Peace Corps Leaders Honored with Kennedy Service Awards

BOSTON, Mass., March 5, 2011 In commemoration of Peace Corps 50th anniversary, Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (Dominican Republic, 1967-1970) and Caroline Kennedy presented the 2011 John F. Kennedy Service Awards to six members of the Peace Corps family who have given outstanding public service, both at home and abroad. The awards are held every five years at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Peace Corps volunteers and staff continue to contribute their creativity, enthusiasm, and commitment to local communities in a meaningful way both at home and abroad, said Director Williams. These six individuals have distinguished themselves by their exemplary service. They are part of an American legacy of public service that was ignited by President Kennedys innovative idea.

Peace Corps volunteers Chris Fontanesi (Romania) and Robert Ferguson (Mexico), Peace Corps staff Frances Asturias (Washington D.C. headquarters and Guatemala) and Mostafa Lamqaddam (Morocco), and returned Peace Corps volunteers Kathryn Clark (Sierra Leone, 1968-1969; Jamaica, 1984-1987) and Joseph Carroll Jaycox (Venezuela, 1962-1964) were honored.

Established in 2006, the John F. Kennedy Service Awards recognize two current Peace Corps volunteers, two returned Peace Corps volunteers and two Peace Corps staff members for exemplary contributions to the Peace Corps and the advancement of public service. Award recipients demonstrate exceptional service and leadership and promote the Peace Corps mission and three goals: to help people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

Currently Serving Volunteers Category: Peace Corps volunteers who demonstrated impact, sustainability, and creativity in implementing their projects.

Robert Ferguson
Robert Ferguson, of Glastonbury, Connecticut, is a volunteer leader in Queretaro, Mexico. He spent his first two years as a volunteer in Veracruz, helping companies strengthen their competitive positions while adopting sustainable forestry practices. Today, he splits his time developing training programs for new volunteers and advising the leadership of one of Mexicos national laboratories.
Prior to joining Peace Corps, Ferguson earned a bachelors in political science from Miami University of Ohio, a Master of Education and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Illinois.

Ferguson shares his experiences with friends and family through an ongoing narrative and photo diary. He travels around the U.S. to discuss his experiences in Mexico, and educating the public on the Peace Corps mission.

Chris Fontanesi
Chris Fontanesi of San Diego, California, is serving in Romania as a fourth-year community economic development volunteer. He previously served in Beiu_, working on capacity building with Habitat for Humanity Romania (HFHR) and a local affiliate. With colleagues, he helped implement Habitat Romanes, where over 500 volunteers built 10 homes in one month in a local neighborhood. Today, Fontanesi splits his time working with HFHR and Peace Corps/Romania.
Fontanesi, who was recently honored with a Volunteering with Excellence award from Humanity International, earned a bachelors in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Peace Corps Staff Category: Peace Corps staff who demonstrated inspiration, commitment, and above-and-beyond support to volunteers in the field.

Maria Francisca (Frances) Asturias
Frances Asturias began her four-decade career with Peace Corps in 1968 as a language teacher in Guatemala. As a native of Guatemala City, she has served in a variety of roles, including traveling the entire region to provide technical assistance to other posts and volunteer project sites. Frances has touched the entire Peace Corps community; and as a Guatemalan national, she has shared her country and culture with countless volunteers and staff.

In 1971, Asturias became the executive officer for Peace Corps, Guatemala, a position she held until a short-lived attempt at retirement in 2001. However, by 2002 she returned as a roving expert consultant, providing assistance to posts in the Inter-American and Pacific Region. Asturias helped open posts in Mexico and Peru and traveled to over 26 posts. In 2006, she started a new assignment as the lead facilitator for the administrative track of overseas staff training, a role she continues to fill.

Mostafa Lamqaddam
Mostafa Lamqaddam left his position as head of the Rural Water and Sanitation Unit in Morocco\'s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in 1992 to join Peace Corps/Morocco staff. Today, he coordinates health programs in Morocco and works as a health program manager and HIV/AIDS initiative coordinator. Lamqaddam helped develop the Maternal and Child Health project and the cross-sector HIV/AIDS task force of Peace Corps/Morocco.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Category: Returned Peace Corps volunteers who demonstrated continued domestic and international service and leadership in their communities.

Kathryn Davies Clark
Kathryn Davies Clark served as a volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1968 to 1969 and in Jamaica from 1984 to 1987. She has spent much of her career with Special Olympics, promoting self-esteem, social skills, physical fitness, and increased independence for people with intellectual disabilities.

After returning from Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone, Clark became an area coordinator for Special Olympics in North Carolina. When she volunteered again with the Peace Corps in the 1980s, and at the request of founding Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver, she became the first volunteer to launch a Special Olympics-based project. She eventually helped establish Special Olympics programs in Jamaica.

A resident of DeFuniak Springs, Florida, Clark earned degrees in special education and a Master of Social Science from Syracuse University. According to Clark, Peace Corps and Special Olympics are very similarboth work with volunteers in countries throughout the world, promoting hope, change, and fulfillment to everyone they touch.

Joe Carroll Jaycox
Joe Jaycox, one of the first generation of Peace Corps volunteers, was born on the South Side of Chicago and attended De Paul University before joining the U.S. Marine Corps. Jaycox served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela in 1962, where he taught sports to youth at the YMCA. He was later assigned to a fishing village in Maracaibo, where he taught sports and general hygiene.

In 2002, Jaycox met former Major League Baseball player Carrasquel, the first Venezuelan to play in an All-Star game, and a 1950s shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. In 2004, the men started a nonprofit to help underprivileged children in Venezuela and the United States. Today, his organization and "Los Chicos de Chico" use busses to transport youth to YMCA centers and other places throughout Venezuela to participate in sports and other community activities. As CCF president, Jaycox also established scholarships, toy distributions, and musical training for children.

Jaycox insists that his accomplishments show his gratitude for being born in the USA on a street called Greenwood in a neighborhood called Kenwood and in a great city called Chicago.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit for more information.

# # #

Contact us

All contacts
Call toll-free

Get press releases emailed to you right when they are issued.

Sign up now