Step # 9 Toughest Job You’ll Ever Have!

Since 1988 Country Directors have not been political positions, but during the Gaddi Vasquez and Jody Olsen tenures, they let non-merit Republicans grab these GS-1 and GS-2 $100,000 plus positions that are the key appointments in the Peace Corps.  True, hiring these mostly unqualified appointments as CDs was not Jody’s fault.  Jody will be the first to admit that as the Deputy,  she had no real authority in the agency; she was nothing more than a totem female RPCV doing the bidding of other Republican hacks. The real power within the Peace Corps was Lloyd Pierson who was a CD in Kenya. His wife worked in the Republican White House and Pierson believed that the Peace Corps should be under USAID. He told Gaddi and his good friend, Jody Olsen, what to do.

That said, as the recent Transition Team report states, “Country director selection must be greatly improved to ensure the hiring the quality professionals through a process not based on personal politics.”

The decision that country directors would not be political positions was set down back 1988 by a Republican, Loret Miller Ruppe. Loret was Director from 1981-to 1989. You know how there are good Republicans and bad Republicans ( Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Pat Buchanan, God the list of ‘bad Republican’ is very long) Well, Loret was a ‘good’ Republican who believed in the Peace Corps.

In fairness to Republicans, CDs without qualifications were found in plenty of Democrat administrations. My favorite, and I don’t know who hired him, was the guy who went to Southern Africa and used Peace Corps PCV funds to pay for renovation on his overseas residence. He was called back to D.C. and arrested at Peace Corps HQ. for misappropriating federal funds, and led out of the building in handcuffs! Actually, come to think of it, I believe the Republicans hired him.

Still, all of us know enough CDs and APCDs to fairly ask the question: ‘how did he/she get hired?’

Here are my suggestions for the next Director, simple requirements that will automatically improve the qualify of people hired to be CDs overseas.

Do Hire

Only former Volunteers.
Only candidates with previous overseas development experience.
People with successful managing experience.
People with great senses of humor.
People who failed at something big in their lives.
People who have done something unusual in their lives.
People who have spouses that really should be the candidate for CD.
Little league coaches. (Anyone who can handle parents & kids, can handle PCVs.)
People who have a library card.
Majors in history, English, psychology, or the sciences, but not political science.
People who have published a book, write poetry, paint, or act in local plays.
Parents with more than one child.
Joggers (but not marathon or triathlon; those people are too self-centered).
Great listeners.
People who have big hearts.
People who are slow to anger.
People who love to cook.
People who love board games.
People who like to hike, canoe, camp out, or climb mountains.
People who thinks they really should be the Peace Corps Director!

Don’t Hire

Anyone who is considered an “expert” at anything.
Anyone who ran for political office.
Anyone who is thinking of running for political office.
Anyone currently employed by any political party.
Anyone who currently works for USAID or State.
Any chief administrator working at the state or country level.
Any high school administrators.
Any college presidents or deans.
Any former high school or college jock.
Golfers with low handicaps.
People who bowl.
Anyone who believes yoga is the answer to all life’s problems.
People who haven’t see Volunteers.
Anyone who has seen Volunteers but doesn’t get it.
Former high school class presidents.
People who obsessively text message.
Anyone who can’t change a tire on a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Those who graduated last in their class.
Those who graduated first in their class.
Anyone who sends a family Christmas card to friends and relatives.
Anyone terrified by creepy-crawlers.
Anyone who thinks he or she has figured out what’s wrong with foreign aid.
Anyone with a platinum American Express Card.
Anyone with a trust fund.

Place the selection of new Country Directors in the Office of the Deputy Director. In charge of reviewing applicants and hiring people is an Associate Director. Have on this person’s staff  two RPCVs. (They are there for the ’smell’ test.) Hire directly for specific counties with a time date on when, where and how. Have all applicants apply by writing a letter that is hand written and is only three paragraphs long. In the letter the applicant will state:

  • Personal bio
  • What specific skills they bring to the position
  • Why they would make a good CD

Interview the likely candidates first by one of the RPCVs, then by the another RPCV, then by the Deputy Director, and finally the Regional Manager, if the candidate is that impressive. This process should take the candidate and the Office less than two days of interviewing before a decision is made to have this person’s background checked out, a physical done. A new CD can be In, Up, And Overseas in less than three months.