Jody Olsen

Former Director, Peace Corps

Dr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, PhD, served as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps between March, 2018 – January, 2021.  With the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Olsen made the unprecedented decision to evacuate all 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers from 61 countries safely back to the United States. Dr. Olsen also championed global women’s economic empowerment and opened Peace Corps in a new country, Vietnam.

Dr. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving as an education Volunteer in Tunisia from 1966-1968.  She has also served the agency in five other senior level positions, including Deputy Director. Spring, 2022, she completed a semester as Resident Fellow at the IOP Harvard Kennedy School.

Prior to returning to the Peace Corps in 2018, Dr. Olsen was Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Social Work and Director of the University’s Center for Global Education for eight years where she developed and directed inter-professional global health projects for health graduate students, and taught international social work, global social policy, and global health.

Dr. Olsen received a BS from the University of Utah, a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a PhD in Human Development from the University of Maryland, College Park. Among her many awards, she has received the University of Maryland President’s Award, the University of Utah’s alumni of the year award, and two honorary doctorates.

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