Three distinguished volunteers will kick off the Peace Corps‘ 50th anniversary this fall, sharing their personal experiences from abroad and how the Corps has affected American society. Speakers include author and former National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent Sarah Chayes, former Lucasfilm Ltd. president Gordan Radley, and Direct Relief International CEO Thomas Tighe.

The Sunday afternoon, September 26 discussion at the Lobero, inaugurates an entire season of Peace Corps celebrations sponsored by UCSB’s Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life.

Radley, former president of powerhouse production company Lucasfilm Ltd., served in Central Africa’s Malawi from 1968 to 1970. His older brother was the first Peace Corps volunteer to give his life in service, killed in a plane crash over Columbia in 1962. In the Independent Journal, a newspaper in Marin County, California, Radley wrote that it is Peace Corps volunteers who are “walking the walk” when it comes to democratic ideals, showing that “Americans can live and work alongside others, quietly, humbly and with an open heart.”

Chayes, who volunteered in Morocco for four years in the 80s, worked for NPR as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. She left her job in 2002 to help rebuild the Afghan city of Kandahar, which served as the unofficial capital of the Taliban before the war. Her book The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban tells of her experience in the post-war country.

Tighe has been President and CEO of Direct Relief International, a nonprofit humanitarian medical organization, for the past ten years. Under his leadership, the Santa Barbara-based organization has made more than $30 million in grants and delivered more than $1.3 billion worth of medicines, health service equipment and supplies to the United States and 88 developing countries. He volunteered in rural Thailand from 1986 to 1988, and served as the Peace Corps’ associate general counsel, chief of staff, and chief operating officer.

Along with recognition of the three former volunteers, Santa Barbara’s Juliane Heyman will be recognized for her lifelong service to the Peace Corps, Wallock said. Heyman began her service as a volunteered during the agency’s creation, under the Kennedy Administration in 1961.

“It is especially fitting,” said Dr. Leonard Wallock, Associate Director of the Capps Center, “that the celebration of the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary take place in Santa Barbara, a community known widely for its ethos of service.”

The free discussion, “International Service: Bringing the World Back Home,” starts at 3 p.m. on September 26 at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater.


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