Shays for top Peace Corps post?

picture-21Support emerges for outgoing Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) to fill Peace Corps director role under the new administration.

Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70) and has been a career-long advocate of citizen service.

The entire Connecticut delegation to Congress is rallying for Shays to get the post, after Rep.-Elect Jim Hines (D) initially spoke out for Shays. From the blog at

“As I’ve noted many times, Chris Shays is a man of grace and courage who served the Fourth District well for many years,” Himes said. “As a former Peace Corps volunteer and a strong believer in America’s special obligation to work toward peace and freedom, Congressman Shays would do a wonderful job of representing our country to those nations of the world served by the Peace Corps.”

Himes recently defeated Shays in a re-election bid for Shay’s congressional seat.

Recently the National Peace Corps Association — currently waging a campaign for More Peace Corps — sent an open letter to President-Elect Obama asking for a Peace Corps director with direct experience as a Peace Corps staffer or Volunteer. Read more about their recommendations (PDF).

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On the Hill, RPCVs in, RPCVs out

The Peace Corps Polyglot—the blog of the National Peace Corps Association, the independent group of images-2Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV)—announced last week that RPCV Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT) was defeated Nov. 4.  Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70).

The blog post also follows the fate of other RPCVs up for election this fall.

Shays has been an active proponent of national service in the House and participated in the Service Nation Summit September 12th in New York. He co-founded the bi-partisan Congressional National Service Caucus in 2004.

On the topic of national service, from his Congressional web site:

I believe national service is one of the wisest and least costly investments our government can make. For example, AmeriCorps volunteers provided:

• 3.8 million CNCS program participants;
• 216 million hours of service;
• Recruiting and/or managing 1.8 million volunteers.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 72 percent of AmeriCorps members continue to volunteer in their communities after their term of service ends and 87 percent of former AmeriCorps members accept public service employment.

National service benefits both the recipient and the giver. Volunteers not only address an immediate need, they lead and teach through example, and through that example they learn the value of serving and helping others.

I still remember how I felt as a 14 year-old watching the 1960 Presidential election between Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Kennedy. I felt energized listening to Senator Kennedy when he spoke of the Peace Corps and making the world a better and safer place. I wanted to be part of his vision. Years later, that dream was fulfilled when my wife Betsi and I served two years in the Peace Corps.

The same powerful emotion, the same sense of energy, eagerness and anticipation we felt in the sixties, is alive today.

Read the independent Peace Corps Online story about Shay’s loss.