Jody K. Olsen (Ph.D. ’79), an alumna of the University of Maryland College of Education, was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as the director of the Peace Corps, the White House announced January 3. The Peace Corps, founded in 1961, provides opportunities for volunteers to complete service projects abroad in areas such as agriculture, economic development, health, education and more, operating in 140 countries. [Editor's note: On March 30, Dr. Olsen was sworn in to lead the Peace Corps.]
Dr. Olsen is currently a visiting professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work and senior faculty advisor at UMB’s Center for Global Education Initiatives. Her Peace Corps appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.
Dr. Olsen, who started her service with the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1968 as a volunteer in Tunisia, previously served as acting director of the Peace Corps in 2009. She was also the organization’s deputy director from 2002 to 2009; chief of staff from 1989 to 1992; regional director, North Africa Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981 to 1984; and country director in Togo from 1979 to 1981.
In addition to the work with the Peace Corps, Dr. Olsen was the senior vice president of the Academy for Educational Development from 1997 to 2002 and executive director of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars from 1992 to 1997.
Dr. Olsen, who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, earned a Ph.D. in human development from the University of Maryland College of Education, a master’s in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore and a bachelor’s in sociology and teaching certification from the University of Utah.