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Obama wants former volunteer to run Peace Corps

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2009

President Obama on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate former Peace Corps volunteer Aaron Williams to run the federal agency.

"America was built on a belief that the best progress comes from ordinary citizens working to bring about the change they believe in," the president said. "Through a lifetime of service, Aaron Williams has embodied the very best of that American ideal. I am grateful for his service and honored to nominate him to direct the critical work of the Peace Corps."

The announcement was made hours before the president was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Major League Baseball's All-Star game in St. Louis. He also will appear in a video with all five living presidents that spotlights major-leaguers who have performed distinguished service in their communities.

In response to the president's call for Americans to participate in his "United We Serve" initiative, Major League Baseball has dedicated this year's All-Star game and related events to community service.

The Peace Corps was started in the early 1960s when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged University of Michigan students to serve their country by living and working in developing countries. Today, more than 195,000 volunteers have served in 139 host countries.

Mr. Williams is now vice president of international business development for RTI International, a North Carolina-based research group for government and business.

He has more than 25 years of experience in world-wide assistance programs.

Mr. Williams was a senior manager at the U.S. Agency for International Development, at which he established public-private partnerships around the world.

Mr. Williams also has worked in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1967 to 1970, then became a minority-recruitment coordinator and project-evaluation officer at the group's Chicago office.

Mr. Williams, who speaks fluent Spanish, graduated from Chicago State University and has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin.