HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Peace Corps has an important history in Hawai'i – between 1963 and 1970, several thousand volunteers prepared for their foreign missions at training centers throughout the Islands, especially Hilo and Waipio Valley on the Big Island, complete with traditional Asian-style villages to help volunteers get acclimated.
Carrie Hessler-Radelet, the 19th Director of the Peace Corps, was sworn in on June 25, 2014. Prior to this, she served as the agency's acting Director and deputy director from 2010–14. A member of a four-generation Peace Corps family, Hessler-Radelet began her career in international development as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa (1981–83), teaching secondary school with her husband, Steve Radelet. She went on to spend more than two decades working in public health, focusing on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.
During her time at the Peace Corps, Hessler-Radelet has led historic reforms to modernize and strengthen the agency to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. She spearheaded sweeping efforts to revitalize the Volunteer recruitment, application, and selection process, resulting in record-breaking application numbers in 2015. Hessler-Radelet has also been instrumental in forging innovative strategic partnerships, such as Let Girls Learn, a powerful whole-of-government collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world, and the Global Health Service Partnership, which sends physicians and nurses to teach in developing countries.
During Hessler-Radelet's tenure, she has championed the health and safety of Volunteers, leading initiatives to dramatically improve Volunteer support and risk reduction, and overseeing the implementation of the 2011 Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act.
Previously, Hessler-Radelet served as vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow Inc., a global public-health organization, overseeing health programs in more than 85 countries. She was also actively involved in establishing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and served as a primary author of PEPFAR's first strategic plan