2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit
As reported in part by Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65)
The E&E RPCVs are fortunate to have Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65) participate in the 2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit held at Georgetown University March 3rd and 4th, 2017. Although Haskell was unable to attend the first day of the advocacy sessions, he was able to take full advantage of the conference including presentations, reports, panels, and workshops.
Joby Taylor, Chair, NPCA Board of Directors and Glenn Blumhorst, NPCA President & CEO opened with an Annual Report and NPCA program Overview. Key programs included: The New Political Landscape; and An Improved and Expanded Peace Corps. Workshops on ensuring the future of the Peace Corps included: Grassroots Efforts (Scaling up our Nationwide Mobilization), Grassroots Efforts (Capitol Hill, the White House & Beyond), Fundraising (Securing Resources to Drive Change). Topics of interest also included support of refugees, RPCVs for environmental action and building community. The opening day also featured a conversation with Acting Director Sheila Crowley.
Haskell reports that those who attended the advocacy sessions with members of the U.S. House and Senate were cautiously optimistic. He quoted Board Member Juliana Essen’s recent Peace Corps Connect article, “The next few days could make it or break it for the Peace Corps, so we are depending on each and every one of you for a win. Fortunately, our community is stronger than ever — if we all pitch in, we might even convince Congress to increase Peace Corps budget instead.”
Further, he states that in one form or another much of the thrust of all the sessions were influenced by the subject of one of the opening topics: The New Political Landscape. The future of the Peace Corps will take place within the dynamics of this new reality. Having said that, the general consensus was that the situation was sufficiently fluid that an effective mobilization campaign by members of the Peace Corps community might very well produce unexpected and surprisingly positive outcomes for the agency’s future. In other words, if enough energy is produced by RPCVs and allies to their members of the House and Senate, then there is a strong probability of success.
This observation might really sum up the dinner speech of Jason Gross, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition who stressed the need for immediate and broad appeals to members of the House and Senate, especially to those members in our districts who sit on the foreign affairs subcommittees.
On a much lighter note, Haskell had an opportunity to spend time with Harris Wofford (Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, and former Peace Corps Ethiopia Director 62–64). “I sat with Harris Wofford at the dinner meeting, fifty-four years since our first meeting. He is as inspiring as he was the first time we met. He’ll turn ninety-one on April 9, and I asked him how he is holding up, and he said ‘quite well, except for an emerging hearing problem.’ He also said, though, when I told him that I turn seventy-seven next week (March 13), ‘I’ll trade my years for your soon-to-be seventy-seven! ’ It was worth the trip to Washington to see the fire still in his eyes.”