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Past Directors

  • R. Sargent Shriver

    R. Sargent Shriver

    Appointed by: President Kennedy

    March 22, 1961 – February 28, 1966

    On March 1, 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. Three days later, Shriver became its first director. Deployment was rapid: Volunteers arrived in five countries during 1961. In just under six years, Shriver developed programs in 55 countries with more than 14,500 Volunteers.

  • Jack Vaughn

    Jack Vaughn

    Appointed by: President Johnson

    March 1, 1966 – April 30, 1969

    Vaughn took steps to improve Peace Corps marketing, programming, and Volunteer support as large numbers of returned Volunteers joined the Peace Corps staff. He also promoted Volunteer assignments in conservation, natural resource management, and community development.

  • Joseph Blatchford

    Joseph Blatchford

    Appointed by: President Nixon

    May 1, 1969 – July 1, 1971

    Blatchford served as head of the new ACTION agency, which encompassed U.S. domestic and foreign volunteer service programs including the Peace Corps. He created the Office of Returned Volunteers to help Volunteers serve in their communities at home, and initiated New Directions, a program emphasizing Volunteer skills.

  • Kevin O'Donnell

    Kevin O'Donnell

    Appointed by: President Nixon

    July 1, 1971 – September 30, 1972

    O'Donnell's appointment was the first for a former country director (Korea, 1966-70). He worked tirelessly to save the Peace Corps from budget cuts. He believed strongly in a non-career Peace Corps and resigned as director exactly six years after first joining the Peace Corps.

  • Donald Hess

    Donald Hess

    Appointed by: President Nixon

    August 11, 1972 – September 30, 1973

    Hess initiated training of Volunteers in the host country where they would eventually serve. With this came the greater utilization of host country nationals in the training programs. The training provided more realistic preparation, and costs dropped for the agency. Hess also sought to end the down-sizing of the Peace Corps.

  • Craw Hess

    Nick Craw

    Appointed by: President Nixon

    October 1, 1973 – September 1, 1974

    Craw sought to increase the number of Volunteers in the field and to stabilize the agency's future. He introduced a goal-setting measurement plan, the Country Management Plan, which gave a firm foundation for increased Congressional support and for improved resource allocation across all Peace Corps' countries.

  • John Dellenback

    John Dellenback

    Appointed by: President Ford

    April 28, 1975 – May 13,1977

    Dellenback worked to make the best possible health care available to Volunteers. He also placed great emphasis on recruiting generalists. He believed in taking committed applicants without specific development skills and providing concentrated training to prepare them for service.

  • Carolyn R. Payton

    Carolyn R. Payton

    Appointed by: President Carter

    October 11, 1977 – December 18, 1978

    Payton was the first female Director of the Peace Corps, and the first African American. As Director, she believed strongly in reflecting America's diversity in the corps of Volunteers and worked tirelessly to convince young people that Peace Corps service would enrich their lives.

  • Richard F. Celeste

    Richard F. Celeste

    Appointed by: President Carter

    April 27, 1979 – January 20, 1981

    Celeste focused on the role of women in development and was successful in involving women and minorities in the agency, particularly for staff positions. He invested heavily in training, including the development of a worldwide core curriculum, so that all Volunteers had a common context in which to work.

  • Loret Miller Ruppe

    Loret Miller Ruppe

    Appointed by: President Reagan

    May 6, 1981 – April 20, 1989

    Ruppe was the longest-serving Director and a champion of women in development. She launched the Competitive Enterprise Development program to promote business-oriented projects. She established the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the Initiative for Central America, and the African Food Systems Initiative to help address regional challenges.

  • Paul D. Coverdell

    Paul D. Coverdell

    Appointed by: President Bush

    April 20, 1989 – October 1, 1991

    Coverdell established two programs with a domestic focus. World Wise Schools enabled U.S. students to correspond with Volunteers serving overseas in an effort to promote international awareness and cross-cultural understanding. Fellows/USA assisted returned Volunteers in pursuing graduate studies while serving local communities in the U.S.

  • Elaine Chao

    Elaine Chao

    Appointed by: President Bush

    October 8, 1991 – November 13, 1992

    Chao was the first Asian American to serve as Director of the Peace Corps. She expanded the Peace Corps' presence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia by establishing the first Peace Corps programs Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and other newly independent countries.

  • Carol Bellamy

    Carol Bellamy

    Appointed by: President Clinton

    October 7, 1993 – May 1, 1995

    Bellamy was the first returned Volunteer (Guatemala 1963-65) to be confirmed by the Senate as Director of the Peace Corps.

  • Mark D. Gearan

    Mark D. Gearan

    Appointed by: President Clinton

    August 11, 1995 – August 11, 1999

    Gearan established the Crisis Corps, a program that allows returned Peace Corps Volunteers to help overseas communities recover from natural disasters and humanitarian crises. He supported expanding the corps of Volunteers and opened new Volunteer programs in South Africa, Jordan, Bangladesh, and Mozambique.

  • Mark L. Schneider

    Mark L. Schneider

    Appointed by: President Clinton

    December 23, 1999 – January 20, 2001

    Schneider was the second returned Volunteer (El Salvador, 1966-68) to head the agency. He launched an initiative to increase Volunteers' participation in helping prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and he also sought Volunteers to work on information technology projects to enhance development of overseas communities.

  • Gaddi H. Vasquez

    Gaddi H. Vasquez

    Appointed by: President George W. Bush

    January 23, 2002 – September 7, 2006

    The first Hispanic American director, Gaddi Vasquez focused on recruiting a more diversified Volunteer corps and oversaw a 30-year high in the number of Volunteers. He opened a historic program in Mexico, enhanced the worldwide safety and security systems, and initiated programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

  • Ronald A. Tschetter

    Ronald A. Tschetter

    Appointed by: President George W. Bush

    September 26, 2006 – January 16, 2009

    Tschetter is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served with his wife, Nancy, in India from 1966-1968 in community health. As Director, he focused on expanding the number of Peace Corps Volunteers age 50 plus, measuring success and impact of the agency, and promoting volunteerism.

  • Aaron S. Williams

    Aaron S. Williams

    Appointed by: President Barack Obama

    August 24, 2009 – September 17, 2012

    A returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970, Williams during his first year as Director, oversaw the historic re-opening of Peace Corps programs in Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia.  In recognition of the agency's 50th anniversary in 2011, Director Williams encouraged all Americans to consider being part of the Peace Corps' legacy of public service and benefit from its life-defining leadership experience.

Last updated Nov 20 2013

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