Outstanding Peace Corps Leaders Honored with Kennedy Service Awards
March 4, 2006BOSTON, March 4, 2006 In celebration of the Peace Corps' 45th anniversary, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez has presented the first-ever John F. Kennedy Service Awards to six recipients who have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership in fulfilling the Peace Corps' mission.
Established in honor of 45 years of Peace Corps service to the global community, the awards are to be given every five years to six notable individuals: two current volunteers, two returned volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members who help further the agency's goals and mission through their commitment to world peace and friendship.
"The John F. Kennedy Service Awards is an opportunity to recognize a few of the many people who go beyond the call of duty for the Peace Corps, both in the United States and in countries where Peace Corps serves. I know their contributions will leave a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of those whose lives they have touched, and I look forward to seeing the legacy of their accomplishments well into the future," Director Vasquez said.
Peace Corps volunteers Scott Overdyke and Barbara Schlieper, Peace Corps staff members William Bull and Munkhjin Tsogt, and returned Peace Corps volunteers Tony Gasbarro and Roland Foulkes were presented the Kennedy Service Awards.
The two recipients in the "Currently Serving Volunteers" category demonstrated impact, sustainability and creativity in implementing their projects. The two recipients in the "Returned Volunteers" category demonstrated continued domestic or international service in their communities while assisting with Peace Corps sponsored programs or projects. Finally, the two recipients in the "Peace Corps Staff" category demonstrated inspiration, leadership, and above-and-beyond support to volunteers in the field.
Peace Corps volunteer Scott Overdyke is playing an integral role defining, organizing, and implementing an indigenous coffee program in one of the most impoverished communities of Panama. Scott has brought hope to those in his community by linking traditionally disenfranchised coffee farmers with local and national coffee associations and buyers. The small coffee producers he supports are gradually adopting improved farming techniques and business skills while gaining the confidence and ability to enter the growing high-quality specialty coffee market in Panama. Through it all, Scott has been embraced by the people of his community as he works in both Spanish and Ngabere languages. Along with his coffee work, he has participated in several workshops promoting improved health practices and is currently facilitating a latrine project in coordination with various Panamanian agencies. Scott's quiet confidence, leadership, and strength of character have enabled him to make a real difference in his service. Scott is from Houston, Texas and has a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Vanderbilt University.
Barbara Schlieper has had a genuine impact on the development of the Teaching English as a Foreign Language project for Peace Corps/Ukraine. She has worked as a teacher trainer in one of Ukraine's teacher training institutes, where she has facilitated and presented seminars, workshops, and conferences to hundreds of regional English teachers who otherwise may not have had exposure to contemporary teaching methods or a native English speaker. Barbara also created the Institute Resource Center through a Partnership Program grant and helped the center acquire hundreds of textbooks and resource materials. Close to 250 teachers have participated in her teaching recertification courses, and she took the lead in gathering her seminar materials into a manual for secondary school teachers to enable her to reach even more teachers. Barbara embraces the best features of Peace Corps volunteerism-cheerful optimism,ven more teachers. Barbara embraces the best features of Peace Corps volunteerism-cheerful optimism, altruism, deep respect for a different culture, and hard work all aimed at serving people fully and conscientiously. Barbara is from Vashon, Wash., and has a degree from Stanford University.
Madagascar Country Director William Bill Bull has devoted nearly 20 years to Peace Corps service, often through difficult times and at challenging posts. His service began as a volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1985 to 1989, where he worked with farmers to increase their rice production four-fold. Bill then went on to help train more than 500 Peace Corps volunteers for service in nearly 20 countries, ranging from Morocco to Senegal and from Dominica to Tunisia. As associate Peace Corps director in Gabon, Bill helped revitalize the rural development program. In Madagascar, Bill provided strong support during a political crisis and ensuing volunteer evacuation. He helped reestablish the program in Madagascar and his strong and caring leadership as country director has led to the post having one of the Peace Corps highest extension rates and lowest early termination rates for volunteers. Bill is from Cuttingville, Vt. He has a bachelors degree in international development from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and a master gardener certificate from the University of Vermont.
Peace Corps staff member Munkhjin Tsogt was instrumental in developing Peace Corps/Mongolia's youth development project and currently serves as the program's assistant. A champion for policy change and for children's rights, Munkhjin provides extensive support for not only community and youth development volunteers, but for all volunteers. She has identified potential Mongolian agencies for youth development and continues to provide on-the-job technical and programming support to them. She also provides translation services for volunteers, Peace Corps events, and meetings with government officials, agency counterparts, and supervisors. She trains counterparts and youth development workers on life skills and conducts trainings of trainers for life skills workshops. She also organized a networking fair for volunteers to increase their visibility with development agencies and co-founded the "Safe Migration" educational program, which helps volunteers in all sectors take preventive measures in their communities against the growing problem of human trafficking. She is a citizen of Mongolia.
Tony Gasbarro served as a Peace Corps volunteer both in the Dominican Republic from 1962 to 1964 and in El Salvador from 1996 to 1998. Upon his return from El Salvador, Tony looked for ways to continue helping Salvadorans and to promote cross-cultural understanding. He has been returning to El Salvador twice each year since 1998 as a board member of Project Salvador, a Denver-based non-profit organization involved in community development in El Salvador. Tony has raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide scholarships for nearly 200 Salvadoran youth so they can attend high school and college. He has recently helped start a vision screening program for children with the help of an Alaska ophthalmologist, a U.S. Lions Club, and a Salvadoran Lions Club. In addition, with Tonys help the University of Alaska-Fairbanks became part of the Peace Corps' Master's International program in 2004. He subsequently volunteered to be the program's campus coordinator. A tireless promoter of Peace Corps service, Tony was one of the founding members of the Northern Alaska Peace Corps Friends group. He has given more than 300 presentations about the Peace Corps to students from elementary school through the university level, and to service groups and professional organizations. Currently Tony is co-teaching a graduate seminar in internatiroups and professional organizations. Currently Tony is co-teaching a graduate seminar in international development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, from which he also has a degree.
From his service as a primary health care volunteer in Ghana from 1982 to 1984 to his work combating HIV/AIDS in the United States to his efforts to bring cross-cultural curricula to the nation's sixth largest school district in Broward County, Fla., Roland has demonstrated both his servant leadership and social entrepreneurship. In Broward County, he created and currently leads the "One Broward" initiative to make real the vision found in our nation's motto "E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One People. Accordingly, this widely accepted initiative led the county the first in the nation to introduce World Wise Schools' "Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding" and related materials into its curriculum, empowering students with the tools needed to move "One Broward" from concept to reality. Until December 2005, Roland chaired both the Florida HIV/AIDS Demonstration Grant Advisory Committee and the Broward Community HIV Prevention Planning Partnership. Roland earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in medical anthropology from Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively, is a National Science Foundation Scholar and Fulbright Fellow, and won awards for his teaching at Berkeley and the University of Florida. He is a resident of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.