Peace Corps Honors Community Service Leaders of Color at 5th Annual Franklin H. Williams Awards

June 4, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2003 –Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez will honor 12 nationwide recipients of this year’s Franklin Williams Award this evening. Established in 1999, the Franklin H. Williams Award honors outstanding returned Peace Corps volunteers of color who have put their overseas experiences to work in their communities and in their professions to promote a better understanding of other peoples and their cultures.

The award winners follow in the service-minded footsteps of former ambassador and Peace Corps director of the Africa region Franklin H. Williams. Mr. Williams served as an ambassador to the United Nations and Ghana, as an advocate for civil rights, and as one of Sargent Shriver's trusted deputies during the formative years of the Peace Corps. He also served as president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, which focuses on educational opportunities for Americans of color and Africans. Mrs. Shirley B. Williams, widow of Franklin H. Williams, will be present at this year’s event.

The Peace Corps Director’s Award honors an individual who has served the Peace Corps as former staff or through a commitment to international development and cross-cultural understanding. The keynote speaker and Peace Corps Director’s Award-winner this year is Melvin P. Foote, president and CEO of the Constituency for Africa (CFA). CFA is a U.S.-based network of organizations, groups and individuals committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa and African people worldwide. Foote was a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher in Ethiopia and Eritrea from 1973-1976, where he remains engaged in service to this region.

The award winners were selected from each of the 11 Peace Corps regional offices nationwide. This year’s notable list of winners includes: Anjabebu (Lily) Asrat, Prevention Specialist/Office of Women's Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia; Walter M. Baker, Peace Corps recruiting resource, west Texas; Anson Chong, Food Bank of Hawaii volunteer and Global Hope faculty advisor, Hawaii; Darius Kenyatta Ellis, country director for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Refugee Trust of Kenya, Kenya; Paul Goodrich, founder and president of African Sports Outreach, Oregon; Albert S. Liu, president of Milwaukee Peace Corps Association, Milwaukee; Walter Mau, active member of the Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Massachusetts; Solema V. Neary, active community member, Colorado; Ed H. Smith, chairman of Chicago City Council’s Committee on Health; Amanda Wash, founder of A Foundation for African Children Today (AFACT), Los Angeles; and James A. Wilson Jr., assistant professor of history at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, 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 two-year commitment.

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