Comprehensive Agency Assessment June 2010 Part III Background and Assessment Methodology
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==III. BACKGROUND AND ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY==
==III. BACKGROUND AND ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY==
Latest revision as of 18:13, 25 June 2010
United States Peace Corps
|Intro:||Table of Contents and Acronyms|
|Part I:||Executive Summary|
|Part III:||Background and Assessment Methodology|
|Part IV:||Adjusting Volunteer Placement|
|Part V:||Strengthening Management and Independent Evaluation and Oversight|
|Part VI:||Improving the Recruitment and Selection Process|
|Part VII:||Medical Care of Volunteers|
|Part VIII:||Training of Volunteers and Staff|
|Part IX:||Coordinating with International and Host Country Development Organizations|
|Part X:||Lowering Early Termination Rates|
|Independent Assessments & Reform Plans|
 III. BACKGROUND AND ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY
 A. THE PEACE CORPS – A BRIEF HISTORY
 A.1. Introduction
While times have changed since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, the agency’s mission—to promote world peace and friendship—has not. The three core goals of the Peace Corps are as relevant today as they were 49 years ago:
1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
The Peace Corps was initially established by President John F. Kennedy pursuant to Executive Order 10924 on March 1, 1961. The Peace Corps Act (Public Law 87-293) was enacted on September 22, 1961.4 See Appendices III-1 and III-2 for relevant Volunteer statistics and Appendix III -3 for a description of program activities carried out in these regions. Throughout its history, the Peace Corps has adapted and responded to the issues of the times. In an ever-changing world, Peace Corps Volunteers meet new challenges with innovation, creativity, determination, and compassion. Those qualities have allowed—and continue to allow—the Peace Corps to achieve its mission, whether by responding to recurring droughts and deteriorating conditions in Africa in the 1980s or assisting the peoples of the former Soviet Union in their transition to market-oriented democracies or, more recently, through Volunteer programs around the world that provide hope and meaningful assistance to people with HIV/AIDS. The Peace Corps accomplishes its mission and core goals by sharing the United States’ most precious resource—its people. Volunteers live and work in other cultures and make a significant impact on local communities at the grassroots level in the six main program areas that they work in. The close interaction between Peace Corps Volunteers and local host communities allows the Peace Corps to establish an admirable record of service that is recognized around the world. For nearly 50 years, Peace Corps Volunteers have helped build the path to progress through cooperation with people who want a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities. Today the Peace Corps operates in seventy-seven countries that are grouped into three regions: Africa (Africa Region); Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia (EMA Region); and Inter-America and Pacific (IAP Region). As shown in Figure II-1, by the end of FY 2010, the Peace Corps expects to have a minimum of 7,800 Volunteers serving in these countries4.
Peace Corps Volunteers work in six primary areas:
 A.2. Volunteer activities by program area
- Business development
- Health and HIV/AIDS
- Youth development
Health program Volunteers work to promote preventive health education and practices with an emphasis on overall health and well-being. The scope of these projects includes hygiene and sanitation; water systems development and enhancement; nutrition and food security; maternal and child health; reproductive health; communicable diseases; chronic illnesses; and healthy lifestyle and exercise decision making. Volunteers and their counterparts address these issues in a variety of ways, including formal classroom instruction from kindergarten to the university level and community-based activities that use radio, television, puppet shows, murals, etc.; educational and training materials development and distribution; training and technical support for health care providers, peer educators, teachers, and non-formal community health volunteers; and sessions using murals, theater, radio, television, and puppet shows. Volunteers working on environmental projects help strengthen a community’s ability to sustainably use natural resources. They work primarily at the grassroots level, focusing on human needs and sustainable alternatives. Environmental Volunteers, for example, identify and train local leaders so they can teach other farmers how to work in environmentally friendly ways to improve the productivity of their fields and gardens in sustainable ways. Volunteers also promote environmental clubs and eco-camps. At some posts, schools and communities are connected as parents and youth work together to identify joint projects, such as bottle recycling or community cleanup days. Volunteers are also making significant contributions to girls’ education and gender awareness. Around the world, Volunteers promote activities that help expand educational opportunities for females in both formal and informal settings. For example, Volunteers conduct summer leadership camps for girls, support community awareness of girls’ achievements and potential, encourage their participation in the classroom, establish safe environments for after-school study, and organize career fairs for women. Similarly, Volunteers are working with boys and men to explore gender roles, expectations, and opportunities in a rapidly changing world. A.2.c Education The business development sector includes four subsectors: community, municipal, business, and organizational development. Volunteers with a variety of business education and professional experiences are assigned to projects that focus on business, organizational, and communication skills in local government offices, nonprofit agencies, and for-profit businesses. Recently, the focus of work in this sector has shifted from business consulting to more community economic development, emphasizing income generation. In response to the needs of a global economy, the number of business Volunteers The Peace Corps’ agriculture projects are designed to promote environmentally sustainable farming practices. Along with Volunteers working in the environment sector, many agriculture Volunteers help farmers focus on long-term productivity by teaching them to maintain and improve soils and to manage water. They demonstrate the importance of working with local, natural inputs to control pests and erosion. Increasingly, Volunteers and their partners are promoting approaches to farming that are both sustainable and organic. Volunteers are also helping their host country communities mitigate the adverse effects of the global food security crisis. Volunteers systematically include women and youth in their agriculture-extension activities. A.2.a Agriculture A.2.b Business development continues to grow as efforts intensify to assist underserved communities and to expand opportunities for women and youth. Education remains the Peace Corps’ largest program sector. Education projects include team-teaching courses in math, science, health, environment, and civics or skills-based courses in English5 and literacy. Education Volunteers strengthen local capacity by training and mentoring teachers in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Based on the needs of host communities, Volunteers support programs for vulnerable, marginalized or other special-needs children. They create after-school programs, clubs, and camps for boys and girls to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and life skills. Education Volunteers also train teachers to expand learning opportunities through information and communications technology. A.2.d Environment A.2.e Health and HIV/AIDS 5 The fastest growing education program in the Peace Corps is English language training (Teaching English as a Foreign Language – TEFL).Health Education Response (HER), software developed by two Peace Corps Volunteers has revolutionized health education in Namibia. HER utilizes software designed to provide health information through mobile phone-based text messaging, permitting the program to operate throughout the country. 6 See Appendix III-4; Volunteers working in HIV/AIDS prevention by country. A.2.f Youth development Many Volunteers work to mitigate the devastating impact that malaria has on many communities, particularly young children. Volunteers fill a needed niche in carrying out grassroots community-based education and salient health education activities focused on malaria control. Health sector Volunteers, working alongside their counterparts, focus on malaria control through improving knowledge and behavior related to malaria transmission, underscoring the importance of intermittent presumptive treatment for prenatal care, and facilitating the distribution and utilization of insecticide treated nets. Many Volunteers focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and care exclusively or as part of a comprehensive community health project. Life skills training continues to be at the center of much of Volunteers’ HIV/AIDS prevention work, particularly when targeting youth. Increasingly, Volunteers are assigned to HIV/AIDS-related NGOs and assist in increasing the technical, managerial, and administrative capacities of such groups. Volunteers are uniquely suited to work in HIV/AIDS prevention because they live and work in local communities and can present information in culturally sensitive ways. The Peace Corps is collaborating with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator to support the U.S. government’s commitment to worldwide HIV/AIDS care, prevention, and treatment through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In 2009, Volunteers’ HIV/AIDS activities assisted more than 1,000,000 individuals, over 42,000 HIV/AIDS service providers, and nearly 3,100 organizations6. In water, sanitation, and hygiene, Volunteers help local people build, manage, and sustain their own water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Volunteers also promote hygienic behaviors, such as hand washing with soap, that reduce the incidence of diarrhea and pneumonia. Since the inception of the Peace Corps in 1961, Volunteers have had great success working with youth. Young people in a community are often the Volunteers’ first language coaches and cultural interpreters. In turn, young people value the opportunity to learn from Peace Corps Volunteers. In many of the countries in which the Peace Corps works, nearly 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25. Volunteers in the youth sector are guided by three key principles: promoting positive youth development, facilitating a greater level of youth participation, and approaching community development from an asset-based point of view. Volunteers and their partners integrate these approaches into stand-alone youth development projects and into projects that cross all program sectors. The Peace Corps’ approach to youth development supports effective, sustainable work with young people, their families, and their communities. Projects also aim to build the capacity of youth-serving organizations and of the host country professionals who work with young people. Critical issues affecting youth throughout the world include successfully making the
A literature review on the history of the Peace Corps was useful in helping the assessment team understand the successes as well as the failures during the last five decades. The assessment team also made a special point of identifying, reading and analyzing current articles and blogs that were critical of the Peace Corps. This literature review helped the assessment team focus on key areas of concern, but also led the team to two important conclusions: Most of the work carried out by Volunteers focuses directly on achieving the agency’s first goal: “To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.” However, it is through his or her work in Goal 1 activities, that Volunteers accomplish Goal 2, “To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served” while still in service; and Goal 3, “To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans”, upon completion of service.
 B. THE PEACE CORPS’ RELEVANCE IN TODAY’S WORLD
transition from school to work, developing relevant skills to prepare them for family life, and becoming engaged and active citizens in their communities. Volunteers are uniquely positioned to provide learning opportunities to girls and boys at the grassroots level. Volunteers also serve a valuable role in reaching special populations, such as children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, street children, and other vulnerable young people. Volunteers work with their counterparts to improve employment skills of disenfranchised and out-of-school young men and women, and provide support to youth to help them avoid drugs and prostitution. Many Volunteers serve as mentors for young people and as counterparts in youth service organizations. The Peace Corps is meeting the needs of millions of people who are among the poorest segments of the world’s population by providing assistance to host governments and partners in the creation of grassroots initiatives. It is precisely this grassroots focus that makes the Peace Corps unique and extremely relevant. No other program funded by the United States government directly influences the lives of so many of the world’s poor the way that the Peace Corps does, through the hard work and dedication of its Volunteers. The Peace Corps makes it possible for millions of the world’s disenfranchised to see the United States in a positive light—up close and personal. Equally as important, the agency manages to do this in more than seventy countries on a personal level in a very cost effective manner. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has remarked on several occasions that the United States seeks a safer, more prosperous, more democratic world and that development and democracy are two of the three broad areas that are equal in importance in achieving this. The Peace Corps contributes directly to the United States’ efforts in development and democracy, and it does this in a unique way—through people-to-people exchanges aimed at segments of the world’s populations that are otherwise ignored. This is the vision that President Kennedy first articulated fifty years ago, and it is even more relevant today. * While the Peace Corps has made mistakes over the years, the agency is constantly learning from the past and looking for ways to improve its operations. The ultimate goal is to increase both the impact and the cost effectiveness of its programs.
- The Peace Corps’ most ardent critics and proponents all agree on one important area – that the Peace Corps needs to focus on quality growth as it moves forward. The assessment team also echoes that sentiment, as does the Director of the agency and staff at all levels.
The agency was encouraged to grow in the early part of the decade and did receive adequate funding to support growth in FY 2002 through FY 2005. However, in FY 2005 the agency’s budget reached a plateau and then began to decline every year through FY 20097. Unfortunately, while funding was decreasing, from FY 2005 to FY 2007 the agency increased the number of Volunteers in the field, reaching 8,079 Volunteers in service on September 30, 2007. Supporting this increase in Volunteers during a period of declining budgets could only be accomplished by making funding cuts in other areas, many of which directly affected the quality of the Peace Corps’ operations. Funding constraints during those years resulted in reductions in Volunteer training, in-country support staff, headquarters support for the field, and even resulted in an announcement by agency headquarters discouraging third-year extensions for successful Volunteers. Funding constraints also led to reduced investments in necessary equipment and systems in the field and in headquarters, including important investments in technology and in improving the agency’s Volunteer recruiting and selection process.
 C. THE IMPACT OF FUNDING ON THE AGENCY’S OPERATIONS
The assessment team believes that the agency can continue to increase its effectiveness as it concentrates its efforts in a greatly reduced number of intervention areas while at the same time providing Volunteers with increased levels of training that will allow them to be more effective. By focusing on quality, the agency will be able to increase the impact of its programs. Figure III-2 below, shows the number of Volunteers at the end of each fiscal year as well as annual funding levels for the Peace Corps adjusted for inflation. After adjusting for inflation, it is interesting to note that funding for the agency increased at a real annual rate of 2.2% from FY 2001 through FY 2010. The inflation adjusted annual growth rate in funding for the agency from FY 2001 through FY 2009 was only 0.3%.
Figure III-2 illustrates the context of the challenges the agency has faced in the last ten years.
- Although funding began to decrease in 2006, the agency, which had been planning for steady growth, did not reduce Volunteer levels immediately. It was another two years before the agency began reducing Volunteer levels.
- Funding decreases at a time when the agency maintained and even grew Volunteer levels led to significant strains on the organization that resulted in cost-cutting measures that directly affected Volunteers and their ability to perform their service (reductions in training times, post staffing levels, travel budgets, etc.).
- The increase in funding for FY 2010 brings funding to a level which is consistent with the current level of Volunteers. The FY 2010 budget has already resulted in significant investments required to strengthen and prepare the agency for growth in FY 2011 and beyond after years of operating with reduced budgets. These investments, plus additional investments in 2011 will pave the way for significant, quality growth in future years as long as funding keeps pace with growth targets.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-117) enacted on December 16, 2009 provided the Peace Corps with the largest year-to-year funding increase in more than a decade. It also included a provision requiring the Director of the Peace Corps to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations on the findings of a comprehensive assessment as well as recommendations in seven specific areas: D.1. Introduction Unfortunately, funding levels have not been consistent in the past. The reality is that the agency has experienced growth spurts that are then followed by funding reductions that have severely damaged operations. In the past decade, Peace Corps staff and Volunteers have received guidance to grow in one year that was then reversed the next year due to a decline in appropriations. As was the case in FY 2006 through FY 2009, this prompted the discouragement of third-year tours by Volunteers and a reduction in training and staff support for all Volunteers. This in turn cut short the aspirations of many service-oriented Americans and has possibly harmed relations with host countries. As Figure III-2 shows, the funding gap began in FY 2003 when increases in Volunteer placements outpaced increases in annual appropriations, and the gap became critical from FY 2006 through FY 2009 as annual appropriations in real terms declined. One of the challenges faced by the agency concerning the allocation of resources is that while funding for the agency is determined annually, most of the agency’s operations are medium and long term in nature. For example, while Volunteers serve for twenty-seven months, the process of recruiting, and placing Volunteers increases the overall Volunteer cycle to more than three years. The time it takes from the decision to enter a new country until the time a new program can be established and is fully functional is also a multiyear process. Furthermore, the large investment that goes into establishing a new program in a country can only be justified if the agency plans to stay in that country for at least ten years. For reasons other than the safety and security of Volunteers, closing down a program in a country is a multiyear process.
 D. THE AGENCY-WIDE ASSESSMENT
During his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Peace Corps Director spoke of his intention to carry out an agency-wide assessment of the Peace Corps as a means of strengthening, reforming, and growing the agency. The Director felt that with increased resources and a desire to strengthen operations and grow, the agency-wide assessment would serve as a valuable tool for the agency to better articulate a strategic vision for the Peace Corps for the next ten years. # Improving the recruitment and selection process to attract a wide diversity of highly and appropriately skilled volunteers;
- Training and medical care for volunteers and staff;
- Adjusting Volunteer placement to reflect priority United States interests, country needs and commitment to shared goals, and volunteer skills;
- Coordinating with international and host country development assistance organizations;
- Lowering early termination rates;
- Strengthening management and independent evaluation and oversight; and,
- Any other steps needed to ensure the effective use of resources and Volunteers, and to prepare for and implement an appropriate expansion of the Peace Corps.
The three regions held five-day country director conferences during the first quarter of FY 2010. This was followed by the first worldwide program training officer conference in more than a decade in which all posts sent a program training officer to Washington, D.C. during the second quarter of FY 2010 for a one week conference. At each of these conferences, the participants analyzed the issues that most affect the agency’s ability to achieve quality growth and made specific recommendations to achieve this goal. Recommendations from the three conferences were provided to the assessment team. Assessment team The assessment team conducted an extensive outreach effort with currently serving Volunteers, the Peace Corps’ staff members serving overseas, and with the broader returned Peace Corps Volunteer community. Early on in the assessment process, and at the request of the assessment team, the Director of the agency sent out a communication to all country directors explaining the reasons behind the agency assessment and soliciting input from them and their staff. An e-mail address was created for this purpose ([email protected]), and 31 overseas posts provided input through this mechanism. A similar process was used to reach out to current Peace Corps Volunteers. In this case, country directors were asked to forward a memorandum from the assessment team to their respective Volunteer Advisory Committees soliciting input on the assessment topics. The assessment team received input from 24 Volunteer Advisory Committees. Finally, the assessment team used a similar procedure to reach out to the larger returned Peace Corps Volunteer community. The assessment team randomly asked for input from thirty of the 132 Peace Corps affinity groups throughout the United States and received input from fourteen. The assessment team relied heavily on the Annual Volunteer Surveys8 that are conducted by the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning (OSIRP). The most recent of these surveys was conducted in 2009. OSIRP staff also prepared an analysis of survey results from 2006, 2008, and 2009 that was useful in analyzing trends in response to specific questions. OSIRP staff members were able to run additional analysis on the survey results as requested. D.2.c Surveys and other outreach tools Members of the assessment team conducted more than 100 meetings and interviews to gather information and different points of view on the topics covered in the assessment. The bulk of these meetings were Team members spent the first few weeks reading and analyzing background documents, including previous studies on the assessment topics, Volunteer and returned Volunteer surveys and comments, articles and editorials, Internet blogs and other information sources internal and external to the agency. Team members also sought out and analyzed documents that criticized or suggested changes in the way the agency conducts its operations to ensure that they received as many points of view as possible. All of the major documents consulted are shown in Appendix III-5. The agency assessment was carried out over the five months from January through May of 2010. The methodology used by the team in gathering and analyzing data, reviewing findings, developing recommendations, and drafting and reviewing this document is discussed below. The Director also asked the assessment team to address how the agency can best strengthen third goal activities and agency reporting mechanisms.
 D.2. Methodology =D.2.a Review of written documents D.2.b Internal and external interview, discussion and presentation meetings conducted with current and former Peace Corps staff, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and currently serving Volunteers. Additional meetings were held with members of Congress to better understand specific concerns and issues related to the Peace Corps. Almost all of these meetings were in person, however, some telephone interviews were conducted when face-to-face meetings were not possible. To broaden the assessment team’s outreach efforts, a number of other tools were used by the team to solicit input. For example, to gather up-to-date information on the Volunteer recruiting, selection, and placement process, the assessment team designed and administered a survey. This survey was administered to more than 300 new trainees in the United States at their pre-departure orientation. The team also used the National Peace Corps Association survey conducted in October of 2009 on its members. Approximately 4,500 current and returned Volunteers responded to this survey. The association was able to provide additional information on this survey when requested that was very useful in analyzing some of the areas covered in the assessment.
Shortly after the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2009, the Director of the agency appointed the members of the assessment team. The assessment team consisted of five full-time members in addition to the team coordinator. As requested by the Director, two of the assessment team members were external specialists brought in to provide additional points of view. Assessment team members were: Once the assessment team had completed and reviewed a draft of the report, the draft was circulated to all members of the agency assessment advisory committee for review and comment. This generated additional input and validated the findings and recommendations of the report. At different points throughout the assessment, the assessment team coordinated planning sessions with key agency managers and members of the agency assessment advisory committee. These sessions were especially valuable in discussing, developing, and validating some key points and recommendations made by the assessment team. These planning sessions also helped to generate support for key recommendations made by the team, insuring their prompt implementation. The growth task force was created by the Director during the first quarter of FY 2010. This group was asked to identify innovative strategies to facilitate the agency’s goal for quality growth. The growth task force also analyzed existing policies to determine possible constraints to growth. Twelve task force subgroups were formed to research and develop recommendations in key areas, including Volunteer recruitment and placement, training, medical care and partnerships. This task force met weekly for three months and presented their findings to the Director in April 2010. Assessment team members participated in task force subgroups and found these meetings to be a useful forum for exploring new ideas. The assessment team relied on working group meetings as a way to keep all members apprised of the activities carried out by individuals on the team. In these meetings, assessment team members also discussed and refined all of the major topic areas, as well as the conclusions and recommendations presented in this report. These working group meetings were held throughout the study period and at times included members from the agency assessment advisory committee9 or other individuals who were relevant to the topic being discussed. These working group meetings—similar to a peer review process in other applications—were particularly useful in reviewing draft chapters of the assessment. members also participated in the program and training officer conference and explored specific issues related to the assessment. D.2.e Working group meetings D.2.f The growth task force D.2.g Planning sessions with key agency managers D.2.h Final review of the agency assessment report D.3. The assessment team 9 An advisory committee was created to provide direction and guidance in the design and implementation of the assessment and the review of the final report (see section D.4).
Before his time with the Peace Corps, Mr. Goodson served as field manager for an environmental group in Alaska. He holds a B.A. in public policy from Duke University. Ms. Blackburn holds an M.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and a B.A. from Colby College. In addition to her work with the Peace Corps, Ms. Minutillo has an extensive background in public service and international development. She did volunteer work in Guatemala in a community-based infant nutrition project, and she was a faculty member in the College of Health Sciences in the Kingdom of Bahrain where she co-chaired a project to extend primary health care services to small villages. Her international work also includes extensive experience in teaching and training teachers of English as a second language in levels from kindergarten to university. During her six-year tenure at the Department of State as Director of the Family Liaison Office, she championed educational services for children with learning disabilities and support and training for foreign service families. Maryann Minutillo: Ms. Minutillo served as the coordinator for the assessment team and is also senior advisor in the Office of the Director of the Peace Corps. In this capacity she chairs the policy review board and directs the Peace Corps’ Internal Management Assessment program aimed at strengthening the Peace Corps’ operations worldwide. Prior to this position, Ms. Minutillo was chief of operations and acting regional director for the Inter-America & Pacific region. Before joining the headquarters staff, Ms. Minutillo served as country director for the Peace Corps in Bolivia. Megan Blackburn: Ms. Blackburn has worked for the Peace Corps since December 2007. She is a program analyst in the Office of Overseas Executive Selection and Support focusing on the recruitment and selection of country directors. Prior to coming to the Peace Corps, Ms. Blackburn worked as a policy analyst at the HELP Commission—a Congressional commission—researching U.S. foreign assistance programs and helping compile its final report. Her first job was working for Senator Chuck Hagel as a personal assistant. She has interned at the Chilean American Chamber of Commerce in Santiago and at the United States Agency for International Development (I). Ken Goodson: Ken Goodson has more than 13 years of experience with the Peace Corps. Mr. Goodson first served with the agency as a Volunteer in Bolivia. He then served as a Volunteer coordinator and later as a technical trainer in Bolivia before becoming associate country director in Belize where he led two projects and assisted the redesign of the Peace Corps’ training in that country. Mr. Goodson then returned to the Andes to work as part of the two-person startup team tasked to re-establish the Peace Corps’ program in Peru, where he developed and initiated all of Peace Corps Peru’s initial programs and trained staff to take over the projects he initiated. This was followed by a move to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, as country director. Following the tour in Mongolia, Mr. Goodson moved to Romania to serve as country director. Jean Lujan: Jean Lujan is an attorney, recently retired from the Department of Justice. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern Chile from 1965-1967. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she returned to Ann Arbor for a semester before moving to coastal Maine. In 1970, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she taught English as a second language to adults from Latin America. She attended law school at Catholic University and joined the Department of Justice in 1975. She spent approximately 18 years in different offices at the Department of Justice related to immigration, specializing in refugee and asylum issues. She took two leaves of absence from the Department of Justice to work for the Peace Corps, first as co-country director in Costa Rica (1980-1983), and most recently as country director for Panama (2002-2005).
D.5.The independent review process An advisory committee provided direction and guidance in the design and implementation of the assessment and the review of the final report. The advisory committee was chaired by the Director of the agency and included the following members: Mr. Torres holds a BA in finance from Babson College and a M.S.M in international business from the Hult International Business School (formerly the Arthur D. Little Management Education Institute). Dr. Schmidt holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley; Master’s degrees in psychology from California State University in San Francisco and business administration from Pepperdine University; and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Diana Schmidt: Dr. Diana Schmidt and her husband became Peace Corps Volunteers in 2000 and served in Ukraine. After completing her service, Dr. Schmidt became the deputy director and program and training officer in Ukraine. Then in 2004, she became country director in Macedonia. She was country director in Ukraine in 2006 and served there until 2010 when she returned to the Peace Corps’ headquarters as a roving country director. In addition to her government service, Ms. Lujan has experience in the private sector. From 1987 to 1998, she owned and managed Heller’s bakery in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and Avignon Freres restaurant in Adams Morgan. Prior to the Peace Corps, Dr. Schmidt co-founded an ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, Ista Pharmaceuticals, in 1991. As vice president of development and its chief operating officer, she traveled the world setting up clinical trials and managing subsidiaries. Dr. Schmidt worked in various senior management positions with Allergan Pharmaceuticals for ten years before Ista. Earlier in her career, Dr. Schmidt was a professor and department head at Pepperdine University in California, and she taught at various University of California campuses. Carlos Torres: Mr. Torres is the founder and former president of I Corporation, a company specializing in international consulting, focusing primarily on issues relating to economic development. Mr. Torres has more than thirty years of international business experience. He has primarily worked in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. His areas of expertise are in international business development, strategic planning, trade and investment, and micro-banking. D.4. The agency assessment advisory committee Esther Benjamin, associate director for the Office Global Operations Suzie Carroll, deputy director of the Office of Congressional Relations Elisa Montoya, White House liaison and senior advisor to the Director Stacy Rhodes, chief of staff Kathy Rulon, senior adviser to the Chief of Staff Carl Sosebee, General Counsel Cathryn Thorup, director of the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning In response to the request by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 joint report to involve external specialists in the review process, the Director also created an independent panel to review the work of the Ambassador James Joseph: Ambassador Joseph was the former United States Ambassador to South Africa and currently is the Professor of Leadership & Ethics at Duke University and University of Cape Town. He is also the chairman of the board of the Louisiana Recovery Foundation. assessment team. The Director chose two individuals to provide independent comments and critiques aimed at strengthening the agency-wide assessment: William Lane: Mr. Lane is the vice president of government affairs for Caterpillar Corp. and is a former member of the HELP Commission—Commission on Helping to Enhance the Livelihood of People Around the Globe—a presidential committee examining the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid. The commission report was released in December 2007.
In analyzing the decision-making process on country selection, Volunteer placement and resource allocation among countries, the assessment team looked at three related issues: The assessment team found evidence that the agency takes great care to ensure that its programs reflect the development priorities of the countries in which Volunteers serve, complement the priorities of the United States and leverage the traditional strengths of the Peace Corps. The United States has many strategic priorities that perhaps are most congruent with the Peace Corps’ priorities in the development arena. Interventions in HIV/AIDS, food security, safe water, climate change, basic education, and women’s empowerment are all of strategic interest to the United States and are also compatible with the Peace Corps core expertise. Achievement of the Peace Corps’ mission and three goals is meant to guide decisions on where the agency establishes a presence, the number of Volunteers in each country, and the capacity in which Volunteers serve (Volunteer Placement). However, when the assessment team began to research how the agency makes decisions on Volunteer placement, it found little in the way of written procedures. Documentation regarding past decisions was also lacking.