Acting Peace Corps director to visit UW-Madison campus

Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet—accompanied by her husband, Steve Radelet, chief economist of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—will be in Madison on Monday, November 26, for two public appearances.

Carrie Hessler-Radelet
Carrie Hessler-Radelet

From noon to 1 p.m., Hessler-Radelet will speak on “The Peace Corps and Global Health: Sustainable Solutions” on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. She will draw on her background in international HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health as she talks about current Peace Corps health initiatives.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Wisconsin Idea Room (Room 159) in the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. It will be hosted by the Peace Corps Chicago Office and Peace Corps campus recruiting office, with support from the UW–Madison Division of International Studies, Global Health Institute, and Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health.

During the afternoon, Hessler-Radelet will meet on campus with Peace Corps candidates and with a group of UW–Madison faculty and staff to discuss a range of topics, including UW–Madison’s global health activities, Peace Corps goals and skills needed, preparing students to be Peace Corps Volunteers and ways to partner with Peace Corps.

In the evening, Hessler-Radelet and her husband will give a joint presentation on “Feed a Person a Fish or Teach a Person to Fish?” from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at the University Club, 803 State St., hosted by the Madison Committee on Foreign Relations (MCFR) and the Division of International Studies. They will talk about shifts in international development assistance and how the United States can effectively leverage its human and monetary capital to be the best possible partner for developing communities.

Cost for this event is $20; to register, go to the MCFR website,

Hessler-Radelet became deputy director of the Peace Corps in 2010, and acting director in September 2012. She previously served as vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow, Inc. (JSI), a global public health organization, where she was responsible for overseeing public health programs in more than 85 countries.

She and her husband, Steve Radelet, served together as Peace Corps Volunteers in Western Samoa (1981-83). She taught high school and helped design a national public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness.

For the past two decades, Hessler-Radelet has worked in public health, specializing in HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health. She was involved in establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was a primary author of PEPFAR’s first strategic plan. As a Johns Hopkins Fellow with USAID in Indonesia, she assisted the Indonesian government in developing and implementing its first national AIDS strategy.

Four generations of Hessler-Radelet’s family have served with the Peace Corps: Her aunt in Turkey (1963-65), her grandmother in Malaysia (1972-73), and her nephew as an HIV education Volunteer in Mozambique (2007-09).

Hessler-Radelet is coming to a university that has a strong Peace Corps tradition. Earlier this year, the number of UW–Madison alumni who have served in the Peace Corps surpassed 3,000—and is second only to the University of California, Berkeley.

UW–Madison has ranked high on the annual Peace Corps’ Top Colleges and Universities list for 12 consecutive years, ever since the annual ranking system began—including six years (2001-06) in the No. 1 spot—in the number of alumni currently serving as volunteers.  Most recently, UW–Madison ranked third, behind the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Washington.

Overall, 5,630 Wisconsin residents have served in Peace Corps since it was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

UW–Madison alumni who have served in the Peace Corps include former Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, who received his MBA here and served with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic (1967-70). Williams visited campus in 2011 to help celebrate a half century of the Peace Corps.

Donna Shalala, former UW–Madison chancellor, served in Iran (1962–64); former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and his wife, Jessica Doyle, both UW–Madison graduates, served together in Tunisia (1967–69).

– by Kerry G. Hill