As the Peace Corps celebrated 50 years on Sept. 22, a number of events to commemorate the anniversary were held in and around Washington, D.C. Colleges President Mark D. Gearan, the 14th Director of the Peace Corps, participated in several of the discussions and celebrations that marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Corps Act in Congress by John F. Kennedy.
Gearan was present at the 50th anniversary staff reunion organized by former Peace Corps Chief of Staff Ken Hill and held at the National Building Museum on Friday, Sept. 23. Thirteen former Peace Corps Directors made a collective appearance on stage. The following day, Gearan moderated the “Mad Men & Women at the Mayflower” breakfast, hosted by the Peace Corps Fund. The discussion was held in the hotel where the Peace Corps was created and featured many of those who started it with Peace Corps’ Founding Director Robert Sargent Shriver Jr.
The National Peace Corps Association also organized a number of events, of which Gearan attended the “Future Leaders of the Peace Corps” discussion that looked at how the Peace Corps community will continue to grow and strive for a world of peace and prosperity for the next 50 years. A panel of thoughtful leaders and global figures discussed their experiences with the Peace Corps, as well as other pressing topics. Bill Moyers, first Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and a leading American journalist and public commentator, moderated the event.
Also on Saturday, Gearan was a guest at the home of Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) for an intimate reunion with earliest staff members of the Peace Corps, and attended The Promise of the Peace Corps gala. Described as honoring “the last five decades of the Peace Corps while glimpsing into the future and Peace Corps’ impact over the next 50 years,” the gala was emceed by Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” and returned Peace Corps volunteer from Swaziland.
Gearan, who headed the Peace Corps before accepting the HWS presidency in 1999, is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee. He is also a member of the Leadership Council of ServiceNation. He is the past chair of both the Annapolis Group and the National Campus Compact and served as a Board member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and The Partnership of Public Service.
Outside of the education and service arenas, Gearan has been active on the advisory board of The Presidential Appointee Initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution that has worked to revamp the process through which U.S. Presidential appointees are chosen. Locally, he serves on the Board for Jobs for Geneva, Advisory Council to the Happiness House Foundation and the Advisory Councils for the Geneva Community Center and Ontario ARC.
Prior to his Peace Corps directorship, he served in the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he was Al Gore’s campaign manager, segueing to the position of Deputy Director of President-elect Clinton’s transition team.
A native of Gardner, Mass., Gearan earned his B.A. in government cum laude at Harvard University and his law degree at Georgetown University. He is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees.
In the photo above, Gearan (fourth from right) is standing on the stage of the National Building Museum with the other 12 former Peace Corps Directors.