Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: November 15, 2004: Vote "Yes" on the NPCA's bylaw changes: Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. PCOL, NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then take our poll on how RPCVs are voting.

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 15, 2004 - 5:49 pm: Edit Post

Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors

Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors

Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors

Vote "Yes" for stronger governance

Four RPCVs argue for changes on the board of directors

by Erica Burman

The Presidents’ Forum 65-to-7 vote in Chicago to change the NPCA governance structure was the culmination of a year-long process of consultation and analysis, and a signal that the Peace Corps community is ready for the NPCA to move into a new stage of development. The proposal would reduce the size of the board by one-third from a maximum of 30 to somewhere between 15 and 21. The number of appointed directors would increase, but always be one less than elected directors. The Presidents’ Forum Steering Committee would be strengthened and, for the first time, a group representative–the Presidents’ Forum Coordinator–would have a seat on the Board’s Executive Committee.

I interviewed four RPCVs familiar with Board operations who wanted to explain why they think these changes are needed.

Board restructuring ‘absolutely critical’

Earlier this year, Josh Busby (Ecuador 97-99) was elected to the NPCA Board for the Americas region. As a recent volunteer–he served as an agricultural extension agent in Ecuador–he represents a new generation of RPCV leadership and brings a fresh perspective. "Restructuring of the NPCA board is absolutely critical and should be of interest to every member," says Josh. "Why? Ask yourself this: Has the NPCA, under the current Board structure, reached its potential to mobilize the RPCV community? If your answer is ‘no,’ then this is one reason to support the restructuring proposal."

Josh is a post-doctoral student at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. When he joined Friends of Ecuador, he discovered that few who had volunteered in the 1990s were NPCA members. "Something is wrong here. This Board proposal will provide new life to the organization, demanding more of the Board, including efforts to recruit younger RPCVs and those recently returned from service."

In his studies, he has written extensively on developing-country debt relief, climate change and U.S. foreign policy. He envisions a Peace Corps community actively engaged on critical international development issues like HIV/AIDS. However, he says, the Board structure does not lend itself to focused action. "With a Board as large as 30 members, there is no time for thoughtful deliberation in meetings if everyone wants to say something," says Josh. He says a smaller board will make meetings more deliberative and will hold board members more accountable to meet the NPCA’s goals.

Better representation, competitive elections

At first, Michael Learned (Malawi 63-65) was skeptical of the proposal. As the leader of Gay, Lesbian and Bi-Sexual RPCVs, he facilitated the 2003 Presidents’ Forum when the proposal was made. On a working committee of group leaders studying the issue, he interviewed former Board members and others who had served on non-profit boards. He then analyzed the current makeup of groups that Board members represented, along with current by-law language concerning representation.

"Two things hit me immediately," Michael says. "Current by-laws give geographic groups twice the number of board members as the country of service groups (12 versus six). And within these guidelines, current Board representation based on the number of NPCA members who could vote for a particular candidate varied wildly." As of January 2004, one member represented a U.S. geographic region with 450, while another represented 3,000 in the Americas country of service region. "Clearly there was a lack of representational parity." The summer 2004 Board elections also influenced his thinking: for six open seats, five candidates ran unopposed.

Michael thinks that adjusting the Board’s size and allowing for the future change to at-large seats without another bylaw change, will improve Board effectiveness, governance, and responsibility. "More competition for fewer board seats will encourage highly qualified people to run," he says.

Organizations grow, need to change

Bob Terry knows Peace Corps history: he was a member of the first recruiting team for Peace Corps and served on the East Pakistan (now Bangla-desh) staff. As an appointed Board member, he offers a lifetime of professional experience as a former international management consultant and faculty member with Arthur D. Little School of Management, chairman of Oxfam America and a trustee of World Learning. He was on the Board committee that studied the restructuring proposal.

Bob knows organizations can change over time. "The NPCA has been under the current governance structure for 13 years," says Bob. "In recent years, the NPCA’s membership numbers have plateaued, and many feel we’ve not been serving the total Peace Corps community as well as we should."

But Bob sees opportunities on the horizon. Peace Corps has strong Congressional and White House support, with the likelihood of future growth. In a few years Peace Corps will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Meanwhile, the NPCA has a new president and a newly elected chairman of the Board. "The proposed changes to the NPCA’s governance structures will give the NPCA and its leadership the tools it needs to better serve our community."

National organizations often face the competing needs of representation versus fiscal responsibility, Bob says. "In truth, you need to have both: small and efficient for the boring ‘housekeeping’ but also a variety of mechanisms to ensure that the NPCA represents the views of the Peace Corps community."

Bob thinks greater control over the board’s proposed composition will ensure that the NPCA has the full range of experience and talents to run effectively and responsibly. He also believes that a robust Group Leaders Forum will strengthen the voices of group leaders. "Together, the NPCA will be well positioned to meet future opportunities and challenges."

Role of groups to be strengthened

A critical piece of the proposed changes is enhancement of the Presidents’ Forum Steering Committee. The by-laws recognize such a body, but it has never been well defined.

"Plans need to be developed to institutionalize this," says Carol Rogers (Thailand 84-86), Presidents’ Forum Coordinator. Anticipating the transition, Rogers has already recruited 14 group representatives to serve on a Presidents’ Forum Steering Committee for one year. They will serve as an additional point of contact for NPCA groups that have ideas, questions and concerns to be addressed.

Carol’s commitment to the Peace Corps community is life-long. Her grandfather went to Liberia as a senior Peace Corps volunteer in 1962. Carol lived in India for five years when her father served on Peace Corps staff there and after her own service in Thailand, she worked at Peace Corps headquarters for four years.

As Presidents’ Forum Coordinator, Carol has watched the at-times lively discussion among groups, both for and against the changes, with great interest. She believes the balance between representation and effectiveness can be achieved in the proposal. "This is an exciting time for the NPCA, and for the affiliate groups," says Carol. "I look forward to working over the next year to help make all of these ideas become reality."

How to vote at

The online voting on changes to NPCA By-Laws will be in effect off of this page from December 1 through December 30, 2004. Please check back during that time to cast your ballot.

1. Go to

2. To cast your ballot, enter your voter identification number which is listed after your name on the label of this issue of 3/1/61. Your vote will not count unless you use this number when voting.

3. For more information go to

4. If you prefer a paper ballot, please call 202 293 7728 ext. 20 or e-mail with your request. Your ballot must be received at NPCA offices by Nov. 24.

When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Volunteer Death in Morocco Volunteer Death in Morocco
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers mourn the loss of Peace Corps Volunteer Melissa Mosvick who died as a result of a public bus accident on Saturday, November 6, 2004, in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.
Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.
Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: PCOL Exclusive

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; NPCA; Governance



By lejyoner ( on Monday, March 19, 2012 - 2:49 am: Edit Post

I have been in speaking to Patricia Johnson, wife of Steve Johnson III, who was the US Embassy Cultural Officer in Addis until her rnieremett in 2008. Pat has lots of contacts that she could help us with in setting up the 50th.Some ideas we brainstormed:1. We were an education project. It would be good to have an overview of education in Ethiopia today curriculum changes, first-language instruction, etc. Also, there is a huge project to set up teacher training and model schools in each of the 13 regions. This might be something the embassy talks about; I'd also like to hear from the person heading the US funded project.2. Preservation Beyond Lalibela and Gondar. Pat Johnson was working with Princess Mary and others on historical preservation projects. Some of them include the Teferi Makonnen House in Harar, the Rimbaud House(a French project also in Harar); the Mohammed Ali House in Addis (Prin. Mary's project), a shrine in western Ethiopia. Pat has the contacts on this.3. Reading by Ethiopian authors, such as Nega Mezlekia, winner of the Governor General's Literary Award in Canada, and author of several books (Notes from the Hyena's Belly, etc.). Others who have written about Ethiopia based on their experiences there are Camilla Gibb, Abraham Verghese. (I'm going to a reception for him this week. Gibb lives in Canada).4. Dr. Tadesse Wolde Gosso of the Christnesen Fund has 14 projects going in southwestern Ethiopia. Among them is a huge annual music festival. I have met with Dr. Tadesse and I think he would be a great addition to the program. Films have been made of some of his projects.5. Book sales. Many titles concerning Ethiopia are available in Canada and only in Ethiopia. If authors are invited, they could perhaps bring copies of their books to sell. I would also suggest inviting Ghassan Begash of BookWorld, the largest bookstore in Ethiopia, and publisher of Shama Books. The number of books published in Ethiopia on topics such as rock churches, etc. and unavailable in the US is astonishing. If given enough time, Ghassan may be able to arrange to bring some along. Steve Johnson (Eth III) is the contact for him.5. I agree with Jan W.M. that organizations that are doing good in Ethiopia, such as Ethiopia Reads, should be included. Dr. Rick Hodes is my personal hero; he has lived and worked in Ethiopia for the past 20+ years. The Fistula Foundation has also been doing good work, even if they treated one of our fellow volunteers who broke his heart for them shabbily.6. Population. Travel to Ethiopia and the exponential growth in its population is the first thing that strikes you. Is anyone doing any work on population control?

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.