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Bonnie served in Peace Corps Afghanistan, where she served for three years in the 1970s. She served 18 years with the Environmental Protection Agency most recently as the director of policy, communications and resource management in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds in Washington, D.C. and in the EPA’s Seattle Air Quality Office, working with states, tribes and Environment Canada to protect and improve air quality in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. After attending law school at the University of Oregon, she practiced law in Alaska, first in private practice and then as assistant attorney general for the state of Alaska, working on oil and gas leasing, as well as a range of municipal law and use issues. Her undergraduate degree is in history from the University of Washington, which is currently the #1 producer of Peace Corps volunteers in the nation.
As an alum of the Peace Corps China program, I talked with Bonnie about the impact of Peace Corps experience on its Volunteers, the role of a Country Director, and the inevitable cultural confusion that comes with crossing borders.
I talked with Bonnie in mid-December. At the time, one of Peace Corps China’s founders, Ms. Zhan Yimei, was battling lung cancer from a hospital room in Chengdu, Sichuan. Last week Ms. Zhan lost her battle. Bonnie and Amy talk about Zhan Yimei in the interview; you can read more on The New Service blog about Ms. Zhan’s indelible contributions to Peace Corps China.
Learn more about Peace Corps China by reading Returned Volunteer Peter Hessler’s account of his years in the program, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze.