2006.09.05: September 5, 2006: Headlines: Directors - Tschetter: COS - India: Congress: Nominations: Peace Corps: Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter: Ron Tschetter: Newest Stories: 2006.09.05: September 5, 2006: Headlines: Directors - Tschetter: COS - India: Congress: Nominations: Peace Corps: Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-251-54-81.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Tuesday, September 05, 2006 - 7:55 pm: Edit Post

Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"I will look forward to watching Peace Corps Volunteers continue to make a difference at the grassroots level abroad by fostering mutual understanding and respect, and sowing seeds of peace among other cultures. I will also stress the importance of financial accountability and spending our appropriated dollars wisely and ensure that our programming and projects reflect changing needs overseas. In addition, I hope to examine the agency’s recruiting process in order to broaden the applicant pool and better tap into the Baby Boom generation-- a rich harvestable field of potential Volunteers."

Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Statement of Ronald A. Tschetter
Nominee - Director of the Peace Corps

Before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

September 5, 2006


Good afternoon. I am honored to sit before you today as the President’s nominee to become the seventeenth Director of the Peace Corps. Before I begin, I would first like to thank Subcommittee Chairman Coleman and Senator Dodd, as well as the other members of the Committee, for holding today’s hearing. I would also like to thank my wife for being here, and the President, for his trust and confidence. I know the President is a firm supporter of the agency, has visited a number of Volunteers in the field, and deeply believes in the good work that Peace Corps Volunteers do around the globe. I am also grateful for the bipartisan support that many members of the Senate have expressed in support of my nomination.

Growing up in South Dakota, I learned at a young age the value of hard work and serving others. Despite the difficulties of farming on the parched South Dakotan soil, my mother and my father were prime examples of generosity. I recall on several occasions my father providing food, money, or assistance to those around us who were either less fortunate or who had faced a sudden tragedy or crisis. Those images of assisting others, regardless of our own circumstances, were ingrained in me and my six siblings at a very young age—and, have never left.

This same spirit of assistance is what led me and my wife to become Peace Corps Volunteers in 1966. Our two years in India as health Volunteers tremendously impacted our lives and gave us great insight into those living in developing countries around the world. Helping to meet the needs of peoples and communities overseas became a passion for me that has continued to this day. In fact, since my time as a Volunteer, I have returned to India five times, made numerous trips to Kenya as a member of a university council, and my wife and I have addressed various groups about our Peace Corps experience. I have also had the privilege of serving as the chairman of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) board of directors.

When I returned home and pursued my career in the securities industry, I gained strong management and leadership skills. I learned how to make effective budgetary decisions, provide vision, grow an organization within budgetary constraints, and enable those around me to excel. I believe that the leadership skills that I acquired in a corporate setting are readily transferable and applicable to the needs of leading a government agency such as the Peace Corps. If confirmed, I pledge to apply those skills—along with my deep passion for the mission of the agency—to my new role as Director.


In 1960, President John F. Kennedy had a powerful idea – the idea of sending Americans abroad as informal ambassadors of the United States to help make a difference in the world, and to serve their nation in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. By 1961, this idea became a reality with the creation of the Peace Corps.

Since the creation of the agency, Peace Corps Volunteers have been sharing peace and friendship wherever they serve, and helping the people of interested countries meet their need for trained men and women. My wife and I can attest to the difference that we made in the lives of others in India, and we also recognize how we were changed for the better through our Peace Corps service. Today, we remain in touch with many of the individuals who we met in our villages during our service.

The Peace Corps has built a solid reputation over the last 45 years both abroad and at home, and I am proud to relay to you that in 2006, over 20 countries would like to see the Peace Corps open a program within their borders, and that Americans want to serve their country by entering the Peace Corps. A recent article in USA Today, noted the willingness of Americans to serve: “College graduates, shaped by such events as Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are applying to service organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps in record numbers.”

While the Peace Corps’ mission has remained constant over its 45 years, the types of assignments have not. Peace Corps programs are designed to meet the up-to-date needs of its host countries, whether it is teaching English to its citizens, training a community in information technology, or advising young adults about HIV/AIDS prevention. The Peace Corps continues to have great success in the sectors of education, agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, business development, environment, and youth throughout the globe.


This year the Peace Corps is celebrating its 45th anniversary, and I am pleased to share with you some of the key highlights of the agency and its successes over the past four and one-half decades:

The Peace Corps currently serves 69 posts representing 75 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands. The agency is presently at a 30-year high with the number of Volunteers in the field. The official count for fiscal year 2005 was 7,810 Volunteers.

Over 20 percent of all Volunteers are working in predominantly Muslim countries. I believe that building understanding with the Islamic world at this time is critically important, and the Peace Corps has the special opportunity to share knowledge about Americans with the Muslim world through the personal friendships of Volunteers with their host country families, counterparts, and acquaintances. The Peace Corps has been serving in predominately Muslim countries (countries with at least 40 percent or more of its population following Islam) since its inception in 1961.

At the end of fiscal year 2005, 15.8 percent of all Peace Corps Volunteers are ethnic minorities. This is the largest number of ethnic minority Volunteers in the field since the Peace Corps started gathering official statistics in 1989. While the average age of a Volunteer is 28, the Peace Corps encourages Americans of all ages to serve their country, and today six percent of Volunteers are over 50. The oldest Volunteer currently in service is 78 years old.

I am also pleased to report that the agency continues to play a significant role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and that it has been instrumental in carrying out the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan). Volunteers are currently active in 9 of the 15 Emergency Plan countries and approximately 90 percent of posts work directly or indirectly on HIV/AIDS activities, such as teaching HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention and providing orphan care. Additionally, a new Peace Corps Office of AIDS Relief was created in 2005 to provide overall leadership of the agency’s HIV/AIDS efforts.

A further achievement for the agency is that it is forging relationships with new countries. One such relationship is with the United States’ neighbor, Mexico. The Mexico/Peace Corps program, which opened in 2004, is a unique partnership that provides the first opportunity for the Peace Corps to recruit highly specialized, technically-trained and experienced Volunteers to work side-by-side with their Mexican counterparts. To date, the program has been very successful and additional Volunteers have been requested by the Mexican government.

Another country that the agency has formed a partnership with is the Kingdom of Cambodia. Our office in Cambodia is now open, and Volunteers are expected to arrive in early 2007. This will be the first time that the Peace Corps will be operating in Southeast Asia, and I look forward, if confirmed, to working with the host country government to ensure that Volunteers are able to make a lasting impact.

Other notable achievements include: the financial compliance of the agency. For the first time in its 45-year history, the Peace Corps recently prepared comparative financial statements that comply, to the extent possible, with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines and the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002. The agency also recently received an “effective” PART rating from the OMB. This is the highest rating an agency can achieve. Programs rated at the “effective” level set ambitious goals, achieve results, are well-managed, and improve efficiency. These are important financial initiatives that I am committed to continuing as Director.

The few Peace Corps’ accomplishments I have named provide a marvelous platform for the agency as it meets the challenges of the 21st century, and reflects the solid work of this Administration and my predecessor, Gaddi H. Vasquez, in maintaining the integrity of the Peace Corps and advancing its goals.

I would now like to address a topic of great importance to me: the safety and security of the Volunteers in the field. The safety and security of Volunteers is, and will remain under my leadership should I be confirmed, the agency’s number one priority. I am happy to relay that the safety and security data for 2005 indicates a 10 percent reduction in crimes against Volunteers such as rape, aggravated assault, burglary, and theft from the previous year.

As Director, I will continue to ensure that safety and security issues are fully integrated in all aspects of Volunteer recruitment, training, and service. A separate Office of Safety and Security was established in 2002 to foster improved communications, coordination, oversight, and accountability for all of the Peace Corps’ safety and security efforts, and I will do my part in ensuring it is run effectively.

Throughout their service, Volunteers develop skills and receive up-to-date information that help them understand their surroundings, cope with unwanted attention, and develop personal safety strategies. With language, cross-cultural, and health and safety instruction, Volunteers learn about their environment and are shown how to effectively cope with the many challenges they will face.

Finally, I would also like to note that measures have been taken to protect Volunteers from any possible outbreak of avian flu. All Volunteers have been given a flu vaccination, and posts have received the needed number of boxes of Tamiflu should an outbreak occur. Emergency Action Plans have also been updated appropriately.


Arriving in a new organization always energizes me and I look forward to planning ahead for the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers, while at the same time not compromising the 45-year mission of the Peace Corps or its three goals:

* To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

* To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

* To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Much has changed over the last 45 years -- Volunteers, countries, and challenges -- but the Peace Corps three goals have not. My commitment, if confirmed, is to see that the Volunteers know and are motivated to fulfill all three goals.

I will look forward to watching Peace Corps Volunteers continue to make a difference at the grassroots level abroad by fostering mutual understanding and respect, and sowing seeds of peace among other cultures. I will also stress the importance of financial accountability and spending our appropriated dollars wisely and ensure that our programming and projects reflect changing needs overseas. In addition, I hope to examine the agency’s recruiting process in order to broaden the applicant pool and better tap into the Baby Boom generation-- a rich harvestable field of potential Volunteers.


Mr. Chairman, should I be confirmed by the Senate, I will do my absolute best to make the Volunteer experience a safe and successful one, to meet the needs of our host country counterparts, and to ensure that every agency dollar is used carefully and thoughtfully.

Thank you. I am now pleased to answer any questions you may have.

When this story was posted in September 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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