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Name: Williams, Aaron
Current Position: Former Director

Aaron S. Williams, the eighteenth Director of the Peace Corps and only the fourth to have served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, was sworn in on August 25, 2009, and served until he announced his resignation on August 21, 2012. Williams took over an agency in considerable flux. On the one hand, Williams’ predecessor, Ron Tschetter, was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for politicizing the Corps. On the other hand, during the first half of fiscal year 2009 young Americans, perhaps responding to President Obama’s call for service, applied for Peace Corps service at a 12 percent greater rate over the same period last year.  At present, there 7,500 Peace Corps volunteers and more than 200,000 returned volunteers.

Born in Chicago, Williams grew up in a modest home on the south side of Chicago. He earned a B.S. in Geography and Education from Chicago State University, and started his career teaching high school in Chicago. Inspired by President Kennedy’s call to service, he discussed the Peace Corps with a fellow Chicago State alum who had volunteered for the Peace Corps in Jamaica, and decided to join himself. Williams served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970, first in a training program for rural school teachers in the small town of Monte Plata, and extended his service for a third year to work as a professor of teaching methods at the Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago. Upon returning to the US, he stayed with the Peace Corps as Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and Project Evaluation Officer in Chicago in 1970 and 1971. 
Williams left the Peace Corps to earn an MBA, with an emphasis on international business and marketing, from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. He then worked five years in the corporate sector, first two years at International Multifoods, and then three years at General Mills. He left General Mills in 1978, starting a twenty-two-year career as a Foreign Service officer with USAID, where he designed and managed assistance programs in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including long-term assignments in Honduras, Haiti, Costa Rica, and Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean islands region. Probably the apex of his AID career came as Mission Director in South Africa, where Williams led a billion dollar foreign assistance program during President Nelson Mandela’s historic presidency. Shortly thereafter, in 2000, Williams left USAID to become Executive Vice President at the International Youth Foundation (IYF), a transnational nonprofit that focuses on leveraging corporate donations to assist young people in the developing world. In December 2003, partly to reduce his heavy travel load, William left IYF to become a Vice President for International Business Development with RTI International, a nonprofit research corporation that depends on USAID contracts for about one-third of its revenues. Williams was still with RTI when President Obama nominated him to be Director of the Peace Corps. 
Williams is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has served on the Advisory Board of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, and the boards of CARE, the National Peace Corps Association, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and the Pan American Development Foundation
Williams is fluent in Spanish and can speak French.  He met his wife Rosa, a Dominican high school science teacher studying medicine, during his service as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic. The couple has two sons, Michael and Steven. A Democrat, Williams contributed $7,250 to Democratic causes and candidates between 2004 and 2008, including $4,600 to the presidential campaign of President Obama. He also served on the Obama-Biden transition team.
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