07/25/2014 10:27 am ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

Leading the Peace Corps

Carrie Hessler-Radelet was recently confirmed as director of the Peace Corps, after serving as the agency's acting director and deputy director. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1980s, and worked for many years on global health initiatives. Hessler-Radelet spoke about leading today's Peace Corps with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership

Q. What drew you to public service?

A. I grew up in a family that valued public service. They weren't government workers, but worked more in a nonprofit or volunteer capacity. From a very early age, I remember my parents and grandparents being civil rights activists and involved in poverty reduction. When I was a kid, we often spent weekends doing service. I come from a Peace Corps family. My aunt was a volunteer in the early 1960s, my grandparents were volunteers in the early 1970s, my husband and I served in Samoa in the early 1980s, and my nephew completed his service in 2009 in Mozambique. My family also has been very involved in Special Olympics since its founding. I founded the Special Olympics in The Gambia when I lived there after my Peace Corps service.

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