Sunday, August 2, 2009

New boss, same game?

I rarely follow Peace Corps news. But hey, what the hell. Maybe this one will be interesting.

Obama nominated Aaron Williams to be the next Peace Corps Director. And now it looks like he could be confirmed, really soon.

Who is Aaron Williams? Well, he was a USAID country director for a while (hmm...), and is now a VP of inernational business development at RTI International (hmm!). He also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, and happens to be a board member at CARE alongside a number of my esteemed mentors (hmm hmm!). Sidenote: interestingly, his USAID experience isn't mentioned in his CARE bio...

So, will he be a good PC director, or more of the same? Chris Dodd, resident Senate Peace Corps mouthpiece and reform campaigner, seems pretty ecstatic about him. So do the other advocates pushing for reform. That and his experience are a pretty good sign.

That said, I was a little underwhelmed with his statement to the Senate committee - plugging sustainable expansion (yay for sustainability, ? for expansion), the continuing importance of volunteer security (sounds reasonable, but this is what cost me my respect for the organization), and the Third Goal of Peace Corps - coming home and getting Americans to "better understand people of other cultures" (yawn... like Peace Corps volunteers can do that). To give him the benefit of the doubt, I'm not sure what he could have said that would have been politically correct and actually impressed me. Maybe something about overhauling the priorities of the whole organization.

So, we'll have to wait and see.

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