|By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 14, 2001 - 10:58 am: Edit Post|
Elaine Chao, the former Peace Corps Director under the previous President Bush, who did not act on our request to add "sexual orientation" to Peace Corpsí Equal Employment Policy Statement, is back in the fray as Secretary of Labor.
-- Mike Learned, Editor
With all the big changes in Washington under way: the posturing of political positions, arguments about the confirmation of cabinet appointments, proclamations negating proclamations, and so on, itís easy to forget that dramatic changes are also occurring at mid-levels of government. Many of the top management jobs at Peace Corps are political appointments, and on Friday January 19 a lot of offices were swept clean.
Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider, who was finally confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate October 27 after a year as Acting Director, is gone. He was a supportive friend of the lesbian and gay members of the Peace Corps family. He had begun to meet regularly with the Peace Corps GLOBE organization, the gay and lesbian employee association. While not making commitments about the placement of same sex couples as volunteers, he did agree with many positions taken by GLOBE members including the importance of consistent diversity training for Peace Corps staff and volunteers that would include a sexual orientation component. He was ready to listen to our concerns. Perhaps his greatest contribution was instituting the HIV/AIDS Initiative last spring. This began the training of more than 2400 volunteers in Africa for HIV/AIDS prevention and education work in their communities. This was a major shift in Peace Corps service policy, and a significant commitment to meet a world-wide challenge.
In late 1999 our LGB RPCV organization worked with Peace Corpsí Partnership Program to initiate an HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education fund. We made the first financial donations to that fund, and have watched donations for Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education programs grow tremendously since. The establishment and the growth of the fund would not have occurred without the vision and skills of Vic Basile, Peace Corpsí Director of the Office of Private Sector Cooperation and International Volunteer (basically Peace Corpsí Development Director). As a political appointment of the Clinton administration Vic is also gone. His experience and activism will be so hard to replace. There are of course many other good people who are out the door and back on the job market. I mention Vic Basile and Mark Schneider because of the impact they had on our organization and goals, and our sisters and brothers throughout the Peace Corps family.
Familiar faces reappear. Elaine Chao, the former Peace Corps Director under the previous President Bush, who did not act on our request to add "sexual orientation" to Peace Corpsí Equal Employment Policy Statement, is back in the fray as Secretary of Labor. She is married to Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky who proposed early in the Clinton years that Peace Corpsí independence as an agency be taken away, and that it be placed under the administration of the State Department. Will that proposal rear its widely rejected head again? Senator McConnell, as one of the major opponents of campaign finance reform and a major supporter of the present President Bush, may have his hands full with this more current issue for the time being.
The Peace Corps budget of $265 million for 2001 is in place, a $21 million increase over last year. This supports the highest number of volunteers in 26 years. When President Clinton took office the volunteer count was down to 5000. There are now more than 7300. This budget allows progress toward a bipartisan growth goal of 10,000 volunteers world-wide. The new budget specifically addresses HIV Prevention and Education along with Technology and Environmental programs. Peace Corps has grown and thrived in the last eight years. This year marks Peace Corpsí 40th anniversary. Over this time 161,000 people have served in the Peace Corps in 134 different countries around the world. There is momentum that we hope continues.
Itís hard to know how the recent political changes will affect Peace Corps over the months and years ahead. Peace Corps has bipartisan support in Congress. There are former volunteers in positions of political and economic influence everywhere. The appointment of a new director may provide clues. There are lots of rumors out there, but no firm candidate appears to be in place. We will pay close attention to the changes ahead and keep you aware of what we learn.
Mike Learned served as a volunteer in Malawi . He can be reached at email@example.com
|By Anonymous (cpe-67-49-151-11.hawaii.res.rr.com - 220.127.116.11) on Wednesday, June 06, 2007 - 11:23 pm: Edit Post|
I do not have any degrees but I have an excellent education from Hanahauoli Elementry and Iolani High School. If I did I would be interested in Guinea-Bissau. I have not been to Africa for 16 years. Could I get a list of opportunities the peace corps has around the world for me.