In the Peace Corps Director Sweepstakes, I’m casting my vote for the current Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet ( Western Samoa 1981-83). Carrie came to the agency as Deputy in June 2010, and she took over as Acting Director this fall when Aaron Williams returned to his old job. As Acting Director, Carrie is doing a great job. She is knowledgeable about what PCVs do overseas, she is well liked in the building and on the Hill, and she is already implementing an agenda for the betterment of PCVs and RPCVs. Unlike Congress, she is getting things done!
Carrie and her husband were both PCVs, leaving on their honeymoon for the Pacific and the Peace Corps. Carrie taught high school as a PCV and helped design a national public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness. Immediately after her tour she worked for Peace Corps Recruitment in Boston, then took her graduate degree and worked in global public health organization.
Prior to her confirmation as deputy director, she was the vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow, Inc. (JSI), a global public health organization, where she was responsible for overseeing the management of public health programs in more than 85 countries.
She has worked in the field of public health for the past two decades, specializing in HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health. She was actively involved in the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was a primary author on PEPFAR’s first strategic plan. A Johns Hopkins Fellow with USAID in Indonesia, she assisted the Indonesian government in developing and implementing its first national AIDS strategy. The woman knows global health issues.
If there is anything like a ‘Peace Corps family’ it is Carrie’s family. Her famous aunt Ginny was the 10,000th Peace Corps Volunteer and served in Turkey from 1964-1966. Later Ginny was the CD in Thailand. Her grandmother served in Malaysia (1972-1973), and a nephew recently was a PCV in Mozambique (2007-09).
What is important for the agency, I believe, is some sort of consistency at the top of the administration. We have had Directors coming and going these last few years in D.C. There is more ETing among Peace Corps Directors than there is with PCVs.
What is also important for all of us is that Carrie is NOW focusing her attention and Peace Corps money and staff, to help RPCVs who have been long suffering due to illnesses and diseases contracted while serving overseas due to federal laws, lack of staff, and mismanagement within the Labor Department. Carrie is trying to bring new laws into operation that will help past and future PCVs and RPCVs handle and treat their health issues. It is about time.
Finally we need a woman as Director of the agency because for the last decade or so more than 65% of all PCVs have been women. Lets help the Obama Administration with their ‘gender problem’ by selection Carrie Hessler-Radelet as the next Peace Corps Director.
White the White House. Tell them that Hessler-Radelet is your woman!