The first staff at the agency came to D.C. from all walks of life, and with all sort of interests and passions. They were skiers, mountain climbers, big-game hunters, prizefighters, football players, polo players and enough Ph.D. (30) to staff a liberal arts college. They included 18 attorneys, of whom only four worked as attorneys in the General Counsel’s office and the rest (including Shriver) worked elsewhere in the first Peace Corps office, the Maiatico Building.
Nevertheless, it was a small staff. In WWII 30 people were required to support every soldier in the front lines. Once out of war, one person in Washington was needed for every four overseas.
Shriver set up the agency in the early years so that the goal was ten Volunteers on the job for every administrative or clerical person in support, and that meant everyone-secretaries and overseas staff included. By keeping the staff small in relation to the number of Volunteers, Sarge knew he could keep the Peace Corps from becoming an impersonal machine.
As Sarge said early on, “Vital as these people are (early staff) not one of them is more important to the Peace Corps than the freshest, most apprehensive Volunteer in the field. Let that be clear. The Peace Corps is the Volunteers, but the Volunteer couldn’t be making their magnificent record without the dedicated support of the Washington staff.
Now who were these Mad Men & Mad Women? I have named a few. In the next blog, I’ll profile a person, I think, everyone liked at the Peace Corps.