Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Peace Corps DIrector Williams to Step Down

Today Peace Corps Director Williams announced that he will be stepping down as the director effective September 17th.  The National Peace Corps Association posted the announcement and Peace Corps has the official release on their site. 

Director Williams, who was sworn in as director in August 2009, served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967-70.  In a letter he wrote to President Obama, he said:
“The Peace Corps is a stronger and more vibrant agency because of your global leadership and support of the ideals of service envisioned by our founder, Sargent Shriver. Serving as the Director of the Peace Corps has been the highpoint of my career in public service.  Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to lead such an inspiring and significant mission.”
Director Williams was supportive of safety reforms for survivors of sexual violence.  He testified on the matter of sexual violence and victim blaming at the May 2011 Congressional hearing chaired by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).  Click the links to video clips of both Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Representative Ted Poe (TX) questioning Director Williams at that hearing.

In the video, Peace Corps Director Williams says that he and staff are committed to "changing the culture these people have encountered in the past," referring to survivors of sexual violence being blamed for their attacks and not supported by Peace Corps staff.  With Director Williams stepping down, it is First Response Action's hope that the new Peace Corps director is survivor-centered and also committed to changing the culture of the way sexual violence is managed in Peace Corps.  Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet will be stepping in as Interim Director.