Trump nominates Josephine Olsen as Peace Corps chief

Josephine Olsen has been nominated to be the director of the Peace Corps. Photo by: USAID Global Health Fellows Program

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump nominated Josephine Olsen to be director of the Peace Corps on Wednesday.

Olsen is currently a visiting professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Social Work, but has spent decades in a variety of roles at the Peace Corps, including as acting director in 2009. Beginning in 1966, Olsen served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, country director in Togo, regional director in North Africa, the Near East, Asia, and the Pacific, chief of staff, and then deputy director — a post she held from 2001 to 2009.

From 1997 to 2002 Olsen was also a senior vice president at the Academy for Educational Development, a major United States Agency for International Development implementing partner that was purchased by FHI360 in 2011 in the wake of a USAID suspension.

Olsen’s publications include studies of applying safety frameworks for volunteers working in cross-cultural environments and integrating social work and global health approaches.

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In his 2018 budget request, Trump proposed a $12 million cut to the Peace Corps’ roughly $400 million budget. In August last year, the agency announced that it was gradually eliminating 200 of its roughly 900 U.S.-based positions, a move that Peace Corps Acting Director Sheila Crowley said was made in response to the president’s budget proposal and the Office of Management and Budget’s directive that agencies  take “immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions.”

About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.