November 19, 2002 - Summit Daily News: RPCV Gordon Ferris is new Country Director in Kiribati

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 11 November 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: November 19, 2002 - Summit Daily News: RPCV Gordon Ferris is new Country Director in Kiribati

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RPCV Gordon Ferris is new Country Director in Kiribati

Read and comment on this story from the Summit Daily News on RPCV Gordon Ferris who will be the new Country Director in Kiribati at:

SHA director resigning to take Peace Corps post*

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SHA director resigning to take Peace Corps post

Jane Reuter

BRECKENRIDGE - Summit Housing Authority (SHA) director Gordon Ferris submitted his resignation Friday to accept a job as a country director with the U.S. Peace Corps.

Ferris called his new position, which will take him to a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

His decision to leave, Ferris said, is not related to the Nov. 5 defeat of a sales tax initiative to fund the SHA.

"This was well under way before the election," he said. "I always looked at it as, win or lose, it would be a good time to leave."

Ferris became housing director in 1999. He is employed by the county at a salary of $68,000.

Before his new role is final, Ferris said, he must pass a medical examination and a security clearance. If he passes those tests, he will be stationed on the island of Kiribati. The country is home to about 86,000 people.

"The temperature is a constant 81 degrees," he said. "There are two seasons - a rainy season and then the rest.

"It's small. It has less land area than Summit County. My understanding is there's one plane in and out a week."

While the island is a tourist destination, Ferris won't be lounging on the beach.

"The president has proposed doubling the size of the Peace Corps in the next four to five years, and I'm very excited and honored to be part of that," said Ferris, a former Peace Corps volunteer. "In this particular post, I will be the highest-ranking U.S. official in the country because there are no embassies in this country. The country director is responsible for the health, security and professional work of all the volunteers and for the management of the Peace Corps office. I will also be responsible for development of new programs.

"I'll go from supervising a staff of three people to supervising a staff of 60," he said. "It's a big leap in responsibility.

"I think in today's world, America needs to get its message out, and the Peace Corps is one of the ideal mechanisms to tell the rest of the world what we're all about. I'm really happy to be part of it."

Ferris' wife, Judy, who works as Breckenridge's finance director, will stay in Summit County for now. The couple has three children, ages 4, 8 and 11.

"The idea is that I will go over and see if it's a good place for the kids," he said. "Assuming it is, my wife would join me at the end of the school year. I could probably say with certainty I won't stay there if it's not a post that is appropriate for family. But we look at it as a way for us to have a really unique experience as a family."

Ferris' resignation is effective in less than two weeks, which means the county must begin a search for his replacement immediately.

"I think (Ferris leaving) is going to create some challenges for affordable housing in Summit County," said County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom. "I think he did a good job. It's kind of one of those jobs where you can never do anything outstanding - it's just trying to keep your head above the alligators a lot of times."

Lindstrom said he and the other county commissioners, mayors and managers will sit down and talk about how they will proceed in Ferris' absence.

Ferris, however, expressed confidence the SHA has a bright future.

"I think the programs and policies we have in place now are going to be attractive to a person with good credentials who will step in and bring new blood and vitality into the organization," Ferris said.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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