Senator Harris Wofford (1926-2019) has been a long-time proponent of a “Reverse Peace Corps” since he helped start the Peace Corps with Sargent Shriver in 1960. Senator Wofford was an early student of Gandhi, traveled extensively in India when he was young, and this experience led him to a life of service and an advocate for civil rights. Senator Wofford attended law school at Yale and Howard University and served in the Air Force in World War II. His public service career began as an attorney for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He became active in the civil rights movement and was a friend and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.
He worked on John Kennedy’s presidential campaign, during which he persuaded Kennedy to call King’s wife and offer his support – a move that helped shift the African American vote decisively in Kennedy’s favor. Kennedy appointed him as a Special Assistant to the President on civil rights and helped found the Peace Corps, serving as a special representative to Africa and director of operations in Ethiopia. Wofford became active in Pennsylvania politics and was appointed Senator in 1991 after the death of John Heinz and shortly thereafter won the special election. After his time in the Senate, Wofford served as chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps) until 2001. Since his retirement he has served on many nonprofit Boards including America’s Promise, Youth Service America and the Points of Light Foundation. He was recently a fellow at the Case Foundation.