In February 2002 while setting up our Peace Corps Fund, Barbara Ferris (Morocco 1980-82) met with Warren Wiggins to ask for his suggestions of what was ‘next’ for the agency, and how we might focus our new non-profit to help RPCVs.

Wiggins, for those who are new to the Peace Corps, was part of the Mad Men of the Mayflower, that handful of men (and, yes, they were all men) who in January 1961 met in a two-room suite of the famous Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue in downtown D.C. to write a report for President Kennedy on what a ‘peace corps’ might look like.

Warren Wiggins at the time was deputy director of Far Eastern operation at the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) working with a young lawyer at the same agency, Bill Josephson. Together they wrote “A Tower Task,” the ‘think piece’ that was used by Shriver and his ‘gang’ to craft the position paper to give to President Kennedy on what a ‘peace corps’ might be.

Wiggins would leave the agency in the mid-60s to create his own non-profit organization Tri-Century, and remained a keen observer of the agency that he helped to create.

I interview him (published previously on this site and in the January 1997 newsletter, RPCV Writers & Readers) about the ‘early days’  as well as the future of the Peace Corps. Barbara would meet with him a half-dozen years later to discuss again ‘what next’ for the agency.

Here are (edited) Warren’s thoughts for a ‘new’ Peace Corps forty-one years after Shriver, Wofford, Wiggins, Josephson, and a half full of others gathered at the Mayflower and created the agency in 30 days.

Warren’s notes to Barbara were written in long-hand, in a tight, miniature script, twelve pages of comments broken down in outline form that he titled, “A Different new approach to thinking about the Peace Corps.”

After summing up our various foreign aid efforts since the Marshall Plan of WWII, Wiggins wrote: “The Peace Corps stands alone in the US and recipient countries with a positive image. U.S. Treasury Sec. Paul O’Neill speaks for world opinion (especially in the U.S.) when he recently said, ‘foreign aid rarely works.’ Fareed Zakavia in this week’s Newsweek says ‘A new system of effective foreign aid could have massive economic and political benefits for the whole world.’”

Next Wiggins wrote, “The Peace Corps has never been a development agency. It is not the pattern for a new system of effective foreign aid. But given its 40 years history of positive ratings by nearly all observers, it is most important to think through what it does-what it becomes in the next 40 years.

“The world has changed a lot in 40 years but the Peace Corps is about the same. The basic change in the world is that the developing countries don’t need the volunteer to do the traditional jobs that they can’t do. Since the volunteer is a ‘free-good’ there are still requests, but the demand is entirely different.

“President Bush talks of doubling the Peace Corps. But in Afghanistan, Palestine, South Africa, and all the other potential countries, have any called for ‘more’ Peace Corps Volunteers-or to initiate a new Peace Corps Program?

“Where are the young people wanted…or are needed for as yet to be discovered jobs?”

Having expressed what he thought was the situation for the Peace Corps and the PCVs in 2002, Wiggins in Part II of his memo, presented some answers which he would entitled: Frame Works: A New Approach.

End of Part One