Peace Corps Planning for the 50th Anniversary–It Ain't Going To Happen

These were the plans for the 50th Anniversary done late in the tour of the last Peace Corps Administration. Grand plans as you can see, but very little of these good ideas will take place, given the current pace of planning underway in Washington, D.C. today. However, the University of Michigan will launch a kick-off week of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in October. Over the years, the U. of Michigan has sent more thand 2,230 U-M alumni have been PCVs. You can read the activities that the University of Michigan has planned at the website:

Meanwhile, back in D.C….this is what they were day-dreaming about:

  Goals Are To…

  • v Make the public aware of the success of Peace Corps in fostering peace and understanding.
  • v Advance the Third Goal of the Peace Corps – bringing the world back home.
  • v Support recruiting to grow Peace Corps and meet the goals of the President and Congress.
  • v Recognize and honor those who have contributed to the success of Peace Corps: PCV’s – present and former – & their families; host countries & communities; & national leaders.


50th External Support

  • 50th ADVISORY COUNCIL: to support 50th goals and publicize activities. Former PCD’s only. Lead: J. Olsen. $0 cost. ACTIVITY SUSPENDED.
  • FOUNDERS GROUP“: Numerous pioneers of the Peace Corps, for advice and to support 50th. $ 0 cost Lead: J. Olsen. ACTIVITY SUSPENDED.
  • NPCA, RPCV/W & RPCV GROUPS: PC partners w/ NPCA on several events. Groups sponsor & support events in-country and in U.S., some as PC partners. $ 0 cost

                Leads: J. Olsen, A. Baker, M. Mattessich, PC 50th Coord.  PLANNING UNDERWAY


  • Communications Plan: Devise, implement and revise as necessary. $, in-house.

            Lead: L.Isaac,              Draft plan submitted for comment and discussion, 5/29/09.

  • 50th branding: Designs and language for branding 50th materials including 50th Logo and Slogan. $, in-house. Leads: Isaac, K. Fernekes. ACTIVITY SUSPENDED.
  • PC 50th Website: 50th dedicated pages on existing PC website. Key resource for schedule control, responsibilities, execution, etc. $ in-house. Lead: Isaac. RUNNING.
  • 50th brochure: Edit & re-print as necessary. $10k Knight + In-house.

             Lead: L Isaac.                                                                         ACTIVITY SUSPENDED.

  • PC 50th Collection of Stories. Produce and update as press kits for feature writers.

            $ in-house.   Leads: Isaac, L. Lartigue, RRO’s & PAS’.           2010  ACTIVITY

  • PCV Stories 50th Book; Anniversary ed. Refresh existing recruitment tool with new stories relevant to 50th themes. Print and distribute 85k. $ In-house – more $ req. for add’l copies. Leads: Isaac, Powell. Available Jan, 2011. 2010 ACTIVITY

 ON-GOING  Activities

  • Digital Library: Digitize selected historically significant and/or representative PC materials for the Library with public access & expand capacity as add’l $ are available. An important source of PC materials. $ 30k + in-house, more needed to expand.

            Leads: L Isaac,  S. Clifton. PCD Approval requested to continue outreach efforts, 6/2.  

  • Documentary: National Geographic. &/or PBS: Facilitate documentary production by Nat’l Geographic. PC provides photos and footage. Ancillary stories & articles will result. $ 0. N.G. will share with PBS for broadcasting (?).

            Leads: K Chaput, L Lartigue.                                                                           ONGOING

  • 50th Traveling Exhibit: Create a traveling educational exhibit particularly pertinent to the 50th. $ 50k + ($30k, Knight $). Ready by Mid-’10. Travels thru 2011, possibly beyond. Leads: K.Fernekes, M. Minutillo, L. Isaac. PLANNING UNDERWAY
  • Films Produced by P.C.: A) Produce five, 1-hour films on DVD-Rom: re PC history, impact, PCV stories. B) Produce a 10 minute overview “Legacy video.” All nat’l broadcast quality. Cost: $120K; $20k – film transfer (by 9/09); 60k – travel; $20k – film transfer; $40k – post-production. Videos available Nov., 2010.

            Leads: L Isaac, K. Chaput.                                                       PLANNING STAGE

  • Resolutions & proclamations: Requests to Congress, States, major U.S. cities, certain PC host countries issue official dictums a/o March 1, 2011. $ 0. Complete by 3/1/’11.

            Lead: S Carroll.                                                            PRE-PLANNING STAGE.   

  • Events in host countries: By HC governments $/or organizations to recognize PC 50th, sparked by P.C. or by “friends of” groups. $150k.

            Leads: N. Lewis,  A. Baker.                 Organize in ’10, events thru 2011.

  • PCV projects in host countries: PC Posts select a PCV project that represents PC impact, dubbing it a 50th project. $0,

            Lead: N. Lewis.                                   Organize in ’10, run through 2011

  • University – College Events: Proposal approved by Steering Committee for outreach to Colleges and Universities by RRO’s, suggesting they organize a menu of activity options to universities/colleges for staging a 50th event, perhaps in conjunction with PC “groups”, NPCA, and in concert with other organizations with an international focus/program (Rotary, World Affairs Councils, U.N. Chapters, etc.). $ 0.

            Leads: A Baker, C Gilson, J Taylor, RRO’s.                                       PLANNING STAGE     

  • US Regional / Local events: RPCV groups, RRO’s & PC/C organize events with other orgs, gov.s, schools, universities, etc. $ 100k – by field.

            Leads: C. Gilson, J. Taylor, A. Baker                                 PRE-PLANNING STAGE



  • Congressional Reception: Date TBD, (Sept., ’11); Reception on Capital Hill for Congress & PC Community. $ TBD. Lead: Suzie Carroll. PLANNING IN 2010
  • Diplomatic Reception: Sept. 24, ’11; Reception at Library of Congress honoring Host Countries. Diplomats from 139 P. C. countries. SecState, luminaries. $ 50k.

            Lead: Suzie Carroll.                 L.of C.  REC. HALL TENTATIVELY RESERVED.

  • “PCV Life” Festival: Sept. 22-25, ’11; Work with Smithsonian for interactive demonstrations of PCV life; PCV cultural interaction, language, impact, experience, on National Mall. $1.9mm.; Mtg w/ Smithsonian in July, ’09.

            Lead: 50th Coord. & Kristen Fernekes.                                    assessment on-going.

  • 50th Memorial & Celebration: Sept., 25, ’11. Wreath-laying @ JFK grave; ceremony @ Amphitheater honors PCVs who died in service. Parade of flags back to Mall. $ TBD. Lead: A. Baker, M. Mattessich. PLANNING BY NPCA & RPCV/W UNDERWAY
  • “Big Tent” finale: Sept. 25, ’11. Gala-tent-Mall Finale! Program to honor PCVs, Host Countries, PC founders & luminaries, frmr PCD’s, Mbrs. of Congress, Int’l luminaries, etc. $ TBD.

            Lead: A. Baker; PC

 50th Coordinator.                          PRELIM. PLANNING UNDERWAY.






Description / Status

PCV Life” w/Smithsonian 1,900,000.  Stages, final by Jan., ’10 Leads: OPSI, 50th Coord.  Sponsoring displays, tents, etc. Cost issues!
Traveling Exhibits,.      50,000+  Mid 2010.    Leads: OPSI,  TBD, Knight Foundation commits to $40k (-$10k for brochure).
Peace Corps Films    120,000 $20k, 9/09bal. early ’10. Leads: OPSI, TBD
In-Country Celebrations    150,000 mid-2010 Leads: OPSI, in-country sponsors. Groups fund events in frmr. PC countries
U. S. Regional / local events    100,000 mid-2010 Lead: RROs/VRS Field,  OPSI
Kennedy Library Event      50,000 Sept. 2010 Leads:  OPSI, N.E. Recr. Office
Dip. Reception: Libr of Congress      50,000 Sept., 2010 Lead: OPSI.   Event / Site Being Reviewed.
“Big Tent”event on Mall         TBD Sept., 2010 Leads: PC / NPCA (agreement needed).
                  Total, 2,420,000+   $50,000 raised



  • University of Michigan; Oct. 14, 2010. Commemorates JFK speech of ’60. U.M. organizing, program planned. Peace Corps orchestrating a portion. $0 cost.

            Lead: J Olsen.                                      SCHEDULED, PLANNING UNDERWAY.

  • Kennedy Library: March 5, 2011. Library tour, reception, program, N.E. 3rd Goal project representations and awards. Cost: $50k.

            Leads: M Minutillo & E Mone.                        SCHEDULED, PLANNING UNDERWAY

  • New Mexico International Folk Art Market: Event usually in early/mid July. An annual, significant, folk art event would partner with Peace Corps to foster sustainability of folk art from around the world. Could have international involvement. $0 cost.

            Leads: PC 50th Coord., A. Burrus (NM RPCVs).                   Discussions underway

  • PC Staff Reunion, Sept. 23, 2011. Reunion/celebration of PC Staff contribution to PC, Host Countries. $ 0. Lead: K. Hill PLANNING UNDERWAY
  • Lillian Carter Awards Ceremonies: Date, usually mid-May. Presentation of the Lillian Carter Award at the Carter Center, w/50th theme and broader PC participation. $0,

            Lead: J Olsen.                    Discussion w/ Carter Center underway.

  • PC Film Event(s) / Festival, Date(s) TBD. On road-2011(?). D.C. 9/22-24. Showcases films about PC / PC experience. Some national exposure, perhaps intra-city. Involve RPCV’s and “Groups” with interest in PC films. $ TBD. Organized by NPCA and/or RPCV group(s). PC will provide lists of suggested films, access to archival footage, etc., Cost $0. Lead: TBD DORMANT
  • PC Books & Authors Event(s): Date(s) TBD. Showcase authors, books & writings reflecting the Peace Corps experience. At D.C. university (GWU, Georgetown, AU). Some cross-country activities. $TBD.

            Leads:  TBD.   Many ideas from John Coyne (PC Writers).                             DORMANT

  • Hobart & William Smith Colleges: Date TBD. Scholastic event focused on “Impact and Outcomes of Peace Corps” using “papers” submitted, reviewed and discussed. Proceedings would be published., $ 0.

            Lead: M Gearan                                                              PLANNING UNDERWAY

  • National Postal Museum, PC postage stamp exhibit. Postal museum would collect and exhibit stamps recognizing Peace Corps from around the world. PC would facilitate where helpful. $0 cost.

            Lead: K Fernenkes.                                                         PLANNING UNDERWAY.



One Comment

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  • John, Thank you so very much for this update. My sense was that not much was happening, but I am not somone who would be in the loop. Here is one event which I found really important:

    “PC Books & Authors Event(s): Date(s) TBD. Showcase authors, books & writings reflecting the Peace Corps experience. At D.C. university (GWU, Georgetown, AU). Some cross-country activities. TBD”

    Are you involved with this planning? I would certainly hope so. Every weekend, out here in the hinderland, we turn in to C-SPAN Book TV as they cover various book fairs all over the country. I would think that you would be the perfect person to coordinate such an event for Peace Corps.

    It should be an annual event, anyway. I just see tents on the mall and RPCVs hawking their books and panels with authors with heated discussions on where has Peace Corps been and where are we going and why. I thnk the heart of Peace Corps is ideas. ….50 years of them.

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