The Peace Corps Presents 2020 Franklin H. Williams Awards

WASHINGTON – The Peace Corps honored six returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) and one non-RPCV with the 2020 Franklin H. Williams Awards in a virtual ceremony today. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, former U.S. ambassador to Malta, spoke about the importance of international service and Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen congratulated the awardees on their achievements.

The Franklin H. Williams Award honors RPCVs from ethnically diverse backgrounds who exemplify an ongoing commitment to community service and the Peace Corps’ third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The Franklin H. Williams Director’s Award honors a non-RPCV for their outstanding commitment and steadfast support of peace and civic involvement and their commitment to the mission of the Peace Corps and current and returned volunteers.

“The awards spotlight the commitment of these champions of service, those who unselfishly put others before themselves,” said Director Olsen “Tonight, we celebrate those whose journeys of service often began with their own service as Peace Corps Volunteers.”

"I was proud to be that example of what we say we stand for: America’s representatives looking like America. This starts with Peace Corps,” said Ambassador Abercrombie-Winstanley.

The following RPCVs received the 2020 Franklin H. Williams Award, after a competitive process:

Dr. Sheldon Gen, Petaluma, CA, Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, 1990 - 1992

Ella Cheri Bennett, Lilesville, NC, Peace Corps volunteer in Dominican Republic, 1991 - 1993

Dr. Sabrina Cherry, Wilmington, NC, Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, 2001 - 2003

Jalina Porter, Washington, DC, Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia, 2009 - 2011

Diamond Butler of Brooklyn, NY, Peace Corps volunteer in Comoros, 2015 - 2017

Denisha Richardson of St. Paul, MN, Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji, 2015 - 2017

Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, received the 2020 Franklin H. Williams Director’s Award.

“I am so honored to receive this award in the name of Franklin Williams who is an inspiration for his pioneering work in civil rights and in helping to establish the Peace Corps,” said Dr. Gayle. “The Peace Corps has had a profound personal and professional impact on me and my family. There is no better way to end this unprecedented year on a high note.”

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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