It was an exciting afternoon on Capitol Hill as Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70), President Obama's nominee to be the next Director of Peace Corps, went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The meeting was chaired by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who also served in the Dominican Republic.
Both Dodd and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) expressed support for Williams. Dodd said he is excited at the prospects of working with Williams, while Isakson added "I commend the President on your appointment." Dodd says he plans to speak with Senate leadership to see if the confirmation can be completed before Congress breaks next week for its August recess.
The hour-long hearing included a question and answer session in which Williams indicated he wants to engage in a listening tour to engage the Peace Corps community, a "very rich and diverse population."
Williams noted he wants to look at every possible process Peace Corps is involved in, and conduct a wide-ranging assessment. This would include the country assessment process and possible re-alignment of country placements; medical screening of volunteers; recruitment practices, including making sure volunteers represent the face of America, and the monitoring and data collection on early termination rates.
Williams also spoke of the importance of Peace Corps' Third Goal, an issue that was raised further during questioning. Senator Isakson stated the agency is doing a "magnificent job" on the first two goals of Peace Corps, but more attention is needed to educate American citizens about the world, adding, "The Third Goal is going to fall on your shoulders." Williams said he wants to advance a Third Goal that has a robust focus, and stated in response to a comment by Senator Dodd, "I will be your ally on (Third Goal initiatives) because it is important to our nation."
(Photo credit: Office of Sen. Dodd)
- Photos from the hearing (Sen. Dodd's office)
- Photos from the hearing (NPCA)
- Senator Harris Wofford Introduction of Aaron Williams (.pdf format)
- Full Text of Dodd’s Opening Statement, As Prepared for Delivery
(Dodd Senate website)
- Statement of Aaron S. Williams - Nominee, Director of the Peace Corps (.pdf format)