October 24, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Peace Corps Director cites family concerns for resignation, admits growth plans are in jeopardy

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: October 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: October 24, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Peace Corps Director cites family concerns for resignation, admits growth plans are in jeopardy

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Peace Corps Director cites family concerns for resignation, admits growth plans are in jeopardy

Read and comment on this story from the Dayton Daily News on the resignation of Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez that was announced on Wednesday, October 22. The Director told the Daily News that he plans to return to California to tend to the health of his parents. He also said that his decision has nothing to do with the fact that the Dayton Daily News is set to publish an investigative series on the safety and security of Peace Corps volunteers beginning in their October 26 issue.

Vasquez admitted that the agency is falling short in meeting President Bush's promise made in his State of the Union address in February 2002 to double the Peace Corps from 7,000 volunteers to 14,000 by 2007 but blamed the shortfall on lower than expected funding from Congress. Peace Corps requested $359 M in their FY 2004 budget for the next step in their expansion. The Peace Corps appropriation authorized by the House of Representatives in their spending bill (HR 2800) approved on August 7 was $314 M. The Peace Corps appropriation in the omnibus spending bill now before the Senate is $310 M.

Although Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, called for full funding for the Peace Corps' $359 M budget request in his speech before the Peace Corps on July 15, it is unknown at this time if Senator Coleman will introduce an amendment to the omnibus spending bill for the full Peace Corps appropriation. Likewise, although President Bush says he supports full funding for the Peace Corps, it appears he has made little effort to lobby Congress on behalf of full Peace Corps funding while at the same time Bush has undertaken another volunteer initiative, the "Volunteers for Prosperity" program, that he signed into existence by executive order on September 25. Read the story at:

Peace Corps director resigns*

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

Peace Corps director resigns

Gaddi Vasquez says he's leaving to care for his parents

By Mei-Ling Hopgood

WASHINGTON | Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez said Thursday he is stepping down, effective Nov. 14.

Vasquez, 48, who has served as the head of the agency since January 2002, told the Dayton Daily News he plans to return to California to tend to the health of his parents. He said he told the White House of his intentions in late September and agency employees on Wednesday.

His announced departure comes days before the Daily News was set to publish an investigative series on the safety and security of Peace Corps volunteers. When asked if his decision was influenced by the newspaper's examination, Vasquez said, “Absolutely not.”

“First of all I don’t know what your final stories are going to say," he said. "I place family above everything else in life. . . . This decision was made some time ago.”

The issue of safety and security for Peace Corps volunteers will continue to be one of the biggest challenges and priorities facing the agency in the 21st century, he said.

Vasquez, the first Hispanic to lead the agency, said a dramatic increase in inquiries and requests for volunteer applications, recruitment of more minority volunteers and expansion into nine countries are among the highlights of his 21 months with the agency.

However, Vasquez admitted efforts to double the number of volunteers by 2007 have fallen short the last two years because of lower-than-expected funding levels. President Bush in 2002 called for an increase in the Peace Corps volunteer force from 7,000 to 14,000 by 2007, with a particular interest in expanding into Muslim countries. The Peace Corps has requested $359 million to pay for expansion and operations for the 2004 fiscal year that began this month, but spending bills before Congress fall short of that total by $45 million to $49 million.

“We may get there or we may not get there,” Vasquez said. "If we don’t achieve full funding then it does place in jeopardy the potential to grow at the levels we hoped for.”

Currently, there are 7,533 volunteers are serving in the Peace Corps in 71 countries. At the end of last month, applications to be a volunteer were up 27 percent over September 2002, said a spokeswoman, Barbara Daly.

John Bridgeland, assistant to the president and director of USA Freedom Corps, said the Peace Corps "is expanding to meet the president's goal."

"Gaddi Vasquez has brought tremendous leadership to the Peace Corps at a time when more Americans want to serve to help meet needs abroad," Bridgeland said in a statement.

An adviser and major donor to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, Vasquez began his career as a police officer in Orange County, Calif. He is a native of Carrizo Springs, Texas, and a former division vice president of public affairs of the Southern California Edison Company.

After President Bush nominated him to be the 16th director in the Peace Corps' 42-year history, Vasquez faced criticism during his confirmation for a lack of international experience. He also had never been a volunteer.

Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen will head the agency until the president nominates and the Senate confirms a new director.

“I believe that the Peace Corps has been a tremendous treasure to the United States for 42 years and I’m absolutely confident that those who follow in this office will continue to build on the legacy,” Vasquez said.

Contact Mei-Ling Hopgood in the Washington bureau at 202-887-8328

[From the Dayton Daily News: 10.24.2003]

October 23, 2003 - Gaddi Vasquez resigns as Peace Corps Director

Read and comment on this memo that was emailed out on Wednesday afternoon at 4 pm with the resignation of Gaddi Vasquez as Peace Corps Director at:

Gaddi Vasquez resigns as Peace Corps Director*

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

Gaddi Vasquez resigns as Peace Corps Director

"It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing to you that I have resigned as Director of the Peace Corps effective November 14, 2003. In my resignation letter to President George W. Bush, I wrote, "The Peace Corps is well positioned to expand and achieve even more in the 21st century. In my view, the Peace Corps remains one of the most viable means to train men and women in host countries and do so with effectiveness and positive outcomes of which we can be proud."

On February 15, 2002, I was privileged to assume the role of Peace Corps Director. The honor and opportunity to lead an agency with such a noble mission has been one of the great highlights of my professional life. During my time as Director, I have met hundreds of Peace Corps Volunteers who are engaged in remarkable work and are advancing the first and second goals of Peace Corps. I have traveled to 24 countries and all 11 recruiting offices and have enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with exceptional staff who are performing a great service in support of the Volunteers' work. I have also had the opportunity to meet RPCVs in many states and appreciate their continuing commitment to advancing the third goal of the Peace Corps. I am confident that the Peace Corps is well positioned to achieve much in the 21st century.

Since I have become the Director, the Peace Corps has established programs in nine countries and is poised to grow in the coming years. Much of what has been accomplished is due to the strong partnership between Peace Corps Washington and field staff in the United States and overseas. From recruiters to desk officers and from medical staff to safety and security personnel every man and woman I have met represent the finest of Peace Corps professionals. It has been my honor to serve with each of you.

I will always be grateful to President Bush for the high honor and confidence he had in nominating me to serve. Moreover, he has been a strong advocate and proponent of Peace Corps and his continued support throughout his Presidency has been extraordinary.

As I prepare to return to California, I will fondly remember the friendships and the support that so many of you have given to me since my first day at Peace Corps. I am proud of what has been accomplished and each of you has made a contribution to that effort. Together we have made a difference, achieved many objectives, and we have created new opportunities for all Americans to serve in the Peace Corps. I thank you for your dedicated service."

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