Paul Clements was a PCV math teacher in The Gambia from 1985-87, and stayed on in Africa with ActionAid (1987-89) and USAID (1989-90). Today he is the director of Western Michigan University’s Masters of International Development Administration program which has a “Peace Corps Option,” one of Peace Corps’ Masters International Programs, so many of his students have gone on to the Peace Corps. As director he gets to supervise their field papers, usually studies of large development projects in their countries of service.
Paul met his wife, Aedin, in The Gambia. Aedin, an Irish volunteer, was in The Gambia working as a librarian with Ireland’s semi-volunteer aid organization. Their first daughter, Anna, was born in Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul.
Paul returned to Gambia in 2008 with their daughter, Anna, after she graduated from high school, and they stayed for a few days with his “family” in Pakalinding, the village where he served.
While there he learned, as he wrote me, “that villages in the east were being abandoned because of the expansion of the Sahel. It was one of the things that clued me in to the importance of climate change. Now this is happening in many parts of Africa.”
That experience was one of the reasons he decided to do something besides teach. He will run for Congress as a Democrat in a traditionally strong Republican area, taking on U.S. Rep. Fred Upton. It was Congressman Upton’s reversal on climate change that prompted Clemens to run.
As Paul relates in a recent article in the Kalamazoo newspaper, written by Yvonne Zipp, “He (Upton) used to say we need to regulate greenhouse gasses, but after becoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he adopted the position of his party’s leadership and pushed a bill through the House to remove the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses.”
Upton replied sarcastically in an email to the reporter, saying, “It’s always gratifying to know I’ve inspired someone.”
Meanwhile, Clements had registered with the Federal Election Commission. The 2014 congressional race will be his first political campaign.
Paul received his BA from Harvard and his doctorate from Princeton.
The three major issues that he will concentrate on if elected are:
1) Reversing three decades of income inequality, especially with regards to child poverty
2) Increasing manufacturing capacity
3) Improving education and health care while at the same time making both higher education and health care affordable. l
In his own professional work over the years, Clements has designed an evaluating quality assurance system for the United Nations Development Programme, evaluated Heifer International’s Ghana an Tanzania programs and developed a monitoring and evaluation system for a project to bring water and sewage services to 1 million people in Brazil.
Paul still have his Peace Corps connections. He is part of the Western Michigan RPCV group, and he is friends with Acting Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, having met Carrie and Steve Radelet while working in Africa years ago.
Anyone interested in supporting an RPCV running for Congress–and we need more RPCVs in Congress–should send their campaign contributions to:
Committee to Elect Paul Clements and sent to 2517 Broadway, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Include your address, occupation, and the name of your employer.