Peace Corps 2006 Franklin H. Williams Awards Ceremony Honors Outstanding Community Leaders of Color

June 23, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 23, 2006 - Eleven returned Peace Corps volunteers who have made careers of giving back to their communities were awarded the Franklin H. Williams Award at a ceremony in Washington on June 22.

Established in 1999, the Franklin H. Williams Award honors 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.

In addition to the 11 award winners, the Peace Corps gave special recognition to Constance Berry Newman, special counsel for African affairs at the Carmen Group, a Washington-based government relations firm. Newman served as the evenings keynote speaker and was honored for her continued pursuit of service to others. She was the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs and also served at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as assistant administrator for Africa. Prior to her work at USAID, Newman served as undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Through her dedication to public service and commitment to African affairs, we recognize that Connie truly represents the best of what America has to offer. It is only fitting that we honor her tonight along with other outstanding community leaders of color, said Peace Corps director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

Finalists for the Franklin H. Williams Award were selected by the 11 Peace Corps regional recruiting offices across the U.S. The 2006 winners include:

Roger W. Banks
Roger Banks served as a community development volunteer in India from 1963 to 1965. As a volunteer, he had the task of creating and maintaining a poultry feed cooperative that developed and distributed quality chicken feed. He also taught public health and physical education at the local elementary school and organized sporting activities for area youth. Upon returning to the U.S., he was employed by the Peace Corps as a campus recruiter focusing on health professionals for Africa and Asia.

Banks later worked as an information/evaluation systems administrator for the Childrens Initiative of St. Paul/Ramsey County. He has given back in the form of education as well, sharing his expertise with students at the University of Minnesota, University of Saint Thomas, and Macalister College. Within his community, Banks has been involved with the Minnesota Elders Coalition and the Minnesota Department of Planning. Additionally, he was a committee member on the Minneapolis Area United Ways Ending Discrimination and Respecting Diversity Committee.

Banks currently works for the State Council on Black Minnesotans as a research and policy analyst.

Arthur Brown
Arthur Brown served as a rural community development volunteer in Benin from 1991 to 1995. As a volunteer, he performed local community needs assessments and founded a primary school. In addition, Brown completed construction of a recuperation health center for sick mothers, malnourished infants, and children and established a workshop for a women's small business cooperative. Brown prepared and monitored a budget of over $16,500 for several grassroots projects through the USAIDs Small Project Assistance program.

Upon his return to the U.S., Brown worked for Peace Corps headquarters as an evaluation specialist and budget analyst, performing local volunteer work as well. To promote involvement in underserved foreign communities, Brown gave presentations at the Wharton School of Business, University of Maryland, the University of Denvers International Career Advancement Program, Howard University,of Maryland, the University of Denvers International Career Advancement Program, Howard University, Copping State University, in addition to many organizations. Brown has also worked to promote various Peace Corps programs, such as the World Wise Schools program, and encouraged Peace Corps recruitment, particularly for minorities.

Brown currently works for USAID as a Foreign Service officer. He continues to be an advocate for career development and leadership skill building.

Miguel Conchas
Miguel Conchas served as an agro-forestry Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania, training local gardeners to stabilize sand dunes to ensure crop production. He also instituted a seed exchange with neighboring regions, a project that evolved into an environmental education pilot program in conjunction with the Ministry of Agricultural Rural Development and the Ministry of Education.

After his service in Mauritania, Conchas became the assistant coordinator of international programs at Alamo Community College in San Antonio, Texas. Conchas helped mobilize elementary teachers from Central America to train them in new teaching techniques and leadership skills, imparting them with the power to change their native countries. Conchas worked diligently to recruit Peace Corps candidates, targeting minorities.

Currently, Conchas is finishing his masters degree in bilingual bicultural studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio so he can teach English as a second language.

Robin M. Cooper
Robin Cooper served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghazi, Kenya, teaching business classes in both English and Kiswahili at the Ghazi Youth Polytechnic, while also working on business development projects with women and youth community groups. She helped develop, secure funding for, and establish a successful poultry project that raised chickens to sell to merchants in larger markets. The project received funding from the Australian High Commission for Agriculture, with the proceeds funding uniforms, books, and school fees for students. Cooper also helped establish a skills exchange partnership for the small business center in the town of Voi, where Polytechnic graduates learned to apply their education.

When she moved to San Francisco in 2002, Cooper began volunteering for Bay Area Red Cross where she still serves on a disaster action team, on-call to assist those affected by emergencies. She also counsels incarcerated women as a volunteer for Womens Aglow International Ministries. In addition, Cooper uses her counseling skills to mentor youths who are completing JobCorps, helping them to view their future in a positive frame and make constructive life choices.

Lisa C. Flores
Before joining the Peace Corps in 1994, Lisa Flores worked with Mi Casa Womens Center in Denver in their youth HIV/AIDS prevention program, organizing conferences for over 2,800 people and providing services to 8,000 inner city youth.

Throughout her two years in the Peace Corps, Flores trained community leaders to become first-time health educators, assisting them in coordinating health campaigns in three low-income neighborhoods in urban Ecuador. She helped structure the Peace Corps HIV/AIDS education plan and helped arrange three HIV/AIDS conferences in the country.

Returning home to Denver, she carried the spirit of the Peace Corps into her work as executive director of the Denver Inner City Parish. Flores has served as a board member on the Welfare Reform Board, the Denver Homeless Commission, and the Latina Initiative. Later, Flores went to work for Mayor John Hickenlooper, helping others make their voices heard.

Nicole Hewitt
Nicole Hewitt served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia from 2000 to 2002.
As a natural resources management extensionist, she facilitated natural resources management projects and coordinated workshops for rural women on topics as diverse as nutrition, gender equity,projects and coordinated workshops for rural women on topics as diverse as nutrition, gender equity, and civic participation. She also trained local women in non-formal education techniques so that they could continue these workshops after she left the community and later launched a successful community-based adult literacy center for 40 students. To address the problem of domestic violence, she mobilized her community to create a committee to protect residents.

In 2001, Hewitt organized a 4-day national gender and development conference for rural high school students and adult community representatives. During the conference, she trained volunteers in a gender mainstream project, and designed and implemented self-esteem and identity workshops for teen mothers at a homeless shelter.

After the Peace Corps, Hewitt became an instructional mediator at New York University, working with students to prepare them for the Regents exams. In January 2006, Hewitt volunteered for the grassroots organization the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans. She has distributed food donations, assisted with housing in the lower ninth ward, and performed community outreach for returning residents whose communities were destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Hugh Ho
Hugh Ho served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic teaching English. During his service, Ho secured and managed a USAID Small Project Assistance grant to establish a Russian-language science and English resource center at his school featuring the latest textbooks, childrens and young adults books, periodicals, and activity workbooks. He also developed after-school activities for his students, including a popular baseball club.

Ho now serves as a community coordinator for three international exchange students, two teenagers from Indonesia and one from eastern India, as part of the Youth Exchange and Study program. The program selects and funds outstanding youth from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in an American high school and live with an American host family. Ho also participates in service days for the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department and Habitat for Humanity. He is an officer and active member of the Washington State Peace Corps Association.

J.D. Hokoyama
J.D. Hokoyama served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia from 1967 to 1969.

After his Peace Corps service, Hokoyama taught English at various American educational institutions. Hokoyama left teaching to become the Associate National Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, the oldest and largest national organization in the country serving Japanese Americans. In two years he became the national director. In 1981, Hokoyama served as the first director of the office of Asian Pacific American Student Services at the University of Southern California. He now serves as the president and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP). LEAPs goal is to develop, strengthen, and expand the leadership roles played by Asian Pacific Americans within their communities as well as within mainstream institutions.

Anthony L. Pinder
In Esmeraldas, Ecuador Anthony Pinder served as the principal small business advisor to two USAID national associations: the National Association of Coffee Growers and the Association of Fishing Cooperatives. He also developed and facilitated accounting and marketing training. Pinders work and contributions as a Peace Corps volunteer were recognized for his selection as a 1990 Peace Corps management fellow.

After his service, Pinder was hired as associate Peace Corps director of administration in Equatorial Guinea, where he served until September 1993. Pinder returned to the Peace Corps as the Director of Minority and National Recruitment Initiatives from 1997-2000. During his tenure, the agency experienced its highest percentage 15 percent of minority v2000. During his tenure, the agency experienced its highest percentage 15 percent of minority volunteers serving overseas in ten years. Later, as Dillard Universitys associate dean of global studies, Pinder collaborated with academic divisions to create interdisciplinary study programs and revamp the universitys core curriculum to include international courses. At Morehouse College, he continues to build on the work he started at Dillard while serving as the executive director of the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs.

In addition to his academic and Peace Corps appointments, Pinder was the national director of program development with the United Negro College Fund in Fairfax, Va.; senior program officer at the African American Institute; marketing analyst with DAC International, Inc. and futures trader with Cargill, Inc. in Minneapolis.

Karen Tyler-Ruiz
Karen Tyler-Ruiz began her social work career in Detroit, where she worked as a project coordinator at Citizens for Better Care. In 1990, Tyler-Ruiz joined the Peace Corps, working as a youth development community coordinator in Costa Rica until 1993. She also worked as the programming and administration coordinator for Peace Corps/Costa Rica as well as the cross-cultural trainer. She went on to be a Peace Corps training consultant for Peace Corps/Belize.

Tyler-Ruiz has assisted the Chicago Regional Peace Corps Office in their diversity recruiting efforts in Detroit. She has also worked at the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Since 2004, Tyler-Ruiz has served as the senior program officer for Detroit LISC, where she collaborated in the development of a strategic and geographically targeted neighborhood revitalization initiative with a goal of transforming battered neighborhoods into livable ones. She worked with LISCs board of directors reviewing grant opportunities and placing over $900,000 in grant monies into targeted Detroit communities in 2005.

Timothy P. Wilson
Timothy Wilson served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand from 1962-1965. Since then, he has been appointed by three Maine governors to posts such as Chair of the Maine Human Rights Commission, State Ombudsman, and Director of the state offices of Community Services, Civil Emergency Preparedness, and Energy. He was also the Associate Headmaster at the Hyde School in Bath and the director of admissions at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. A language arts and history teacher for over 20 years, he was a highly successful football coach at Dexter High School and the University of Maine.

Wilson's community service activities include serving as chair of the Abyssinian Church Restoration Committee in Portland, the Community Mediation Center board of directors and as a trustee of Bridgton Academy. He has received a Medal of Honor from the late King Hussein of Jordan and many other awards for his distinguished commitment to leadership in philanthropy.

Currently, Wilson is vice president and camp director of Seeds of Peace, which brings together thousands of teens from 25 nations to work toward peaceful futures. He also serves as director of multicultural programs for Pierce Atwood Consulting in Portland, Maine.

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.

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