Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marking the First Anniversary of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act

Today marks the first anniversary of the passage the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, or “Kate’s Law” as it is lovingly referred to by friends, family and supporters. We pause on this important day to honor Kate and thousands of survivors.  First Response Action is grateful to so many—President Obama, members of Congress and the Senate, former Peace Corps volunteers, and numerous advocacy groups—for their support and tireless efforts.  But the promise of the Kate Puzey Act is not yet a reality for every Peace Corps Volunteer—more work remains to be done.

In the next few weeks, we will issue a report assessing the Peace Corps’ implementation of the Kate Puzey Act so far and identifying areas where more work and resources must be invested.
The Kate Puzey Act is at its core a commitment by our nation to give our volunteers the care, support, and protection they deserve. 

Our deep appreciation goes to you and everyone who has made an impact on making survivors in Peace Corps feel supported and get the care they need.  The Kate Puzey Act was the result of the hardwork of many passionate, dedicated individuals coming together to create and codify positive change.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer and wish to share your experiences with us or need help obtaining assistance from the Peace Corps, please email

With gratitude, 
The Board of First Response Action

First Response Action Board Member Kate Finn's Reflection on First Anniversary

President Obama signs the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act on November 21, 2011 while Peace Corps and supporters of the bill look on
Left of President Obama: Peace Corps staff Paul Weinberger and Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Senator Johnny Isakson R-GA, First Response Action board member and Legislative Liaison Kate Finn, Peace Corps Director Williams, RPCV survivor Carol Clark who testified at the May 2011 Congressional hearing
Right of President Obama: David Puzey (Kate Puzey's brother), Mr. and Mrs. Puzey (Kate's parents), Rep. Ted Poe R-TX, RPCV and survivor Karestan Koenen, Ph.D. who testified at the May 2011 Congressional hearing

First Response Action board member Kate Finn was integral in the process of developing legislation.  Her experience as a survivor of sexual violence in Peace Corps and in her position at the Denver District Attorney's office were instrumental in advocating for survivor's rights.  Kate was present for the signing and below gives her reflections on the year anniversary.

Looking back on the last year, since the passage of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, I am still in awe at the feat that we were able to accomplish. We – First Response Action, Kate Puzey’s family, congressional supporters, RPCVs, and so many allies – came together to create protections for Peace Corps volunteers who are survivors of sexual violence, victims of crime and whistleblowers.

For me, the experience as a member of First Response Action was incredibly liberating. I felt isolated and very alone in my experience as a survivor, believing that I was a unique case that had “fallen through the cracks. “ When I learned that my story was one of dozens of Peace Corps volunteers who were victims of sexual violence I was moved to find the depth and breadth of this quiet narrative. First Response Action gathered so many survivor stories and we were able to leverage them into a powerful narrative to create change through the Kate Puzey Act. However, I truly believe that one of the most important results of this movement has been that so many people have been able to share their story out-loud. This narrative is real and it is powerful.

Through the
Kate Puzey Act the Peace Corps has, and will continue, to assist victims and survivors to receive what they need to heal. I am honored to have been part of this movement in order to create space for Peace Corps volunteers to heal and begin to re-build their own story in the aftermath of sexual violence. Last year I watched as President Obama signed the Kate Puzey Act into law. It was one of the most honoring and amazing days of my life. I know that implementation of any law is difficult, however I know that this year, and in years to come, the impact of providing confidentiality and safety for volunteers will positively affect countless volunteers.

Thank you to everyone who told his or her story. The
Kate Puzey Act exists because of your courage and tenacity. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

~ Kate Finn, First Response Action board member