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Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act now moves forward. see more

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act now moves forward. It would bring critical reforms to better protect Volunteers and put Peace Corps on the path toward a budget to bolster the number of Volunteers around the world. Though when it comes to health insurance and the Volunteer readjustment allowance, today’s changes provide a little less support.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456), bipartisan legislation introduced by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and fellow Representative Garret Graves (R-LA), cleared its first significant hurdle on September 30th, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved the bill out of committee with a favorable vote.

    The committee advanced the bill with a strong bipartisan showing in a vote of 44 to 4. Eighteen Republicans joined all committee Democrats in supporting the legislation, which will next go to the House Education and Labor Committee for review and then to the House floor for further consideration.

    In bringing the legislation to the committee today, Garamendi noted that in communities across the globe, Volunteers have served in education, agriculture, and public health programs. “Peace Corps Volunteers are the face of America in these communities, building trust and goodwill,” he said. And the legislation would provide additional federal funding and resources “to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps Volunteers.”

     

     

    Committee Approves Amended Version of Legislation

    While the  Garamendi-Graves legislation was approved, it came in the form of a substitute amendment presented by Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), which contained significant additions and other substantive changes in the bill’s original language. ( Read the original legislation here. And see the full amendment here.)

     

    “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.”
    — Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)

     

    In opening debate on the measure, Chairman Meeks said, “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.” Meeks also spoke to the effort by the committee to engage various stakeholders in crafting the legislation, including National Peace Corps Association.

    The lead Republican filling in for Ranking Member Michael McCaul (who represents Texas and was attending to a family health matter) was Ann Wagner (R-MO), who also expressed support for the legislation. “Many members of this committee represent Peace Corps Volunteers,” Wagner said. “We are grateful for their service and we honor the many sacrifices they make in leaving behind their friends and their families to make the world a better place.”

     

    “H.R. 1456 makes long overdue changes and updates to one of America’s best diplomatic and humanitarian programs.”
    — Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)

     

    Wagner was joined by fellow committee member Andy Barr (R-KY) in expressing support for the bill. “H.R. 1456 makes long overdue changes and updates to one of America’s best diplomatic and humanitarian programs,” Barr said. Barr also praised the robust work of the leaders of the Kentucky Peace Corps Association, an NPCA affiliate group of returned Volunteers. Barr singled out the impact of Jack and Angene Wilson, who both served in Liberia in the 1960s, and Will and Amy Glasscock, who both served in Indonesia within the past decade. “I am personally very much indebted to the Glasscocks and the Wilsons in particular for their engagement with my office and their advocacy for the Peace Corps,” Barr said. “They are really terrific ambassadors for our United States as they promote the Peace Corps and its mission.”

    In a  press release issued October 4, Rep. Garamendi thanked Chairman Meeks and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for passing this critically important legislation with strong bipartisan support — and he noted the powerful impact that serving as a Volunteer in Ethiopia had for him and his wife, Patti Garamendi, who also served in the Peace Corps.

     

    “Congress has not reauthorized the Peace Corps in over 20 years. It is vital for the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ to become law so the Peace Corps can redeploy Volunteers worldwide once safe and prudent to do so and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place.”
    —Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

     

    “Congress has not reauthorized the Peace Corps in over 20 years,” Garamendi noted. “It is vital for the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ to become law so the Peace Corps can redeploy Volunteers worldwide once safe and prudent to do so and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place … I will continue to work tirelessly until the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ is on President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.”

     

     

    Sexual assault is a central concern — as it needs to be.

    Along with high praise and the importance of the Peace Corps, today’s debate also brought renewed focus to the deep concerns about Volunteers who have been victims of sexual assault.

    While lawmakers noted important reforms are included in the legislation, committee members cited recent journalistic investigations and Peace Corps Inspector General reports as far back as 2013 indicating that sexual assault in the agency remains as a serious problem — and that more needs to be done

    Citing the April 22, 2021 in-depth investigative story in USA Today on sexual assault within the Peace Corps, Rep. Wagner said, “Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault; Volunteers have also reported a hesitancy to describe these cases to the Peace Corps due to fear of retaliation or criticism. This is devastating.”

     

    “Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault; Volunteers have also reported a hesitancy to describe these cases to the Peace Corps due to fear of retaliation or criticism. This is devastating.”
    — Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)

     

    An amendment introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) proposed withholding agency funding outlined in the legislation until the Peace Corps satisfied all recommendations made by the agency Inspector General to further address sexual assault mitigation strategies. Noting that no Volunteers are currently serving overseas, Perry said, “If we are going to do it, now is the time.”

    The Perry amendment was defeated by a vote of 26 to 21 along party lines. In opposing the amendment, Chairman Meeks noted the amendment was issued 10 minutes before the start of the committee meeting. He said staff reached out to the Office of the Inspector General for Peace Corps, which said in part that interruptions in funding could interfere with the agency’s ability to satisfy all IG recommendations. Meeks also cited reforms in the amended bill — such as language to protect Volunteers from reprisals or retaliation, and the extension of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council to continue its work through 2025 — as examples of reforms that further address Volunteer safety and security.

    The committee’s very necessary focus on addressing sexual assault in the Peace Corps comes just days after National Peace Corps Association hosted a global conference for the Peace Corps community that included a panel tackling safety and security for Volunteers 10 years after the passage of the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act. A key takeaway in that panel discussion, too: Peace Corps needs to do better — but there is never a time when the agency can check off a box and say the work is done.

     


    A better and stronger Peace Corps

    Following Thursday’s committee action, National Peace Corps Association released this statement from President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst:

    “This is a very good day for the Peace Corps and its future. While we are continuing to review and consider some of the alterations made to the original version of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, all of the foundational elements of this landmark legislation remain. We want to thank Chairman Meeks, Ranking Member McCaul, Representative Wagner, committee staff, and all members of the committee who voted in favor of H.R. 1456 and took this first, critical step toward passing this legislation. From protecting whistleblowers to providing Peace Corps the robust funding it needs to help our country re-engage with the world, these are important reforms. 

     

    “To our community and other friends of the Peace Corps, make no mistake. Today’s action was a significant step, but it is only one step in a lengthy process to pass this legislation in both chambers of Congress and send the bill to the president for his signature. Every individual who believes in a stronger and better and well-resourced Peace Corps needs to help us pass H.R. 1456.”
    —Glenn Blumhorst, NPCA President & CEO

     

    “We are most grateful to our RPCV friend, Representative John Garamendi, his bipartisan counterpart Garret Graves, and their hardworking staff for their months-long dedication and determination in which they consulted, collaborated, and created this comprehensive Peace Corps legislation. Representative Garamendi has often noted that he wants his legislation to be about and for the Peace Corps Volunteer. In so many important ways related to health and safety, Volunteer and RPCV support, strengthened reporting guidelines and professional resources, and respecting and honoring Peace Corps service, this legislation advances those causes. It supports those Volunteers forced home prematurely by the pandemic who want to return to their service as soon as possible, and also supports the next wave of Peace Corps Volunteer recruits who anxiously await word on their opportunity to serve our nation.

    “To our community and other friends of the Peace Corps, make no mistake. Today’s action was a significant step, but it is only one step in a lengthy process to pass this legislation in both chambers of Congress and send the bill to the president for his signature. Every individual who believes in a stronger and better and well-resourced Peace Corps needs to help us pass H.R. 1456.”

     

     

    What has changed in the bill?

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 was originally introduced in March. Today, items from the original bill that were altered include the following:

    Recommended Peace Corps Appropriations: While the amendment retains language supporting regular, annual calls for increased funding for the Peace Corps reaching $550 million through Fiscal Year 2024, the new language drops the recommended target of $600 million in funding by Fiscal Year 2025.

    Volunteer Readjustment Allowance: The amendment would set the current Volunteer readjustment allowance ($375/month) as the statutory minimum allowance for Volunteers going forward. It removes the proposal to mandate raising that minimum to $417, retaining the agency’s authority to determine when the allowance should be increased.

    Post-Service Health Coverage for Returned Volunteers: The traditional period in which the Peace Corps pays for post-service health insurance for returning Volunteers would be increased from 30 days to 60 days under the amendment. That’s one month less than the 90 days proposed in the original Garamendi-Graves bill.

    Protection of Peace Corps Volunteers Against Reprisals or Retaliation: Language in the Garamendi-Graves legislation pertaining to whistleblower protection has been amended so that it now outlines recommended procedures and policies to protect Volunteers from acts of reprisal or retaliation.

     

     

    What has not changed in the bill?

    Items from the original bill that were unchanged include the following:

    Workers Compensation Increase: The Meeks amendment retains language calling for an increase in the rate of compensation for RPCVs who come home and are unable to work due to service related illness or injury. This provision is a primary reason why the legislation will next be considered by the House Education and Labor Committee.

    GAO Reporting on Mental Health: The amendment retains language requesting a report by the Government Accountability Office on the status and possible improvements related to mental health services provided to RPCVs upon coming home from service. Better mental health support is one of the community-driven recommendations NPCA provides in the report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future.”

    Menstrual Equity Act: The amendment continues to include text of H.R. 1467, the Menstrual Equity in the Peace Corps Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). This legislation requires the Peace Corps to ensure access to menstrual products for Volunteers who require them, either by increasing stipends or providing the products for affected Volunteers.

    Anti-Malarial Drugs: The amendment retains language stating that the Peace Corps shall consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on recommendations in prescribing malaria prophylaxis, and that the agency shall address training of medical personnel in malaria countries on side effects of such medications.

    Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act: The amendment continues to include text of H.R. 4188, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). This would confirm that an allowable use of the Peace Corps name, official seal, and emblem would include its use at gravesites or in death notices.

     


    What’s been added to the bill?

    Items that were added to the original bill include the following:

    Increased Duration for Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE): The amendment retains language in the Garamendi-Graves bill that would protect the full NCE benefit for new Volunteers should they be unable to work due to illness or injury upon returning home, or if there is a federal government shutdown or hiring freeze. The amendment would also extend the general length of NCE from one year to two years.

    Extension of Sexual Assault Advisory Council: The Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 created  the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Advisory Council. In 2018, the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act extended the work of of the council through 2023. The Meeks amendment would extend the work of the council through 2025.

    Peace Corps Service Deployments in the U.S.: Given the emergency deployment of Peace Corps Volunteers in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the service by Volunteers to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency with COVID relief in 2021, the Meeks amendment would codify into law the allowance of future Volunteer deployment in the U.S. at the request of another federal agency.

    Expanded Language on Virtual Service Opportunities: The amendment expands language regarding virtual volunteer opportunities and incorporates it into the Peace Corps Act. It notes that this expands opportunities to recruit individuals who face barriers to serving physically in a country outside the U.S.

    Additional Reporting Requirements: Along with the reporting requirements already outlined in the Garamendi-Graves legislation, the amendment includes additional reporting requirements on Peace Corps guidelines and standards used to evaluate the mental health of Peace Corps applicants prior to service. It calls for more detailed information on the number of evacuations due to medical or mental health circumstances, and associated costs. 

     

    READ MORE: Text of the full amended version of H.R. 1456 approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee on September 30, 2021. 

    YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings and NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst: “After the fall of Afghanistan, we need the rise the Peace Corps.” Guest essay in The Hill on September 30, 2021.

     

    Story published Sept. 30, 2021. Updated October 6, 2021 to include press release by John Garamendi.


    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. If you’d like to get involved in advocating for H.R. 1456, email him:  advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org

     September 30, 2021
  • 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.

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

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

     

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

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

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

     

    AFGHANISTAN

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

     

    BANGLADESH

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

     

     

     

     

    BENIN

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

     

     

     

    BOTSWANA

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

     

     

     

     

    COSTA RICA

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

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

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

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

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

     

     

     

     

    IRAN

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

     

     

     

    MOLDOVA

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

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

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

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

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

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

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

     

     

     

     

     

    ZAIRE

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

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Nancy Kelly, Amy Maglio, and Estee Katcoff honored for global service and leadership see more

    Nancy Kelly of Health Volunteers Overseas and Amy Maglio of the Women’s Global Education Project are recognized with the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement Award. Estee Katcoff, founder of the Superkids Foundation, is recognized with the Kate Raftery Emerging Leaders Award.

     

    By NPCA Staff

     

    As part of the global virtual conference Peace Corps Connect 2021, Women of Peace Corps Legacy presented awards to three outstanding leaders in the Peace Corps community. Nancy Kelly and Amy Maglio were each honored with the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement Award. And Estee Katcoff was presented with the Kate Raftery Emerging Leader Award.

    The awards were presented by Kathleen Corey, president of Women of Peace Corps Legacy, on September 23 at the Peace Corps Connect conference. WPCL is an affiliate group of National Peace Corps Association and is part of a vibrant community that includes more than 180 affiliate groups focused on regions in the U.S., on countries where Volunteers have served, and around causes that matter to the Peace Corps community.

     


    Deborah Harding Women of Achievement Award

    The Deborah Harding Award honors Peace Corps women whose contributions have made a significant difference in the lives of women and girls in the world. 

     

    Nancy Kelly has worked tirelessly for over four decades to help women and girls all over the world. She began her journey in 1979 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea, working in maternal and child health, and went on to develop a career in global health. As the executive director of Health Volunteers Overseas since its creation in 1986, she has been the driver behind a program which has enabled thousands of women, children and humans to receive improved, dignified, and compassionate health care — and has allowed thousands of health professionals to receive training and mentorship which otherwise would have been near impossible.

    Under her leadership, Health Volunteers Overseas has facilitated over 11,900 volunteer assignments globally. The last five have resulted in, on average, 3,200 health professionals receiving training and mentorship each year — benefiting innumerate women and children both directly and indirectly. In so doing, she is helping to build a global cadre of talented, confident, and inspired women who are committed to advancing global health.
     

    Amy Maglio is the founder and executive director of the Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) which works with grassroots community partners to educate, empower, and promote equality for women and girls in rural Senegal and Kenya. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Amy saw firsthand the multiplier effect of girls' education in rural Senegal and how access to education — which was extremely limited for girls, not only increased their own opportunities — but also enabled them to provide for their families and catalyzed wider community change. 

    Inspired by Khady, her host sister who she assisted in getting an education as well as other girls in her village, Amy started WGEP in 2004, at her dining room table, determined to help girls and women succeed in school and reach their full potential. As director of this Chicago-area NGO, she helped ensure the increase of education opportunities for marginalized girls in rural Kenya and Senegal through innovative programs with grassroots community partners.

    This NGO has proved to be tremendously successful and has held a 99% retention rate, reaching over 20,000 girls and young women to date. In 2010, she was invited to present WGEP’s model as a best practice approach to girls’ education at the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative Conference in Dakar, Senegal, and was a drafter of the UN Declaration on Gender Equality.

     

     


    Kate Raftery Emerging Leader Award

    The Kate Raftery Emerging Leader Award is presented annually to a woman with an affiliation to Peace Corps under the age of 35 who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and ongoing commitment to serve women and girls.

    Estee Katcoff

    Estee Katcoff became aware of gender-based violence as a Peace Corps Volunteer and used this knowledge to lead initiatives preventing it in Paraguay during and after her service. She founded a girls' empowerment club and extended for a third year to continue her work, which included working with the Children's Rights Council of Gender-Based Violence Prevention.

    Since then, Estee has piloted a successful youth program, originally called Zero Violencia, which continues now as the Superkids Foundation, working in Paraguay to mobilize children as agents of change in their communities. Seventy percent of the Kid Teachers who have risen to action through Superkids identify as girls and learn the knowledge and skills needed to not only end GBV but work towards equity in their communities, particularly in education.

    Estee’s focus has always been on building the capacity of her Peace Corps community to use best practices to effect change, while championing women and girls and always including men and boys in the effort. 
     

     

    Story updated December 28, 2021 to correct spelling

     September 27, 2021
  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    She was a Volunteer, trained Volunteers, and was actively involved with the NorCal grants program see more

    She served as a Volunteer in the Philippines, trained Volunteers who served throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. She was a leader of both the Northern California Peace Corps Association and National Peace Corps Association.

     

    Illustration by Edward Rooks

     

    By Steven Boyd Saum


    Soon after graduating Marquette University in Milwaukee, Susan Neyer left for Peace Corps service in the Philippines, working as a teacher trainer 1962–65. She earned a master’s in urban education from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and went back to Peace Corps, training future teachers in Hawaii and then visiting them in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. She returned to Wisconsin and taught preschool to migrant workers’ children before moving to California to teach Spanish bilingual classes: in Orange County, then Berkeley and Oakland.

    Peace Corps found her again: She served as a board member of Northern California Peace Corps Association and spent a decade as a board director of National Peace Corps Association, including vice-chair and chair. She edited NPCA’s Global Education newsletter and Group Leaders Digest for over 20 years.

    She met her husband Pete Johnson (India 1967–69) through NorCal in the mid1980s, and they enjoyed traveling together to many Peace Corps countries, where they would connect with staff and Volunteers. They married in 1993 in Yosemite and returned nearly every year. They also referred to their home as NPCA West, perhaps only half in jest.

    Susan passed away in September after a three-year battle with cancer. For many years she and Pete were actively involved with the Northern California Peace Corps Association Grants Program, supporting projects around the world. Contributions to the program in her memory are welcome.

     

    Read more about Susan Neyer here.

  • 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 Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Photo: Anne Hughes — activist and arts patron whose dedication and service led to the city of Portland establishing Anne Hughes Day in recognition of her civic contributions.  
     

    Our tributes include a spirited arts champion and a power lawyer. A former Peace Corps India staff member and a public servant. A physician who dedicated his life to others and a leader in the Florida Peace Corps community. Several teachers and professors. We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    Aruna (Nayyar) Michie (1944–2021), born in Bombay, grew up with a deep social conscience instilled in her by her parents, who were deeply involved with the Indian Nationalist movement and firmly believed in independence for India. When Michie turned three, independence finally came for her country. In 1966, she graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts with a degree in international relations before returning to India where she was hired by the Peace Corps. As an associate director of the Northern Regional office she oversaw programs and volunteers in the state of Rajasthan. Additionally, she met her husband Barry Michie, a Volunteer serving in Rajasthan at the time, and they were married in 1968 before moving back to the United States to pursue Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University. Despite obtaining her Ph.D. in political science and living in the U.S. for 53 years, Michie never voted in an election, chosing to remain a green card holder to honor her Indian heritage. Michie had an incredible career at Kansas State University, where she taught and mentored students for many years. Over the years, she received recognition for excellence in teaching, served two terms as the Faculty Senate President, and was an ombudsperson mediating disputes between faculty and administration. Michie, along with her husband, spent over five decades participating in projects in India, particularly in the rural area she had come to know while working for the Peace Corps.

     

    Marguerite “Anne” A. Hughes (1945–2021) was well known for her legendary coffee room, lifelong activism, and art patronage. During her studies at Portland State University, Hughes volunteered for the Valley Migrant League, an organization that was dedicated to connecting seasonal migrant workers in Oregon with community programs and social services. In 1976, Hughes opened her first art gallery, followed by her second in 1979; during this time she was also active in curating art for other gallery owners. One of her memorable contributions to the art world involved curating a gallery showcasing Judy Chicago’s highly controversial feminist work at a local art museum. Hughes ensured the artwork remained open to the public, despite protests from the museum director. Despite Hughes’ art galleries closings in the late 1970s, she remained an important anchor within Portland’s creative community. In 1985, Hughes proposed converting an unused room within Powell’s City of Books into the bookstore’s coffee space; that room marked the beginning of the famous Anne Hughes Coffee Room — a space for shoppers to gather, discuss books, and listen to readings. The Hughes Coffee Room shuttered in 2003, after nearly 20 years, when she allowed Powell’s union workers to organize within the space. Hughes’ dedication to service and her community led to her Peace Corps service in Jordan from 2010–11. On September 21, 2021, — Hughes' birthday — the city of Portland recognized Hughes for her civic contributions to the community by making Anne Hughes Day an annual day of rememberance. Her sons remember Hughes for her dedication to ensuring an inclusive and connective creative community within Portland, a space where people who would not normally interact together are free and encouraged to do so. 

     

    Emily “Cathy” C. Day (1942–2021) was dedicated to teaching and training students and teachers alike. In 1963, after obtaining her B.A. in english from the College of William & Mary, she served in Peace Corps for two years in Lambayeque, Peru. Following this period, Day taught Spanish to incoming Volunteers for a few years. She returned to the United States to complete her M.A. in applied linguistics from the Teachers College at Columbia University. Afterwards, Day started teaching English in Ponce, Puerto Rico for five years before pursuing her Ph.D. in education at the University of Illinois. In 1982, Day was hired on as an ESL teacher at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), training teachers in the same field. Day’s commitment to mentoring and teaching the next generation of teachers led to her advancement of the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs in TESOL, or Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. In addition to Day’s professional duties, she served as the president to EMU’s chapt;er of the American Association of University Professors, frequently presented and spoke at Michigan TESOL conferences over the years; she volunteered for the board of Ypsilanti’s Meals on Wheels chapter for almost a decade; and she was an officer of the Ypsilanti Ladies’ Literary Club. After her retirement, Day remained active on campus by enjoying EMU Emeritus functions and the University Musical Society performances. In her free time, she practiced tai chi, walked her beloved dog, Cherry, and listened to EMU’s radio station.

     

    Elizabeth “Betty” (Frazier) Karplus (1925–2021), a devoted teacher and volunteer, spent her childhood, traveling around the western U.S. with her family as her father visited various communities and congregations during the Great Depression. During World War II, Karplus worked for Yale & Towne as a welder to pay for her education at Oberlin College, where she obtained a B.S. in physics, before moving on to Wellesley College for her M.S. in physics. She married Robert Karplus in 1948, and they moved to Princeton where he began working with J. Robert Oppenheimer while she ran the radiochemistry lab. She also assisted John von Neumann with testing his early computer programs’ mathematical capabilities. In 1954, they moved to California, and Karplus’ husband joined UC Berkeley’s physics department. She earned her master’s in special education after giving birth to her seventh child, who was born with a disability. Afterwards, Karplus worked as a high school resource specialist for special-needs students and their parents. Karplus retired from teaching in 1986, but kept busy in other ways, including leading a science teaching program, serving in Peace Corps Jamaica, teaching English in China, volunteering with AmeriCorps, supporting undergraduate researchers, and conducting hands-on science lessons for elementary school students. For her exceptional contributions over the years to science education, Karplus was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  

     

    Thomas M. Donnellan (1940–2021) was an engaged and dedicated citizen of Flint, Michigan, living and working there for most of his life with his family. Before moving to Flint, he graduated from Queens College and served in Peace Corps Cameroon. After completing his Volunteer service, he earned a law degree from Fordham Law School and kickstarted his law career in 1968 in the Flint, where he started working as a principal drafter of the City of Flint Charter, which later would be adopted by Flint voters. He also worked with the Michigan Municipal League to train other cities on involving citizens with revising municipal charters. In the mid-1980s, Donnellan was appointed to the Flint District Court; eventually he served as an elected judge until 1992 before holding the position of chief judge from 1984 to 1987. When he left the bench, Donnellan became a criminal defense lawyer and was well-known as a “super lawyer” throughout the 35 years he practiced criminal law, during which time he worked as Flint City attorney and district judge. One of Donnellan's most memorable contributions involved assisting Nathel Burtley, Flint Community Schools’ first Black Superintendent, launch the Committee to Save the Flint Public Library. Donnellan believed libraries act as “equalizers” within communities, and he wanted to ensure others could have free access to books and knowledge, just as he did growing up. 

     

    Timothy V. Craine (1943–2021) was a dedicated teacher throughout his career and into his retirement. When he wasn’t in the classroom, he played music, loved to hike and travel, and participated in civil activism. Craine graduated from Oberlin College in 1965 and served for two years in Peace Corps Ghana. When he returned to the States, he taught in public high schools in Detroit and New Haven. In 1984, he earned his doctorate in math education from Wayne State University; that same year, he was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching. Craine transitioned to the math department at Central Connecticut State University in 1993, where he became chair seven years later, until his retirement in 2009. Despite his retirement, Craine continued teaching on a part-time basis through 2020, and he co-authored several textbooks and academic articles. Craine was an active supporter of the Socialist Workers Party for over 50 years, serving as the party’s candidate for governor of Michigan in 1982. As a leader of the Greater Hartford Coalition on Cuba, he protested what he saw as the U.S. government’s economic war on the island. Craine also participated in a delegation demanding the closure of the U.S. bombing range in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

     

    John A. Frantz (1923–2021), a dedicated physician who spent his life in service to others, attended Haverford College followed by the University of Rochester School of Medicine, graduating in 1944. Frantz finished medical school as a U.S. Air Force officer and completed his internship at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He continued his military career, researching the survival of downed airmen under conditions of extreme cold. In 1946, Frantz married Mary Hodge, a fellow medical student, and they practiced together for several years in Colorado and Missouri, before settling in Wisconsin for the remainder of their careers as internists 1956–2007, when they both retired. Fueled by his service-minded attitude, he served in Peace Corps with his wife 1968–70, teaching medicine in Afghanistan. His passion for keeping his patients healthy motivated him to write many informational articles and a book to help educate his patients — and society in general — about common diseases over the course of his career. 

     

    Joan M. (MacDonald) O’Brien (1941–2021) grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, choosing to attend Lowell State College. In 1962, she earned a B.S. in education and became the second person from Lowell State to join the Peace Corps. O’Brien served in the Philippines 1962–64 as a teacher and health advisor. She began a teaching career in the Lexington Public Schools upon her return to the U.S. and participated in a Harvard University project to improve early education. She married in 1967, teaching for several more years until her first child was born in 1971. However, she remained active in the education world. In the early 1980s, O’Brien served two terms on the Westford School Committee and was appointed to serve on the Nashoba Tech committee, an appointment she held for 20 years. O’Brien also bought and operated three Sylvan Learning Centers, where she provided tutoring and educational support for students. Throughout her career, O’Brien received several awards for her commitment to education and the lives of her students.

     

    Maria “Betty” Bruquetas (1954–2021) was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Solomon Islands 1993–95. She served as the president of the RPCVs of Gulf Coast Florida affiliate group for many years. Bruquetas became well-known for her strong sense of responsibility for all the work she did in various organizations, including the RPCV group. During her term as president, she was considered fondly as the group’s center from which spun ideas, projects, campaigns, celebrations, national and international communications, history-making events. She exuded a sincere interest in each person and cause that came across her path and took an active role with the Gulf Coast group’s Celebration of Service Award, given to community projects in the Sarasota/Manatee area that deal with literacy for immigrants, drug abuse, housing and poverty issues, especially within the local African American community. RPCVs of Gulf Coast Florida have created the Betty Bruquetas Fund in her honor for the next Celebration of Service Award, to be awarded in spring 2022. 

     

    Marc B. Hanson (1975–2021) was a committed public servant who championed for the Peace Corps as the lead foreign policy staff for RPCV Congressman Sam Farr 2007–10. During this period, Hanson helped lead efforts to increase Peace Corps funding by nearly $70 million and introduce legislation to expand and improve the Peace Corps. Hanson also worked for Representatives Norma Torres and Gil Cisneros between 2016 and 2019. Beyond his service to the U.S. Congress, Hanson’s commitment to justice and human rights included work with the SEIU labor union, Refugees International, and the Washington Office on Latin America. Hanson graduated from Santa Clara University and earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California in Los Angeles. In 2003, Hanson served two years as a city planning volunteer in La Ceiba, Honduras.

     

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Kenneth J. Coffey (Peace Corps Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.), 9/27/21

    Marylinda E. (Wilson) Hishmeh (Peace Corps staff in Tunisia from 1973—74 and Gabon in 1976), 9/11/21 

    Aruna (Nayyar) Michie (Peace Corps staff in India in mid-1960s), 9/5/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    John A. Frantz (1968–70), 8/31/21

     

    BANGLADESH

    Melinda A. Heins (2004–06), 8/13/21

     

    BOLIVIA

    Janice M. Harste (1964–66), 9/22/21

    Connie J. (Marquiss) Hendrix (1968), 9/27/21

    Allen D. Jedlicka (1965–67), 9/11/21

    Karen M. Taylor (1966–67), 10/4/21

     

    CAMEROON

    Thomas M. Donnellan (1962–64), 9/3/21

    Gregory G. Jones (1988), 9/14/21

     

    CHILE

    Thomas F. Hendricks (1964–66),  9/1/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    Frederick Z. Jaspersen (1961–63), 8/17/21 

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Dorothy T. Millirons (1999–2001), 9/25/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Michael R. Davis (1967–69), 8/23/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Norman C. Anders (1969–71), 9/25/21

    George Iselin (1969–71), 9/7/21  

     

    GABON

    Charles “Chuck” F. Brenner (1967–68), 9/24/21

     

    GHANA

    Timothy V. Craine (1965–67), 9/25/21

     

    GUATEMALA

    Michael McLeod (1967–70), 9/8/21

    Kenneth R. Wyrick (1965–68), 9/5/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Arnold J. Cote (1987–88), 2/23/21

    Marc B. Hanson (2003–04), 8/25/21

     

    INDIA

    Kevin E. Riordan (1966–67), 9/25/21

    John Wahl (1968–70), 4/21/21

     

    IRAN

    Laila (Jensen) Finnen (1968), 9/5/21 

     

    JAMAICA

    Elizabeth “Betty” (Frazier) Karplus (1991–93), 9/22/21

     

    JORDAN

    Marguerite “Anne” A. Hughes (2010–11), 8/26/21

     

    LESOTHO

    James T. Tashima (1969–70), 9/3/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Joseph D. Short (1966–68), 9/7/21

    Nancy A. Waters (1964–66), 9/21/21

     

    MALAYSIA

    Albert W. Briggs, Jr. (1964–66), 10/9/21

     

    MALI

    Jane M. Pollard (1995–97), 9/19/21

     

    MARSHALL ISLANDS

    James M. Barto (1972), 9/18/21

     

    NEPAL

    Salvatore D. Paradise (1971–73), 9/29/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Robert P. Burchard, Ph.D. (1964–66), 9/28/21

    Peggy N. Simmonds (1961–63), 9/9/21

     

    PAPUA NEW GUINEA

    Jerome B. Moles (1981–83), 8/25/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    James D. Iler (1966–68), 9/30/21

     

    PERU

    Emily “Cathy” C. Day (1963–65), 10/1/21

    James R. Rigney (1969–72), 8/24/21

    Richard “Dick” S. Swift (1964–66), 9/19/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Beth (Gillian) Craig (1969), 10/8/21

    Norman E. Kowal M.D., Ph.D. (1963–65), 9/13/21

    Joan M. (McDonald) O'Brien (1962–64), 9/23/21

    William R. Stevens (1984–86), 8/8/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    John C. Sartorius (196970), 9/3/21 

     

    SOLOMON ISLANDS

    Maria “Betty” Bruquetas (1993–95), 8/12/21

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Theodore "Ted" K. Urton (1973–75), 9/17/21

      

    TANZANIA

    Patsy J. Mason (1962–64), 9/3/21

     

    THAILAND

    John F. Moriarty III (1968), 9/10/21

     

    TONGA

    Betha “Bert” T.  Spector (1982–83), 8/30/21

     

    TUNISIA

    Francis J. Egan (1966–67), 9/7/21

     

     

     

    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
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and around the world see more

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


    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

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

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

     

     

    AFGHANISTAN

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

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

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

     

     

     

     

     

    COLOMBIA

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

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

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

     

     

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

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

     

     

     

     

    GUINEA-BISSAU / CAPE VERDE

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

     

     

     

     

     

    IRAN

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

     

     

     

     

    JORDAN

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

     

     

     

     

    MACEDONIA

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

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

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

     

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

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

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

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

     

     

     

     

    VANUATU

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

     

     

     

     

    ZAIRE

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

     

     

     

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Help shape this special 60th anniversary conference for the Peace Corps community see more

    An invitation for individuals and groups alike: Help shape this special 60th anniversary conference. Produce a video. Tell your story. Lead a discussion group. 

    By Evelyn Ganzglass


    The 2021 Peace Corps Connect Conference Program Planning Committee is seeking affiliate group and individual member participation in this year’s conference program. As we mark six decades since the founding of the Peace Corps, we’re putting together a conference that reflects the place of Peace Corps amid these unprecedented times.

    The conference will focus on four key themes:

    • Racial justice and how we can foster equity, diversity, and inclusion
    • Climate change and its impact
    • Refugees and forced migration 
    • Continuing service by Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers more broadly. 

    Read more about the conference here. And read on for how you can help guide the conversations at Peace Corps Connect 2021.

     

    Counterparts in the Community

    Who can speak to the impact of the Peace Corps better than Peace Corps counterparts in communities around the world? We are gathering five-minute videos made by returned Volunteers and their partners in communities that highlight the work they have done together — and the impact of these partnerships. If you’re interested in submitting a short video to be shown at the conference, please express your interest here.

     

    Evacuated Volunteers: Tell Your Story

    Are you an evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer who would like to share your story of service — and how you were part of the unprecedented global evacuation? We’re looking for participants to be part of a moderated panel with other evacuated Volunteers. We’ll discuss the work by Volunteers, how evacuation has affected you and your community, and how you are continuing to be involved in service.  Express your interest in being part of the evacuated Volunteer panel here.

     
    From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad

    Racial justice and a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the key themes of the conference. For a session on “From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad,” conference attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of racism, unconscious bias, and allyship, both during and after their Peace Corps service. We are seeking Volunteers to act as small group facilitators during the session. These facilitators will receive training from a DEI professional prior to the conference — and they will meet with conference organizers and other facilitators for planning. The total time required to act as a DEI break-out facilitator will be 4 to 5 hours.  Express your interest in serving as a facilitator during this session here.

     

    Service Projects: Stories of Impact

    During the conference (and beyond!), we'll be highlighting affiliate group service projects and the stories of their impact on individuals and communities worldwide. Have a service project to highlight? Contact Affiliate Group Network Coordinator Hannah Wishart.


    Evelyn Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) serves on the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association, is on the leadership team of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Archives Project, and is a member of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. 

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    From being taught by Peace Corps Volunteers to becoming a Volunteer see more

    In Moldova, my work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. And born near Mount Everest.

    By Champa Jarmul

     

    When I was a girl growing up in Nepal, two of my teachers were Peace Corps Volunteers. After I became a teacher myself, I attended a training workshop with another Volunteer. Most important to me was the PCV who taught at our school a few years later. David and I fell in love and got married.

    More than 35 years later, after our two sons had grown, we signed up to serve as Volunteers together in Moldova. David worked in the local library and I taught English at a school. I wasn’t sure I would be a good Volunteer, but I was ready to be open-hearted and nonjudgmental, and to accept all of the challenges.

     

    Moldovan students with their Peace Corps teacher, Champa Jarmul, at far end of table. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    My work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. Few Moldovans had ever heard of Nepal. When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.” As we lived and worked together, though, they came to know me. 

     

    When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.”

     

    We cooked each other our traditional foods — curried chicken and rice from Nepal, stuffed cabbage and pork from Moldova, and an American apple pie. We shared photos of our grandchildren. We celebrated each others’ birthdays and holidays, including a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

     

    Peace Corps family: Champa and David Jarmul with their grandchildren. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    Our Peace Corps group included Americans born in other countries as well, from Panamá, Colombia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We had American-born Volunteers of different ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. Many of us were not what Moldovans expected a Volunteer would look like. Together, we showed them that “American” includes many kinds of people.

    As Peace Corps looks to its future, its Volunteers need to fully reflect our country’s diversity. We are the faces of America. Our stories are America’s stories. 


    READ MORE: “Returning to Serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer a Second Time — 35 years Later” by David Jarmul 

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    Evacuated Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation see more

    Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation. The big question: How can we transform this moment in Peace Corps history?


    On July 18, 2020, National Peace Corps Association hosted Peace Corps Connect to the Future, a global ideas summit. Four Volunteers joined NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst in conversation to discuss their experiences — and tackle some questions about how the believe Peace Corps — and the Peace Corps community — needs to change. Here’s the discussion — with video highlights throughout. And a video of the full conversation.

     

    Marieme Foote, Evacuated RPCV | Benin 2018–20

    Rok Locksley, Evacuated RPCV | Philippines 2018–20

    Juana Bordas | RPCV Chile 1966–68

      In conversation with

    Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, NPCA | RPCV Guatemala 1988–91



    Marieme Foote: I'm a second generation Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated due to COVID-19 from Benin, where I served in the agricultural field from 2019-2020. First, as others have done before me today, I would like to start off by sharing condolences: Congressmen John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were giants during the Civil Rights Movement and should continue to serve as an inspiration for our current conversation. Congressman John Lewis said, "Never be afraid to make some noise and get in trouble, necessary trouble." 

    If you want NPCA and the Peace Corps to move into a better future, we need to push for radical shifts in order to continue to push the envelope. If not, we risk losing Peace Corps to time. 

    So to start off, I will also introduce some of the panelists that I've worked with. When we returned from getting evacuated, we formed a group with Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) and we created a report that received over 450 responses on the experiences of evacuated Volunteers. And we’ve used this report to advocate to Congress on behalf of volunteers for PUA, healthcare, and other different topics. 

    I'm joined by Rok Locksley. Rok volunteered in the Philippines as a coral reef preservation Volunteer from 2018 to 2020. He also served in Moldova from 2005 to 2008, and was a Peace Corps recruiter from 2009 to 2016. And we're also joined by Juana Bordas. 


     

    Juana Bordas: Intergenerational leadership is a key thing in all communities of people of color. I'm Juana, and I served in the Peace Corps way back in the ’60s, 1964 to ’66. And I've had an illustrious career since, we might say. It's been 54 years since I was in the Peace Corps. So I do want to share all of the things that have kind of happened since then that were based on my decision, which is a decision all of us made: We made a decision to serve and to and to put our lives in the service of humanity. And I think that's what makes people powerful, has made me powerful, and Peace Corps powerful. I've spent my career building organizations for communities of color, particularly Latinos and Latina women, and also doing work in race and equity and trying to build the compassionate, good society.

     

    Glenn Blumhorst: First I just want to say thank you so much, Marieme. This panel is something I was really looking forward to. As we kind of started talking about this, it seemed like the right way to do this was just to say: This is your panel discussion and make it what you want, and put together something to reflect on all these big ideas that we have — and your thoughts as the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers. I'm glad you invited me to be a part of the conversation, and I’m really looking forward to hearing your reflections. The questions you put together are really important — not just for you, but for all of us. And I'm looking forward to hearing your answers. This is directed to everyone for a brief response. As we envision the reentry process for Volunteers, what do you think are the most important things to consider when supporting Volunteers in the future post service?

     

    WATCH: Rok Locksley — Lessons from Reentry

     

    Difficulty Upon Reentry

    Rok Locksley: I'll take that one. I served in ’05-’08 and then I served again in ’18 to ’20, so I was evacuated. But the first time that I finished my service, I came back into the 2008 economic depression. I started doing a lot of research, especially when I went to work for the agency. (Thank you, Jody Olson, for helping me get a job, back when we had an RPCV Career Center, to make all that happen!) Peace Corps has known for a very long time that returned Volunteers have had more difficulty upon reentry, rather than going into service. In fact, the Peace Corps like itself termed “reentry” in a paper in the ’90s. They took it from the NASA program, because reentry is recognized as a very difficult process — as difficult as as leaving the earth.

    There was a paper written in the ’90s called "Psychological and Readjustment Problems Associated with Emergency Evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers." That really nailed down what some of the problems were. This is where we started to see that Peace Corps, recognizing through its own surveys and own research, that Volunteers were having trouble with reentry to start with — but then evacuated Volunteers were seeing double the amount of difficulties. 

    So, 265 Volunteers were evacuated from Liberia, Philippines, and Yemen. The evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers coined the term that this was a "crisis of reentry." Fifty-one percent of all RPCVs found reentry very difficult, and that was the highest difficulty rating on the survey. All evacuees from this 1990s survey got a debriefing conference as part of Close of Service (COS), and that's how they got these surveys. Basically, the stats are: 30 percent of RPCVs experienced some sort of depression, where 60 percent of evacuated Volunteers experience depression. Then we see the stats doubling: 30 percent for a feeling of disorientation; 12 percent for periods of crying; 39 percent for a difficult transition back; 26 percent difficulty making decisions; 15 percent reported avoidance of thinking about Peace Corps as an experience; and 12 percent reported disturbing dreams. Take all those percentages and double them, and that's generally what evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers have been dealing with. 

     

    We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day Close of Service conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land.

     

    We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day COS conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land. And especially with the discontinuation of RPCV Career Center, pretty much all we have is our RPCV groups and NPCA to help us make this transition. What we need to do is really provide a landing pad for RPCVs — because we know it's difficult. The agency knows it's difficult. And I think there are two ways to do this. 

    The first is that we have to flood the world with our stories. We have to talk about return on investment on Volunteers, and how do we measure that. But our greatest return on investment is the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. So, if you don't have the fact that you are a Peace Corps Volunteer in your staff file at work, put it in there. When I was interviewing people [as a recruiter], the most common response to my question "How did you hear about Peace Corps?" was: a teacher, my parents, or I had a friend that served, my uncle or aunt served. So people were coming to us not because of our recruitment efforts, commercials, or radio spots; they were coming to us because of one-on-one connections that they'd had with people who shared these very beautiful, very intimate stories. 

    Our stories are really our greatest resource. We need to be sharing those at all opportunities. That's so that we can both inspire people into service, and then when they return, they know to look for RPCV groups who can help them find jobs and help them make this transition, so we can start to minimize that trauma.


    WATCH: Juana Bordas — Peace Corps taught us leadership

     

    Peace Corps Taught Us Leadership

    Juana Bordas: I would take a little bit of a different perspective, I think. What I do today is I teach leadership, and I learned it in the Peace Corps. Futurists say there are two trends, two shifts, that we're going through. One is to become a global community, which we do by being in the Peace Corps. The second one is to create the inclusive, diverse, and equitable society. In other words, we're moving towards a multicultural society and world. The young millennials and the generation after them are already there. And I think we reframe the Peace Corps as something that taught us leadership, that made us global citizens, that made us inclusive and able to relate and embrace people of all cultures and ethnic groups and ages and generations, etc. 

    In the ’90s, I worked with National Peace Corps Association to do a leadership program for Peace Corps Volunteers that were re-entering. But I've been listening some, and I think one of the things that's so important is for us to empower ourselves to understand — because when I came back from the Peace Corps, I went to get my first job, and I had this portfolio because I had been doing micro-enterprise work with women way back then. I had all this stuff, and I go to get interviewed, and the guy stops me and he says, "I'm really sorry, but we only hire people that have a master's degree in social work." This was the state of Wisconsin. Well, this was absolutely bizarre to me. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. My mother had a fifth-grade education. I thought this was ridiculous. And I had just come back from the Third World where I thought I had made a contribution. So I slammed my papers on the floor, and I said, "You don't understand. I was born to be a social worker. I was born to do this." And he looks at me and he says, "We can go down to the University of Wisconsin, we'll help you get a master's degree if you'll come back to work for us." 

     

    “Guess what? I’m a global citizen. I’ve made contributions across this globe. I’m inclusive. I love culture. I’m here to build this new world that's coming.” 

     

    Now, I understand I had certain privilege there for the first time in my life, because I am Latina and I was able to speak Spanish, etc. But I had that sense of empowerment that I got through the Peace Corps. And I invite everyone just to stop for a minute to realize that, yes, it's difficult to come back, particularly under these circumstances. But I think the most important thing we can do as Peace Corps Volunteers is to have that banner that says: "Guess what? I'm a global citizen. I've made contributions across this globe. I'm inclusive. I love culture. I'm here to build this new world that's coming." 

    Especially today, with our problems in foreign policy, with our problems with the current administration, the work we need to do in the future is absolutely more critical. The other thing I'd like to say is that I've been at this for over 50 years. So it's not, I'm coming back from the Peace Corps and what I'm going to do. It's our lifelong commitment to building peace in the world.
     

    Marieme Foote: I think that what we've all realized, even when we created the WCAPS report: Facebook and social media was definitely huge for us, in terms of bridging those connections. In the future, looking at ways that we can formalize those places where we can get information — a lot of RPCVs were offering help, therapy sessions, all types of help. If you're not on Facebook, you wouldn't know; or if you're not in these specific chats, you wouldn't know. So figuring out how can we get all of this information to all of these groups of Volunteers that need it — I think is definitely something that will be important when considering reentry for the future.

     

     

     

    What does the future recruitment process look like?

    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you all. It's really great how a community comes together like that organically and helps, and that's what we saw emerge during the evacuation: when the group started forming and talking amongst themselves, and then also speaking with us and helping share with us what their needs and expectations were from the community, from NPCA, and from Peace Corps. So, thank you. Shifting a little bit to recruitment now, the question here is: How were you recruited? What does the future recruitment process need to look like? We've heard some ideas earlier today, but from your perspectives, what would it look like? There is another question that's really mostly for Juana: How can Peace Corps focus its efforts to recruit members who may be experiencing the crab syndrome? I think we'll kick it over to Rok first, if you don't mind, and then go from there.

     

    Rok Locksley: I think, you know, it goes back to the question that was brought up earlier on one of the report outs: Where's the "peace" in Peace Corps, right? For me, peace is not like harmony and no conflict. It is absolutely a place of conflict, difficult questions, expanding our comfort zones, learning about other people and our world that we exist in — those are all peaceful things. What breaks the peace is when we have a disagreement that leads to some sort of violence. So I think that Peace Corps having healthy conversations about how they're going to recruit in the future — the question I was asked a lot as a recruiter was, “What is the Peace Corpse?” Right? So my thing is, like, let's not be the Peace Corpse, because that's not good! We're definitely the Peace Corps, right? 

     

    Let’s not be the Peace Corpse, because that’s not good! We’re definitely the Peace Corps, right? 

     

    I remember as a recruiter 10 years ago, when we first started our big initiative with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and start increasing our diversity numbers. I was sitting around in a conference room with a bunch of other recruiters; most of us were white, and there was one Black recruiter. And we were talking about strategies of: How do we recruit Black people? Or how do we recruit persons of color and Latino community members? How do we recruit these? How do we talk to these people? And then we were saying, We need to get this Black recruiter to come with us on campus to talk to the Divine Nine, or to talk to the different university groups. And he looks at us and he says, That is like — I recruit on white universities, right? You don't need to be a certain race or color to go recruit these people. But that, it was such an enlightening moment for me — and such a moment where I realized: Even in the Peace Corps, even working as a recruiter, my privileges, and my blinders are so on. Here is this guy — he was laughing at us, like, this is so ridiculous. And that was 10 years ago, when we first started doing it. So recruitment has a long way to go. And it's full of these difficult conversations and lots of apologies.

     

    Glenn Blumhorst: Marieme, you're a child of a Peace Corps Volunteer yourself. Can you share a little bit from that perspective?
     

    WATCH: Marieme Foote — How will Peace Corps and NPCA shift?

     

    Marieme Foote: For me, it's like Peace Corps has always been something that I've always considered as something that I would do, because my father served in Peace Corps in Ethiopia and in Eritrea. I'm one of the few that has that connection, I think. And the fact that there were lower numbers of Volunteers that are people of color, that are Black, Latina — they don't have that kind of connection as other white Volunteers might have. So it's really important to also see how that could affect recruitment. 

    The other question that I have in terms of recruitment is looking overall at the mission of Peace Corps. When Peace Corps was first created, it was an exciting thing. It was something that was radical, really. And as we go forward and the population in the U.S. changes and a new generation comes about — they're dual national, they're all types of different backgrounds. They also have different expectations, and what they want to do and what they want to be a part of. They're questioning neocolonialism. They're having a lot of questions about Peace Corps overall. So how will Peace Corps and NPCA shift? I know even questions about joining NPCA; a lot of Volunteers that I know that are Black or Asian, or people of color, don't feel like NPCA or Peace Corps is for them. So, how do we expand that discussion and make them also feel like they are a part of this as well? You know, even for me, without the work with WCAPS, I'm not sure if I would have been as involved with NPCA. So I feel like that is a concern that I have, at least for recruitment and getting people involved with NPCA and Peace Corps.
     

    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Marieme. I really appreciate that, because I do believe that it's incumbent upon us to help create a more inclusive and welcoming community here on the part of NPCA for the Peace Corps, the greater Peace Corps community. Juana, did you have anything to add about the question specifically for you related to crab syndrome?


    Juana Bordas: Yeah, but I also wanted to go back to some of the discussion I was listening to, to talk about coalition building and partnerships, particularly with communities of color. Because I think the association itself, for example, the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities that serves Hispanic-serving organizations, or the NAACP or some of the other organizations and in our communities that serve people of color — because it's through those organizations, not only can you learn and exchange and grow your power base and your numbers, but it also gives you an entree into into young — well, they don't have to be young, but into people of color that want to serve in this way. The other thing I would like to say about it is that servant leadership — and leadership as service and as social change — are absolutely pivotal in communities of color. 

     

    Leadership as service and as social change are absolutely pivotal in communities of color. 

     

    When I joined the Peace Corps, I actually joined the year that John F. Kennedy was killed. There was this tremendous upheaval in our communities about what we could do to support this vision that he had: about young people going and learning about the world and contributing. Today we have similar kinds of reasons for us to be able to go global and to try to help and work with communities. Of course, we all know we learn more than we get. 

    The crab syndrome, for people that don't know what it is: It's when when you grow up marginalized when you grow up in a society that does not validate your people, your history, your background, who you are, your incredible contributions to this country — you develop what's called the psychology of oppression. In other words, you begin to internalize the negative messages that society has put forth. And that's why identity building and learning our history — we have Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, and all of that, because you have to integrate that into the American fabric if we're truly going to have a multicultural society. Where it comes in with the Peace Corps — well, first of all, I want to say that if you have that sense of ... All I wanted to do when I graduated from college was to give back, because I've been given so much. I'm an immigrant. I came here, I became educated. And so I had that sense of service, which I think is pivotal in communities of color. That's how we've gotten where we are, is to collaborate to help one another, and to serve.

    This whole idea of service is a key thing for communities of color. Growing up, I didn't know I was smart; how could I know I was smart if I didn't know the language when I entered school? If I didn't understand the system? (And I do now, by the way.) So you begin to think everybody in your community is not smart — because I didn't have professors, teachers, Congresspeople. So that's the crab syndrome. What can I do? And am I good enough? Are my people not capable of doing it? Identity building becomes really important. 

    There are so many issues in communities of color that we're kind of caught in the crossfire. So the Peace Corps, in order to be able to really attract leaders in communities of color — for example, DACA students, which would be another political thing, but they're brilliant young people that are dealing with so many issues, and when they come to school, they are so talented. But then they’ve got to deal with immigration in this country. They've got to deal with homelessness. They have to deal with low-income wages, they have to deal with the cost of college education for kids. Somehow the Peace Corps has to be relevant to the many dynamic, critical issues that we face — and connect. 

    What I learned in Chile I was able to bring back and help start a center for Latina women that had a business center; that followed the micro-enterprise principles I worked on in Peace Corps. So it's that weaving together of the needs and challenges in communities of color. It's building those partnerships. It's making the Peace Corps relevant, and an experience that you can bring back to enrich your own community. And at the same time, for Anglos that come back from the Peace Corps, you need to join organizations and become multicultural yourself so that we can start building those bridges across communities and and fulfill our Third Goal.

     

     

    What will future generations need?

    Glenn Blumhorst: Absolutely, thank you so much, Juana. We've touched a lot here already on diversity and inclusion. But let's drill down on that a little bit more. For each of you, how will diversity and inclusion impact the Peace Corps in the future? And in that, what will the future generation need? How can you answer that?


    WATCH: Marieme Foote — How do we not just recruit but retain Volunteers of color?

     

    Marieme Foote: We're looking at stats for Peace Corps. You see diversity — at least the rates of Volunteers that are serving from different backgrounds — are going up and up. However, there isn't really any support in place for a lot of them. And we're also seeing that ET [early termination] rates for those volunteers of color are significantly higher than their white counterparts. So these are the questions that we really we need to be looking at and saying, Why is this the case? It's not just about recruitment. It's about how do we also retain these volunteers? How do we keep them interested? How do we get them involved with NPCA? And how do we do all of that? 

    Right now, there's great work that Volunteers are doing. I know that there are letters that Volunteers have written to their country offices on racism and discrimination that are going around in the community. Volunteers of color are creating group chats — WhatsApp chats, Facebook groups. They have all of these resources, but they're not compiled in one place. So it's hard for volunteers to have access to all of these things. And it's important for us as well. So I'm thinking about creating seminars, creating spaces for these Volunteers to meet each other, to meet other people who are older, other RPCVs who are working in different types of fields, so that they can get also motivated and feel like Peace Corps and NPCA are for them. So pushing for that, I think and holding NPCA and Peace Corps accountable for that, is something that we all have to do and be responsible for. Which is why it's also so important for Volunteers to get organized and actually advocate — and push these institutions.


    Glenn Blumhorst: A great point, Marieme, thank you so much. Because that's what we are — a community-driven organization. And all we do, it should respond to the community and the expectations that you set for us. We're going to move on to the next question — penultimate question. What are the potential barriers you see to joining the Peace Corps or NPCA? How can that impact future Volunteers? So, Rok, do you want to start it off with that one?


    WATCH: Rok Locksley — “For me to clear medical cost $6,000.” 

     

    Rok Locksley: There's a lot of barriers. For me, personally coming in at 40 years old, for me to clear medical cost $6,000. At the point I had quit my job to join Peace Corps. So I was unemployed and pretty much homeless. I was one backpacking through different countries, but I had no home of record in the United States. So getting back to the States and having to rely on other services, because I had no medical insurance: It was a $6,000 that we just put on our credit cards and then paid off with our readjustment allowance. So that's a major barrier. I know I'm older, I've had some medical issues, but the costs involved with the medical application alone is is prohibitive.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you, Rok. I think that's something we don't think much about — the cost involved for many individuals, particularly if we're not young and as healthy as we were before. Thank you for bringing that perspective to this. Let me ask just for one another person maybe to chime in on that question, and then we'll move to the last question.


    Juana Bordas: Well, if I had had to pay $6,000 for medical, I wouldn't have been in the Peace Corps. You know, I had no money. Now students are graduating with debt. So, again, going back to leadership and communities of color, we need to dedicate ourselves to public change, public policy change. This cannot be — that people have to pay. When I found out that happened, because two of my Latino friends joined, I was shocked that it — and that it took so long, because the process wasn't like that in the past. And I think some of these barriers are just ways to not expand the Peace Corps to where it should be at this time, in this multicultural age.

     

    Financial barriers are one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you Juana. Financial barriers are, I think, one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation. The question we want to ask all of you is: What do you envision the future Peace Corps Volunteer values to be?


    WATCH: Marieme Foote — “If we really, really do care about Peace Corps … we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps.”

     

    Marieme Foote: If you look at the next generation, you see even the Black Lives Matter movement, you saw, at least when I went, you saw a huge amount of the next generation there present. And they're calling for change. They're calling for accountability, and all of these things. And if Peace Corps and NPCA and these organizations don't shift, they won't exist.

     

    If Peace Corps and NPCA don’t shift, they won’t exist.

     

    So, if we really, really do care about Peace Corps, we want Peace Corps to exist and to continue, and we care about the mission, we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps and making these radical changes — or also we'll not exist, because the next generation won't accept it. Even when I was joining Peace Corps, I had a lot of questions from my friends: “Why are you joining this organization? You know, there's not a lot of people of color there. It's mostly white people.” There was a lot of just preconceived ideas of what my Peace Corps experience would be. And there was a lot of fear of joining it, and being a part of a neocolonialist [enterprise] — and so if Peace Corps really does want to exist, I think that it does need to shift from the foundation in terms of its mission statement and what it does — and how it does it — is my opinion.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thanks, Marieme, that's a really powerful statement. And I take that to heart, because I think you're absolutely right: If we don't shift, we will not exist. And that's food for thought, very important for us. 


    WATCH: Rok Locksley — “If Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been.”

     

    Rok Locksley: OK Peace Corps, the first groups were Kennedy's kids, right? Shriver's kids. And if Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change. Now, we know like it's sort of steeped in neocolonialism, white savior complex, those sort of things. But you know, most people didn't have those terminologies back then. But if Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been. It can't just wait for and prepare for the worst case scenario and be quiet. And during our evacuation, that's all the EPCVs have experienced, is quietness. Our main source of our cutting edge Excalibur has been Facebook. I mean, we need the agency; we want to support you. This thing has hurt us. We gave our lives to this organization, and our hearts are in it. And we believe in social justice and change. So I just want to see Peace Corps return to its roots of being this cutting edge of social justice and change. And I think embracing that would lead to a revolutionary new wave of applicants whose hearts are full, who are young and active and ready to serve — and really, really get to the core of the agency, which is world peace and friendship.

     

    If Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change



    Glenn Blumhorst: Juana, I'm going to ask if you have any last words of wisdom or wisdom for us.


    Juana Bordas: I just want to say is that we are the association. We are the Peace Corps. You know, I served on the board of NPCA for six years, I developed the leadership program for the association. We want to continue engaging; it's not somebody doing it for us. It's each one of us making that long-term commitment. I want to say it for everybody who's been out in the demonstrations, who's been out there trying to make this change: Keep it up. Because as an elder, I did that in the ’60s. You know, I did that for women, for the Vietnam War, for civil rights, and then there weren't that many people marching. 

    My last thing is: We have to do this. It's a lifelong commitment. It's up to each one of us. The Peace Corps has prepared us to be leaders in this new global and international and multicultural age. So I would like to see us say, Yes, each one of us is going to step up our commitment. Yes, each one of us decides we're going to do this, we're going to reach out to other communities, we're going to join organizations that aren't white, if we're white; we're going to join different organizations from different perspectives. And we're going to keep this going. And I think it does take an advocacy commitment for all of us to do our part in creating the future.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Juana. That's a great way to end this conversation. I want to thank especially the evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers for organizing this panel, and inviting Juana and myself to be a part of it as well. I've really enjoyed getting to know all of you over the last several weeks and working with you and a number of other evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. This has just really been a highlight for me. Though I am pained with the way that your service was interrupted and you had to come home, I'm just really amazed at how you have rallied around as a community and supported each other and helped drive the conversations that we're having today. So thank you all so much.

     

     WATCH: The full panel discussion: Reimagining a Peace Corps for the Future

    MORE from Peace Corps Connect to the Future here.

     

    Story updated November 9, 2020.

    • Rand Robinson The issues of inclusion and financial barriers and other important themes are cited here, yes, but whatever became of PC's clarion call for Redesigning PC from top to bottom, how to make vols more... see more The issues of inclusion and financial barriers and other important themes are cited here, yes, but whatever became of PC's clarion call for Redesigning PC from top to bottom, how to make vols more effective as extensionists, better supported, etc...the recent contemporary Uproar over racial justice and inclusion and these type of issues are entirely important but they are Not sufficient to reimagine and design PC in a manner than could be much more effective..I had tried to write a blog about this months ago on the NPCA cite, offering myself to join a working group of others who would look at this this, but there's been no answer at all...this is in spite of recent calls to Abolish the Peace Corps, and for reasons that are Not entirely unfounded or specious..I have just Found this remark I'd make earlier about what needs to be addressed, posted somewhere on the NPCA site, but never answered: Respective to positioning PC for the future and better addressing social justice and racial equality, what could be Extremely helpful is ensure that Every three Months orientation and training program addresses Development Ethics which is an entirely Foundational but now nearly lost and forgotten aspect of raising great awareness about the Approaches change agents, such as PCVs, must always remember as they engage with communities. These principles were best laid out be Dennis Goulet, Paulo Freire, Peter Berger, Robert Chambers---some international development graduate schools still teach these but..nowadays..often not, preferring to teach harder skills like conducting surveys etc..The foundational concepts are too rich and detailed to present and discuss here but I propose, as part of the Redesign effort for Peace Corps, a task/working group be established among a handful of relative subject matter experts and PC trainers to consider how these Entirely, Centrally Important ideas about interacting and serving in host populations, and as outsiders, should be treated as a very delicate affair--but these pioneering development ethicists understood Very well how these must be incorporated into any development professionals training and orientation for the design, implementation and evaluation of effective programming. I hope this is the right place to offer this suggestion because i am surprised to see so few postings here."----Anyway, maybe such efforts will really continue in the months ahead, and while Peace Corps is presumably trying to regroup after bringing back all vols weeks ago..
      1 year ago
  • 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 Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Photo: Jan Knippers Black — scholar and activist whose work influenced generations of students. Photo courtesy Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

     

    Our tributes include a prominent scholar and a foreign correspondent. An award-winning research ecologist and a lifelong educator. A former medical director of Peace Corps and a dedicated physician who delivered over one thousand babies. A notable chemist and a civil rights lawyer. Several civil servants and many teachers.


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

     

    Jan Knippers Black, Ph.D. (1940–2021), professor emerita, world traveler, most beloved role model and mentor to thousands of students, singer and songwriter, advocate and ally: these are just some of the many terms one could use to describe Black, a prominent scholar and human rights activist. She wrote the definitive book on U.S. interference in post-colonial Brazil—some years after she was invited to play piano in Elvis Presley’s bandBlack was well known for her expertise on political dynamics within Latin America, specifically about the intersection of American affairs in the region and the relationships between America and several of the Latin American countries. Black's first degree was a B.A. in art and Spanish from the University of Tennessee. She then served among the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Chile in 1961. When she returned stateside, Black earned her M.A. in Latin American studies from American University’s School of International Service, as well as her Ph.D. in international studies. Black's career took her all over the United States, as she went on to work as a public administration research professor at the University of New Mexico, an editor for American University's Foreign Area Studies division, and as part of the faculty for University of Pittsburgh's Semester-at-Sea Program. In addition to her research and teaching, Black held many grants and fellowships, including Fulbright and Mellon, which led her to visit and hold honorary faculty positions in countries within the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as India and England. In 1991, Black became a professor of the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now known as the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), and she would continue to teach and mentor students at MIIS until she retired in 2018. Black was well known for organizing and facilitating immersive overseas programs for her students all over, including Cuba, Chile, Bhutan, Iran, and the Balkans. Upon her retirement at the school, Black established the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights in order to financially support student work and speakers within the human rights field. In addition to Black's work in education, she was elected to the National Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA in 2011, one of over 20 advisory and governing positions she took on throughout her life. She carried on her father’s commitment to politics; she served on the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee and as an elected member of the executive board of the California Democratic Party for over 20 years. Black had an incredible life that touched many people; her wit and wisdom will be missed.

     

    Paulette L. Ford, Ph.D. (1965–2021) was an award-winning research ecologist, humanitarian, and lifelong volunteer. Ford attended the University of New Mexico for her undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology; there she discovered her interest in field biology, and would go on to seize every opportunity to work on mammalogy and marine biology field trips, including the notable all-female field crew in charge of trapping mammals for the Museum of Southwestern Biology in Bolivia. In 1989, Ford served in Peace Corps Paraguay before returning to stateside for her master's in biology. Ford briefly worked with the Partners in Flight exchange program before she began her nearly 30-year long career with the U.S. Forest Service within the cooperative education program at Rocky Mountain Research Station. In addition to her work with the the forest service, she co-led the Southern Plains USDA Climate Hub, served on the Natural Inquirer Board of Directors and The Wildlife Society's Technical Review, edited the journals BioScience and Rangeland Ecology and Management, and mentored students for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of New Mexico. Ford’s volunteer work included assisting with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts; working with local sponsors to host conservation events and provide educational supplies to underserved communities; volunteering for Habitat for Humanity; and participating in long-distance cycling fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After completing her doctorate in 2000 at the University of Arizona, Ford became a full-time research ecologist focused on climate and climate variability. Ford’s dedication to mentoring students went beyond her official position; she hosted and mentored dozens of undergraduate students from numerous Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Colleges and Universities, including the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, as well as graduate students from the University of New Mexico, Highlands University, New Mexico State University, and Northern Arizona University. Other notable moments from Ford’s illustrious career include her 25 awards for merit, achievement, and civil rights from the Rocky Mountain Research Station; two accolades for her work on grasslands and drought for the forest service; and her undergraduate research on eight new species of parasites – one of which was named in her honor, Eimeria paulettefordae.

     

    Richard B. Vierling, Ph.D. (1945–2021) had an adventurous and active spirit. As a young man, he worked in a hardware store and was a drummer in a band before deciding to pursue a teaching degree from California State University, Fullerton. After a few years of teaching, Vierling decided to join the Peace Corps and served in St. Kitts, Eastern Caribbean 1969–71. As a Volunteer, Vierling wrote original plays for his students to act out and built the first library on the island. Upon his return to the U.S., he taught grades four through 12 in California and Arizona. Vierling earned his doctorate in education from Arizona State University, driving long distances to attend school while teaching. A passionate educator, Vierling strongly believed in education for everyone. One of his greatest achievements was spearheading the creation of the Globe Alternative School for at-risk students in Globe, Arizona. Vierling's career in education included being principal of Globe High School and assistant superintendent for the Globe Unified School District. Even in retirement, Vierling was active in education. He was a consultant to the Gila County School Superintendent’s Office as associate superintendent and director of Juvenile Detention and Jail Education. Vierling was a remarkable educator who will be remembered by his many students.

     

    Steven M. Weinberg, M.D. (1942–2021) had a knack for learning from a young age and was considered to be a renaissance man with various interests and talents. Weinberg began his studies at the University of Oklahoma, then earned his M.D. from the University of Iowa. He trained at UT Southwestern Medical center and practiced as a general surgeon for several years. Later, Weinberg began a second career as an attorney, studying at Oxford and earning his law degree from SMU. His interests were varied, and Weinberg spent time teaching at Tarrant County College; working in real estate development, oil and gas, ranching, and private equity. He was the Associate Director and Medical Director of Peace Corps, the Chief of Surgical Services at Ramey AFB in the U.S. Air Force, and was part of the TX Alcohol and Beverage Commission. Outside of work, Weinberg was a long-time church member, making several mission trips. He also was a Rotarian and served as the President of the Hurst, Euless, and Bedford Rotary Club. When not working or volunteering, Weinberg loved spending time with his family, being active through activities like golfing, hunting and fishing, skiing, piloting, and getting behind a microphone.


    Judith A. Hofrichter, M.D. (1946–2021) was a phenomenal physician who delivered over 1,000 babies over the course of her career. Hofrichter grew up in North Madison, Connecticut where she was the valedictorian of Daniel Hand High School class of ’64. She continued her education at Pembroke College at Brown University and earned her degree in English. After graduating, Hofrichter became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey 1968–69. After her return to the U.S., she assisted in the birth of a friend’s son and realized that she wanted to be a physician. To be able to enroll in medical school, Hofrichter had to take all of the pre-med courses she hadn’t taken in college, but that did not deter her. In 1985, she enrolled in Wesleyan University’s graduate liberal studies program, completing her required courses. Then she joined the University of Connecticut Medical School as the oldest person to be accepted at that time. After graduation, she completed her residency in OB-GYN at SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. Hofrichter became board certified and joined the Women’s Health Group of Manchester, where she would work until she retired in 2016. In retirement, she enjoyed producing award-winning country wines and spending time with her husband.

     

    Ronald C. Burger (1948–2021) led a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into ground zero at the World Trade Center on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. He spent 88 days working in the remains of the towers, watching first responders for signs of secondary diseases that may have come from the dust and smoke of the wreckage. Burger’s career in public health was inspired by his Peace Corps service in Ghana. After obtaining a teaching certificate in biology from Millersville University, Burger taught science for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. At the end of his service, there was a severe outbreak of a gastrointestinal disease. This crisis prompted Burger to become a field leader for the Ghanian Ministry of Health team that was trying to contain the outbreak. Upon his return from service, Burger took on a variety of roles at the New York City Department of Health, the Florida Department of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and the CDC. His work saw him traveling to work in large-scale disasters, including the smallpox outbreak in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, Deepwater Horizon, the Flint water crisis, and several hurricanes. Burger’s dedication to serving his country will not be forgotten by the many he helped.

     

    Matthew J. Briggs (1989–2021) was an engaging teacher, prolific poet, loving husband, playful uncle, and caring friend. Briggs graduated from East Longmeadow High School, and he received both his B.A. in English literature and his M.A. in education with a concentration in urban education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While Briggs loved literature, his true passion was connecting with his students and helping them understand the material, learning from them just as much as they learned from him. His path to becoming a teacher began when he was student teaching at Chestnut Middle School in Massachusetts, eventually working full time at various schools including the Commonwealth Academy in Virginia and Archbishop Carroll High School in D.C. In 2011, Briggs met his future wife Victoria during their college tenure. After they married in 2015, they went on to serve in Peace Corps Uganda for the next two years within the education sector. Just a few years after their return stateside, Briggs was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Until his death, he kept making connections and learning from others, sharing and accepting love and strength from so many people around him. Briggs leaves behind a legacy of radical acceptance and humility.

     

    Curtis B. Stuckey (1946–2021) was a civil rights lawyer, a supportive family man, and a loyal and accepting person. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 1967, and then served in Peace Corps Venezuela 1967–69. Following his return to the U.S., Stuckey went to law school at his alma mater in Bloomington. He would go on to teach at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where in 1975 he met his wife Brenda. Stuckey led a notable career as a civil rights lawyer, winning several major cases, including the first jury trial victory related to the Fair Housing Act in East Texas and Kendall v. True, the class action suit in Kentucky that struck down involuntary commitment of individuals to mental hospitals without proof of dangerous intent. In 1982, Stuckey founded the civil rights firm now called Stuckey & Garrigan Law Offices, PPC, representing community members who were discriminated against because of their race; individuals whose rights had been violated by police; and people who suffered under cruel conditions within the prison system. Stuckey retired in 2014 which allowed more time for him to enjoy watching ball games and old movies, as well as spending time with his family.

     

    Virginia “Ginger” C. Greene, Ph.D. (1934–2021) graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1955 with high honors in chemistry. She continued her education in chemistry, earning a M.S. from Tulane University in 1957 and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1963. Greene began a career in chemistry, supervising a clinical laboratory at the University of Virginia and teaching at Longwood College. In 1969, she accepted a position as a research chemist with the FBI laboratory in Washington, D.C. She was the first member of their newly-established research department and was instrumental in organizing and overseeing the unit. Greene finished out her illustrious career as an intelligence analyst with the Foreign Science and Technology Center (now the National Ground Intelligence Center) before retiring in 1994. However, she remained active in retirement, bringing her expertise in chemistry to her Peace Corps service in South Africa. From 2007–09, she served as a high school teacher where she organized and supervised a chemistry lab and trained teachers how to perform and teach laboratory experiments. Greene was involved in her community throughout retirement, volunteering in many places, including at Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy stable.

     

    Scott Smith (1971–2021) was a dedicated journalist, even working until he passed away, planning for future jobs while still sick in the hospital. After graduating from California State University Chico with a master’s in literature, Smith volunteered for the Peace Corps and served in Uzbekistan 1996–98. He taught English and facilitated a training for Uzbek journalists on gathering information and news without government interference. Smith returned to the U.S. and spent over 10 years at The Record in Stockton, California. His reporting was instrumental in uncovering facts about the “Speed Freak” serial killer. In 2014, Smith joined the Associated Press and began reporting from Fresno, California on farmers and neighbors battling drought and its impact on local communities. In 2017, Smith moved to Caracas as a foreign correspondent for AP. His curiosity and drive won over Venezuelan government supporters and opponents alike. Smith’s dedication to hearing from many different people led to his coverage of fishermen working in a polluted lake, street gangsters hurting from rising bullet prices, and families of the victims of a prison fire. Smith’s humor, bravery, and devotion will be sorely missed.

     

    Edwon G. Yedlik (1945–2021) was a man with many skills and passions. Yedlik pursued a degree in radio technology from Brown Institute in Minneapolis. He began a career as a radio announcer, engineer, newsman, and program consultant for various radio stations in Colorado. In 1972, Yedlik joined Peace Corps and served as a Volunteer in Afghanistan. After his service, he returned to Colorado and worked for the U.S. Postal Service and also served as a director and actor for the Leadville Civic Theater and Crystal Comedy Theater. Later, Yedlik returned to Iowa and continued working as an actor and director in the local theater. He also spent time as an organic agriculture and environmental design consultant. Yedlik loved working with students as a substitute teacher, encouraging them to become “addicted to learning” much like he was. Yedlik didn’t pause his pursuit of learning over the course of his life, earning several more degrees from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science; Permaculture Institute in Australia; and Iowa State University. Outside of his active career, Yedlik was a master gardener, clerk of Maplewood Cemetery, and a member of the Iowa Pyrotechnics Association.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Marilyn R. (Medley) Long (Founding staff member of Peace Corps), 8/11/21 

    Steven M. Weinberg (Associate Director and Medical Director of Peace Corps), 8/20/21

    George Zeidenstein (Nepal Country Director from 1965–68), 8/21/21

     

    MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

    Timothy A. Burr (Nigeria 1962–64, U.S. Staff 1965), 9/8/21

    Willie M. Donovan (Samoa 1978–80, Yemen 1982–84), 8/19/21

    Laurence E. Eubank (India 1970–72, Russia), 9/1/21

    Homer M. Hayes III (Ethiopia 1966–69, U.S. Staff, Volunteer Placement Officer, Ethiopia/Uganda Desk Officer 1969–75), 9/12/21

    Joshua L. Johnson (Romania 2007–09, Ukraine 2011–12), 6/21/21

    John M. Schwartzbauer (Azerbaijan 2005–09, Moldova 2010–14), 8/21/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Barbara “Barb” B. Hammes (1972), 8/12/21

    Edwon G. Yedlik (1972–74), 8/27/21

     

    BRAZIL

    Adele L. (Maechling) Alsop (1968–70), 9/2/21

     

    CAMEROON

    Thomas M. Donnellan (1962–64), 9/3/21

    Gerard “Jerry” Gorman (1969–71), 8/12/21

     

    CHILE

    Jan C. (Knippers) Black, Ph.D. (1962–64), 8/15/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    Leila G. (Goldfinch) Bass (1964–66), 9/9/21

    Steve L. Burgess (1964–66), 8/10/21

     

    COTE D'IVOIRE

    John W. Ainsworth (1963–64), 8/30/12

    Terrence “Terry” M. McGovern (1970–72), 8/24/21

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Luther Wilson (1966), 8/5/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Thomas W. Hobbs (1978–79), 8/17/21

    Robert “Rob” D. Skelley II (1974), 7/4/21

    Richard B. Vierling, Ph.D. (1969–71), 8/4/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Joseph “Jay” H. Casey (1971–75), 8/13/21

     

    ETHIOPIA

    David L. Withers (1972), 8/21/21

     

    GHANA

    Ronald C. Burger (1970–71), 8/21/21

    Newell Flather (1961–63), 8/30/21

    Jeanne G. Wisner (1977), 8/28/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Jeff M. Benik (1975–77), 8/26/21

     

    HUNGARY

    Carol A. Baker (1993–95), 8/2021

     

    INDIA

    Mary “Fran” F. Kennedy (1966–68), 8/31/21

     

    IRAN

    Donna J. (Zimmerman) Patterson (1968–69), 8/28/21

     

    LESOTHO

    Luke Pfeiffer (2020 Invitee), 8/25/21

     

    MALAWI

    Laird A. Scott Jr. (1965–68), 8/29/21

     

    MALAYSIA

    Marcella A. (Fallon) Jenkins (1974–75), 8/30/21

     

    NAMIBIA

    Marie P. Shockley (2002–04), 5/10/21

     

    NIGER

    Theodore W. Clarke (1974–79), 8/29/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    Paulette L. Ford, Ph.D. (1989), 8/28/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Steven T. Queen (1973–75), 8/26/21

     

    POLAND

    Jeanne M. (Ford) Poliachik Cross (1999–2001), 8/16/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Joy E. Marburger (1969–72), 7/19/21

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Virginia “Ginger” C. Greene (2007–09), 8/12/21

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Ross N. Wiggins (1967–69), 7/31/21

     

    THAILAND

    Jean “Dee” B. (Ficken) Smith (1965–67), 8/25/21

     

    TURKEY

    Judith A. Hofrichter, Ph.D. (1969–70), 8/23/21

    James W. Pritchard (1962–64), 8/6/21

     

    UGANDA

    Matthew J. Briggs (2015–17), 8/25/21

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    Scott Smith (1996–98), 8/19/21

     

    VENEZUELA

    Gerald “Jerry” R. Shaye (1966–70), 8/22/21

    Curtis B. Stuckey (1967–69), 8/10/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

    Lenore M. Frey, 8/24/21

     

     

     

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

     

     September 16, 2021
  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    For the first time women lead the Poetry Foundation and the YMCA of the USA see more

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

     

    Michelle Boone

    President of the Poetry Foundation

    CHAD | 1994–96

    Photo courtesy the Poetry Foundation

     

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

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

     

     

    Suzanne McCormickSuzanne McCormick 

    President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

    THAILAND | 1989–91

    Photo courtesy YMCA

     

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

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