It was 56 years ago today that President Kennedy established the Peace Corps and began a legacy of Americans serving abroad. Over the years, the Peace Corps has attracted more than 225,000 motivated changemakers to promote world peace and friendship in 141 countries across the globe.
The international development community is full of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), and that is especially true here at PCI. While we have employed RPCVs across the organization, we are especially proud to have a leadership team full of both Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and others with deep ties to the Peace Corps.
Carrie Hessler-Radelet will become our new President & CEO next month after having spent three years as Director of the Peace Corps. She also served the Peace Corps as a volunteer (Western Samoa) and as a Public Affairs Manager for the Peace Corps Regional Office in Boston. She’s the fourth generation in her family to serve in the Peace Corps. In an interview with Transitions Abroad, she noted, “Peace Corps volunteers return home as global citizens with new perspectives. They have cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills that give them a competitive edge for advanced education and job opportunities in today’s global economy.” All of these skills have prepared PCI’s RPCV staff members to implement programs that create lasting change in the communities we partner with.
Mark O’Donnell, our Chief Operating Officer, spent 10 years with the Peace Corps as a volunteer (Honduras), Fellow (Washington, D.C.), Associate Peace Corps Director (Honduras), and Programming and Training Officer (Dominican Republic). “Peace Corps has given me everything – a family, a career and a sense of purpose,” said O’Donnell. He met his wife on his second day of volunteering and two of their children were born in Honduras.
Bob Sullivan, current Chair of the PCI Board of Directors, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1968 to 1970 (Ethiopia). He worked there as a university lecturer in production management. He continued to work in education and went on to be the founding dean of the Rady School of Management at the University of California in San Diego.
Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez, Chair emeritus of the PCI Board of Directors, was the Director of the Peace Corps from 2002-2006. PCI’s and the Peace Corps’ similar values and goals make the two an excellent cultural fit. “PCI is an organization on the move! Its programs strike at the root causes of poverty and provide opportunities for people to improve their own lives,” said Ambassador Vasquez.
The Peace Corps’ model of listening to local communities and providing them with the education and resources they need perfectly aligns with PCI’s philosophy. We are proud to have close ties to such an outstanding organization and wish the Peace Corps a very happy 56th birthday!
Click here to read more about Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have found a home here at PCI.