2006.10.02: October 2, 2006: Headlines: Directors - Tschetter: COS - India: Naples News: Tschetter making plans for the Peace Corps

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Tschetter making plans for the Peace Corps

Tschetter making plans for the Peace Corps

Tschetter said one of his main challenges is keeping the organization relevant. "We're in the process of making plans," he said. "We need to keep up with technology needs, and stay on top of the HIV and AIDS education and training. The organization has stayed on the cutting edge. We'd like to continue to grow. There's an appetite for it." "The perception (of the organization being out-of-date) is out there," Tschetter said. "It's a low-profile organization. It doesn't operate in dramatic fashion but it does its job and it's very relevant."

Tschetter making plans for the Peace Corps

Peace Corps seeing resurgence, new chief says

Senate confirmed part-time Naples resident Ronald Tschetter to lead organization in September

By Amie Parnes (Contact)

Monday, October 2, 2006

WASHINGTON — To all those who say the Peace Corps is a sleepy, outdated organization with little purpose, Ronald Tschetter has a story for you.

There he was, an idealistic, 25-year-old living in India in the late 1960s, working with a team of social workers on family issues, wondering if the work he was doing was making a dent in the quality of life there. Then, one day, after a surprise knock at the door, Tschetter found himself traveling across the country to deliver medicine to a village suffering from a small pox epidemic.

And there, in the small, nomadic village, he found meaning and purpose in his work.

"Ultimately the village recovered," said Tschetter, now 64, the newly appointed director of the Peace Corps and a part-time Naples resident. "To be able to see it, touch it, smell it. It was the most impressionable experience. It was overwhelming. It still lingers.

"And today," he continued, "small pox is eradicated in the world and it's because of this and thousands of other experiences like it."

His personal experience as a Peace Corps volunteer is one of the main reasons Tschetter believes he was chosen for the post in late July by President George W. Bush.

"I believe so deeply in the purpose and the mission of the Peace Corps," said Tschetter, pronounced "cheddar."


"When I got the call (about the nomination), I was surprised," he added. "It was not anything I was thinking about. But I love the Peace Corps so much it didn't take me long to decide."

Although some may believe the Peace Corps is somewhat obsolete, it has seen a resurgence since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and is currently at a 30-year high, Tschetter said.

The agency currently has 7,810 volunteers serving in 75 countries. Its mission is to train and educate people overseas, typically in underdeveloped or rural areas in need of sanitation, transportation and electricity. Peace Corps volunteers serve as teachers, business advisers, technology consultants and educators on the HIV and AIDS virus.

"The perception (of the organization being out-of-date) is out there," Tschetter said. "It's a low-profile organization. It doesn't operate in dramatic fashion but it does its job and it's very relevant."

Tschetter said one of his main challenges is keeping the organization relevant.

"We're in the process of making plans," he said. "We need to keep up with technology needs, and stay on top of the HIV and AIDS education and training. The organization has stayed on the cutting edge. We'd like to continue to grow. There's an appetite for it."

Before his recent confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Tschetter was president of D.A. Davidson and Co., the largest investment firm in the Northwest. He also was a former chairman of the National Peace Corps Association, something akin to an alumni association.

Those who know Tschetter say he is a perfect fit for the job and will succeed in his role as Peace Corps director.

"He has a great passion for the Peace Corps," said Bill Johnstone, president and CEO of DA Davidson & Co. "He understands it, understands the people."

Another former colleague, Ian Davidson, chairman of DA Davidson & Co., said Tschetter is "returning to the time of his life that he enjoyed in India.

"When he goes to the Peace Corps he is taking a substantial reduction in salary," Davidson said. "He is doing this not for the money but for the joy of providing service."

Before moving to Washington, Tschetter planned a pit stop in Naples, where he owns a home on Pelican Isle.

"We love it there," said Tschetter, whose son, John, also resides in Naples and runs a local car wash.

Tschetter originally decided to purchase a home in Naples because he wanted an escape from the cold Minnesota winters.

"We like the climate in Naples," he said. "A lot of people we know like it for that reason, too."

And he added, "Naples has great golf courses."

Chris Moody of Scripps Howard News Service contributed to this report.

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

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Story Source: Naples News

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