Dr. Josephine (Jody) K. Olsen
Dr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, PhD, MSW, was sworn into office as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps in March 2018.
Dr. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966-1968. She has since served the agency in multiple leadership positions—as Acting Director in 2009; Deputy Director from 2002-2009; Chief of Staff from 1989-1992; Regional Director, North Africa, Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981- 1984; and Country Director in Togo from 1979-1981.
Prior to returning to the Peace Corps in 2018, Dr. Olsen served as Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Social Work and Director of the University’s Center for Global Education Initiatives. She also oversaw health research projects in Malawi while teaching courses on international social work, global social policy, and global women and children’s health.
Dr. Olsen received a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah, and a master's degree in social work and a doctorate in human development from the University of Maryland.
Throughout her career, Dr. Olsen has championed the expansion of service, learning and international opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds.
Michelle K. Brooks
Chief of Staff
Michelle Brooks serves in the Office of the Director as Chief of Staff. For eight years prior to assuming her role, Michelle worked in the field of global health and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). She served for two years as the head of policy and advocacy in the U.S. for Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Centre, a UK-based NGO, and for six years as the policy director for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin). While at Sabin, she launched the NTD Special Envoy program with the former president of Ghana, was instrumental in securing NTDs in the UN’s 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and played a leading role in the formation of the German NTD Network.
From 2002 to 2009,
Michelle served at Peace Corps headquarters as our deputy
chief of staff and as director and deputy director of Congressional Relations. During
her tenure, Michelle worked to achieve record appropriation levels for the agency from FY 2005
to FY 2008, negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the German
Development Service (now part of GIZ), secured additional funds to allow Peace
Corps Response Volunteers to support tsunami relief efforts, and executed a
food security forum with nearly three-dozen representatives from the U.S.
government, private sector, and NGO community in response to the 2008 famine.
Before her work at the Peace Corps, Michelle was vice president of government relations for the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks and the director of communities for the Manufactured Housing Institute. She has extensive experience in advocacy, coalition building, management, and diplomacy.
Michelle grew up in Southern California, has a bachelor’s degree in international management from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and a passion for soccer.
The President of the United States appoints the Peace Corps Director and deputy director, and the appointments must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Read more about the past directors of the Peace Corps.
Initially established by President John F. Kennedy by Executive Order on March 1, 1961, the Peace Corps was formally authorized by the Congress on September 22, 1961, with passage of the Peace Corps Act.
The Peace Corps enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. Senators and representatives from both parties have served as Volunteers.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Committee on Foreign Affairs are charged with general oversight of the activities and programs of the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps' annual budget is determined each year by the congressional budget and appropriations process. Funding for the Peace Corps is included in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. Generally, the Peace Corps budget is about 1 percent of the foreign operations budget. The Peace Corps is continuously working to provide the highest quality support to Volunteers, particularly in the areas of health, safety, and security.