February 21, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Bellamy: Unicef: United Nations: Newsday: Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Carol Bellamy: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Peace Corps Directors - Bellamy : Carol Bellamy and the Peace Corps: February 21, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Bellamy: Unicef: United Nations: Newsday: Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller

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Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller

Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller

Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller

Bellamy rule: 'Never let failure stop you

Richard Galant

February 21, 2005

Carol Bellamy speaks candidly about how the voters of New York reacted to her campaigns for mayor and state comptroller. You know what it's like to lose "when you've been fired by 8 million people and then you've been fired by 19 million people," she's says.

That's not entirely accurate, but Bellamy has a way of telling stories at her own expense. When she ran for mayor in 1985 against Ed Koch, she lost in a blowout by nearly 700,000 votes. In 1990 she came within 90,000 votes of ousting incumbent comptroller Ned Regan.

Had she succeeded in that race, she might still be balancing the state's ledgers in Albany. Instead, Bellamy is completing her second and final five-year term as executive director of UNICEF, where she's been at the heart of the world's relief effort for the tsunami disaster in Asia.

Sunday, Dec. 26, was going to be a day off at her upstate retreat in Garrison for Bellamy, whose term ends in April. In the middle of the night, though, she got a call from UNICEF's operations center. The center's chief, a former Scotland Yard officer, told her there had been an earthquake in Asia. Bellamy went to work at the organization's Manhattan headquarters.

She began daily conference calls with UNICEF's offices in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the other affected countries. By the end of the week, Bellamy was overseas seeing the damage. UNICEF took a lead role in getting children back to school, making sure those who had lost parents were safe, as well as protecting water and sanitation.

It recruited soccer mega-star David Beckham as a goodwill ambassador for tsunami relief. From Danny Kaye to Audrey Hepburn to Nicole Kidman, celebrities have long been boosters for the organization. Roger Moore can tell you as much about the need to use iodized salt to prevent mental retardation as can UNICEF nutritionists, Bellamy says.

And yet, as she watched a tape of Beckham packing items into aluminum trunks at UNICEF's Copenhagen warehouse, she noticed that something didn't look right. The trunks are used for the organization's "school-in-a-box" kit, packed with pencils, erasers, exercise books and other educational supplies aimed for disaster areas where schools have been destroyed.

"He kept putting a can in and I kept saying, 'This man is putting food into the school-in-a-box.'" Laughing at the memory, Bellamy said she hadn't been aware that there was no food in the can. Instead, Beckham was packing a special paint that can be used to turn the cover of the trunk into a chalkboard.

Despite 10 years at the helm of the massive relief organization, despite her prominent career as a state senator and City Council president, despite her dealings with presidents and superstars, Bellamy lacks the outsized ego that often comes with leadership roles. In fact, the target of her humor more often than not turns out to be her own fallibility.

It goes hand in hand with her healthy attitude about defeat in life, which is not a bad thing to have when you've lost big elections and you've come under criticism on an international stage.

Now, nearly two months after the tsunami, the relief effort has given way to rebuilding. UNICEF has raised nearly $300 million. Among many initiatives, it has sent 8,811 school kits - each costing $202 - to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Maldives.

Bellamy talks about the response in her relatively small office, filled with toys and blond wood furniture, at the organization's headquarters on 44th Street.

"One of the best things you can do for kids if they have been in any kind of crisis is to try to bring a little normalcy back in their lives," she says. "Schools provide this sense of security." In Indonesia's Aceh province, more than 1,100 schools were damaged.

Even in the face of some recent criticism, Bellamy stays animated and upbeat. In December, Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, wrote a withering commentary saying, "It is widely, if regrettably, accepted that UNICEF has lost its way during Carol Bellamy's long term of office." He said the agency neglected its "central mission" of reducing the 10 million child deaths around the world every year while focusing on guaranteeing children's rights.

"The language of rights means little to a child stillborn, an infant dying in pain from pneumonia, or a child dessicated by famine," Horton wrote.

Bellamy contests his critique. Clapping her hands together for emphasis, she says, "I disagree wholeheartedly. ... Child survival is really core to virtually everything that UNICEF is involved in, whether it's our work in basic children's health, girls' education, malaria or immunization." Advocating for childrens' rights means telling governments they have an obligation to children that goes beyond charity, she says.

Succeeding Bellamy as UNICEF's chief will be former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, who was named last month by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

At 63, Bellamy isn't slowing down. She will become chief executive of World Learning, a nonprofit organization that runs international training and student exchange programs from its headquarters in Brattleboro, Vt. Bellamy will keep a small apartment in Brooklyn "for my soul" but will move to Brattleboro, hoping she'll be able to see Mets games on television from there.

She'll leave UNICEF with gratitude for those who helped the tsunami relief effort, especially for her local school, PS 321 in Brooklyn, which raised $40,000 through a read-a-thon.

When you ask Carol Bellamy what is the one enduring lesson she takes away from her career, she doesn't hesitate: "Never let failure stop you. Just get up, wipe off your bloody nose and figure out another way to do things. ... There are always other opportunities out there."


Name: Carol Bellamy

Age: 63

Post (through April): Executive director, UNICEF

Salary: $189,952

New post: Chief executive and president, World Learning

Travel notes

Bellamy has traveled to more than 100 countries: "I travel a lot. It's part of the job. Since I found myself in the middle of the night sleeping on the floor of the Nairobi airport, it isn't jet-setting around. ... To me, lounge is a question of whether I can hook up my computer."

"I don't travel first-class. I don't stay in hovels, but I don't stay in the fanciest places."

A tip: Don't check your luggage, which means pack light and make multiple uses of clothing.

Most versatile item: "a black skirt, which you can wear with virtually anything."

E-mail Richard Galant at rgalant@newsday.com

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.
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Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Edmund Hull is Princeton Diplomat-In-Residence 16 Feb
Bruce Greenlee is longtime friend of Latino community 15 Feb
Mike Honda new vice chairman at DNC 15 Feb
Jospeh Opala documents slave crossing from Sierra Leone 14 Feb
Dear Dr. Brothers: Aren't PCVs Hippies? 14 Feb
Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund 14 Feb
Stanley Levine draws Marine and Peace Corps similarities 14 Feb
Speaking Out: JFK envisioned millions of RPCVs 13 Feb
Chris Aquino visits mother's homeland of Vietnam 12 Feb
Is PCOL blocking users from posting messages? 12 Feb
JFK Library opens Sargent Shriver Collection 1 Feb
RPCV responds to Bulgaria Calendar concerns 28 Jan

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
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Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

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Story Source: Newsday

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Directors - Bellamy; Unicef; United Nations



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