May 27, 2003 - Finger Lakes Times Online: Thomas Tighe honored with honorary degree at Hobart and William Smith College

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: May 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: May 27, 2003 - Finger Lakes Times Online: Thomas Tighe honored with honorary degree at Hobart and William Smith College

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 12:04 am: Edit Post

Thomas Tighe honored with honorary degree at Hobart and William Smith College

Read and comment on this story from the Finger Lakes Times Online on the honorary degree that was awarded to Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief International, a humanitarian relief organization at graduation ceremonies at Hobart and William Smith College. Former Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan is President of Hobart and William Smith College and Thomas Tighe was Chief of Staff at the Peace Corps during Gearan's tenure. Thomas Tighe was recently the subject of a cover story at "Peace Corps Online" when we profiled him as our candidate for next President of the NPCA. Read the story at:

Graduation must go on ... Thunderstorms force HWS ceremony indoors*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Graduation must go on ... Thunderstorms force HWS ceremony indoors


Times Staff Writer

Hobart senior Jerome J. Brown Jr. gets a hug from his mother, Rhonda Brown of Albany, while his sister Samara takes a photo and Joelle Raymond looks on at Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ commencement ceremonies Sunday. (Spencer Tulis / Finger Lakes Times)

GENEVA — A thunderstorm yesterday morning moved Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ graduation indoors for the second year in a row.

Diplomas were presented inside Bristol Fieldhouse to 177 Hobart men and 205 William Smith women. Honorary degrees also were presented to three people: 1933 William Smith graduate Elizabeth Eaton White; Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief International, a humanitarian relief organization; and Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, who was the commencement speaker. Mitchell and White received doctor of humane letters degrees and Tighe, a doctor of laws.

“Boy, that call to move inside,” Mitchell said with a laugh, as the thunder and heavy rain picked up outside, “it looks smarter and smarter by the moment.”

The decision to move the event indoors was made before the ceremony began.

Mitchell wove advice to the students into stories about the events and places she has reported on.

News agencies that had cut international bureaus and were focusing on the disappearance of congressional intern Chandra Levy, rethought their priorities after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she said.

“What I’ve learned is that people all around the world want to know more about us,” and we need to know about them, too, Mitchell said. She told graduates to “get to the heart of the truth. Demand more of the media, your government, your employers, and yourselves.”

William Smith student speaker, Marie L. Fiero of Hilton, Monroe County, spoke of the academic quad on sunnier days, when students often toss around a football or read. “The world is your quad,” she told her fellow students. “Your diploma is your Frisbee. Kick off your sandals, and ask to play, and I promise you the world will let you.”

“Our beliefs were challenged, skills tested, knowledge acquired, strength toughened,” said Hobart student speaker Hsin-Wei Liu, of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, who also urged students not to be afraid as they move on to new things.

This year’s graduates are the first to have spent all four years at Hobart and William Smith with Mark Gearan as their president.

He, like they, went through a selection process to be chosen, he recalled in the valedictory address, and they share memories of cheering on the Statesmen and Herons in athletic contests, witnessing the construction of Stern Hall on Pulteney Street, and participating in fun contests on the quad.

“It’s really a little odd that after all we’ve been through together, the person who is left behind gets to make the last speech,” he said, grinning.

Gearan urged graduates to participate in public service, quoting Mohandas Gandhi and telling the graduates, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The processional and recessional were led by the Mohawk Valley Frasers Pipe Band and the Commencement Brass Ensemble, directed by Nicholas V. D’Angelo, professor of music. The opening prayer and benediction were by the Rev. Lesley Adams, chaplain.

The graduating students, families and friends also applauded in tribute to Jonathan D. Hahn of Lewisburg, Pa., who died in an auto accident in December and was awarded a posthumous degree in chemistry.

This year’s local graduates and their fields of study included:

Elizabeth B. Agrasto of Geneva, psychology, also completed the teacher education program; Yvonne C. Allen of Sodus, psychology; Timothy A. Booth of Waterloo, history; Melissa A. Bowman of Canandaigua, individual major in social psychology of education and completed the teacher education program; Phyllis R. Collins of Geneva, media and society.

Terence W. Costello of Seneca Castle, computer science; Sarah V. Cupelli of Geneva, history; Gillian K. Dinneen of Lyons, English and individual major in modes of discourse, and named a writing colleague; Bradley J. Ellis of Geneva, English, with honors; Lisa M. Genovese of Geneva, economics.

Alyssa N. Heberle of Geneva, individual major in children and adolescents at risk, and completed the teacher education program; Ryan D. Hewson of Canandaigua, architectural studies; Leighton F. Johnson IV of Burlington, Vt., English; Katherine A. Madia of Geneva, individual major in equity and education, and completed the teacher education program; Craig W. McClain of Canandaigua, lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, English, with high honors in lesbian, gay and bisexual studies.

Robin M. Potter of Waterloo, individual major in children, families and society, and completed the teacher education program; Brian R. Rhodes of Geneva, history; Allison S. Robin of East Greenwich, R.I., English; Hyon S.Y. Telarico of Waterloo, studio art, Asian languages and cultures; Peter G. Tierney III of Penn Yan, English with high honors in individual studies (expression and interpretation);

Carol H. Tolley of Canandaigua, biology, and completed the teacher education program; Jaclyn E. Toner of Geneva, chemistry; and Kristin J. Wenderlich of Canandaigua, international relations, French.
Our original story posted March 12 on "Our Candidate for NPCA President"

Today the Returned Volunteer Community stands at a crossroads as it defines what it is and what it will be through its choice of leadership. The choices made in the next few months will define the future of the Returned Volunteer community for decades to come. The choice is stark - to accept the status quo or to strike out with a new generation of leadership that taps into the original vision of involvement and "making a difference" that got each of us to join the Peace Corps in the first place.

Read this editorial and special report from PCOL on our candidate for next President of the NPCA at:

Editorial: Our Candidate for NPCA President*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Editorial: Our Candidate for NPCA President

The Peace Corps was created with the visionary and charismatic leadership of President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver - two "practical idealists - who didn't just dream but were able to turn their dreams into reality. Yet paradoxically the Returned Volunteer Community has never had the kind of visionary leadership that was responsible for creating the Peace Corps in the first place.

The NPCA is the organizational embodiment of the Returned Volunteer Community. The NPCA has served a valuable purpose - it has been a focus for the local and Country of Service RPCV groups; it has spoken out on behalf of RPCVs in Congress and in the media; it has published a fine magazine which has kept the world aware of Returned Volunteers' unique vision; it has organized meetings, panels, seminars and brought volunteers together.

Yet in a larger sense the NPCA has failed because it has not been able to inspire and involve the 160,000 Returned Volunteers, the 50,000 returned staff, and the countless tens of thousands of "friends of the Peace Corps" into something bigger than just an alumni organization. The NPCA has failed to dream big enough.

Today the Returned Volunteer Community stands at a crossroads as it defines what it is and what it will be through its choice of leadership. The choices made in the next few months will define the future of the Returned Volunteer community for decades to come. The choice is stark - to accept the status quo or to strike out with new leadership that taps into the original vision of involvement and "making a difference" that got each of us to join the Peace Corps.

It is time for the next generation of Returned Volunteers to step forward and redefine the Returned Volunteer movement. As our part in the debate, PCOL is putting forward our candidate for the next President of the NPCA - someone that we think embodies the Peace Corps ideal and who can lead the community into fulfilling its original vision of service and brotherhood.

We have thought a lot about what kind of leadership the NPCA needs, come up with our criteria, and identified a candidate that we think best meets those criteria:
Our candidate is a Returned Volunteer and he understands and believes in the ideals of the Peace Corps.
Our candidate is a person of conviction and is not afraid to speak out against injustices.
Our candidate is a charismatic leader who knows how to inspire an organization to follow a vision.
Our candidate has worked in positions of leadership within the Peace Corps Agency and is familiar with the strengths and shortcomings of the Peace Corps.
Our candidate is media savvy and comfortable representing the Returned Volunteer Community on the national stage.
Our candidate has worked in Washington on Capital Hill on Peace Corps legislation and will be able to lobby effectively on behalf of Returned Volunteers.
Our candidate has been the leader of an NGO and has demonstrated that he knows how to manage a large organization and budget.
Our candidate has been a fund raiser and has demonstrated that he knows how to bring money and talent into a non-profit organization.
Three observations: First, our candidate has not asked for this job. But that's why the NPCA has set up an Executive Search Committee - to first identify the qualities needed to lead the organization, then to identify the person who best meets those qualifications and then to get him or her to accept the job. The way you will get our candidate to accept this job is to present it as a challenge and as an opportunity to create a better organization.

Second, if the NPCA wants to recruit the kind of talent it will take to lead the organization, then the NPCA will have to pay for that kind of talent. What they have offered for compensation is not enough. We understand that the NPCA is in a cash crunch, but a President with prior NGO experience running a large organization and fund raising skills will be able to bring in the money to increase services at all levels of the organization. A President with experience working in Congress will be able to lobby HR250 through Congress - a bill which will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the NPCA annually to administer part of the Peace Corps Innovation Fund. A President with management experience and contacts in the Peace Corps will be able to identify opportunities for the Peace Corps to outsource some of its functions to the NPCA to the benefit of both organizations.

Third, the NPCA will have to give the new leader a mandate to lead the organization and to implement his vision for the NPCA so there must be a clear understanding that the Board will oversee but not micro-management the CEO.

So now we present our candidate as the leader we think the Returned Volunteer Community deserves, someone who can revitalize the Returned Volunteer Community and lead it into the 21st century, someone the NPCA should try to recruit to lead the Returned Volunteer Community. Let the debate begin.

Who is Thomas Tighe?

Thomas Tighe was Chief-of-Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Peace Corps from 1995 -2000. In that role, he was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps' worldwide operations, involving more than 7,000 volunteers in 72 countries and an annual budget of $250 million.

Who is Thomas Tighe?

Thomas Tighe was named president and CEO of Direct Relief International in October 2000

Under the leadership of Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief International had record-breaking results in 2001, providing international emergency assistance with a total wholesale value of $81.5 million. This material assistance was sufficient to provide care for 10.5 million people in 60 countries including response to the catastrophic earthquakes of India and El Salvador, and the Afghanistan refugee crisis. Direct Relief International, headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, was also recognized by two important publications in 2001. Worth Magazine included Direct Relief International on its list of 100 Best Charities for 2001 and was also ranked the 165th largest non-profit organization in the United States, based on private support, by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Tighe came to Direct Relief International from the Peace Corps Headquarters, Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief-of-Staff and Chief Operating Officer from 1995 -2000. In that role, he was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps' worldwide operations, involving more than 7,000 volunteers in 72 countries and an annual budget of $250 million.

During that period, the Peace Corps experienced a resurgence of interest and growth to the highest volunteer levels in 27 years. He negotiated agreements to establish new programs in South Africa, China, and Bangladesh, and directed a revamping of the agency's organizational structure and business systems. In 1998, Congress recognized the improvements and approved for the first time ever a 4-year authorization for the Peace Corps to expand the Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers. Tighe traveled to 40 countries, including China in connection with the Presidential Summit in 1998 and the trip of the Vice President To South Africa in 1995, during which bilateral agreements to establish Peace Corps programs were signed.

Tighe also served two years as Associate General Counsel of the Peace Corps under Director Carol Bellamy, now Executive Director of UNICEF, handling the legislative and funding issues, international agreements, health and employment issues.

From 1989 to 1993, Tighe served as a committee counsel in the United States Senate, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, where he was responsible for policy issues related to veterans' mental-health care, special disability programs, drug and alcohol treatment, and services for homeless veterans. Appointed by then Chairman Alan Cranston, Tighe also handled collateral duties related to foreign aid and the Peace Corps.

Tighe was raised in Palo Alto, California, is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Thailand, after completing law school and being admitted to the California State Bar, from 1986-1988.

Tighe is married to Carrie Cresap Tighe, also from Palo Alto, and they have four children.

A Profile of Thomas Tighe and his family

Thomas Tighe was a committee lawyer in the U.S. Senate, where he was was intensely policy-focused on healthcare, mental health, homelessness and U.S. foreign assistance programs.

A Profile of Thomas Tighe and his family

A Snapshot of the Tighe Family’s
Daily Challenges

by Nansie Chapman

When I arrived at the Tighe family residence in Montecito a couple of weeks ago, I was greeted at the front door by the smell of freshly made coffee and 2-year-old Megan, who handed me a small plastic container that housed her favorite Disney video. Out back, where the photoshoot was to take place, I could see a couple of young lads darting back and forth past the window and a ball of fluff named Tucker, the latest addition to the family. Tucker, who is a golden retriever, was attacking an avocado seed that was nearly as big he is, in a fashion that can only be duplicated by the wise ways of a two-month-old puppy.

Dad Thomas, whom I had met at Direct Relief International a few weeks earlier, was all smiles and warmth and gave me a tour of their home, a beautiful ranch-style dwelling resembling homes built in the 50s, which had been partially renovated by the previous owners. It opened to a large backyard... the perfect environment for a family of six + puppy and cat.

When Mom, Carrie, arrived on the scene, I could see immediately why Thomas used the words, “she radiated a genuine beauty, kindness and honesty that bowled me over,” when referring to how they met.

Flashback to the early 1980s in Palo Alto, when Thomas was 19 and Carrie was 16. Thomas had played little league with Carrie’s older brother years earlier, but it wasn’t until he was in college and Carrie was still in high school that they formally met. The attraction was immediate. According to Carrie, “Thomas had a bit of an intriguing reputation in our little town,” but it was his humor, intellect and compassion to make a positive impact on our planet that won her heart.

When Carrie graduated from high school she went to UC Berkeley where she received her degree. Thomas was already in college, but took a different path. His father, who was a West Point graduate and career officer, was killed in Vietnam in 1967 when Thomas was only six years of age. His mom raised four kids after losing her husband in what was considered an unpopular war. This clearly had an effect on Thomas’s life choices. After he finished college and law school, he joined the Peace Corps and moved to Thailand where he taught school in a rural town. Carrie joined him after she graduated from college and taught with him on a volunteer basis.

Several years later, Thomas returned to the United States and accepted a position as a committee lawyer in the U.S. Senate, which was intensely policy-focused on healthcare, mental health, homelessness and U.S. foreign assistance programs. He was later appointed Associate General Counsel of the Peace Corps and, after two years, was named Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Peace Corp’s worldwide operations. After Thailand, Carrie returned to her hometown in Palo Alto.

While Thomas was working in D.C., (initially for the Senate and later five additional years with the Peace Corps), Carrie was developing her career in commercial real estate, and managing projects in Palo Alto. A year later she joined her future husband in D.C. where she continued to develop her career. Ironically, the firm with whom she worked in Palo Alto, made its mark by bringing Santa Barbara architecture to downtown Palo Alto.

In 1992, while living in Washington D.C., and after a 12-year courtship, they were married. Whew, that’s one long courtship! Carrie continued to work until their first son, Travis, was born a year later. And then came Andrew, and then Griffin and then... Carrie and Thomas on their Wedding Day.

When Direct Relief International, headquartered here in Santa Barbara, put out a notice that they were looking for a new President and CEO, Thomas’s experience made him the perfect candidate for accepting the position. So the hunt for a house began. They moved into their new residence in Santa Barbara, a house they had never seen, just three weeks after their daughter Megan was born. Their oldest son, Travis, had just started first grade in Virginia, (often a very traumatic time for young developing minds) and what about five-year-old Andrew, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, (a challenging neurological disorder) and three-year-old Griffin? Hum, some major concerns, to say the least. But the transition was made and with lots of adjustments, new friends and faces, they were excited about the opportunities that moving to Santa Barbara afforded them.

So, what’s it like living in a typical school day sitcom with four young kids only a couple of years apart? How does a stay-at-home mom manage her family? Carrie gets up around 6:30 in the morning and steals a half-hour for herself. Then the energy level and excitement of the morning begins. First coffee to kick-start the adults, and breakfast is made while the kids are aroused and assisted with going through their visual checklist (a series of reminders of what needs to be accomplished before leaving the house). Clothes and shoes need to be selected and put on, hair gets combed, breakfast gets consumed, teeth get brushed and out the door for the older two that get dropped off at school by dad. Carrie meanwhile tends to the younger two, which also includes special attention to 4-year-old Griffin, who has delays in gross motor development, requiring extra care. Juggling pickups from school, after-school programs and activities, and individual quality time, all have to be fit into the daily schedule (now I know how she stays so thin).

Thomas does all the yard work, helps with minor repairs and even does endless amounts of laundry... hip-hip-hurray for the modern integrated, unspoiled male! Meanwhile, after he goes off to work, Carrie (who doesn’t have any domestic help) tends to household chores, her younger two children’s needs and new puppy (I guess when you are used to several years of diapers and poop, a new puppy is a walk in the park).

On weekends, Thomas takes his boys on field trips while Carrie spends quality time with Megan. They aim for 2-hour modules for family outings to the zoo, kids’ world, the Museum of Natural History and making sure meals and naps are included. Almost every weekend time is put aside for jaunts to the beach where dad can wrestle with his kids in the sand and Tucker can dream about chasing seagulls when he gets to be a bigger “man’s best friend.”

Life continues to offer up many joys and challenges for the Tighe family, who, if you happen to be in their neighborhood, will find practicing what has become early-evening family rituals: a trip around the block on bikes, trikes, scooters and strollers before baths or showers, reading, and then books-on-tapes to fall asleep. The picture may take you back to early childhood when life was sweet, innocent and full of wonderful things to come. Yes, we all have warm memories in our lives that become the foundation for our future passions and dreams. The Tighe family reminds me of what those special moments are.

Thomas Tighe's Direct Relief International is ready to serve

Thomas Tighe's objective for Direct Relief International is to use the organization's small cash budget to deliver donations overseas to areas of need. In the first nine months of 2002, that meant spending $1.7 million in cash to send $47.5 million of medical equipment and supplies overseas. "We are always looking to meet a need, not to be a solution looking for a problem," said Tighe, 42, who spent more than 7 years with the Peace Corps.

Thomas Tighe's Direct Relief International is ready if war breaks out

Aid group ready if war breaks out

Goleta-based DRI has warehouse of medical supplies to help in Iraq

By Brad Smith,
February 17, 2003

GOLETA -- Imagine the entire population of Ventura County -- more than three-quarters of a million men, women and children -- abandoning their homes and fleeing hundreds of miles across arid desert with nothing more than the food and water they could carry.

Then imagine that same population being subject to the whims of wandering groups of armed men as war rages in the background.

Add another 150,000 people, the equivalent of the city of Oxnard, to the mix.

Now figure out how to provide food, shelter, sanitation and medical care for them -- for days, weeks or even months. According to U.N. projections, a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq could lead to 100,000 dead, wounded or missing, another 2.5 million either refugees or homeless, and 11 million -- half the country's 22 million people -- without food, water or sanitation.

"If the United States does go in, we can expect upwards of 900,000 people going out of the cities and into the countryside," said Katherine Poma, Iraq program officer for Direct Relief International, a California-based humanitarian aid organization.

"There's going to be a huge humanitarian crisis if that happens," said Poma, a nurse and former Peace Corps volunteer. "A lot of the aid agencies are researching, pre-positioning supplies and stockpiles in Jordan and Turkey, and setting up in northern Iraq to aid the Kurds."

DRI, a nonprofit incorporated in 1948, grew from the work of two European refugees, William Zimdin and Denis Karczag, to aid displaced persons amid the chaos of Central Europe after World War II. Since then, the organization has provided medical supplies for war and disaster relief in countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

In 2002, following the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the organization sent more than $5.2 million in assistance to clinics, hospitals and an orphanage in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Today, the group's 25 full- and part-time employees are planning similar efforts for Iraq, in concert with other nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, that include Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

"The most likely scenario for us is that we will coordinate with the United Nations, agencies like UNICEF that still have an office in Baghdad and that are functioning," said Thomas Tighe, DRI's director and formerly a senior Peace Corps staff member.

"What we do, typically, is tell everyone on the ground -- the U.N., the NGOs, the U.S. government -- what our capacity is and what our objective is."

Leveraging donations

The objective for DRI is to use the organization's small cash budget to deliver donations overseas to areas of need. In the first nine months of 2002, that meant spending $1.7 million in cash to send $47.5 million of medical equipment and supplies overseas.

"We are always looking to meet a need, not to be a solution looking for a problem," said Tighe, 42, who spent more than 7 years with the Peace Corps.

The material, ranging from medicine to autoclaves, is donated by American pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers, government agencies and individual and philanthropic donors. The material is all FDA-approved, but comes from overstock, reconditioned equipment or similar sources. Pharmaceuticals that could expire before they can be shipped are donated to local charities.

"It's more than just a job," said Sonny Wirsing, a Ventura resident who helps run DRI's Goleta warehouse. "Helping people in the Third World, in developing countries? It's the most rewarding job I've ever had."

DRI focuses on getting supplies to existing, but underfunded, programs. Using the material supplied by donors, DRI essentially takes "shopping lists" from applicants -- hospitals, clinics and orphanages -- and fills their needs.

"These are trained, ethical, capable people who can provide these services, but they just don't have the resources," said Poma, who has worked in Africa and eastern Europe. "So if we can provide the tools they need, it is much more efficient than trying to do it all ourselves."

DRI consults with U.S. government and international organizations to establish the viability of the institutions seeking help.

"It's no more complicated than getting on the telephone late at night and making lots of calls," Tighe said. "In Afghanistan, I called the U.S. consul in Peshawar (Pakistan) and asked, 'Who knows the most about the refugee situation in Peshawar?' and he gave me the number of the right (NGO), and away we went."

DRI has provided 10 tons of medical supplies to emergency medical teams and existing health facilities in refugee camps along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Eleven air and ocean freight shipments, valued at more than $400,000, were delivered, including antibiotics, stethoscopes, blood-pressure kits and sterilization equipment.

"One of the key things for us to be effective is not to be pulled into the politics of the situation, on one side or the other," Tighe said. "If there are any (U.S.) restrictions (on a given nation), we always seek the approval of the State Department."

Disasters and poverty

Similar efforts were made in 2001, in the aftermath of earthquakes in El Salvador, where some $3 million of supplies was dispatched; in Peru, after a similarly devastating quake, where almost a million dollars of supplies and equipment was sent; and in Gujarat, India, where 38 tons of supplies, valued at more than $3.2 million, were shipped after a quake left 20,000 dead and hundreds of thousands of people injured or homeless.

In response to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings and terrorist attacks in New York City, DRI accepted $318,000 in cash donations for disaster relief; all the money was disbursed to victims and their families through Manhattan-based relief groups.

Locally, DRI supports a dental-care program for the poor and uninsured, many of them farm workers in Santa Barbara County. Since 1994, the Healthy Smiles program has provided care to more than 3,000 children and adults. In 2001, the program performed more than $97,000 worth of dental procedures.

In case of a major disaster in the United States, DRI has an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for FEMA to draw on DRI's stockpile of supplies.

DRI also has a long history of nonemergency relief work overseas, with supplies and equipment going to health-care programs in poor and rural areas throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Among the programs DRI supports are vision care in poor communities in El Salvador, health care in Guatemala, HIV/AIDS hospices in Jamaica, midwife training in Nigeria, hospitals and clinics in Liberia, Ivory Coast and Kenya, rural health and education centers in Thailand, care for leprosy patients in South Korea, hospitals and clinics in Armenia and Bosnia and orphanages in Romania.

"Our focus is always on a specific clinic or program that needs help in a specific way, and in a way our help is not going to be misused," Tighe said. "Our material is only as good as the hands that it ends up in, so we spend a lot of our time trying to identify the best, most credible users."

DRI's program officers spend two months every year overseas, working to identify needs and audit the programs and individuals that receive assistance. Background checks are done with other NGOs, the Peace Corps and service groups, including Rotary International and the Red Cross.

Likely recipients in Iraq will include the Baghdad Children's Hospital, St. Rafael's Hospital in Baghdad, and Relief International, a Los Angeles-based group that works in refugee camps in Kurdistan.

"It's like interviewing people for a job -- you check the references," Tighe said. "There are qualified people we know are there, in-country, who are trained in these specialties and can do the job. ... Our efforts are best spent trying to find those people."

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