September 5, 2003 - NPCA: NPCA President Kevin Quigley speaks out for Americorps

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By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:18 pm: Edit Post

NPCA President Kevin Quigley speaks out for Americorps

Read and comment on this Press Release from the NPCA that NPCA President Kevin Quigley gave testimony at the Voices for Americorps campaign on the value of service to our communities and nation on Friday, September 5, 2003. More than 700 speakers gave testimony in Washington, DC over the 5-day event in an effort to save Americorps, the national service organization. Other notable speakers included Senator John McCain, Representative Chris Shays (RPCV, Fiji) and Save the Children Executive Director Mark Shriver. Read the story at:


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



September 5, 2003

Today, I want to raise my voice on behalf of the 170,000 current and former Peace Corps volunteers and 40,000 Peace Corps staff and simply say: by providing service to others we make a contribution to the communities we serve, we become a better people and a far better country. We should be doing everything possible to encourage rather than limit opportunities for our citizens to serve others.

My name is Kevin Quigley and I am president of the National Peace Corps Association. We are a non-profit membership organization for people who have served as volunteers and staff in the Peace Corps, as well as friends and family of the Peace Corps community. We seek to foster peace through service, education and advocacy. We have served in 135 countries around the world and return home to every state across the country.

Our mission stems directly from goals of the Peace Corps, created by President John F. Kennedy and authorized by Congress: 1) to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; 2) to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and 3) to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Service is the link among these goals. Service to others. Service to our communities. Service as citizens of our country. Americans volunteer for Peace Corps for many different reasons, but service is at the heart of their desire to volunteer.

Volunteers and staff return to serve their communities and country in many different ways:

" There are currently 7 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in the US Congress.

" There are currently 2 RPCVs serving as governors.

" Dr. Mae Jemison, of Texas practiced medicine in a Cambodian refugee camp and later served as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa. She became the first African-American woman to enter space, serving aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor; she's currently working on projects focusing on improving health care in Africa.

" Dr. Philip Curd of Kentucky established a family hospital in Appalachia and has dedicated his life to providing high-quality medical care in an area where few other physicians choose to practice.

" Molly Melching of New Jersey has worked to help Senegalese villagers achieve independence and self-sufficiency, and has helped stop the practice of female genital cutting in hundreds of villages.

" Sue Seay of Alabama, established after school programs serving inner-city youth through Better Basics of Birmingham.

" Marjorie May of Pennsylvania helped found FISH-Fellowship In Service to Humanity-which offers rides to senior citizens who need transportation to doctors, dentists, or even the grocery store.

" Tim Carroll from Michigan created Eye Care, Inc., an affordable eye clinic in Haiti. Tim raised on average over a half million dollars a year from private sources for the organization's work.

" Robert Burkhardt of California founded The San Francisco Conservation Corps, a youth service and youth development organization that was the nation's first urban conservation corps.

" Kenneth Dunn, of Illinois, pioneered recycling in Chicago's South Side in founding The Resource Center. The Resource Center has recycled over 25,000 tons of material and brings employment to scores of unemployed and low-income citizens.

" Paul Thompson of Minnesota, founded RESULTS, a national grassroots campaign lobbying to end hunger. Over his career Thompson has raised more than $700,000 for organizations such as RESULTS, Save the Children, and UNICEF.

In addition to working as individuals, our members sometimes return home and work together as part of the National Peace Corps Association's 147 affiliated groups all across the country. These groups have:

" Pioneered mentoring programs at a high school in inner-city Chicago, including student exchanges to Ghana.

" Undertaken effective conflict resolution work in civil war-ravaged Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Liberia.

" Created El Barrio, an organization dedicated to fostering empowerment and cultural integration of Hispanics in the Greater Cleveland area.

These are but a few of the 170,000 stories of service that I could tell you. What all these stories have in common is the Peace Corps experience steers our lives in a direction that we might not otherwise have taken: essentially, continuing efforts of service to make this world a better place.

Organizations that promote service are a vital resource to our country. They help show people the value of investing themselves in a community. They provide all of us opportunities to contribute to our communities and in turn strengthen our country. Organizations that provide our citizens opportunities to serve are essential to the very fabric of this country and must be supported. Americorps engages over 50,000 people each year in the many communities of America-that's over 14 times the number of people who go abroad each year for the Peace Corps. These are people who want to make a difference and who want to do it here in our own country. People who are going to feel invested in our communities and who might even continue to invest themselves after their year of service, but not if we don't give them the chance to do it initially.

On the Peace Corps' 25th Anniversary, Sargent Shriver, the first Director, delivered a speech on the National Mall here in Washington. In that speech he stated, "Be servants of peace. Work at home as you have worked abroad, humbly, persistently, intelligently….Join others who serve. Serve, serve, serve." "That's the challenge," he said.

Yes, that is the challenge. We need to support service. It's important that we do so. And that is why it is important for us to stand up here today and raise our voices to support Americorps, our domestic Peace Corps program.

Thank you.

September 3, 2003 - Interview with Kevin Quigley

"If we can become a leading organization in our sector, the NPCA will be an organization that attracts a lot more participants. It will be reflected in our programs, it will be reflected in our membership, it will be reflected in our reputation, it will be reflected in our profile, and it will be reflected in the role that we play in terms of advancing our mission."

Read and comment on the exclusive interview that we had with Kevin Quigley, the new President of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), at the annual NPCA meeting in Portland on August 3 where he talked about his vision for the future of the NPCA, what he wants to do right away, the role he sees for himself in the organization, his meeting with Sargent Shriver, and how long he plans to stay at:

Interview with Kevin Quigley*

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

Interview with Kevin Quigley

PCOL: What is your vision for the future of the NPCA?

KQ: I think that the vision of the NPCA that has been articulated of a world in peace shaped by understanding and tolerance is a very good one and one that makes a great deal of sense to the Peace Corps community.

When we talk about the Peace Corps community, I think that term has to be understood very broadly. It's not just volunteers and staff but it is also family, friends, students, and people who have had comparable experience or have been touched by these kinds of deep engagements with other societies or with other parts of the world.

I think that the vision and mission are compelling, they are apt, and they are timely. The challenge is really to take the vision and mission and come up with an effective plan that allows you to identify the priorities, then to allocate resources, and to find ways to effectively implement the plan and have appropriate milestones that are clear, understandable, and communicated broadly within our community, so that the community and everyone who is interested can gauge our progress in reaching those milestones.

PCOL: What would you like people to say about the NPCA five years from now? What would you like people to think of the NPCA as being, or accomplishing, or representing?

KQ: I'd like a much wider circle to say that this is an organization of committed and engaged activists who are advancing peace and making a difference in their home communities, nationally and internationally.

PCOL: You spoke at the President's Forum yesterday and talked about a strategic vision and you mentioned several things that you wanted to do right away. I wonder if you would mind elaborating?

KQ: The first thing is to come up with a plan that advances the organization. I talked a little bit about the process for coming up with the plan; it's really a process of listening and learning, of engaging and having conversations with people in the community and outside the community.

We need to do market research in effect. We need to ask those inside the community what is it we are doing well, and how can we improve. We also need to ask people on the outside what should we be doing, how can we be more effective, and how can we re-engage you.

This process is going to bring back to the NPCA community and the broader community a clear articulation of some priorities and timelines and measurable objectives.

I think everybody in the community knows that we have very big aspirations, but we don't have the resources to realize those aspirations. So, a critical challenge is to mobilize resources. To mobilize resources doesn't just mean money, although money is critical, but it's also energy, time and talent of people who share our vision and mission and engaging them in the work that we are going to be doing.

So those are the plans. Then the plan has to get operationalized, which will require investments in a couple of different things. Investments have to be made in our systems. Our systems need to be much better than they are.

First our database. I don't know much about our database but I have heard that there are lots of concerns about it. I think that the database, even if it has half our records is insufficient. We need to find ways to capture the experiences, to capture the narratives of the entire Peace Corps community.

We need to have to have a more robust web presence that communicates more clearly, more deeply, and that is more accessible, something that is much more like "Peace Corps Online" than our current web pages.

So those are two critical systems. Next we need investment in our programs. We have a lot of programs that have significant potential to be impactful, to advance the mission that we have been talking about, but they have been underinvested in. So, there is a big gap between our aspirations and our results.

Another thing I mentioned is investment in staff. At NPCA we have a very talented and committed staff but they are overworked. They are also underpaid. I think when you look at the staff it is emblematic of a larger challenge for the NPCA. That is, we are an organization that has an incredibly compelling and timely vision and mission but as I mentioned there is this gap between our aspirations and our resources. I think we need an organization that has the resources that enables us to meet our aspirations.

I think we have best of class vision and mission and one of my goals will be to see that we attract the resources and that we invest in our systems, and programs and staff so that we are not just best in class in vision, but we are best in class in practice.

We, like many organizations, have benefited from the development in the NGO sector, but that sector has moved very dramatically in the last decade or so to become more and more effective and I think NPCA has been lagging behind the field.

If we can become a leading organization in our sector the NPCA will be an organization that attracts a lot more participants. It will be reflected in our programs, it will be reflected in our membership, it will be reflected in our reputation, it will be reflected in our profile, and it will be reflected in the role that we play in terms of advancing our mission.

PCOL: Can you talk a little bit about the fact the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps is coming up in a few years and how the NPCA can focus on that event to further their mission?

KQ: I talked a little bit yesterday about this "perfect weather," this "perfect Storm" of events coming together, saying that there is an alignment in who we are as a community and where the community is. The fact that we now have members who include volunteers and staff from many service eras from the pioneer generation to the current 7,000 volunteers in the field, their families and friends, and associates, people who share the same aspirations, the same vision, as well as people whose lives were touched by us - our students and colleagues who could potentially be engaged in this work.

Peace Corps Volunteers learn to expect the unexpected. I was reminded of this lesson when Dane Smith and I had a very interesting conversation with Sargent Shriver. I have to say that when I walked into Sargent Shriver's office, and you see the mementos of a rich accomplished life in every sphere from the personal to the familial to the institutional and to the fact that there is all this evidence of how he has changed thousands and thousands of lives - to see that, my expectation was that a lot of our conversation would be about the past.

And it was anything but. Our conversation was all about the future. It was all about the Peace Corps vision of a world in peace shaped by understanding and tolerance. Mr. Shriver was very clear with me. He said he had read my bio and he said he thought I had good sets of skills and experience. He had marked it all up. But he wanted to know what was I going to do to build that better world that is reflected in our vision and who was I going to do it with, and how was I going to do it?

Director Shriver was looking way out. He was looking out the next 50 years to 2053. So, that is a great reminder that NPCA as an organization can't just look back.

We need to be rooted in our past but we have to look forward to the milestones that we have - the 25th anniversary of the founding of the NPCA this coming year and then in less than eight years, the 50th anniversary of founding of the Peace Corps and the establishment of the Peace Corps community. The fiftieth year is really the evidence of maturation. I think that we as a community need an event, we need a goal that is closely tied to the 50th anniversary that will galvanize our membership, provide them with a sense that the Peace Corps community is revitalized, and that it is engaged in making significant contributions to making this world a better place which is the one vision that everybody in the Peace Corps community has.

PCOL: You know that one thing that Peace Corps Volunteers like to say is that one person can make a difference. How do you see yourself as the President of the NPCA - as a cheerleader, as an organizer, as an activist?

KQ: That is a great question. I don't know if I have a clear one word description of the role I play. I think as a leader you have to play many roles.

Part is the keeper of the flame and part is having that clear vision, and part of the role is trying to make sure that you can execute that clear vision. Part is cheerleader, part is connector, part is organizer. Part is maybe like the train engineer trying to make sure that things are happening when they are supposed to happen, that things are getting done and getting communicated. So, it is my hope that I can play multiple roles. I am not sure that my strength is in any one individual role but I believe that I have the potential to play lots of those different roles.

PCOL: And you plan to stay until the vision is realized?

KQ: My goal is to see that we are a re-energized effective organization at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the Peace Corps community.

Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL

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