Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1968-71) has devoted his life to public service and the betterment of others. His life story reveals fascinating glimpses into the complex interactions of international development and US foreign policy, but also into the American myth of anyone becoming anything through the power of hard work, determination, and drive.
The remarkable journey of this leader in international development, foreign policy, and global business began on Chicago’s South Side. He attended Catholic schools, participated in the Boys Club and Boy Scouts, and read science fiction books at the Chicago Public Library. A graduate of Chicago State University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he spent time as a public school teacher before serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic.
Finding his time there transformative, he turned his energies in direction, and joined the US Agency for International Development (USAID) working on projects in Honduras, Haiti, and South America, among others. At USAID he eventually reached the rank of career minister in the Foreign Service.
In 2009 Williams was appointed the director of the Peace Corps by President Barack Obama, serving in that role through 2012.
In his memoir, A Life Unimagined, he shares life lessons of how success often comes from failure; that a willingness to take risks is necessary to move forward; the importance of listening to your intuition when it comes to critical professional and life decisions; and how what you think you’re looking for may not be what you ultimately find to be the most important thing in your life.
A Life Unimagined: The Rewards of Mission-Driven Service in the Peace Corps and Beyond
by Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1968-71)
UW/Madison, International Division
$9.99 (Kindle); $30.00 (Hardback)