Ten New Peace Corps Country Directors Complete Training

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2002—Ten individuals were sworn in as Peace Corps Country Directors this morning at a graduation ceremony held at the Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters. The new Country Directors recently completed four weeks of intensive operational training and instruction.

Peace Corps Country Directors are responsible for management and direction of all aspects of the Peace Corps program in the country of assignment. The Country Directors support 50 to 225 Volunteers as they live and work in a developing country, often under conditions of hardship. They lend their skills and energy to meet its development needs and promote a better understanding between the host country people and Americans.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez remarked, “The mission that President Kennedy started in 1961, which is strongly supported by President Bush, and the work of the Volunteers, is more important today than ever before.” With their diverse experiences, the new Country Directors will make a valuable contribution to the future of the Peace Corps.

Africa Region

Lisa Ellis’ professional experiences have brought her to the Peace Corps with eight years of experience in contracts, sales management, and business development. Most recently, she has been the Senior Director of Business Development at Practice Technologies, Inc. in Los Angeles. As a Regional Sales Manager at Lexis-Nexis, she handled a $20 million Southern California territory, recruited and trained 20 sales reps and co-authored “Turn Technology Into Competitive Edge” (March/April 1999). Ellis also taught mathematics for three years to high school and adult students with The Gambia Ministry of Education and Wider Opportunities for Women. Ellis graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1993 and has a BA from the University of California Los Angeles.

Cote D’Ivoire
Starting her career as a Volunteer in Tanzania and the Fiji Islands, Kristi Ragan is no stranger to the Peace Corps. Since then she has pioneered technical and adult education and advised national policy dialogues on curriculum reform and distance learning in Nepal. Ragan has also played important roles in international economic cooperation at the United Nations (UN) Pacific Regional Office (Fiji) as their Regional Program Director and has forged partnerships and managed regional programs in several countries for the UN Development Program, most recently as the Senior Policy Advisor in New York. She holds a BA in History from the College of Santa Fe, an MA in Liberal Arts/Philosophy from St. John’s College, and an MS in International Economics from Georgetown University.

Since March 2002, Jack Timmons has served as the Senior Projects Advisor to the Peace Corps Africa Region where he has been involved in a number of projects including coordinating the new country entries for the Peace Corps in Africa and re-designing the Volunteer staging process. Prior to returning to Peace Corps Headquarters, he was the Sub-Regional Program and Training Coordinator for East Africa and the Indian Ocean Regions. He provided programming and training technical assistance to the countries of Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, and Tanzania. Timmons has over 30 years of experience as an Administrator, Trainer, Programmer and Volunteer (India) with the Peace Corps, the Corporation for National Service (Americorps) and the Federal ACTION Agency.

Malcolm Versel’s career with the Peace Corps began when he went to Senegal as a Volunteer in 1972. Since completing two years of service, he has accumulated 30 years of experience managing and implementing programs in the US, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. He has served as a technical enting programs in the US, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. He has served as a technical advisor to national level administrators of rural development and policy reform programs (Niger, Togo), a livestock marketing economist and policy consultant (Mali), and a program development consultant in more than 30 countries. Fluent in French and Wolof, he is also conversational in several West African languages. He earned a BA in Organizational Psychology and an MS in Agricultural Economics.

Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia Region

Today’s graduation ceremony marks the beginning of Jim Ekstrom’s second term as a Peace Corps Country Director. His service started when he became a Volunteer in Nigeria and then a Peace Corps Trainer in the US Virgin Islands. It has been 25 years since his first Country Director term but Ekstrom’s interim activities have prepared him to serve once again. He administered the Office of Overseas Programs at UCLA and was the director of Sister Cities International’s Technical Assistance Program for seven years. He spent eight years as director of what is now The Center for Field Assistance and Applied Research at Peace Corps Headquarters. Ekstrom graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in English.

Serving as a Special Service Officer at the Peace Corps Headquarters for the last five years, Kim Green has traveled to over thirty posts participating in safety/security workshops, counseling sessions, staff development crisis response and facilitating country evacuations. Prior to working at Headquarters, Green spent five years with the Salvation Army World Service Office. An additional five years was spent working with non-governmental organizations and Peace Corps doing short term assignments worldwide and stateside in management training, counseling and vocational training. Green also worked with the Department of Labor’s Division of Indian and Native American Programs for four years doing counseling, vocational, and management training at many western reservations and Indian consortium urban centers. Green’s relationship with the Peace Corps began when he served as a Volunteer in Western Samoa in 1980. Kim received a BA in Liberal Arts from Rutgers University and an MA in HRD/Education from George Washington University.

Fred Gregoy has spent most of his adult life working in the Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) world of international and local community development. He began his Peace Corps career in Vietnam as a Volunteer in the late 1960s, working with war displaced people. That experience greatly influenced him and directed him towards starting an adult day care program that taught “Third World Studies” to adults in the US. While living in Bangladesh, he co-founded a local NGO dealing with rural development. For the last six years, he has served as president of a private foundation as well as heading up a small NGO in the Dominican Republic. Gregoy holds a BS in Psychology and an MS in Guidance and Counseling.

Sharon Sugarek comes to the Peace Corps after spending fourteen years in the private sector at AT&T/Lucent Technologies where she played a key role in assisting them in developing markets for telecommunications power systems. Her relationship with the Peace Corps began as a Volunteer in The Gambia. Sugarek has spent most of her professional life in the fields of marketing, strategic planning and management consulting. She also worked in aerospace, oil, and gas. Sugarek has a BA in Biology from Rice University and an MBA in International Business from George Washington University.

Inter-America and the Pacific Region

Susan Pbluetxt">Inter-America and the Pacific Region

Susan Pezzullo brings to Peace Corps over twenty years experience in consulting, training, and international development, beginning with two years as a Health Officer for USAID in Nicaragua. Most recently, she was the Director of the International Training and Consulting Institute of the International Youth Foundation. Prior to her work with the Foundation, she worked as a private consultant and the Executive Director of the Spanish Education Development Center. From 1982-1991, she was a Representative for Mexico, Paraguay and Argentina at the Inter-American Foundation. Pezzullo has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPH from University North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Stacy Plemmons has taken an "early retirement" from his long-time employer, Hewlett Packard (HP), in order to pursue a personal goal of utilizing the skills of his professional career to better the lives of people in the underdeveloped world. Some of his experiences include being the sole American representative in a high level joint venture between HP and other computer systems in India. Plemmons has extensive experience in hiring and developing individuals, building teams, establishing programs, setting cost budgets, and communicating with government officials and the press. Abroad, Plemmons has been part of the senior management of the HP Company in India, Singapore and the US. He brings high energy leadership, management skills, and a passion for learning about other cultures to his new Peace Corps duties.

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