After leading the Peace Corps for the past three years, Director Aaron Williams announced Tuesday (Aug. 21) that he will be leaving the volunteer agency Sept. 17 for “personal and family considerations.”
Obama extended his gratitude to Williams “for his dedicated service” and gave credit to his accomplishments at the agency.
“I know the positive change that Peace Corps Volunteers make,” Obama said in a statement. “Under Aaron’s leadership the agency’s work has been at the forefront of this Administration’s efforts to increase global engagement.”
The Peace Corps has gone through several reforms under Williams, including an annual portfolio review that has allowed the agency to expand operations in countries like Sierra Leone and Indonesia, and the signing into law of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteers Protection Act, named after a Peace Corps volunteer who was murdered in Benin in 2009, the year Williams was confirmed to the position.
But Williams was also put in hot water over his handling of reports of sexual assaults against Peace Corps volunteers, which made headlines during his tenure. He vowed in a congressional hearing in May last year to put an end to the “blame the victim” culture at the agency.
“Rest assured, this type of thing … will not continue in the Peace Corps of today,” he said before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as quoted by Foreign Policy.
There is no word yet on who will replace Williams. His deputy director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, will serve as the agency’s acting head.
In a message to his colleagues, Williams said, “This has been a difficult choice because serving in this position has been the highlight of my public service career,” CNN quotes. “It is time, however, for me to shift my focus to my family.”
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