Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The White House Signing Ceremony

On Monday, November 21st, 2011 at 3PM President Obama officially signed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act into law at a signing ceremony in the Oval Office with the Puzey family, coalition allies, and the Peace Corps leadership. It was an amazing and surreal final culmination of a long campaign that has taken years to fulfill and was born of great sorrow... although Kate will always be dearly missed, we know that she would be proud to see that her legacy will greatly improve protections for future Peace Corps Volunteers and indeed likely save other lives. As President Obama stated, "Out of great tragedy has come great good."

The new law marks the most substantial reform of the Peace Corps since its inception: it will require the Peace Corps to establish an Office of Victims Advocacy, greatly improve both prevention and response training for sexual assaults, establish much stronger whistle blower and related confidentiality protections for Volunteers, appoint Sexual Assault Response Liaisons in each country to support victims, and require ongoing oversight by both Congress and a newly appointed Sexual Assault Advisory Council that will include leading external experts in the field of sexual violence and victim support. For full text of the law, please click here.

(the picture above is featured as the White House 'Picture of the Day' for November 21st)

Here is some of the media coverage:

Associated Press

FOX News

ABC News

Washington Post

Atlanta Journal Constitution

National Peace Corps Association

International Business Times

Miami Herald

Huffington Post

Sacramento Bee

Houston Chronicle

Arizona Daily Star

San Jose Mercury News

Friday, November 18, 2011

Public Signing of Kate Puzey Act by the President!!!

Public Signing Ceremony for Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act 
at the White House this Monday, November 21nd, 2011 at 2:30 EST

We are delighted and grateful to confirm today that there will be an official public signing ceremony by President Obama at the White House this Monday for the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act!!!

This rare honor will elevate public awareness of the legislation and therefore help ensure strong implementation of its provisions to better protect Peace Corps Volunteers and provide victims of rape and other violence with proper support.  It is the final ultimate achievement for our campaign, and a powerful tribute to Kate's memory and legacy. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make this possible, from countless phone calls and emails by our wonderful supporters, to the incredible members of our coalition of advocates and congressional allies, to former Peace Corps Volunteers and friends of Kate who joined us in lobbying Congress. It has been an amazing journey and while nothing can bring back our beloved Kate, we know she would be proud of the work that has been done and that part of her legacy will be ensuring that future Peace Corps Volunteers will be protected and supported better than ever before.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ask the President for a Public Signing!


Today we learned that the President has just received the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act and will decide very soon whether to hold a public signing - a rare event that greatly elevates the attention new legislation receives!

Public signings of new laws really help build greater public awareness of the issues involved - such as sexual violence - and in this case would help ensure stronger implementation of the needed reforms, and bring a positive light to the Peace Corps' progress after much negative press. Further reasons for holding a public signing are also outlined in the letter below by our congressional allies in the Senate and House. This is the final push we can make to honor Kate's memory and ensure that the legislation will be rigorously implemented so that future Peace Corps Volunteers can serve more safely and victims of rape & other violence will be sure to receive the care & support that they need.

PLEASE HELP US by either calling or sending an email to the White House in support of a public signing:

White House Phone: 

White House Email 
[under subject, choose 'Other' - to see a SAMPLE EMAIL, click here]

Here is the letter sent to the White House today by Senator Isakson, Senator Boxer, Rep. Poe, and Rep. Farr:

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Members who worked on drafting the bill, we write to respectfully request you conduct a public signing of S.1280, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011. On November 1, the House passed S.1280 and having already passed the Senate, it was sent to your desk for your signature.

We believe a public signing is a good idea for four reasons. First, S.1280 shows that our two political parties can still work together for good. Throughout the process, this bill was about finding common ground. Drafters from both parties and both houses spent hours working together to build the bill piece by piece. When we introduced the bill, the original cosponsor list was full of Members from both parties, and the bill was passed unanimously out of its respective House and Senate committees. The final result continued the trend: after the Senate unanimously passed the bill, the House voted 406-0 for final passage. In a climate where the legislative process is all too often caught up in gridlock, this bill is a refreshing reminder that our parties can still come together and right a wrong.

Second, this bill highlights the important work that your Administration is already doing. The problems this bill addressed were decades in the making. When we met with Director Williams to discuss them, we discovered that he was already instituting a number of key reforms, such as hiring a Victims Advocate. Many of this bill’s provisions simply codify the reforms that Director Williams has put in place.

Third, this bill reminds our country of the call to service first made by President Kennedy. This bill is not about criticizing the Peace Corps, but about building it up—making it a better, finer institution. We firmly believe that selfless Peace Corps Volunteers are some of the best ambassadors this country has to offer. The mission of the Peace Corps first laid out in 1961- to promote world peace and friendship- is still as relevant today as ever. It is our hope that this bill encourages even more Americans to heed President Kennedy’s call.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this bill emphasizes that our democracy is as vibrant as ever. The bill originated because a group of former Peace Corps Volunteers and their families decided to work to make a difference. The Puzey family, heartbroken over the murder of their daughter and sister, turned their sorrow into selfless good by pushing for stronger confidentiality protections for Volunteers. Casey Frazee founded First Response Action, a group of Peace Corps survivors mistreated by the organization they loved, and crafted substantive recommendations for the legislation.  This bill is a direct result of their petitions to Congress. It goes without saying that a public signing would mean the world to them.

We appreciate your support of this critical piece of legislation and hope that you take the opportunity to conduct a public signing as soon as your schedule permits.


Ted Poe                             Johnny Isakson                                  
Member of Congress          Member of Congress                          

Sam Farr                             Barbara Boxer
Member of Congress            Member of Congress

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tuesday's Bill Passage and Media Roundup

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to Tuesday's tremendous victory, with the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Protection Act passing overwhelmingly, 400-0.

Here is the House of Representative's video clip of the landmark passage (debate on the bill runs from about 5:39:20 - 6:05)


Here is a sample of the subsequent media coverage:

ABC News

Boston Globe

Associated Press

Atlanta Journal Constitution

San Francisco Chronicle

Houston Chronicle

Also here is the announcement by the National Peace Corps Association

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Final Step: Please Help Pass the Kate Puzey Act in the House!

The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Act has been approved by the US Senate, and has only one more step to pass Congress: a vote on the full floor of US House of Representatives! 

Please help us by contacting the House leadership to ask for a vote on the bill (S 1280, as passed by the Senate), asking House Foreign Affairs Chair Ros-Lehtinen to push for a vote, and by continuing to ask Representatives for their support

Thank you so much as always for your support in helping pass this important legislation to better protect Peace Corps Volunteers and properly support those who become victims of rape or sexual assault.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great News: the US Senate passed the Kate Puzey Act last night!!!

We are very pleased to announce that last night the US Senate passed the 'Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011' - or S 1280 - by unanimous consent. This follows earlier passage of bill by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week on September 21st, and by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August.

This huge step forward was made possible by your strong grassroots support, as well as the tireless efforts of the staff of Senator Isakson and Senator Boxer, and other dedicated advocates who are working in coalition with Kates Voice, including Dr. Karestan Koenen and First Response Action.

Here are the press releases by the offices of Senator Isakson and Senator Boxer, and a news article sample.

The transcript of the Senate passage can also be viewed here. (link may expire, but can be renewed from website)

THE FINAL STEP: the full floor of US House of Representatives! 

Please help us by continuing to ask Representatives for their support, contacting the House leadership to ask for a vote on the bill, and by thanking those who are already supporting the bill

Thank you so much as always for your support in helping pass this important legislation to better protect Peace Corps Volunteers and properly support those who become victims of rape or sexual assault.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upcoming Vote in House Foreign Affairs Committee!

Next Wednesday - September 21st - the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) will vote on the "Kate Puzey Peace Corps Protection Act" [more info]

Please help us ensure the legislation passes by contacting members of the HFAC and asking them to support the bill and become a cosponsor!

You can contact members by sending an email on their website, or by calling the phone numbers provided on this site - for a list of HFAC Members who are not cosponsors of the legislation, click here.

Finally, in addition to gaining more cosponsors on the HFAC, another objective is for the legislation to pass without amendments that could jeopardize its chances of becoming law - if you contact representatives who seem supportive, please also request that they offer no amendments to the original bill.

Thank you so much for your support - it is continuing to make a huge difference in this effort to win better protection and support for our nation's Peace Corps Volunteers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great News!!!!!!

The 'Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act' was passed unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon at about 2:30PM!!

This is a BIG step forward - we now move on to the full Senate floor and to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

We know (with certainty) that strong grassroots support has really helped get us to the point - please continue to keep contacting Congress as we move forward, and thank you so much for all of your efforts!!!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Time for Action!!!!!

The "Kate Puzey Peace Corps Protection Act" has been introduced in both the Senate & House - now is the time for action to help pass the bill!!!

For information on how to help, go to our Outreach Homepage

You can also go directly to our Guide for Contacting Reps

You can view the full text of the bill here


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Upcoming Action Steps to Help Pass Bill

After many months of work, the time has finally come for public action to help pass the bill.

This is your opportunity to help enact legislation that will literally help save lives of future Peace Corps Volunteers, make sure Volunteers who are raped or otherwise attacked receive the support they need & deserve, and help build a stronger & safer Peace Corps that lives up to its legacy. (For all of us who love the Peace Corps and its wonderful Volunteers, this is perhaps the best thing that can be done to honor all the amazing good they do for the world!)

We have much work to do however to see this bill become law. There are still many members of Congress who have yet to be informed of the bill and understand its importance. Others may not understand what the bill does and/or mistakenly view it as a threat to the Peace Corps - instead of a law to help the Peace Corps become an even safer place for Volunteers to serve and thus help enhance its future reputation and accomplishments. 

Finally the legislation was crafted with the Peace Corps' close involvement on every step, and their leadership has told us (and Members of Congress) repeatedly that it fully supports the bill and indeed that it will help ensure their legacy of addressing many long-standing problems after the current leadership departs. However, the Peace Corps' press release today was disappointingly vague. We hope to soon see  public statements by the Peace Corps that match their private enthusiasm and the spirit of unity which both sides have been committed to throughout this process.

Your support can help make sure that the "Kate Puzey Peace Corps Protection Act" sustains the momentum it needs to get passed by Congress and signed by President Obama into law. 

Upcoming steps:
* We will post a "How to Help" guide here for writing letters and making phone calls
* Everyone can start by using our template (posted soon) to write a short letter
* Then - as we move forward - you can help by emailing your letter to your congressional representatives and anyone else whose support we need (ex: the White House).
[Please note: you can just modify a single letter for anyone you contact]
* Other actions for support - such as calling your representative's office - will also be suggested

PLEASE WAIT HOWEVER - It is better to start outreach at the same time

We will be providing updates soon on outreach details.


Today's Press Conference

This afternoon the "Kate Puzey Peace Corps Protection Act of 2011" was finally introduced into Congress!

We want to thank the Congress Members, staffers, supporters, and everyone else who helped get the bill to this point as we look forward to making sure it gets passed!!!

Here are video clips from the press conference:
Senator Johnny Isakson's Speech
Senator Barbara Boxer's Speech

Plus Representative Ted Poe's Speech Introducing the Bill on the House floor:

Some related media articles -
ABC News 

And the press release from Senator Isakson's office:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Status Update on Building Support for the Legislation

Note: We have been putting shorter, more frequent updates on the Facebook page

Over the past two weeks we have been working to finalize an agreement on the language in the bill, which is tentatively named the "Kate Puzey Peace Corps Victims & Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011". The Peace Corps has been invited to collaborate as we definitely hope they will fully support the legislation - although we have been surprised & disappointed by some of their actions during this period and will certainly not stand to have the bill gutted simply to attain their approval.

On the other hand, we have been very encouraged by some of the initial support that has been expressed from numerous congressional Representatives and Senators. Members of our coalition - including Harvard/Columbia Professor Karestan Koenen (a RPCV who is a rape survivor & testified at the hearing) recently met with a number of prominent congressional Members to discuss the bill. We also have been contacted by many more former and present Peace Corps Volunteers who have experienced similar problems and contacted us to support the legislation after the massive media coverage from the hearing.

We hope the bill will be finalized next week, and then introduced the week of June 13th - June17th. In symbolic memory of Kate, it would be great if we were able to pass it by what-would-have-been her 27th birthday on June 19th.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hearing Link and Post-Hearing Media Round-up

Full hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (Lois Puzey’s testimony starts at 43:30):  Peace Corps Hearing

* * * * * * 

News coverage from the hearing has included over 360 articles nationwide, spanning most of the major papers and TV networks. For example, the story ran on the front page of the New York Times (center, above the fold) on Wednesday, and again on the front page (below the fold) on Thursday. ABC 20/20 also is planning a second report soon, and FRA ally Jessica Smochek interviewed yesterday on Good Morning America. 

Here is a sample of some of the coverage:

New York Times Articles
Thursday Article (focus on hearing, legislation, Kate's story)
Wednesday Article (focus on rape survivors)


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Big Day: Successful Hearing & Lots of Press Attention!

This morning Lois Puzey joined rape survivors in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the reform that is needed to protect Peace Corps Volunteers and support victims of rape and sexual assault.

The hearing was by all appearances a great success, with Members on both sides of the aisle pledging to support legislation; it is believed that Rep. Ted Poe will take the lead and introduce legislation for whistleblowers and victims rights this coming Monday.

The issue also received widespread media attention, including being on the front page of the New York Times this morning, and being covered by all the major networks. After the hearing, Lois was interviewed by the New York Times, CBS, Associated Press, WSB, Atlanta Constitution, and ABC.

More updates to follow tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

DC Day Round-up

This morning we had several productive meetings with the Peace Corps Director, senior staff, and the Inspector General - the entourage included First Action Response, legal supporters, and numerous experts in victim response. The Peace Corps is clearly making efforts to address our concerns, and pledged support for at least some of our legislation.

The New York Times also took photos and interviewed survivors from First Response Action - we hope they will run an article tomorrow. In the meantime, here are two recent news pieces:

In the afternoon we went to the Hill for some encouraging meetings with congressional supporters, and we have an even busier day tomorrow before the hearing on Wednesday. Running on adrenaline and hope that we can make a genuine difference in the lives of future volunteers.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meeting with Peace Corps Tomorrow

Kate's mother and brother - along with members of First Response Action and a supporting law firm - will be meeting with Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and the Peace Corps Inspector General tomorrow morning. Hopefully this can be a cooperative, productive meeting just a few days before the congressional hearings.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Our New Blog!

In order to keep our supporters updated with news from the congressional hearings this week and as we move forward with the campaign, we have finally launched our blog!

For standard information on the hearing that Lois Puzey, Kate's mother, will be testifying at before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, follow this link: