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How Ron Tschetter was selected as Peace Corps Director

How Ron Tschetter was selected as Peace Corps Director

"They were looking for an executive who has run a significant business and who also had Peace Corps experience," Tschetter said. The call came April 26, one day after the White House officially announced that Gaddi Vasquez was going over to the FAO. In May, Tschetter interviewed in Washington, D.C. The questions focused on why he volunteered for the Peace Corps, why he chose a business career, his leadership style and why he has volunteered for half a dozen causes. Asked what his vision is for running the Peace Corps, Tschetter parried the question. "I'm not in an official capacity yet and, quite frankly, I don't know," he said. "I need to get in there, ask a lot of questions and move fast."

PCOL Comment: Most of the recent Peace Corps Directors such as Vasquez, Schneider, Gearan, Bellamy, Chao, Coverdell, Celeste, and Dellenback have come to the agency with a background in government or politics. Ron Tschetter is the first director since Kevin O'Donnell thirty years ago to come to the directorship with significant experience in the business world and the first since Carol Bellamy with knowledge of finance and investments. Since the Peace Corps has had great difficulty in getting funding from Congress to meet the President's goal of doubling the agency, one area where Tschetter's unique skills may be most valuable is in identifying sources of funding and forming partnerships with NGO's and the private sector to meet its expansion goals. Using his experience in business to further expand the Peace Corps in the two-and-a-half years remaining in the Bush administration would be an commendable legacy to leave the agency as the Peace Corps fast approaches its fiftieth anniversary.


How Ron Tschetter was selected as Peace Corps Director

Nominee recalls his days in Corps

By JAN FALSTAD
Of The Gazette Staff

Going from grunt to general is not easy. The path Montana businessman Ron Tschetter is taking from Peace Corps volunteer in India in the late 1960s to head of the Corps is a roundabout one.

Assuming all goes well in his U.S. Senate confirmation proceedings, the Great Falls businessman and his wife, Nancy, will move to Washington, D.C., later this year and take over command of the Peace Corps' cadre of 7,810 volunteers and trainees working in 75 countries.

"I am a passionate supporter of the Peace Corps," Tschetter said. "It was life-changing. It is sometimes difficult to express the live experiences you have in a two-year total immersion like that, but it's real."

The executive has spent 33 years in financial services, mainly in Minneapolis. In 2004, he was named president of D.A. Davidson & Co. and moved to Great Falls.

Asked what his vision is for running the Peace Corps, Tschetter parried the question.

"I'm not in an official capacity yet and, quite frankly, I don't know," he said. "I need to get in there, ask a lot of questions and move fast."

The confirmation hearings should start in September after Congress' summer recess is over.

The farm, then India
After a farm life herding cattle and harvesting grains near Huron, S.D., Tschetter graduated from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., with degrees in psychology and social science education.

Then he set off to see the world.

He and his buddies spent six months rolling and thumbing through Europe, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt.

One month after coming home, he met Nancy on a blind date, and they married.

"One day we saw this Peace Corps ad and I said to Nancy, 'We're going to do this work stuff the rest of our lives. Let's go out and see if we can do some good,' " Tschetter said.

The couple requested assignments to the most exotic countries they could imagine: Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.

Instead, they were assigned to teach family-planning techniques in India. In 1966, their plane landed at dusk in New Delhi.

"I was looking at all the smoke coming out of those brown huts and I thought, 'Two years, huh?' " he said. "Then you get off and the sights and sounds and smells overwhelm you."

Over the past 38 years, they have made five trips back to India to visit their friends.

"We lucked out. India was more different than any of them," he said. "Wow, what a country."

Right place, right time
The opportunity came to Tschetter.

The wife of one of his financial-services colleagues works in the Bush administration. She happened to be talking to the head of White House personnel when the Peace Corps director's job came up.

"They were looking for an executive who has run a significant business and who also had Peace Corps experience," Tschetter said. "She said, 'I know who that is.' "

The call came April 26. In May, Tschetter interviewed in Washington, D.C. The questions focused on why he volunteered for the Peace Corps, why he chose a business career, his leadership style and why he has volunteered for half a dozen causes.

His experience includes serving as chairman of the National Peace Corps Association, which represents former volunteers.

After filling out a small mountain of State Department forms to be the 17th Peace Corps director, Tschetter is ready for the next step: Senate confirmation.

Outgoing director Gaddi Vasquez has been named U.S. representative for food and agriculture to the United Nations.

Since presidential appointments can take months, Tschetter will continue to work in Great Falls. Then Bill Johnstone, president and chief executive of the holding company, Davidson Cos., will assume Tschetter's duties.

"We will all certainly miss Ron," Johnstone said. "But this is an extraordinary honor and opportunity and allows Ron to work with an organization he is passionate about."

Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or at 657-1306.





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Story Source: Billings Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Directors - Tschetter; COS - India; Fund Raising; Congress; Appropriations; Expansion; Business

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