Peace Corps' 2005 Franklin H. Williams Awards Ceremony Honors Community Leaders
June 24, 2005WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2005 Eleven former Peace Corps volunteers from across the nation, now contributing domestically as community leaders, were recognized for their service on June 23 with the Franklin H. Williams Award at the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Established in 1999, the Franklin H. Williams Award pays tribute to returned Peace Corps volunteers of color who continue the Peace Corps mission through their commitment to community service, and who support the agencys third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. The award assumes the name of former Peace Corps Regional Director for Africa and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Franklin H. Williams. Ambassador Williams was instrumental in assisting the first Peace Corps Director, Sargent Shriver, in advancing the agencys mission across the globe.
This years keynote speaker was Wilbert Bryant, Counselor to the Secretary for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). In this role, Bryant is responsible for advising the Secretary of Education on ways to strengthen the nations HBCUs, and on ways to advance the opportunities for HBCUs to participate in federally supported programs. Bryant also serves as deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs for the Department of Education.
Leon Harris, anchor for local ABC affiliate WJLA and former CNN anchor, hosted the event as the master of ceremonies. Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen presented the 11 Franklin H. Williams Awards, in addition to the Directors Award, which recognizes an individual who has served the Peace Corps mission through a commitment to international development and cross-cultural understanding. This year's Director's Award went to Bryant.
Finalists for the Franklin H. Williams Award were selected by the 11 Peace Corps regional recruiting offices across the United States. The 2005 winners include:
In 1997 Christopher Aquino became one of the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve in South Africa. Aquino was stationed at a remote school districts office where he was responsible for assessing the structure of ten schools and implementing new initiatives for improvement. In his two years of work, Aquino organized management conferences for principals and teachers as well as personally lobbied the provincial head of the educational department for new resources and reforms.
Since completing his Peace Corps assignment, Aquino has held various positions in the community development sector. Soon after finishing his masters of business administration from E.M. Lyon in France, he accepted a community building position in his home state of Alaska with Nine Star, a non-profit group focused on helping people gain job skills and finding employment. In 2001, the State of Alaska Community-Based Suicide Prevention Program hired Aquino to manage a grant program for rural Alaskan communities in support of suicide prevention efforts. Using skills gained as a school and community resource volunteer in the Peace Corps, he worked with village project coordinators across the state providing training, support and technical assistance for Alaska Natives. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in organizational behavior and serving as a Project Management Consultant for United Way.
Ambassador Charles Baquet III
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Charles Baquet started in the Peace Corps as an English and social studies instructor in Somalia from 1965 to 1967. Teaching with few materials and living with no conveniences left little time for introspection, he said of the experience.
Although living conditions as a Peace Corps volunteer were primitive, Ambassador Baquet has been continuously involved with the agency and civil service since his return to the United States. After his Peacly involved with the agency and civil service since his return to the United States. After his Peace Corps tour in Somalia, he became a Foreign Service officer and was posted in Africa as U.S. Consul General in Cape Town, South Africa. He later served as U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti from 1991 to 1994. In 1994 he was nominated by President William Clinton for the position of Peace Corps Deputy Director. As deputy director, Ambassador Baquet promoted the Peace Corps at many top colleges and universities, including Xavier University in New Orleans, where he now serves as Director of International Programs. The Peace Corps is a people-to-people agency, he often tells his students, That's what real diplomacy is all about.
Stefan Cajina originally joined the Peace Corps to connect with his Nicaraguan roots. Cajina was placed in Honduras, neighboring Nicaragua, where he spent two years constructing water systems. The water projects taught me to appreciate my engineering education, but the Hondurans I worked with taught me about my family and myself, Cajina said. The project worked with small subsistence farming and fishing communities. Cajina acted as one of five project engineers constructing water systems to serve nearly 4,000 people. He also taught courses on topographic surveying, gave presentations on HIV/AIDS prevention and water issues, as well as worked on educational campaigns against cholera and dengue fever in connection with the Honduran Ministry of Health.
Cajina currently works for the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles, Calif. He also volunteers with Outward Bound Adventures which offers outdoor learning excursions for at-risk urban youth and teaches safety skills for backcountry travel through the Sierra Clubs Wilderness Travel Course. He is also active in the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, working to make bicycling a more feasible transportation option.
From 1982 to 1984 Roland Foulkes served in Ghana as a field coordinator, where he conducted healthcare training for indigenous healers. His job was to contact, interview and select traditional medical practitioners for training. He also served as a liaison with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Cooperatives and Rural Development, and Department of Community Development, among others.
In 1985, Foulkes published an article in the American Anthropological Associations Anthropology Newsletter outlining the needs for a National Association of Student Anthropologists. Through Foulkes leadership, his National Association of Student Anthropologists has become an international organization. In 1990, Roland became the first student, and first Black American student of African descent, to sit on the American Anthropological Associations Board of Directors. Later, Foulkes launched the One Broward initiative in Broward County, Fla., which brings together ethnically diverse groups to improve the community. He also convinced the county commissioners to designate January as Broward County Multi-Ethnic Community Month. In addition, Foulkes initiative helped bring the Paul Coverdell World Wise Schools Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding curriculum to Broward County teachers.
W. Frank Fountain
From 1966 to 1968 W. Frank Fountain accepted a Peace Corps assignment to West Bengal, India to assist farmers in implementing new techniques for yielding higher volumes of rice crops. In his second year in India, Fountain aided a local farmer in growing the largest harvest of rice ever produced in his district. He also collaborated with the local handicraft industry to develop new marketing plans to expand their consumer bases. At the end of his Peace Corps assignment, Fountain was selected to stay in India for an extra month to pinpoint work sites for impending Peace Corpsin was selected to stay in India for an extra month to pinpoint work sites for impending Peace Corps volunteers.
In 2004, Fountain was selected as senior vice president of external affairs and public policy of the Chrysler Group. He serves on numerous Boards of Directors, including: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Africare, Detroit Public Schools Board of Education, and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. Fountain holds a bachelors degree from Hampton University, a masters in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and an honorary doctorate from Central Michigan University. Regarding his Peace Corps service, Fountain once said, Most of the success that I have experienced throughout my career can be traced back to the intense, challenging, sometimes painful, but always inspiring experience in the two years in West Bengal, India.
Rajeev Goyal served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal from 2001 to 2003. His assignment was to manage the production, fundraising and construction of a clean water system for a community of 100 families. The result was a plan that is now being used as an outline for future water projects within Nepals Ministry of Science and Technology. The original system that Goyal produced is now owned by the local community and portions of the 40,000 liters of drinking water are sold to adjacent communities.
Following his return to the United States, Goyal pursued a law degree at New York University. As a law student, he initiated two lectures dealing with human rights abuses and womens rights in Nepals society, bringing awareness about Nepal to students and the greater community. Goyal is also the Nepal Project Manager, Secretary and East Coast Fundraiser for the Living Earth Institute of Seattle, Wash. Last January, Goyal organized a fundraiser that assemble 250 former Peace Corps volunteers, Nepalese Americans, and members of the public and raised over $13,500 for five drinking water projects in Eastern Nepal. To honor him for this achievement, Goyal was awarded a citation by the Borough President of Brooklyn for Outstanding Volunteerism. Recently, he was decorated with the America-Nepal Friendship Society Community Leadership Award.
David Jones served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya from 1990-1992, where he taught at a trade school training business owners and assisting in the education of community HIV/AIDS health workers. One of his chief accomplishments was his involvement with a womans group that constructed water jars. I think the daily interaction that I had with people was the most rewarding part of the experience, said Jones, There came a time, when I really felt like part of the community and part of the social development team in the office where I worked.
Jones now serves as the Director of the Shanti California Peer Educator Project, a San Francisco-based not-for-profit organization that provides support services to citizens living with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. He previously held positions as program director for training and technical assistance at Bailey House, Inc. and as an AmeriCorps assistant program officer at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. When I first told people that I was going into the Peace Corps, so many of them said that they could never give up two years of their life, he once told a Peace Corps staff member. But I didnt give up anything. I got so much out of Peace Corps. It truly changed my life.
Juanita Limas acted as a community health education volunteer in Nicaragua from 2000 to 2002. Among her many accomplishments as a Peace Corps volunteer was the formation of disaster preparedness groups. She also created and headed a girls group which served as a forum for the village girls to discuss coming of age issues. Limas agirls group which served as a forum for the village girls to discuss coming of age issues. Limas also planned fundraisers, using the proceeds to finance trips for the girls to visit neighboring villages and towns, giving many of them the opportunity to leave their birthplace for the first time.
Now back in the United States, Limas continues the Peace Corps tradition by volunteering at the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic, where she educates the staff about health problems in Central America. Limas also regularly discusses her Peace Corps experience with various community groups and schools, including the elementary school students where she teaches Spanish. She has also spoken at a high school forum on minority professionals, which she requested be held during Peace Corps week in order to link the two themes. During Peace Corps week this year she and two other former volunteers spoke about their experiences on a local radio program.
Charlotte Golar Richie
Charlotte Golar Richies spirit of activism was ignited as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya between 1981 and 1983. "After 25 years, I still value greatly my experience in the U.S. Peace Corps. During my two years in Kenya, I came to recognize how much I enjoyed working with people from different backgrounds and making improvements to the community. Little did I know how well my experience as a volunteer teacher in Kenya would serve me later in my work, she said.
In 1994 Richie was elected to office as a Massachusetts state representative, appointed House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing and Urban Development in 1996, and named Chief of Housing for the City of Boston and the Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development in 1999. Under her leadership, the Department of Neighborhood Development has increased its diversity with more women and more people of color in the workforce. She has secured funding for the construction of new schools and libraries, most notably a $100 million construction program to build new schools in Bostons most ethnically and socio-economically diverse neighborhoods. For her work in community development, Richie has received over fifteen awards from local and national organizations, such as the Womens Institute for Economic Development, Habitat for Humanity, YWCA, Mass Council of Human Service Providers and the Latino Health Institute. She is currently working towards a masters in business administration from Suffolk University.
As a Peace Corps volunteer working with a district hospital in Senegal from 1995 to 1997, Linda Robinson noted high levels of albinism in her travels around the country educating people on malaria, AIDS, and cholera prevention, along with family planning, breastfeeding promotion, and nutrition education. Her interest in this condition led to the organization of LAssociation Nationale des Albinos du Senegal (LANAS). The seminar initiated by this association, entitled A Day in the Life of an Albino, resulted in a land donation to LANAS by the mayor of Thies, Senegal. With Robinsons help, a community center to provide literary classes and health services to children with albinism was constructed on the donated land, bearing the name Robinson House Center for Albinos. For her work in Senegal, Robinson has been featured in AARP magazine, Fifty magazine and has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Since returning to Maryland, Robinson has continued her role as a public servant. She formed Friends of LANAS, a committee that collects donations, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses for LANAS. Recently, she completed training so she can assist the new Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. She is also active in her neighborhood organization, the Mt. Holly Community Association, and writes for her church magazine quarterly, Empowering Disciples. Robinson also gives taciation, and writes for her church magazine quarterly, Empowering Disciples. Robinson also gives talks in her community about her Peace Corps experience to people of all ages and is currently organizing a tour group to visit Senegal in November 2005.
Jay Shah served in the Peace Corps in Nepal from 2000 to 2002 where his primary assignment was to instruct third through sixth graders in English, math and the creative arts. Additionally, Shah often stepped beyond the boundaries of the classroom by working with local teachers in developing new curricula, tutoring students and their family members, and serving as a mentor for local youth.
Upon completion of his Peace Corps service, Shah returned to Colorado and enrolled in the University of Colorado-Boulders environmental engineering graduate program. Shah currently works as a graduate assistant in that same department supporting faculty in developing an undergraduate focus area that effectively incorporates cross-cultural awareness and community development components. Beyond campus, where he assists with recruiting, Shah responds to the call to service by volunteering as a tutor and mentor with the Tibetan Refugee Resettlement Program in Boulder.
Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.