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Second African American to Lead Peace Corps

Courtesy of the Peace Corps | 8/27/2009, 5:22 a.m.

Aaron S. Williams was sworn in Mon., Aug. 24 as the 18th Director of the Peace Corps. Williams was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 14 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 7.

€I am deeply honored to be the Director of the Peace Corps and I want to thank President Obama for the trust that he has placed in me. I look forward to making his call to public service a reality for more Americans,€ Williams said.

€I am committed to recruiting, training, and supporting the next generation of skilled and enthusiastic volunteers eager to serve side by side with members of Peace Corps host communities around the world.€

Williams is the fourth director to have served as a Peace Corps volunteer. He served as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970. Upon completing his service, he became the coordinator of minority recruitment and project evaluation officer for the Peace Corps in his hometown of Chicago, Ill. from 1970 to 1971.

Williams has pursued a career in the development and implementation of worldwide assistance programs. He was a vice president for International Business Development with RTI International. He was a senior manager at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he attained the rank of Career Minister in the U.S. Senior Foreign Service. He also served as executive vice president of the International Youth Foundation.

As USAID Mission Director in South Africa, Williams led a billion dollar foreign assistance program during President Nelson Mandela€s administration. In addition, he has extensive experience in the design and management of assistance programs in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He was awarded the USAID Distinguished Career Service Award, and was twice awarded the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service.

Williams is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he was a member of the USAID Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. He served on the Obama-Biden transition team, the advisory board of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, the board of directors of CARE, and the boards of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the Pan American Development Foundation, and the National Peace Corps Association.

Williams, who is fluent in Spanish, is a graduate of Chicago State University, and has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin. He met his wife, Rosa, during his service as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic. The couple have two sons, Michael and Steven.

As the agency approaches its 50th anniversary, the Peace Corps€ mission is to promote peace and friendship around the world. Today, nearly 7,500 Peace Corps volunteers in 74 countries work in a variety of areas including education, public health, business and information technology, environment, agriculture and youth and community development. Since 1961, nearly 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps in order to help promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to developing countries by sharing America€s most precious resource €" its people. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. To learn more about the Peace Corps, please visit our Web site: www.peacecorps.gov