Joe Kennedy (Dominican Republic) focusing beyond Peace Corps


Joe Kennedy III

While numerous people inside Washington have mentioned the possibility of outgoing Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III ( Dominican Republic 2004-06) serving as the next director of the Peace Corps, the post isn’t under discussion by the Biden transition and he is interested in other ways to serve the country, people familiar with the search tell Axios.

Why it matters: What seemed like a bright political future for Kennedy prematurely dimmed in September when he lost his primary to replace Sen. Edward Markey. Now, the Massachusetts Democrat is considering his next move, prompting talk of the Peace Corps post or U.S. attorney in Boston — neither of which have been discussed with him, the people said.

  • A person close to Kennedy said they had never heard U.S. attorney mentioned, and that while Kennedy loved his time in the Peace Corps, he would hope to serve the country in some other way than as its director. A Biden transition official said the Peace Corps job is not yet being actively discussed, and the official also did not believe Kennedy would be interested in the post.

Background: The Peace Corps was founded in 1961 by Kennedy’s great-uncle, President John F. Kennedy. Its volunteers provide international social and economic assistance.

  • Its first leader, Sargent Shriver, was the husband of his great-aunt Eunice Shriver.
  • The agency’s director and deputy director are appointed by the president. The Peace Corps is currently led by Josephine (Jody) Olsen (Tunisia 1966-68)

Joseph Kennedy, a fluent Spanish speaker, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic between his graduation from Stanford University and matriculation at Harvard Law School.

  • If he were to be named director, Kennedy would be the sixth RPCV — Returned Peace Corps Volunteer — to lead the agency.

Flashback: Kennedy only told U.S. News & World Report about an elderly man thanking the Peace Corps for providing his village with clean water.

  • “To me, that’s what the Peace Corps is all about — the impact that simple acts of service can have across borders, generations and time,” Kennedy said. “It’s a lesson I carry with me every day.


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  • Joe Kennedy will have to work hard to redeem himself in my book, He was used by corporate Democrats to try to unseat Sen. Edward Markey. Maybe Kennedy should seek forgiveness by rolling up his sleeves and reapplying as a PC Volunteer.

    • I agree with you, David. Why would Kennedy decide to challenge Senator Markey? It makes no sense. There may be a persistent myth among some Democratic party members in Massachusetts that there is a MA Senate seat which “belongs” to Kennedys or their designated candidate. That is how Republican Brown won in 2010 and caused Obama to lost his 60 vote Democratic Senate with consequences for the Obama health program. It also led to the Tea Party movement.

  • As to what’s next for Joe Kennedy–articulate, charismatic, and an RPCV whose ranks are dissipating in Congress, may I suggest an Ambassadorship to a European country or the EU, and then a transition into a White House advisory position or a Senate vacancy or a future V.P. opportunity.

    • The number of political appointee ambassadors under Trump set records. Please, let us have a return to Foreign Service Officers rising to become ambassadors. Kennedy can do plenty of other things, but leave diplomacy to the professional diplomats. (I am a retired Foreign Service Officer.)

  • RPCV Joe Kennedy would be the perfect fit at a time Peace Corps Volunteers will be returning to their sites after the Covid-19. He knows Congress and his Spanish would help us bridge the gap. We need someone that knows and appreciates the Latin culture.

    Or…Panama has not had an American Ambassador for almost three years, no excuse. If not Peace Corps, Ambassador to Panama would be awesome and viewed as such!

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