Gaddi Vasquez, the current director of the Peace Corps, encouraged the audience in Albright Auditorium last night (Feb. 26) to consider serving in the United States Peace Corps. This year, the Peace Corps celebrates its 43rd anniversary, having sent more than 170,000 Americans to live and work in 136 countries around the world. “I believe that if we embrace the idea (of service) that each and everyone of us will make a difference in the world.”
“The Peace Corps is an opportunity for you as Americans to make a difference in the world,” he said. “I encourage you to explore the opportunity. If there was ever a time in history to put a good face on America, now is that time.”
Vasquez, the son of migrant farm workers and the first in his family to earn a college degree, began his talk by sharing stories of his upbringing. Vasquez said his parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and the desire to succeed despite adverse circumstances.
“My parents believed in the American dream–that with hard work you can be anyone. It is because of them that I am standing here today speaking to you as the director of the Peace Corps.”
A native of Carrizo Springs, Texas, he is a graduate of the University of Redlands, and has served as a trustee professor at Chapman University.
Vasquez came to Peace Corps in 2002 from the Southern California Edison Company, where he was division vice president of public affairs. He is the agency's first Hispanic-American director.
After working as a police officer, Vasquez embarked on a 22-year public service career, including service at the city, county, state and federal levels of government. He served in the administrations of former California Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis. He was twice appointed by former President George H. W. Bush to federal commissions.
Vasquez has a long record of activity in community affairs. He has served on the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, the board of directors of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and the advisory board of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.