Volunteer Couple: Model for the 3rd Goal — Marty & Evelyn Ganzglass (Somalia)


A Profil in Citizenship

By Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) 

Marty and Evelyn Ganzglass served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Somalia from 1966-68: she was a primary school English teacher and assistant director of the National Museum, and he was a legal advisor to the Somali National Police Force. In that role, he wrote a case book, titled: The Penal Code of the Somali Democratic Republic: Cases, Commentary and Examples. Published by Rutgers University Press in 1971.

They joined the Peace Corps having worked several years after Evelyn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Marty from Harvard Law School.

Marty & Evelyn Ganzglass

Upon returning home in 1968, Evelyn renewed her professional career in workforce development and education policy and Marty in labor law. She returned to the US Department of Labor and then moved on to increasingly senior positions in the non-profit sector promoting policies to help low-income youth, adults, and families advance out of poverty. While mostly focused on domestic policy, she also directed the USAID-funded Global Workforce in Transition project, which brought her back to East Africa, advising USAID on ways to align Djibouti’s workforce education and training programs to economic needs.

While practicing law, Marty also stayed connected to East Africa, representing the Embassy of the Somali Democratic Republic; the Somali Ministry of Mineral and Water Resources in negotiations with foreign oil companies for exploration rights; and the Somali National Airlines. He co-founded the US Committee for Somali Refugee Relief which sent medical supplies to Somali during the terrible drought of the late 1970s.

In 1993, Marty was appointed Special Advisor to U. S. Ambassador Robert Gosende and Admiral Jonathan Howe, the U. S. Secretary General’s Special Representative in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. He was responsible for advising how to restore the Somali judicial system and reconstitute the Somali National Police Force. Marty’s experience and recommendations were published in 1997, as a chapter in Learning from Somalia: The Lessons of Armed Humanitarian Intervention. Recently, he also was an expert witness for plaintiffs in two civil cases brought, in the United States, against the former Somali Minister of Defense and an Army Colonel for essentially what constituted war crimes.

In the mid-1970s, Marty also did pro-bono work for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front. When in 1993, Eritrea became an independent country, he represented the Eritrean Embassy in the U. S. and did legal work for the Eritrean Ministries of Finance and Justice. In the early 1990s, together with two law professors, they drafted the Eritrean Criminal Procedure Code and the Eritrean Penal Code.

While raising their own children, the children of close Somali friends lived with them after they fled Somalia. Fifty years after Peace Corps, the bonds continue between multiple generations of the two families.

Since her partial retirement several years ago Evelyn has directed much of her activism through the National Peace Corps Association. She currently serves as a member-elected director on the NPCA Board representing the Mid-Atlantic Region and national affiliate groups. She also serves on a number of NPCA committees and works with the NPCA’s social action initiative on climate change. She leads the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project, which documents the Peace Corps experience through in-depth interviews with former Volunteers and staff. These oral interviews are archived at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky and at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. She also volunteers as co-director of an Interfaith Resettlement Initiative in Montgomery County that is assisting Afghan refugee families.

Since his retirement, Marty has published seven novels and two compilations of short stories through Peace Corps Writers. One novel and one compilation relate to his Peace Corps experience in Somalia. He currently volunteers at The Friends Club, a support group for men suffering from Alzheimer’s. As a member of the Somali American Community Association in Montgomery County, he advised on immigration issues and served as an employment mentor.

Together, Evelyn and Marty — both in their professional careers and now in active retirements, have used their Peace Corps experience as a force multiplier and model in promoting the Agency’s 3rd Goal, earning them Profiles in Citizenship.




Leave a comment
  • Jerry:

    I hope the Peace Corps fully realizes the value of your profiles, and that you continue to provide an important service. These stories are interesting and truly inspiring.

  • What impressive careers and selfless attention to the needs of others. Two great examples of what RPCV’s are adding to the world by continuing to give back to both the US and the country in which they served.

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