Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Former Director of the Peace Corps

February 15, 2017

Carrie Hessler-Radelet was the 19th Director of the Peace Corps, serving from June 2014 to January 2017, and is a member of a four-generation Peace Corps family. Hessler-Radelet spoke of the revolutionary idea behind the Peace Corps. When President Kennedy signed the executive order creating it, many found the concept bizarre. The fundamental belief underlying the Peace Corps was that peace can only come through profound understanding and appreciation of others' cultures.

Hessler-Radelet was a Peace Corps volunteer herself, serving for two years in Samoa. She spoke passionately about her host mother, Losa, whose life was saved by a local midwife who convinced her to deliver her ninth child at a local clinic. Hessler-Radelet sees her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer as the start of her career in public health.

Finally, she shared three challenges with the audience. The first: to take courage and fight actively for our beliefs. The second: to cultivate "strange bedfellows"—supportive relationships with people who do not share our beliefs. The third: to "be the change we wish to see in the world."

Questions from the audience touched on a wide range of issues including reforms the agency undertook under her leadership and the future of the international development field.

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