The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, with be having a “conversation with Peace Corp Directors” on October 12, 2010.
They have asked the current Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, (Dominican Republic 1967-70), of course, to come but then they stiffed all of the other notable RPCV Peace Corps Directors and asked (mostly) Republican hacks to present the agency at the Kennedy School. Why is that?
Take Elaine Chao (she has been invited) who was director from (1991-92). Chao was famous for breaking into tears whenever she talked about all the work PCVs were doing overseas. Volunteers laughed at her, and to her face. She was also famous for scheduling several hours a day (regardless of the country) where she could have her hair done while overseas. And she told me once, in her office in the Peace Corps, that she didn’t become a PCV because she was an immigrant daughter and had to make it in America. I was sitting there listening to this bullshit from her being a son of Irish immigrants myself who had served in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps was (and is!) full of first generation Americas. But not Ms Chao.
Then there is Gaddi Vasquez who was Peace Corps Director from (2002-06). You know, I’ve come to like old Gaddi, even though I led a campaign to stop him from becoming Director back in ’02, because Gaddi knew how to work the system, whatever the system was. Gaddi is a former cop in L.A.. He walked the beat and picked up drunks and broke up fight and gave out parking tickets. You have to respect Mr. Law & Order. Gaddi figured out how to make it in America. He is an immigrant son who grew up on a farm in Texas, and after the Peace Corps Bush made him the US Representative to the UN Food & Agriculture and Gaddi got to live in Europe as an Ambassador. I’m not sure if he has a job now.
A right-winger, Gaddi, however, never was overseas before becoming head of the Peace Corps. Still, he knew how to travel. For example, no one from the Peace Corps was allowed to have a room on the same hotel floor where he was staying on his trips overseas. (I saw the memo on this order!) Maybe he doesn’t like loud music.
He gave the Bush campaign something like $100,000 left over from his own failed political campaign in California so he got the job as Peace Corps Director and he immediately sent PCVs to Mexico. Listen, he worked the system and got fat in more ways than one in his 8 years in D.C.
Mark Gearan, President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, was Director (1995-99) and is a good guy. A poor kid from Gardiner, Mass. he went to Harvard as an undergraduate and that is reason enough to ask Mark back to Cambridge and his campus. Also, Mark cares about the agency. That’s all I want. Clinton made him head of the agency and he started the Crisis Corps.
But what about the ‘real’ thing? RPCVs who served and then went onto great career in international work? Take Carol Bellamy (Guatemala 1963-65), a New York State Senator, the head of UNICEF, then president of World Learning. Or Mark Schneider (El Salvador 1966-68) who is the senior vice-president of the International Crisis Group. Even lovelable Ron Tschetter (India 1966-68), and a Republican, who spent more time overseas visiting PCVs than any director in the history of the agency. (Anything to get out of DC!) Why not invite them, Mary Joe Bane?
What gives Mary Joe? Are you afraid of these RPCVs, or did you not do your homework about RPCVs running the agency? Perhaps they all turned you down.
You see the event’s monitor is Mary Jo Bane (Liberia 1963-65). Mary Joe is the Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Management; Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School. (God, where do they get all these titles? You would swear they were running a Third World Country.) The important issue–and why I care–is that she was an early PCV. She should know better than to invite a bunch of non-RPCVs to represent us–and her!– at the Kennedy School. Now, to give Mary Joe the benefit of the doubt, she might not have been asked to suggest names. Or, even thought she is the Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Management; Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School, she might not care about the history of the Peace Corps or how it is being run. More than a few RPCVs have gone ‘in, up and out’ of the agency and never looked back.
Anyway, for those RPCVs in and around Boston, the event is on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 6:00 PM at the JFK Jr. Forum. It is free and open to the public.
Oh, by the way, the Peace Corps. gov website has none of this information. Why they can’t promote the Peace Corps, the director of the agency, an RPCV, or the agency, on its 50th anniversary is beyond me.