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Monday, May 23, 2022

Outstanding Peace Corps Staff and Volunteers Honored with John F. Kennedy Service Awards

WASHINGTON – In a ceremony at the United States Institute of Peace, Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carol Spahn presented the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Service Awards to five exceptional Peace Corps staff and returned volunteers. The award, presented every five years, commemorates President Kennedy’s vision, leadership, and commitment to public service by recognizing members of the Peace Corps network who embody the spirit of service and help advance world peace and friendship. The event was attended by former Peace Corps directors, staff, members of the Peace Corps network, and returned volunteers.

“Peace Corps was built on the premise that peace is not the exclusive mandate of politicians and world leaders,” said Spahn. “It requires each and every one of us, day in and day out, deeply connecting as individuals to people and nations around the world and contributing our unique cultures, identities, skills and passions.”

The awards were given to two current or former Peace Corps staff members, two returned Peace Corps Response volunteers, and one returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV).

Complete List of JFK Service Award Winners

Peace Corps Staff

Roberto “Ambet” Yangco, Peace Corps/Philippines, 2002-present

Ambet Yangco’s efforts to support Peace Corps partner organizations and RPCVs—many of whom still see him as a mentor—have had life-changing impacts on volunteers and thousands of at-risk youth. His commitment to service has helped protect Filipino adolescents from homelessness, trafficking, violence and drugs, through education, work, and life skills development. Many of his program participants have been inspired by his dedication and pursued careers in social work as a result.

Ambet Yangco has been a member of the Peace Corps/Philippines staff for 20 years. First hired as a youth sector technical trainer, Yangco quickly moved up to regional program manager, then sector manager for the Community, Youth, and Family Program. During the pandemic, Yangco served as associate director of programming and training. A social worker by training, he began his career as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for the Children’s Laboratory Foundation in Manila. He then served as an educator in a shelter for homeless children and worked for World Vision as a community development officer.

Dr. Mamadou Diaw, Peace Corps/Senegal, 1993-2019

Dr. Mamadou Diaw was known at Peace Corps/Senegal as “The Dean” due to his longevity, diligence, wisdom and untiring effort. Over a quarter of a century, Diaw had an outsized impact on the service (and often the future professions) of more than 1,000 volunteers and approximately 3,200 communities in Senegal. He also influenced Peace Corps/Senegal’s programmatic direction and choices the Peace Corps made at a global level.

Dr. Mamadou Diaw joined the staff of Peace Corps/Senegal in 1983 as associate Peace Corps director (APCD) of Natural Resource Management. He managed agroforestry, environmental education, park and wildlife and ecotourism projects. From 1996 to 2001, he also served as the coordinator of the USAID-funded Community Training Center Program. In 2008, Mamadou become the senior APCD for Health and Environmental Education. He then received his Master of Science degree in Environmental Health from the University of Versailles in 2014 and, at the age of 62, received his PhD in Community Health from the University of Paris, Saclay.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Liz Fanning, Founder and Executive Director, CorpsAfrica

After working in service-related opportunities for a number of years, Liz founded CorpsAfrica in 2011 to give emerging African leaders the chance to serve like Peace Corps volunteers in their own countries. In the 10 years since, CorpsAfrica has hosted hundreds of volunteers to serve in rural areas of Morocco, Senegal, Malawi, and Rwanda and completed over 500 projects.

Liz Fanning served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, working as a parks, wildlife and environment educator. She established CorpsAfrica, after completing her Peace Corps service. With a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History from Boston University and a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Fanning’s career includes work with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Near East Foundation. In 2019, Fanning received the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service from the National Peace Corps Association. She is a 2021 AARP Purpose Prize Fellow.

Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteers

Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse, Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), Registered Nurse at the San Francisco Unified School District

Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse applies cultural competencies learned during her Peace Corps service to dispel false stereotypes and myths about healthcare abroad to educators in the San Francisco Unified School District where she has served as a school nurse since 2009. Her tireless commitment to her profession and cultural alignment in community-based health settings in the U.S. and abroad exemplify the spirit of the JFK Service Awards.

Evenhouse grew up in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1997. In 2020, she received her Doctor of Nursing Practice while serving as a full-time nurse for the San Francisco Unified School District. Besides volunteering in two health offices in the Philippines and with the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, Evenhouse served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea and Zambia and as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Guyana and Uganda.

Karla Y. Sierra, Master in Business Administration (MBA) Director at the LIBRE Initiative

Through Karla Sierra’s work at The LIBRE Initiative, a Hispanic advocacy organization in El Paso, Texas, she is involved in a variety of community initiatives and leads a team of staff and volunteers. She educates and empowers Hispanic community members’ voices in the political process and through financial literacy training, issue advocacy, and community service opportunities. Because El Paso is the largest border city in the United States with a steady influx of immigration from Mexico, Central, and South America, Sierra’s work has ripples which reach well beyond the border, impacting families and lives in several countries and promoting the goals of the Peace Corps.

Sierra graduated from Colorado Christian University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She received her MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso, after which she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Panama as a community economic development volunteer. She extended her service through Peace Corps Response and spent an additional year as a consultant. During her service, she created partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the UN’s Development Programme to reduce poverty, increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and assist in implementing sustainable projects.

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About the Peace Corps:  The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally-prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.