forms of national service. Jody Olsen, who was on the faculty of the University of Maryland–Baltimore School of Social Work prior to becoming the 20th director of the Peace Corps, spoke to lawmakers about her personal experience as an educator in Maryland: “I watched the value that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers brought to their graduate education,” she said. “They offered so much in the classroom, they offered much with the faculty. In fact, faculty would tell me they are some of the strongest students they had in their master’s degree program.”

    Along with verbal testimony, NPCA submitted written testimony that included comments and statements of support collected in a 24-hour period from more than 50 members of the Maryland Peace Corps community. And the news is good. The Maryland State House and Senate both passed their versions of the bill overwhelmingly, and Gov. Larry Hogan signed it into law the week of April 11.

     

  • 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (pictured left), a former Peace Corps director, begins a new position as president and CEO of Global Communities — an organization whose recent efforts include working in partnership with communities in Ukraine to provide essential non-food items, mental health support, and assistance to internally displaced persons. President Biden appoints Lisa E. Delplace as a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts to help oversee the cultural and historic preservation of the District of Columbia. A new director of operations for a Panama-based tour company. Two RPCVs receive awards for their commitment to leadership and global citizenship.

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

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Ryan Stock (2007–09), a political ecologist, is the 2021–22 recipient of the Faculty Emerging Leadership Award at Northern Michigan University. He is an assistant professor in the Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences Department. With an extensive list of published works, Stock has several ongoing research projects including environmental injustices of solar PV life cycle, climate adaptation and vulnerability of farmers in India, gendered livelihoods and solar development in Ghana, and climate policy in South Asia. Stock has held many leadership roles promoting environmental sustainability, gender inclusion, student involvement, and anti-racism. He was the impetus for the NMU Carbon Neutrality Task Force which aims to create a carbon neutral campus by 2050 by improving waste and recycling, protecting freshwater resources, promoting education and awareness, and building local partnerships. Stock is a member of the Sustainability Advisory Council. Off-campus, he serves as a member of the Marquette County Climate Action Task Force and advocates for the City of Marquette to commit to carbon neutrality through its Climate Action Resolution.

     

    KENYA

    Lisa E. Delplace (1982–84) was appointed as the newest member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Biden. She is principal and CEO of the Washington, D.C.–based landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden (OvS). In this new position, Delplace will represent landscape architects, a role which was previously missing from the commission. She is tasked with preserving and enhancing the District of Columbia’s visual and cultural character as well as helping to plan for public spaces, monuments, climate change–related issues, and security matters. Her previous work ranges from sculpture parks to urban redevelopments and examines the compelling structural relationship between architecture and landscape. She is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows — one of the highest honors ASLA bestows upon members — and she is a visiting critic and lecturer at various universities and organizations. In addition to her Peace Corps service in Kenya, she has international experience working in Europe and the Middle East.

     
     

    LESOTHO

    Madeline Uraneck (2006–09), a long-term contributor to international education and service, has received the 2022 Global Citizenship Award from the Wisconsin Council of Social Studies. The recipient of this award exemplifies social studies principles by improving the quality of life for others and promoting the common good. Uraneck has traveled to more than 60 countries, studied six languages, and willingly self-identifies as a “global citizen”. As a well-respected educator, Uraneck values the connections she makes within other cultures, learning languages from children and meeting kind strangers. She has won several awards including DPI by Goldman Sachs Foundation Award for State Leadership and Council of Chief State School Officers for International Education. She is a professional member, presenter, and key-note speaker for Wisconsin Council for Social Studies and has authored Planning Curriculum in International Education and How to Make a Life, a story of her interactions with a Tibetan refugee family in Madison, Wisconsin.

     

    NIGERIA

    Mary Johnson has been selected as a 2022 GenEd Teacher Fellow and will embark on a ten-day intensive professional development program in July. The fellowship, which is based at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, offers professional development workshops about human rights and genocide with a closer look at the Armenian experience. Johnson is an affiliate and adjunct professor for Stockton University’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies, a program that prepares its graduates for careers in education, museums, and organizations that aim to stop and prevent mass atrocities. For more than three decades, Johnson was the senior historian for Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that challenges students and teachers to confront racism and prejudice, where she facilitated seminars and workshops, wrote curricula, and conducted research.

      

     

    PANAMA

    Megan Thompson (2018–19) is the newly appointed director of operations for Retire in Panama, a full-service relocation tour company known for its innovative approach to supporting expatriate residents with their relocation and resettlement needs. Retire in Panama also shares educational resources to connect prospective clients and current clients with housing, financial planning assistance, and access to Panama’s history and culture. Thompson brings to the new roles a strong leadership foundation gained during the two-year advisory position she held with the company, and she brings a unique cultural understanding of Panama gained from her experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer who worked on environmental conservation, recycling and trash services, and sexual wellness education. In her new role, Thompson will oversee all aspects of operations, including personnel and contractor management, client services, tours and logistics.
     

     

    SIERRA LEONE/NIGER

    Mary Alice Serafini (1969–72) retired in March 2022 from her position as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and executive director of the Pat Walker Health Center at the University of Arkansas. As a Volunteer in Sierra Leone and Niger, she served as a teacher before starting her employment at the University of Arkansas in 1991 as the assistant director of administration for the Health Center. Recognized for her support and advocacy for international students and scholars, Serafini has been committed in her leadership programs focused on student diversity and inclusion. She is a longtime member of the NASPA, the professional association of student affairs, and helps inspire undergraduates to see student affairs as a viable career path through the NUFP Mentor Program. During her time with the university, Serafini championed for the counseling center’s expansion, which included the addition of mental health and wellness promotion, the growth of counseling staff, and the creation of designated, welcoming space within the Pat Walker Health Center. Her compassionate leadership and service to others earned Serafini the respect and love of her colleagues and students. During her retirement, she plans to continue volunteering and engaging in public policy.

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Juhi Desai (2018–20) has been elected president of the Student Bar Association at the University of Virginia Law School. Before entering law school, she served as an elementary school teacher in South Africa with the Peace Corps and was evacuated in March 2020 because of COVID-19. Prior to serving with the Peace Corps, she taught civics and economics, AP U.S. history, and world history at a high school outside Boston. As an attorney she plans to work as a public defender and notes that “the United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world.” 

     

     

     

    WESTERN SAMOA

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (1981–83) will assume the role of president and CEO of Global Communities on October 1, 2022. She has been serving as president of the organization since September 2021. Last year Global Communities also completed a merger with Project Concern International, where Hessler-Radelet had been serving as president and CEO. Global Communities is devoted to providing a more equitable future through humanitarian assistance, sustainable development, and financial solutions. Currently, the organization is working in partnership with communities in Ukraine to provide physical and mental health support and to assist internally displaced persons. Hessler-Radelet has worked in previous global leadership positions as director, acting director, and deputy director of the Peace Corps. Before being appointed as Director of the Peace Corps by President Obama, Hessler-Radelet oversaw public health programs in 85 countries as the vice president and director of John Snow, Inc., a public health management consulting and research organization. Hessler-Radelet brings to her new role decades of global health experience which includes serving as the lead consultant on the first Five Year Global HIV/AIDS Strategy for the President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), working with USAID in Indonesia on maternal and child health and HIV programming, founding the Special Olympics in The Gambia, and being the third generation in her family to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

  • 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Park Ranger Shelton Johnson (pictured) who received the 2022 American Park Experience Award for his lifelong efforts advocating for diversity in U.S. national parks. Kathleen Chafey, the founder of a Montana State University program to support nursing students from Indigenous communities, has endowed a professorship to ensure the program continues to thrive. An RPCV is appointed to finish a term in the North Carolina State House. New leadership roles supporting efforts in sustainability as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

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

     

     

    CHAD

    Jim Diamond (1971–73) received the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2021 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. The award is presented to an individual whose dedicated work and service have significantly contributed to the advancement of Pennsylvania agriculture. With nearly 60 years of experience teaching agriculture in Pennsylvania and around the world, Diamond has made vast contributions to agriculture working as an assistant professor of agricultural education at Penn State University, an international agricultural and extension education consultant for the United Nations, and a vocational agriculture instructor at Upper Bucks County Area Vocational Technical School. For nearly a decade, Diamond served as the Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University.

     

     

      

     

    COLOMBIA

    Kathleen Chafey (1963–65), a retired director of a Montana State University program supporting Indigenous students pursuing nursing degrees, established an educational endowment in support of the program in years ahead. The fund is named the Kathleen Chafey Nursing Professorship to honor Chafey’s efforts to found and establish the Caring for Our Own Program (CO-OP) in 1999 to help improve the quality of health care in Native American and Alaska Native communities. Since its inception, CO-OP has nurtured more than 100 Native American students, most of whom have gone on to serve tribal communities as licensed nurses working in Montana or to pursue a doctoral nursing program.

     

     

     

     

     

    EL SALVADOR

    Kiva Wilson (2004–06) has been promoted to Chief Culture Officer at Material, a modern marketing services company. Wilson joined Material in 2021 as Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). Wilson brings to the role over 16 years of DE&I strategy and implementation experience, having worked on DE&I initiatives at Paradigm Strategy and Facebook as well as the Peace Corps as Head of Diversity and National Outreach. In her new role, Wilson will continue to lead Material’s DE&I efforts and develop a strategy for nurturing meaningful, collaborative, work relationships both remotely and face to face.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Sabrina T. Cherry (2001–03) has been nominated for the 36th YMCA Annual Women of Achievement Award, which celebrates the accomplishments of women and young leaders in the southeastern North Carolina community. Dr. Cherry is an assistant professor of Public Health at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and serves as Interim Director and Architect for the UNCW’s Equity Institute. She attributes her understanding of the importance of community-based health education and culturally relevant, public health initiatives to her Peace Corps service in The Gambia, and she has spent nearly two decades working in the public health field.

     

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Kayla Canne (2018–20), an Asbury Park Press reporter, has won a National Press Foundation award for her work investigating deplorable living conditions and discrimination in taxpayer-funded rental housing in New Jersey. Honoring journalism covering poverty and inequality in the United States, the award recognizes Canne’s 2021 series titled, “We don’t take that,” which exposed the barriers that exist for low-income tenants in their search for clean, safe and affordable housing. Listen to Canne discuss her series on WNYC's Morning Edition.

     

     

     

      

     

     

    LIBERIA

    Shelton Johnson (1982–83) received the 2022 American Park Experience Award. The award recognizes Johnson’s extraordinary, lifelong efforts advocating for diversity in national parks and helping more families and youth feel welcome by seeing their stories told in parks as well as cultural and historic sites alike. Johnson has worked for the past 35 years as a park ranger with the National Park Service at Yellowstone and now Yosemite National Park. His storytelling talents landed him a prominent role in the Ken Burns film: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. In 2010, Johnson hosted Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King on a multi-day camping trip which was captured on national television and broadcast around the globe. He credits his work with Oprah as a significant breakthrough in introducing Black Americans to the wonders of America’s national parks, which has been Johnson’s passion throughout his career.

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI 

    Cameron Beach (2016–18) is both a COVID-19 evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer and a 2022 recipient of the Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship, looking forward to beginning graduate studies in the fall. This fellowship helps fund the costs of her education and provides a pathway into a career as a USAID Foreign Service Officer beginning in June 2024.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Danielle Lee (2001–03) has been named Mountain View's first Chief Sustainability and Resiliency Officer. In her new role, which starts in early March 2022, Lee will be responsible for lead the upcoming sustainability and climate resiliency efforts in Mountain View, California; advising the city on sustainability and resiliency goals; develop programs to achieve carbon neutrality, resiliency, adaptability and equity; and promote community, city and private sector participation in these sustainability efforts, among other tasks. Since 2005, she has worked for the County of San Mateo in a number of sustainability-related roles and as an analyst, having spent the past six years as assistant director in the county's Office of Sustainability.

     

     

     

     

     

    ROMANIA

    Marc Rand (2000–02) has been included among the 2022 Nonprofit Leaders Who Will Impact the World. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Community Capital Advisors, a national consultancy focused on community investment. He also manages several nonprofit loan funds, including American Nonprofits and the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance of California’s member loan fund. Marc is the former Program Director for Loans and Affordable Housing at Marin Community Foundation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Kelsey McMahon (2014–16) took part in the Peace Corps’ Virtual Service Pilot (launched in October 2020 as a virtual service that provided Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with the opportunity to serve while in the United States through virtual engagements with community-based partners overseas). Using her marketing experience and creative writing skills, she was able to help a South African nonprofit improve its online presence.

     

     

     

    TONGA

    Sarah Bair (2019–20) has been selected as a 2022 Presidential Management Fellow Finalist at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where Bair is pursuing a master’s in public health. Directed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the PMF program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program at the entry level, offering exceptional men and women from various careers direct pathways into federal services.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Patricia Delaney (2002–05) became Dean of the School of Liberal Studies & the Arts and Academic Coordinator for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Landmark College in Vermont. As a social anthropologist, Delaney has worked in international development promoting social equity with organizations such as the Peace Corps, the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and various partners in countries all over the world.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    TURKMENISTAN

    Andrea Armstrong (1996–98) has received Loyola University New Orleans College of Law's 2022 Dux Academicus award for her unwavering commitment to social justice and passion for knowledge. As the highest honor a Loyola faculty member, the Dux Academicus recognizes a faculty member who imparts the knowledge and wisdom of liberal arts, sciences, or professions to students in a way that truly embodies Jesuit values and philosophy.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Nathan Truitt (2000–03) has been promoted to senior vice president of business development at the American Forest Foundation (AFF). In his new role, Truitt will lead the AFF’s partnership and philanthropy strategy for all programs and products, with a strong emphasis on the rapidly expanding Family Forest Carbon Program. Prior to the promotion, Truitt worked as AFF's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. He brings to the position international education and development experience within the nonprofit sector.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ZAMBIA

    Caleb Rudow (2012–14) has been appointed to serve out the remainder of Representative Susan Fisher’s term for the District 114 seat in the North Carolina State House. He intends to run for a full two-year term, beginning with the primary set for May 17, 2022. Prior to his confirmation, Rudow worked as a research and data analyst at Open Data Watch in Washington, D.C., where he conducted research on open data funding, patterns of data use, and technical issues around open data policy.

     

  • Tiffany James posted an article
    Shop between March 17 through March 21 to support NPCA see more

    Enjoy fresh Guatemalan specialty coffee while supporting the Peace Corps community. Shop at Chica Bean through March 21 and NPCA will receive 15 percent from online sales.

     

    By NPCA Staff

     

     
     

    Treat yourself to incredible coffee that contributes to a better world with Chica Bean — from an RPCV entrepreneur whose Peace Corps service shaped a successful business committed to producing quality Guatemalan roasted coffee, shipped fresh from their roastery to your doorstep. Stock up on Chica Bean products through March 21 and help support the Peace Corps community.

    Co-founded by returned Volunteer Alene Seiler-Martinez (Guatemala 2008–12) and husband Josue Martinez, CHICA BEAN has brewed up a way to more equally distribute value between coffee producing and consuming countries. Try out Chica Bean’s Guatemalan specialty coffee — produced by women, roasted at origin, and delivered fresh to your door in the U.S. With a focus on quality, connection, and traceability, Chica Bean will help start your day with impact!

    EXPLORE MORE: Listen to this special “Jobs with Jodi” podcast episode where the founders of Chica Bean talk coffee, the ways Chica Bean is unique from other coffee distributors, and how RPCVs can get involved with Chica Bean's social impact mission.

    SHOP: March 17–21 and Chica Bean will donate 15 percent of sales to NPCA to support the global social impact of the Peace Corps community. Shop women-produced coffee and products.

     

    Shop Chica Bean

     

    “By roasting at origin we are cutting out a number of middle men ...it allows us a certain level of negotiating power which means we can give our clients a good price, but we can also continue to pay our producers well and still make enough to get by as a business.”
       —RPCV Alene Seiler-Martinez (Guatemala 2008–12)

    Note: This is a promotion by Chica Bean. NPCA does not endorse the products or services of Chica Bean.

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

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

     

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

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

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

     

    BURKINA FASO

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

     

     

     

     

     

      

    ECUADOR

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

     

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

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

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

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

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

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

     

     

     

     

    HONDURAS

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

     

     

     

     

    HUNGARY

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

     

     

      

     

    MOLDOVA

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

     

     

     

    MONGOLIA

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

     

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

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

     

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

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

     

     

      

     

    PHILIPPINES

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

     

     

      

     

     

     

    RWANDA

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

     

     

     

     

    TOGO

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

     

     

     

     

    TONGA

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

     

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE

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

     

     

     

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN

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

     

     

     

      

  • 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

     

    Photo: Douglas C. Kelley (1930—2022), who conceived the idea for a program that would grow to become the Peace Corps.
     


    Our tributes include Douglas Kelley, who launched a program that helped lay the groundwork for the Peace Corps and served as a member of the original Peace Corps staff; he devoted his life to public service. We remember Robert Bell, a scientist and community activist who served as the Peace Corps Country Director in the Central African Republic. A nurse and advocate of feminist causes and equal rights. A seasoned criminal lawyer and president of an independent film distribution company.

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

     

    Douglas C. Kelley (19302022) was born in Lansing, Michigan, to a highway engineer and teacher. Kelley attended Berea College in Kentucky, where he conceived of and piloted the International Development Placement Association (IDPA), which helped lay the groundwork for the Peace Corps. The concept was sparked during his senior year in 1951, when he served as national chair of Students for Democratic Action and began conversing with a University of Michigan graduate and others about forming a program that would place people in modestly paid jobs with indigenous organizations and governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By 1954, when he was 25, IDPA had already sent 18 young Americans to perform service work in India, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Uganda. The 502 other applicants demonstrated the feasibility of the idea, which the group floated on Capitol Hill, and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey proposed the first Peace Corps bill in 1957. But it was ultimately Humphrey’s 1960 presidential primary opponent, John F. Kennedy, who adopted and implemented it via executive order in 1961. After receiving a telegram from Sargent Shriver, a document now in the Smithsonian Institution’s collections, Kelley left his political science graduate studies at Harvard to join the original Peace Corps staff as its first community relations director. In 1963, Kelley enlisted to volunteer with the Peace Corps, traveling with his first wife and two sons to serve in Cameroon, Africa. During his time spent abroad, he founded a cooperative — now called the Bamenda Handicraft Cooperative Society — and enrolled 1,300 members from 1964 to 1965, creating a market for local crafters that doubled the monthly income of woodcarvers, potters, and basket makers as their products started being exported to the United States. He earned a Ph.D. in adult education from the University of Michigan at age 50, and finished his career as Director of Extension at the University's campus in Flint, where he started its first programs to help unemployed auto workers retrain. He was active in the labor and civil rights movements, participating in Martin Luther King's 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom at the Lincoln Monument as well as a sit-in protest during the civil rights movement. Kelley was an active member of the Democratic Party well into his later years. He campaigned in five states for Barack Obama presidential campaign at age 79, ran the Democratic table at the farmers market in downtown Ann Arbor every Saturday, and amassed an impressive collection of political memorabilia in a private museum he called the Democratic Archive.

     

    Robert Bell (1932—2021) was born in Augusta, Georgia, graduated from Johnson High School at age 16, at which point he applied to Wayne State University — his dream school since he was a little boy— but was rejected for being too young. Undeterred, Bell was eventually accepted two years later and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1955, which was also the year he we his wife, Marion. Bell secured a job as a spectographer for Convair, a Division of General Dynamics in San Diego. In the early 1960s, Bell learned of an opportunity to teach in Africa and moved his wife and children to the Congo where he joined the field staff of Congo Polytechnic Institute (CPI) to serve as a teacher of science and mathematics at the CPI agricultural school located at Sandoa. He later became director of one of the schools located in Gemena in northern Congo. After returning to San Diego in 1965, Bell pursued a master’s in radiochemistry studies, then received a full scholarship to attend Stanford University’s School of Business and obtained an MBA in finance. He headed Training Corporation of America n Washington, D.C., which consisted of programs such as Job Corps; opening a hotel in Liberia, Africa; and extensive training programs for the U.S. government. He served as a member of the United Methodist Volunteers in Missions program, supporting the Africa University in Zimbabwe, where he rebuilt computers, set up a computer lab, and assisted with the building of faculty housing. Projects he oversaw also included opening an oceanfront hotel in Robertsport, Liberia. Bell’s commitment to making an impact in Africa continued to guide his career beyond TCA. He worked as a consultant with Warner and Warner International in Nigeria. He provided science grants to colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad while at the National Science Foundation. He worked with Africare for more than a decade as its country representative in several African countries. And he served as Peace Corps Country Director in the Central African Republic. At the same time, he assisted various organizations including the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Detroit Connection, the Bennett College Alumnae Association, the Inter-Alumni Council of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and many more.

     

    Joyce A. Borne (1938—2022) received a full scholarship to attend the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1959. She served with the Peace Corps in Malaysia from 1963–65 during a cholera outbreak in the state of Kelantan, and she assisted in implementing and temporarily staffing a cholera unit. After volunteering, she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Indiana University in 1970 and a master’s from Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary in 1976. As a registered nurse, Borne developed one of the first adult education programs for diabetes patient education in the Indianapolis area Methodist Hospital and Winona Hospital. As an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech State College in Richmond, Indiana, Borne served as an instructor in the Practical Nursing Program and director of the Certified Nursing Assistant Program for seven years. She was an active advocate for feminist causes, a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and a member of the National Organization for Women. Borne co-owned the first feminist bookstore and counseling center for women with Rev. Jeanine C. Rae in Indianapolis called The Woman’s Touch. In 1988, she returned to Franklin County, Virginia, and rarely missed a game of the Franklin County Lady Wildcats Basketball Team. Upon retiring, Borne enjoyed gardening and winning champion ribbons on her flower entries at the county fair and Flower Show. Borne was active in many local organizations including the Whitcomb United Methodist Church, the Brookville Women’s Club, and the Franklin County Historical Society where she served on the board of directors.

     

    Seymour Wishman (1942—2022), born to Jewish immigrants in the South Bronx, was raised in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers School of Law in 1965 and went on to serve in the Peace Corps as a legal advisor in Lima, Peru, from 1966–68. After returning to the states, he worked as an assistant prosecutor in Essex County and then as a criminal and civil rights lawyer in New York and New Jersey before being hired as a deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter in the Office of Public Liaison. Outside his legal career, Wishman wrote a memoir called Confessions of a Criminal Lawyer, which explores how the justice system works — and how it “should” work, from his perspective as a seasoned defense and prosecution attorney. He wrote Question of Consent, Nothing Personal, and Anatomy of a Jury as well as articles that have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, and the Village Voice. He was president of First Run Features, a New York-based independent film distributor where he co-directed and produced “Sex and Justice,” a documentary about the confrontation between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas at Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991.

     

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Robert Bell (Country Director in Central African Republic), 11/3/21

    William Carruth (Country Director in Niger), 1/21/22

    John “Jack” W. Harkness, M.D. (Staff in Philippines 196264; Staff in DC 196869), 11/23/21

    Pamela Magee (U.S. Staff), 12/21/21

    Louis E. Mahoney (Medical Officer in Malaysia), 1/1/22

    Hodges L. Martin, M.D. (Medical Officer in South Korea 196774), 1/5/22

    Richard I. Wright (Technical Director in India), 1/19/22

      

    AFGHANISTAN

    Gale W. Meyer (1966–68), 1/30/22

     

    BOLIVIA

    Norman D. Coble (1962–64), 1/24/22

     

    BOTSWANA

    Kathleen M. (Freed) Monroe (1986–88), 1/11/22

     

    BRAZIL

    Marvin “Alex” Feit (1969–71), 1/18/22

    Darrell E. Lumpkin (1970–73), 1/16/22

     

    BULGARIA

    Marcella “Sally” D. Hill (1993–95), 1/15/22

     

    CAMEROON

    Douglas C. Kelley (1963–65), 1/12/22

     

    CHILE

    John J. Buzenberg (1965–67), 1/16/22

     

    COLOMBIA

    Roger R. Hinchliffe (1968–71), 1/21/22

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN 

    Steve M. Kann (1980–82), 12/28/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Lois R. D'Elia (1971–73), 1/25/22

    Robert “Fred” G. Loose (198183), 10/20/21

    Michael R. Scriven, Jr. (200002), 1/18/22

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Michael R. Huxley (196467), 12/23/21

     

    FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

    Mildred Becker (198890), 1/21/22

     

    GABON

    James E. Leslie (196567), 1/21/22

     

    HONDURAS

    Thomas J. Neath (198082), 1/1/22

    Ronald C. Wyman (197982), 12/27/21

     

    INDIA

    Charlotte R. (Sprague) Williamson (196668), 1/23/22

     

    LEEWARD ISLANDS

    Rollin E. Hurlbut (199092), 1/15/22

     

    LIBERIA

    Lee F. Irwin (197072), 1/6/22

     

    MALAYSIA 

    Joyce A. Borne (196365), 1/14/22

     

    MOROCCO

    Christopher D. Risbrudt (197274), 1/17/22

     

    NEPAL

    John N. Pinkerton (197374), 1/11/22

     

    NIGERIA

    Thomas S. Parks (196365), 11/21/21

    William M. Scheffey (196466), 1/25/22

     

    PERU

    Michael Abell (196870), 1/18/22

    William N. Copeland (196467), 12/12/21

    Seymour A. Wishman (1966–68), 1/29/22

     

    PHILIPPINES 

    William A. Gillaspie (196669), 12/18/21

    Donald “Skip” W. Jordan (196264), 1/15/22

    Helen M. Lambert (197377), 1/14/22

     

    POLAND

    Curtis N. Bowman (199698), 1/17/22

     

    ROMANIA

    Donald Whelan (199495), 1/31/22

     

    SENEGAL

    Sidney C. Roseberry, Jr. (197375), 1/7/22

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Katherine (Hufnagel) Hawkes (196567), 1/17/22

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Frederick “Deric” H. Garnell (196769), 1/14/22

    Helen J. Simon (197778), 12/31/21

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Vicky J. Prather (198082), 1/13/22

     

    TUNISIA

    Ralph P. Horley (197375), 1/12/22

    George Talbot (196365), 1/23/22

     

    TURKEY

    Paul J. Zollar (196567), 12/31/21

     

    YEMEN

    Charlotte S. Murchison (197678), 1/14/22

     

     

     

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

  • 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Sandra Clark (pictured) is the new CEO for Story Corps, a project founded in Grand Central Terminal in 2003 that has grown into a nonprofit committed to using the power of stories to connect people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Meet a new retiree who was the first Black woman to serve as a medical officer for the Peace Corps. A recent contestant of ”Jeopardy!“ Two RPCVs celebrating the premiere of their documentary. Notable achievements in health and other sciences.
     

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


     

    KIRIBATI

    Ailton “Santo” Coleman (2001–04) has been nominated to be a 2022 Emerging Scholar at James Madison University. Coleman has trained in three branches of science and been the recipient of three federal fellowships. The nomination cites his dedication to understanding the factors that contribute to early mortality among African American men and boys. He is an assistant professor of health sciences at James Madison. In 2015, he returned to Peace Corps service in El Salvador but was evacuated in 2016 due to gang violence. 


     

     

     

    CAMBODIA

    Samantha Kloft (2019–20) has been appointed by the Dubuque County Board of Health in Iowa as interim director of the county health department. Her Peace Corps service was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


     

     

     

     

     

    FIJI

    Olivia Shaffer (2017—19) has written a book for children inspired by a three-year-old child she befriended during her Peace Corps service. The book,  I am Loved, I am Worthy, is meant to promote confidence and feelings of worthiness in a young reader’s mind. The book is published by Liv Holistic LLC and illustrated by Tamarra Washington. 


     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Estevan Vega (2014–16) has joined the Colorado State Forest Service as a special projects forester in the agency’s Durango field office. The Colorado Forest Agriculture Classification program Vega will run is voluntary, allowing private landowners with at least 40 acres of contiguous forest to reduce their property taxes if they manage their land to produce wood products to sell.


     

     

     

     

    GEORGIA

    Amanda Hauf (2016–18) will be supporting health and safety at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for the Austral winter. Her South Pole team includes approximately 40 support staff and scientists. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Maria Krasinski (2017–18), the managing director, illustrator, and sponge candy enthusiast from Buffalo, New York, competed on “Jeopardy!” in January 2022 and came in second. During her Peace Corps service she worked with a Tbilisi-based NGO that advocates for the rights and inclusion of marginalized youth, women, and ethnic minorities. 


     

     

     

     

    GUINEA-BISSAU

    Sandra Clark (1990–94, pictured) has followed her extensive journalistic career with a February 2022 appointment as Story Corps' second chief executive officer. In her previous role as vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY — the main PBS and NPR affiliate in Philadelphia — she managed news operations across multiple media platforms and oversaw the station’s diversity, cultural competency, community engagement, and trust-building efforts.
     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    Rachel Bielajew (2015–17), a doctoral candidate, has co-launched MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering NSE’s Graduate Application Assistance Program, which connects underrepresented student applicants with NSE mentors. She hopes to concentrate on the experiments that make her question existing paradigms about plasmas under high confinement. 

     

     

     

     

    Kelly Hoeltzel (2019–20) is the Program Manager of Albermarle Area United Way in North Carolina, improving the quality of life within nine counties through partnerships with more than 20 local agencies, such as the Food Bank of the Albemarle, Albemarle Hopeline, Girl Scouts, 4-H groups, and the YMCA.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Carrie Guilfoyle (2006–09) has joined the primary care team at Mendocino Community Health Center in California. Guilfoyle is experienced in treating patients with complex or chronic issues, ranging from high cholesterol, diabetes, and anxiety, in addition to common ailments such as viral and bacterial infections.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Henry Maillet and Jeff Wong (2017–19) recently premiered their documentary film, Faces of the River. The two RPCVs traveled along the Paraguay River from October 2019 to April 2020, conducting studies and research on the impact of climate change in the area, as well as videos, photographs of the majestic landscapes, natural and cultural riches, and interviews with the inhabitants of the different locations in order to explore the meaning of the river for the people who live along its banks. 

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Larry E. André, Jr. (1983–85) is the new U.S. Ambassador to Somalia. Based in Mogadishu, he is a career diplomat with extensive experience on the African continent, including two previous ambassadorships in Djibouti and Mauritania. 

     

     

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Rose Delores Gibbs (1980–84) retired from private medical practice in 2021. She was the first Black woman to serve as a medical officer for the Peace Corps, and was also the first female African American graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina, in 1973. After earning a certificate in tropical medicine from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., Gibbs joined the Peace Corps. Gibbs became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and served in the Peace Corps Medical Offices in Sierra Leone for a decade. 

     

     

     

     

    ZAIRE

    Margaret Bond (1988–90) has been appointed the U.S. Consul General to Curacao and Chief of Mission to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Saint Eustatius, and Saint Maarten. She assumed her assignment in the Dutch Caribbean in January 2022. 


     

     

     

     

     

    PEACE CORPS (WASHINGTON, D.C.)

    Matthew McAllister was appointed in November 2021 director of the Colorado Digital Service, promoting the use of modern software practices on key products and services. Previously, as Special Assistant at the Peace Corps’ Office of Innovation (2014), he focused on adopting and scaling open source tools and best practices to benefit 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers in 60 countries. 

     

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Legislation would extend in-state tuition to Marylanders returning from service see more

    NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst and former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen testified before a committee in the Maryland State Senate on January 19 to argue that returning Volunteers should receive in-state tuition benefits. Those who serve in the military and AmeriCorps already do.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Far too often, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are left behind at the state government level when it comes to benefits that are afforded to others for their service to our nation. In the state of Maryland, a legislative effort is underway to address one of those inequities: who qualifies for in-state tuition.

    Marylanders seeking in-state tuition have to prove they have lived in the state for the past two years. Because returning Peace Corps Volunteers are required to serve our nation overseas, they have been found to be ineligible for the tuition benefit once they come home — because of the residency requirement. This is despite the fact that other forms of public service, including military service and AmeriCorps, have an exemption to this rule.

    Legislation to bring Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in line with others regarding in-state tuition passed last year in the Maryland House of Delegates, but time ran out for passage in the Senate. This year, the legislation has been introduced in both chambers, with public hearings held just two weeks into the 2022 session.

     

    Senate Hearing Testimony

    On Wednesday, January 19, the Maryland Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs held a hearing to take up the legislation. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Ronald Young of Frederick, told committee members that he viewed this legislation as a “technical correction” to fix an omission that should have been included in the first place. “What we’re trying to do is to allow these Peace Corps Volunteers to retain their in-state status when they return to Maryland.”

     

    “What we’re trying to do is to allow these Peace Corps Volunteers to retain their in-state status when they return to Maryland.”
    — State Senator Ronald Young

     

    National Peace Corps Association President Glenn Blumhorst testified in support of the legislation, citing both the importance of Peace Corps service around the world, and the added domestic dividend returned Volunteers bring to their communities. “The benefits that RPCVs are provided as they return back are really modest, they’re quite limited in many ways,” said Blumhorst. “They do not compare closely to those of other forms of national service. One of our goals is to really address this challenge of having Peace Corps service addressed as a form of national service and seeking fair and equitable treatment for those alums who have served in the Peace Corps.”

    Former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen also testified. Prior to becoming the 20th director of the Peace Corps, Olsen was on the faculty of the University of Maryland–Baltimore School of Social Work. “I watched the value that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers brought to their graduate education,” she said. “They offered so much in the classroom, they offered much with the faculty. In fact, faculty would tell me they are some of the strongest students they had in their master’s degree program.”

    Olsen also testified from first-hand experience that RPCVs bring added benefits to the state of Maryland. “I watched many of the RPCVs who chose Maryland and then stayed. They bought houses, they started families, they took professional jobs in the school systems, in mental health, and stayed as strong Maryland residents once they got their degree.”

    Watch a recording of the public hearing here. (Peace Corps bill is the first considered, beginning at 0:55 and ending at 13:00.)

     

    Written Testimony Includes Voices of Maryland RPCVs

    Along with verbal testimony given before the Senate committee, National Peace Corps Association also submitted written testimony to both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates. This testimony included comments and statements of support collected in a 24-hour period from more than 50 members of the Maryland Peace Corps community.

    Read the letter from NPCA and testimony from dozens of returned Volunteers here.

     

    Marylanders Can Take Action Here

    If you are a Maryland resident and want to contact your legislators to urge passage of this legislation, use this link to find your lawmakers. Urge them to support Senate Bill 50 (or House Bill 87). 

     


    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.  Write him

  • 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

    Photo: Ronald M. Bloch (1944–2021)

     

    Our tributes include a volunteer dedicated to helping RPCVs develop rewarding careers. A chemist, professor, and writer. A civil servant who served at the state and international levels. A caring social worker who devoted her career to helping others and sharing her knowledge with students at the university level. A Fulbright scholar in Nigeria dedicated to advancing marketing practices.

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

     

    Ronald M. Bloch (1944–2021) was a tireless supporter of Peace Corps and returned Volunteers, helping thousands reach their career goals. Bloch grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from St. Louis University in 1966. Following graduation, he joined Peace Corps and served in Venezuela 1966–67. His service to his country did not end there, as Bloch was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. Afterwards, Bloch started a long career in human resources. He greatly enjoyed helping people find the right jobs, and helping companies find the right people. In retirement, he volunteered his time to conduct over 4,000 resumé reviews for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. His contribution to the Peace Corps community was remarkable, his passion extraordinary, and his memory will live on with all of those whose lives he touched. He shared some of his story in the special 60th-anniversary edition of WorldView magazine.

     

    Sonja K. Goodwin (1933–2021) was born in Switzerland in 1933. When she was a child, her parents fled Nazi Germany and moved to New York where they opened a German bookstore. Goodwin entered school in the States without knowing how to speak any English; however, she learned it quickly and thrived academically. She was among the first group of girls to be admitted to the Bronx High School of Science, and she went on to earn a B.S. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1957. Goodwin served as an early Volunteer in Peace Corps Nigeria, 1964–66. Her experience inspired her to write two books, published in 2021. After her return from service, Goodwin taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for 37 years before retiring in 2004. Her impact on her students will not soon be forgotten and her Peace Corps experience will live on through her recent works. 

     

    Jack Kennedy (1934–2022) grew up in Los Angeles before studying at Harvard University on a full scholarship. After graduating, he earned his master’s degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Kennedy moved to Sacramento in 1962, where he met Fran, his wife of 57 years. Together, they joined the Peace Corps, serving in India 1966–68. Later, Kennedy continued his career in public service, working for California State Departments of Personnel, Finance, and Education. He worked with USAID in Lesotho, South Africa, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. His career spanned over 35 years, and his impact was felt by the many friends he made all over the world. Even after retirement, Kennedy continued to give back and spent many hours volunteering with local nonprofits, political causes, and organizations, such as the United Nations and Peace Action.

     

    Carol Posey (1941–2021) spent her life advocating for the marginalized and disadvantaged as a social worker. At a young age, Posey demonstrated a passion for helping others which continued throughout her time as a student at Millsaps College and St. Louis University, where she earned her master’s in social work. She joined the Peace Corps in 1964 and served in Iran for two years. Upon her return to the U.S., Posey moved to Florida and began working as a psychotherapist in several different practices. Wanting to pass on her knowledge to others, she became a professor in the social work department at the University of West Florida, mentoring many students over the years. Posey and her wife, Gayle Privette, advocated for HIV/AIDS sufferers through Escambia Aids Services & Education, and they assisted first responders with the Red Cross after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Her impact in her community will long be remembered.

     

    David “Skip” K. Smith (1946–2021) attended Middlebury College and graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in U.S. and African history. After graduation, Smith joined the Peace Corps, serving in Sierra Leone 1968–70. His Peace Corps experience led to a lifelong commitment to working in West Africa. Smith became a Fulbright scholar in Nigeria and taught as a visiting professor of marketing at Lagos Business School for over 20 years. Smith earned his MBA from Dartmouth College and Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Minnesota in 1985. His career led him to work for various colleges and universities including the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Michigan State University, and Southeast Missouri State University. His impact was wide ranging during his years as chair of the marketing department, professor, and eventually dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at American University Nigeria. Not only will he be remembered by his many students, but through his many publications. Smith wrote the book Marketing Toolkit for Nigeria, published over 24 peer-reviewed case studies, and edited the Global Journal of Business Pedagogy. He was dedicated to passing on his love of world affairs and education to all.  

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Kenneth  Noboru  Fukamizu (U.S. Staff), 12/19/21

    Bonnie “Lynn” M. (Wemple) Hash (Staff in Nepal), 12/1/21

    Catherine Pomerans (Staff in South America), 12/20/21

    Eduardo Reveiz, M.D. (Doctor in Colombia), 12/21/21

    Donovan W. Russell (Country Director in Lesotho and Nepal), 12/9/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    William L. Shelton (1965–67), 12/15/21

     

    ALBANIA

    Nan Wilder (199697), 12/9/21

     

    BOTSWANA

    Jeffery W. Dailey (199092), 1/3/22

     

    BRAZIL

    Linda L. (Lewis) Laghetto (196466), 12/15/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    John M. Joseph (1963), 12/10/21

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Mary “Molly” E.  Lunsford (198286), 11/26/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    William “Doc” C. Carter (196769), 11/21/21

    Ellen L. Hill (196971), 11/21/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Robert J. Condon (196365), 12/31/21

    Jeffrey B.  Hovermale (199495), 12/29/21

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Rita D. (Donnelly)  Brandhorst (196466), 11/11/21

    Russell  Deihl (197476), 12/23/21

     

    FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

    Arthur R.C. Mergist (196770), 10/5/21

     

    FIJI

    Louise C.  Bellas (198688), 1/1/22

     

    GHANA

    Thomas P. Mentzer (1981), 11/21/21

    Edward M.  Mialky (196870), 1/5/22

    Penelope M. Roach, Ph.D. (196163), 12/3/21

     

    INDIA

    Jack Kennedy (196668), 1/3/22

     

    INDONESIA

    Nancy L. Null (196365), 11/28/21

     

    IRAN

    Edith “Carol” C. Posey (196466), 12/13/21

     

    JAMAICA

    Dolly S. Klee (198586), 12/5/21

     

    LESOTHO

    Jeanette F. Samter (198084), 12/31/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Susan J. (Miller) Gordon (196264), 12/21/21

    Philip S. Salisbury (196264), 12/21/21

     

    LIBYA

    Edward B. Quinlan (196869), 12/2/21

     

    MOROCCO

    Elizabeth “Betty” J. Douglas (198990), 12/13/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Sonja (Krause) Goodwin (196466), 12/1/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    George F. Scherer (198890), 1/1/22

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Joseph R. Connors (1971), 12/20/21 

    Joseph “Jerry” G. Sheehan (196467), 12/30/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Gabriel “Jack” E. Ashburn III (196567), 10/31/21

    Melinda S. Hutchings (198991), 12/10/21

    David “Skip” K. Smith (196870), 11/23/21

     

    THAILAND

    Julie A. Davis (1976), 12/12/21

    John H. Koehler (196769), 12/13/21

     

    TOGO

    Patricia B. Neu (197172), 12/14/21

     

    TUNISIA

    Brian R. Phillips (197476), 9/10/21

    Evans Shaw (198385), 1/8/22

     

    TURKEY

    Terri L. (Tronstein) Jerry (196869), 12/8/21

     

    UGANDA

    Joan E. (Thomas) (Sanick) Brady (199294), 12/11/21

     

    VENEZUELA

    Ronald M. Bloch (196667), 12/28/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED 

    Margaret “Peggy” (Galdston) Frank (Unspecified),  1/3/22

    John M. Hope (Unspecified), 12/1/21

     

     

     

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

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Diversity is only a demographic concept. The effort starts at belonging. see more

    Part of the discussion on “Building a Community of Black RPCVs: Recruitment Challenges and Opportunities”

     

    Photo courtesy Sia Barbara Kamara

     

    By Sia Barbara Kamara

    Peace Corps Volunteer Liberia 1963–65 | Educational Consultant

     

    I live in Washington, D.C. But I grew up in what would be considered public housing in North Carolina. I graduated from Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black college. The Peace Corps recruiter came to campus just before graduation. I said, Yes, if I can go to Africa. I graduated with a degree in mathematics and physics, and a minor in economics. My goal was to be a scientist.

    When I went to Liberia, my parents were very supportive. They always had African students at my college come home and visit. During my time in Peace Corps, when so many African countries obtained independence, every time a country changed its name, they got a new atlas. They sent Ebony magazines to me. I was way up-country, and there were four African American Volunteers in my group; by the time that magazine reached me, it was all dog-eared, because people along the way would read it.

    I was a teacher and worked with young women; we created a track team, and they went on to be national champions. As a Volunteer, I had been treated like an African queen; people welcomed the Black American. But they said, “We don’t let foreigners teach below third grade.” That’s when children learn about their own culture, and they learn it from people around them. Eventually they did allow me to do it.

     

    A life of learning: Sia Barbara Kamara with a student in Liberia, where she served with the Peace Corps. She now advises the Ministry of Education of Liberia. Photo courtesy Friends of Liberia

     

    When I returned to the States, I served as a Peace Corps recruiter in the Northeast. Sargent Shriver would have me lead sometimes, because he thought that it was important for people of color to be seen in leadership positions. Then I served on the team recruiting at historically Black colleges. I left to become an intern in a program organized by the wife of a former Peace Corps country director in Nigeria, helping historically Black colleges obtain resources. I wrote grants to expand an early childhood program. I knew little about what I was doing, but Peace Corps gave me the courage to do almost anything. I worked with a superintendent of schools and helped organize a master’s program for African Americans to obtain degrees in early childhood education. I had the opportunity to visit early childhood programs in every Southern state and document what they were doing. I presented a paper and met the president and dean of Bank Street College in New York. They asked, “Where did you get your master’s in early childhood?” I said, “I don’t have one.” They said, “You’re enrolled.”

     

    The president and dean of Bank Street College in New York asked, “Where did you get your master’s in early childhood?” I said, “I don’t have one.” They said, “You’re enrolled.”

     

    I went on to work in North Carolina, responsible for an eight-state Head Start training program. Then I went to work for the governor of North Carolina. President Carter asked me to come work as an associate commissioner in the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the national Head Start program, the Appalachian Regional Commission child development programs, childcare regulations, and research and demonstration programs. Then I worked for four mayors in Washington, D.C., to help transform the early childhood system. For the last 10 years, I have been a consultant in early childhood to the Ministry of Education in Liberia. I’ve returned to that place where I got my start, working in Africa.

     

    Early childhood educational center: Sia Barbara Kamara, right, and a sign announcing the work of a center named for her. Photo courtesy Sia Barbara Kamara

     

    When I think about current and returned Volunteers, many need support — networking opportunities, validation, mentoring. It’s important that we continue to provide these during training and reentry, and as people are in service.

     

    People in Liberia have the skill, knowledge, will, and commitment to do for their own country. We can help identify funding opportunities, and be a mentor and coach.

     

    I’m very active in our Friends of Liberia group. However, I’m the only African American in our education work group. We have been able to focus on building human capacity to help groups obtain the resources and background and know-how they need to sustain programs. People there have the skill, knowledge, will, and commitment to do for their own country. We can help identify funding opportunities, and be a mentor and coach.

    Going forward, Peace Corps needs to understand what Volunteers are experiencing during training or when they go out. I had spent four years going to jail as part of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. When we were undergoing Peace Corps training in Syracuse, New York, they didn’t want us to go and participate in a march. That was a part of my DNA. It went all the way to Washington for Sargent Shriver to have to make a decision. We marched together.

     

    These remarks were delivered on September 14, 2021, as part of “Strategies for Increasing African American Inclusion in the Peace Corps and International Careers,” a series of conversations hosted by the Constituency for Africa and sponsored by National Peace Corps Association. They appear in the 60th-anniversary edition of WorldView magazine. 

    Story updated January 17, 2022.


    Sia Barbara Ferguson Kamara received the Peace Corps Franklin H. Williams Award for Distinguished Service in 2012. At Head Start, she managed a budget of approximately $1 billion. When she started, there were 100,000 children in the program; it grew to serve 122 million under her watch.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help. see more

    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Applicants who devote ten years of work in the public service sector (and make 120 qualifying student loan payments during that time) are eligible to have further loan payments forgiven. In a press release, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the changes were an attempt to live up to the promise of the program and could impact more than 550,000 borrowers.

    But, as a New York Times story published in November made clear, Peace Corps Volunteers fell through the cracks. We need to fix that. A number of returned Volunteers have mobilized to seek widespread relief that would enable them to automatically receive qualifying months toward PSLF for any months in which their federal student loans were in a deferment or forbearance status due to Peace Corps service. They have formed a Facebook group, RPCVs for PSLF Relief, which has become a focal point for organizing action.

    National Peace Corps Association has worked with some RPCVs to organize meetings with Congress and has launched an advocacy initiative to make sure folks on Capitol Hill and in the White House understand the scale of the problem. And NPCA’s Global Reentry Program hosted a conversation on the “Jobs with Jodi” podcast with returned Volunteers Katie McSheffrey (Azerbaijan 2009–11) and Sarah Kilchevskyi (Ukraine 2006–08) to straighten out some misperceptions about PSLF. As it turns out, part of the problem has been that Volunteers and returned Volunteers alike got bad advice, including from the Peace Corps agency.

     

    SHARE YOUR STORY: Go to NPCA’s Action Center to write President Biden and your members of Congress.

    LEARN MORE: NPCA hosted a conversation about the program as part of the “Jobs with Jodi” series on November 17. 

     

     

    This story appears in the 60th anniversary edition of WorldView magazine. 


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.

  • 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.

     

     

    ARGENTINA

    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.
     

     

      

     

    BOLIVIA

    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.
     

     

     

    BOTSWANA

    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.

     

     

     

     

    CHILE

    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.

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    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.

     

     

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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

     

     

     

     

     

    FIJI

    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.

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    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. 

     

     
     

     

    MALI

    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.

     

     

     

     

    MOROCCO

    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.

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    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. 

     

     
     

     

    NIGER

    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.

     

     

     

     

    PHILIPPINES

    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. 

     

     

     

     

    VENEZUELA

    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.