On December 23, 1999, Mark Schneider (El Salvador 1966-68) took over from Mark Gearan as the new Director. Schneider was an RPCV, the second to become Director. He had previously worked on the Hill for Ted Kennedy, and he even got Kennedy to come briefly to HQ for a short speech where Kennedy was lavish in his praise of Mark. Mark was another of those “In, Up and Out” Directors, lasting on the job until January 20, 2001. Not that it was Mark’s fault. With the change in the White House, and Bush in office, Mark was history. Unlike most Directors, he did not leave a footprint in the office, however, he did work on developing information technology projects done by PCVs. A first for the agency.
A few years before Mark came to the job, I was working at the agency and proposed at some meeting that Peace Corps Volunteers be given Laptops to take with them, just as the early PCVs had book lockers that they used to set up the ‘first’ libraries in many of the schools were they taught. These ‘laptop computers’ I proposed could be left behind by the PCVs for benefit of the students. Well, as I recall, Jean Seigle, a former Vol, worked in Peace Corps Selection and Martin Shapiro, who was a Training Officer, rose up in protest. Jean and Martin were “Peace Corps Veterans” and they saw the Peace Corps as being ‘pure’ of any technical aid giving to a developing country beyond the sweat and service of Volunteers. They were right in thinking ‘computers’ were technology where books were (at least in those days) just paper.
Meanwhile in that winter of 2002, Mark Schneider left the Peace Corps after Bush’s election and in early January 2002 Gadi Vasquez, a former California cop who had run for congress and lost, was nominated by George Bush to become the next Peace Corps Director after Vasquez giving all the left-over campaign money to help get Bush elected.
Now things really got interesting in D.C. for the Peace Corps.