2012.02.29: February 29, 2012: Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Kevin O'Donnell: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Peace Corps Directors - O'Donnell : 2012.02.29: February 29, 2012: Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

By Admin1 (admin) (70.254.224.177) on Monday, March 05, 2012 - 12:15 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

"The Peace Corps is saddened by the death of former Peace Corps Director and Peace Corps/Korea Country Director Kevin O'Donnell. Director O'Donnell was a visionary leader for the agency, and he was committed to ensuring more public service opportunities for Americans. Director O'Donnell came from a family of Peace Corps volunteers, including his daughter and granddaughter who both served with the Peace Corps. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues during this time."

Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

Peace Corps Mourns the Passing of Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

O'Donnell served as the agency's 4th Peace Corps Director from July 1, 1971 to Sept. 30, 1972

Caption: Former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell addresses the National Peace Corps convention in Chicago in 2004. Photo: Hugh Pickens

February 29, 2012-Statement from Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams on the passing of former Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell:

"The Peace Corps is saddened by the death of former Peace Corps Director and Peace Corps/Korea Country Director Kevin O'Donnell. Director O'Donnell was a visionary leader for the agency, and he was committed to ensuring more public service opportunities for Americans. Director O'Donnell came from a family of Peace Corps volunteers, including his daughter and granddaughter who both served with the Peace Corps. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues during this time."




Biography of Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell

Peace Corps Online

Caption: Peace Corps Director Kevin O'Donnell (center) with Directors Tschetter (left) and Vaughn (right)

Early life

O'Donnell was born and grew up in Cleveland and was educated at St. Rose's Grammar School and West High School. O'Donnell spent two semesters at Kenyon college before joining the US Navy Supply Corps during World War II. He returned after the war and graduated from Kenyon in 1947. O'Donnell earned an MBA at Harvard University then worked for SIFCO, Atlas Alloys, and Booz, Allen & Hamilton. O'Donnell was campaign manager for Republican Willard Brown's run for Cleveland mayor.

Peace Corps Country Director for Korea

In January, 1966, O'Donnell saw a newspaper story about a local man serving as a Peace Corps administrator in Guatemala. "This was the first time I learned that people could actually get paid to be in the Peace Corps," O'Donnell says. "That it wasn't just volunteers. So I wrote this cold letter about my experience in business. I was so na´ve." O'Donnell had lost his first wife following the birth of their sixth child and battled alcoholism and was looking for a chance to do something different. "I was at a point in my life when I wished to be more mission- than profit-oriented," O'Donnell says.

O'Donnell accepted an assignment from the Peace Corps to be Country Director for South Korea and to start the program. O'Donnell's assignment was to establish educational programs in English, math, science, and physical education. "You went in and you sank or swam," says O'Donnell. O'Donnell found that managing Peace Corps Volunteers was different than working in private industry. "By and large, people who applied to the Peace Corps had energy and ability, and my biggest job was to point them in the right direction and then get the hell out of the way," O'Donnell says.

By 1969 the US was at the height of the Vietnam War and there were 300 volunteers in South Korea "and they were pissed at our government for the war, and they really wanted to make a statement, so they decided it would be best to march on the U.S. embassy in South Korea. I sat down with them and said, 'Listen, what you should do is put together a delegation, and go to the various pockets of volunteers to have them sign petitions, then select a few of them to go to Congress and tell them what they're thinking over here.' I told them that I'd pick up the tab. I'd rather have them doing that than demonstrating on the streets of Seoul. That would have been a mess." O'Donnell's leadership of the Peace Corps in Korea was recognized by President Park Chung Hee, who awarded O'Donnell the Order of Civil Merit as O'Donnell completed four years as Country Director.

Peace Corps Director

After four years as Country Director for South Korea, O'Donnell was offered a job in Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington DC as director of administration and finance. He was made acting deputy director, and then, in July 1971, Director of the Peace Corps.

On January 4, 1972 Joseph H. Blatchford, director of Action, the agency that oversaw the Peace Corps, ordered a halt in signing up volunteers and instructed O'Donnell to prepare plans to terminate about 4,000 volunteers on duty in 55 countries.[5] Blatchford wanted the plans so that the volunteers can be returned to the United States by the end of March.[5] Congress had refused to appropriate the $82 million requested by President Nixon for the Peace Corps.[5] Instead, it cut funds to a level that one agency source described as "just one step above putting us out of business altogether."[5] Conservative Louisiana Democrat Otto Passman wanted to kill the Peace Corps. "It was a pivotal time. Had Congressman Passman's efforts succeeded, the Peace Corps would have had to recall thousands of volunteers, breaking contracts and commitments with communities and countries around the world," said O'Donnell. During the hearings before Congress, O'Donnell showed how the Peace Corps' budget amounted to about one-quarter the price for a single jet fighter but Congress continued strip the Peace Corps' funding. In the end, the money to allow Peace Corps to continue its overseas programs came from an unlikely source - Richard Nixon. "Had the Nixon White House not intervened, transferring funds from other overseas programs to the Peace Corps, the Peace Corps could not have continued without serious repercussions. The effects would have been devastating. Thankfully, our case prevailed," O'Donnell says.

O'Donnell believed strongly in a non-career Peace Corps. Most staff positions in the Peace Corps follow a five year rule but O'Donnell, as a presidential appointee, agreed to a one-year extension and left six years to the day after he signed up.

O'Donnell continues his interest and service in the Peace Corps. O'Donnell's daughter Megan served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal. His granddaughter Allison served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. O'Donnell serves as a member of the Advisory Counsel to the National Peace Corps Association.[6]

Businessman

In 1972, O'Donnell returned to Cleveland as CEO of SIFCO, a metal working firm, where he'd worked before the Peace Corps. His Peace Corps experience overseas was good for business and helped SIFCO land contracts in South Korea, China and, "because I'm Irish," in Ireland. O'Donnell retired from SIFCO in 1990 and continued to serve on several boards and run a consultancy firm.

Honors

On April 15, 2008, the Korea Society honored the Peace Corps volunteers who served in Korea with the 2008 James A. Van Fleet Award, an award given to prominent Korean and American individuals or organizations for outstanding contributions to U.S-Korea relationships.[7] Kevin O'Donnell, as the first country director of Peace Corps Korea accepted the award on behalf of the volunteers.[7]

Personal life

O'Donnell's first wife died in childbirth. O'Donnell remarried in August 1965 to Ellen and their combined families have eight children and fifteen grandchildren. Before the O'Donnell's joined the Peace Corps administrative staff in Korea, they adopted each other's children.[8] "I think there are a lot of positive factors that happened in our merger," said daughter Maura.[8] "The moment we got on that plane [for Korea], nobody knew we were two different families."[8] On January 21, 2008, the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced the passing of Ellen O'Donnell.[8] "She helped to make you feel good about yourself and that no problem could not be solved by simply doing what you do and being yourself," added Maura.[8]

O'Donnell is the father of science fiction writer Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: February, 2012; Peace Corps Korea; Directory of Korea RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Korea RPCVs; Obituaries; Staff; Peace Corps Directors





When this story was posted in March 2012, this was on the front page of PCOL:




Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed

 Site Index Search PCOL with Google Contact PCOL Recent Posts Bulletin Board Open Discussion RPCV Directory Register

Mark Shriver Speaks Truth to Power Date: February 1 2012 No: 1584 Mark Shriver Speaks Truth to Power
Sargent Shriver spoke truth to power to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and to every leader he met. "He would know that during the 2008 election, President Obama campaigned on doubling the size of the Peace Corps. That is not even close to happening - indeed, there is a long waiting list of 20 new countries requesting Peace Corps programs. Do we really mean to have peace? If so, why isn't it beginning here, in the United States? Or are we just supporting the rhetoric and spending the money elsewhere?"

PC Security Under Review in Honduras Date: December 28 2011 No: 1572 PC Security Under Review in Honduras
A Peace Corps Volunteer was shot in the right leg during an attack on a bus on December 4 in Honduras, a country that suffers the world's highest murder rate. All 158 PCVs are safe and accounted for and will participate in a conference in January before returning to the US on administrative leave as Peace Corps announced on December 21 that the agency will review the safety and security climate in Honduras before continuing with volunteer operations. El Salvador and Guatemala are also being monitored.

The "Sharp Incident" in Kazakhstan Date: December 28 2011 No: 1567 The "Sharp Incident" in Kazakhstan
After Peace Corps' decision to suspend their program in Kazakhstan new information from US diplomatic cables cites elements in the Kazakhstani "pro-Russian old-guard at the Committee for National Security (the KNB, successor to the KGB) that aimed at discrediting the Peace Corps and damaging bilateral relations" with the US. Read how one Peace Corps volunteer was sentenced to two years imprisonment in 2009 after "what appeared to be a classic Soviet-style set-up."

Peasants Come Last Date: October 23 2011 No: 1564 Peasants Come Last
Bureaucracy in Peace Corps Washington is like the dark side of the moon - everybody knows it's there but who knew there was so much of it. Read three excerpts from former Uganda Country Director J. Larry Brown's book "Peasants Come Last" about Peace Corps' bloated bureaucracy in Washington, why three Country Directors in the Africa region were fired in the final days of the Bush administration by Acting Director Jody Olsen, and Brown's ideas on the future of the Peace Corps.

Oct 10, 2011: 50 Years of Peace Corps Leadership Date: October 10 2011 No: 1555 Oct 10, 2011: 50 Years of Peace Corps Leadership
Fifty Years of Peace Corps Leadership 10 Oct
John Coyne writes: Watching the Peace Corps Hearings 6 Oct
Peace Corps to Re-Open Tunisia Program 7 Oct
Ralph Bolton founded Chijnaya Foundation 7 Oct
Gordon Radley Fulfills Pledge to Fallen Brother 6 Oct
Hazle Shorter Delivered Babies in Malawi 6 Oct
Chuck Ludlam Opposes Peace Corps Monument 4 Oct
Chris Shays Announces Senate Run 4 Oct
Foreign Aid to Take a Hit in US Budget Crisis 3 Oct
Ron Peters was PCV in Philippines I 2 Oct
Taylor Dibbert writes: PC Safety Claims Mostly Baseless 29 Sep
Senate Passes PC Whisteblower Bill 27 Sep
RPCVs Gather at Arlington National Cemetery 26 Sep
Rhoda Brooks is Pioneer Peace Corps Writer 26 Sep
Robert Ford is America's Man in Syria 25 Sep
Ambassador Kathleen Stephens Departs Korea 25 Sep
Gene Cretz is US Ambassador to Libya 23 Sep
Adam Klein Returns to Mali to Record Album 22 Sep
PC Donates Artifacts to American History Museum 21 Sep
Jennifer Monahan designed and built classrooms 21 Sep
Bill Bull was CD in Madagascar Liberia and Kenya 21 Sep
MacArthur Winner Peter Hessler to Study Arabic in Egypt 20 Sep
David Whitman Directs "Technology Benefiting Humanity" 19 Sep

Congressional Hearings on Sexual Assault Date: June 3 2011 No: 1523 Congressional Hearings on Sexual Assault
Congress held hearings on the sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers. Read the testimony of RPCVs on how the problem is still ongoing, and not limited to any particular country or region. Director Williams says that "it has become apparent to me that the Peace Corps has not always been sufficiently responsive or sensitive to victims of crime and their families. I sincerely regret that." Read what the Peace Corps is doing to address the issue. Latest: Background on sexual assault of PCVs.

Peace Corps: The Next Fifty Years Date: March 8 2011 No: 1513 Peace Corps: The Next Fifty Years
As we move into the Peace Corps' second fifty years, what single improvement would most benefit the mission of the Peace Corps? Read our op-ed about the creation of a private charitable non-profit corporation, independent of the US government, whose focus would be to provide support and funding for third goal activities. Returned Volunteers need President Obama to support the enabling legislation, already written and vetted, to create the Peace Corps Foundation. RPCVs will do the rest.

Join Us Mr. President! Date: June 26 2009 No: 1380 Join Us Mr. President!
"We will double the size of the Peace Corps by its 50th anniversary in 2011. And we'll reach out to other nations to engage their young people in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity," said Barack Obama during his campaign. Returned Volunteers rally and and march to the White House to support a bold new Peace Corps for a new age. Latest: Senator Dodd introduces Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009 .



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: Peace Corps Press Release

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Korea; Obituaries; Staff; Directors

PCOL47658
33


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.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: