Interview with NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst
by Janet Lee, Editor (Emdeber 1974–76)
Glenn Blumhorst is the President & CEO of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and an RPCV from Guatemala (1988–1991). In early December, he and his associate, Amanda Silva, RPCV Indonesia 2013-2015, visited Colorado, attended the RPCVs of Colorado annual Holiday Party and met with a group of RPCVs in Boulder. The visit was part of a nation-wide road trip to reach out to established RPCV groups and to meet with recently returned Volunteers.
The Editor of The Herald took this opportunity to interview Glenn about changes that are underway with the NPCA.
The most noticeable changes to NPCA are eliminating membership fees and broadening the scope of who is eligible to become a member. What do you hope to accomplish with these changes? Tell us more about the “New” National Peace Corps Association.
Historically, the NPCA has been a membership dues organization, however, after looking at our community we wanted to further engage and better serve the greater Peace Corps community, and in the New Year we will complete our transition to being a mission-driven and project-oriented organization. Currently, anyone with any affiliation or affinity for Peace Corps ideals is welcome to become a member of the National Peace Corps Association.
Because membership is free, members who are committed to the mission of the NPCA are welcome to contribute or continue contributing as “Mission Partners.” Mission Partners can choose their level of investment in funding any of our 3 areas:
- Helping RPCVs thrive through transition services spanning career development, mentorship or health care issues.
- Making Peace Corps the best it can be by advocating for greater funding to increase the number of Volunteers in the field to 10,000, calling for extension of federal Non-Competitive Eligibility Act, increasing the number of companies partnered with Employers of National Service, and building partnerships to secure new resources for Volunteers in the field.
- Increasing our Development Impact through our collaboration with the White House and Peace Corps on the Let Girls Learn initiative, investing in partnerships with RPCV-run organizations such as Water Charity for WASH projects.
Describe the launch of the Peace Corps Community Fund. What opportunities will it provide for RPCVs?
The Peace Corps Community Fund is aimed at better serving, engaging and connecting the Peace Corps community. The NPCA is always strongest when our community comes together and is driven by common goals. We were able to secure the highest Peace Corps budget for the 2016 fiscal year, because our community mobilized to make this happen. There is so much more that can be done when we have the investment and engagement of the Peace Corps community, the Community Fund is our way of expanding those services and creating more opportunities that RPCVs want from us. Let us know your ideas; we want to know how we can help!
Any advice on how RPCVs can advocate for current and future Volunteers in the field? How is NPCA advocating on their behalf?
Great question! The most important thing RPCVs can do is meet with their House and Senate Representatives. Time and time again we’re told that face time between a constituent and a Member of Congress is the most effective means of advocacy. Talk about your positive experiences from Peace Corps and how those experiences have affected you and your host community. If you’re interested in organizing a meeting, or inviting your Members to an RPCV-led event, please get in touch with our advocacy team, and they’ll walk you through it. Also, you can use our software to contact Members of Congress; request that they meet with Volunteers in the field while they’re on Congressional Delegations; and ask that they raise awareness for the Peace Corps by promoting the agency and its work — to that end, feel free to supply them with press releases of RPCV constituents and those currently serving, and notify them of RPCV-led events, especially service-oriented projects.
The NPCA advocacy team is here to assist and represent you every step of the way. We are the sole advocacy body for the Peace Corps community, and will continue to build on successes in the past by advocating for RPCVs and the agency, whether it’s reform or appropriations. Aside from providing you with talking points, materials and advice, we’ll also connect you with our vast team of advocacy coordinators all over the country — like the fabulous Suzanne Smith of Colorado. And while you may not be able to meet with your Members of Congress, we do. We’re on Capitol Hill all the time, meeting with Members and staff. It’s what helped secure Peace Corps’ FY16 budget of $410 million — the agency’s biggest budget ever. Please contact our advocacy team for more information.
Peace Corps Connect in Berkley was a highly successful event. A highlight for RPCVs from Ethiopia/Eritrea was the selection of Berhane Daba, president and founder of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities Association for the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. What does NPCA have planned for the 35th anniversary in Washington D.C. September 22-25, 2016?
The NPCA is excited that this year’s Peace Corps Connect, September 22-25, 2016 in Washington DC, will be held in conjunction with the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has had a profound global impact and our community has a wealth of knowledge and experience with which we continue to affect change. The conference will create discussion sand open dialogue about how Peace Corps can continue to have impact in the coming years, with a specific focus on our core mission areas: girls education and empowerment, peace and security, economic development, global health, and environmental sustainability.