July 14, 2009 - President Barack Obama announced his nomination of Aaron Williams to be Director of the Peace Corps. "America was built on a belief that the best progress comes from ordinary citizens working to bring about the change they believe in," Obama said. "Through a lifetime of service, Aaron Williams has embodied the very best of that American ideal. I am grateful for his service and honored to nominate him to direct the critical work of the Peace Corps." Williams currently serves as Vice President for International Business Development with RTI International. He has previously served as senior manager at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), where he attained the rank of Career Minister in the US Senior Foreign Service.
As USAID Mission Director in South Africa, Williams led a billion dollar foreign assistance program during President Nelson Mandela's administration. Additionally, he has done work with strategic design and management of assistance programs in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Further, Williams served on the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid at USAID, and has been awarded the USAID Distinguished Career Service Award and the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service twice. Williams also currently is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, the Board of Directors of CARE, and the Board of Directors of the National Peace Corps Association. From 1967-1970, Williams served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Upon completing this service, he became the Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and Project Evaluation Officer for the Peace Corps in Chicago from 1970 to 1971. Read more.
Dodd praises Choice of Aaron Williams
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Global Narcotics Affairs, released the following statement after the President announced his nomination of Aaron Williams, Vice President for International Business Development with RTI International, to be the Director of the Peace Corps. Dodd, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in the Dominican Republic, recently introduced the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009, which would combine a reform with growth strategy in order to achieve the goal of doubling the size of a reformed, streamlined and more effective Peace Corps.
"I am excited by Mr. Williams' nomination to be the new Director of the Peace Corps," said Dodd. "It's exciting to have a nominee who served in the Peace Corps and also has experience in international development and management. I look forward to discussing the urgent need for broad based reform at the Peace Corps with Mr. Williams at his confirmation hearing and to working with the Obama Administration to strengthen and expand the Peace Corps." Williams served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967-1970. After completing his service, he became the Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and Project Evaluation Officer for the Peace Corps in Chicago for a year. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Peace Corps Association. Read more.
Senate Subcommittee Holds Confirmation Hearings for Aaron Williams to Become the 18th Director of the Peace Corps
July 29, 2009 - This is the third set of Confirmation Hearings for a Peace Corps Director that we have reported on and in many ways it was the most sedate and routine. It is obvious that Senator Dodd is intent on getting Aaron Williams confirmed as Director as soon as possible so that Williams can help convince Dodd's senate colleagues especially Senator Leahy of Vermont that the agency is in good hands so that when the budgets approved for the Peace Corps by the Senate and the House go to conference in the fall, the House's expansion budget of $450 million for FY 2010 will garner Senate support. Senator Dodd said at the close of the hearings that he hoped that the senate could move things along and get Williams confirmed before the August recess.
The hearings themselves were a veritable love-fest between Senator Dodd, Senator Isakson of Georgia (the ranking Republican member of the committee), former Senator Harris Wofford who introduced Williams, and Aaron Williams, the Director designee. The hearings, which lasted a few minutes less than one hour, were long on generalities and good will, and short on specifics of how Williams intends to run the agency. Although a lot of issues were discussed, what was perhaps most important was what was left unsaid for although Harris Wofford mentioned a bold new Peace Corps and referred to President Obama's promise to double the Peace Corps, there was no mention by Williams about Obama's promise to increase the agency's budget. What is clear from the hearings is that Williams has the background and the skills to be one of the most effective Peace Corps Directors in the agency's history. The challenges are great - our best wishes and support to Mr Williams in meeting them. Read more.