Colombia’s First Peace Corps Staff (Part Four)

On September 30, 1963, Associate Director Nancy McNulty arrived in Bogota from Lima, Peru, where she had served as an Associate Director for six months. She brought with her a specialty, and expertise in the techniques of teaching English as a foreign language.

Nancy McNulty

These techniques would be employed by those community development Volunteers who teach English in their spare time. They would also be used by the Volunteers specifically assigned to education programs, both at the second school and university level, who went to work about the time that the number of Volunteers in Colombia passed the 600 mark.

scene of the largest Peace Corps effort. The extent of the program required further staff additions. Associate Director Betty Hutchinson arrived in Bogota on January 20, 1964.

Although she was born in Rosario, Argentina’s second city, Betty compelled high school in Lincoln, Neb., in 1938. Four years later, she received her degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Nebraska.

She then worked for the Red Cross as a social worker in Army hospitals overseas. Back to the University of Chicago for a year’s study, she earned a master’s degree in social work and moved on to the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver as a caseworker and supervisor.

After a series of other positions, in April 1961, she moved to Riva, Maryland and went to work as a medical-social consultant to the Anne Arundel County Health Dept. It was from this post that she applied to join the staff of the Peace Corps.

Charles Neff was scheduled to arrive in Bogota as an Associate Director of March 1, 1964, the third birthday of the Peace Corps. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, he went to the Webb School in Claremont, Calif., then on to Pomona where he was selected for Phi Beta Kappa while working summers as a houseboy in mountain resorts and as a camp counselor. After receiving his degree in history in 1954, he won a Fulbright award for a year’s study at the University of Munich. He then put in two years of military duty—as a First Lieutenant with an anti-aircraft battalion at Fort MacArthur, Calif.

Back to civilian life in 1957 meant back to his studies for Neff, who enrolled at Yale where, with the help of Danforth and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, he earned an 1959 and a Ph.D. in 1961 with a specialty in Soviet government and diplomatic history.

During the course of these studies, he spent the summer of 1958 at Middlebury College and the summer of 1960 as an information officer with the government Affairs Institute in Washington, D.C.

In September, 1960, he joined the faculty of the University of Hawaii as an assistant professor of political science. In June, 1962, he became coordinator of the world affairs, communism and American studies program for the Peace Corps Volunteers, bound for the Fr East, who took their training at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus. It seemed almost a natural step for Dr. Neff to move from this role to a full-time position in the Peace Corps administration.


Research Document: Who’s Who in the Peace Corps Overseas Administration (1963)

The photographs are by Rowland Scherman, Paul Conklin and Jim Walls, first photographers for the agency.



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  • My group, Colombia XI, was really almost an afterthought. We were 38 women and originally were designed to supplement the teams of Colombia VIII. Our designation was Health Education/Rural Community Development. We were assigned to “Salud Publica” and were not CARE Volunteers. Our training really was in CD, but my site partner and I were assigned to the clinic in our town. Our health education training was, in my opinion, inadequate. We were very lucky because the Peace Corps nurse, teaching at the University Hospital in Popayan, helped us get a UNICEF maternal health program going with a Colombian Nurse and the midewives in our area.

    Betty Hutchinson was a gift. She arrived in country after our group did. But, she was always supportive of all “her girls”. Her training was not in health, but she did her very best. I felt we could go to her with whatever problem we had.

    Brady/Babcock, in my opinion, ” not so much”.

    Nancy McNulty was famous for her comments. One of the women in Colombia XI was assigned to Buenaventura…a tough port on the Pacific coast. She contacted Nancy and said “We need transportation, please send a jeep for us to use.” The response was: “Are you crazy?” That Volunteer decided she was not, left Buenaventura and developed a Laubach literacy programs in prisons all over Colombia. The Volunteer did not need a jeep, she flew everyplace!

  • My group of Colombia XII. surveyors/CD/+whatever guys working in the jungles of Caqueta in 1963-4 never heard of any of these PC administrators. Although our small group of 15, working with INCORA, dwindled down to just 4 of us at the end, we felt that we did accomplish some good things among the violence-displaced homesteaders in Caqueta. Peace Corps HQ in Bonita didn’t pay much attention to our group. We kinda liked it that way.

    • My site was six hours, by bus, south of Cali. Betty Hutchinson was the program manager for the “health girls”. She was stationed in Bogota. Brady/Babcock were the Regional and Ass’t Regional Directors for Southern Colombia and were based in Cali. Betty came to our site once. When I was hospitalized in Cali, she did visit me once. Brady/Babcock usually passed by on the Pan Am on their way to Popayan. I don’t think Brady was ever in our site. Babcock came once when a Volunteer was sick and had been told to notify Dr. King if he had certain symptoms. He did, but Dr. King was on vacation and
      we got Babcock, instead. He “interrogated” the sick Volunteer and refused to help him get medical help. When Dr.King returned, he read the medical report and the Volunteer was medi-evac back to a military hospital in the States. Because we were so far away from the coast, I am not surprised that you would not know of these administrators. I was a member of Colombia X1, 1963-65. In the summer of 1963, I think the number of Volunteers exploded, to more than 300. So, adminstrators were probably busy. I don’t think you missed much by not knowing Brady/Babcock.

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