ME&A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Supports His Community at Job Fairs and Beyond
Introducing Kenneth Goughnour, an ME&A project coordinator with a unique U.S. Peace Corps background. As a second-generation Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) whose parents met in the service and as the current community engagement and outreach director for the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. (RPCV/W) Board of Directors, Ken’s devotion to making a difference and the Peace Corps legacy runs deep.
More so than just working as a steward of the U.S. Peace Corp’s legacy, Ken prides himself in helping promote a more prosperous and inclusive future for the organization and creating spaces, both physically and virtually, for all RPCVs in the metro Washington, D.C., area to feel a sense of community and connectedness. Within ME&A, Ken’s project coordinator role extends to actively supporting and recruiting RPCVs, reflecting ME&A’s strong commitment to this diverse and talented community. In addition to his ongoing job responsibilities, Ken enjoys participating in job fairs where he can engage with RPCVs, sharing insights on how to leverage their U.S. Peace Corps experience to enhance career opportunities.
“I’m always happy to connect with other RPCVs, particularly those recently back from their service. This includes drawing upon professional resources and opportunities through RPCV/W’s extensive network of over 6,000 members, as well as building new friendships,” Ken noted.
RPCV/W is the second-largest network of returned volunteers in the nation where Ken’s role is to serve as a vital link between the RPCV/W Board of Directors and an extensive, diverse, and vocal community of former volunteers. He is also involved in Board recruitment, event planning, social media, and other topics of interest to the community.
From 2013 to 2015, Ken served as a health volunteer at a rural maternity clinic in a Benin, West Africa, village of some 18,000 residents. This community faced unique challenges, including the absence of cell phone service, limited access to electricity and refrigeration, and treacherous roads connecting it to the outside world. Despite these formidable challenges, Ken wholeheartedly committed to having a positive impact on the health and well-being of the residents.
“First order of business, I had to gain the trust and confidence of a community that had very limited knowledge of basic health practices – and an understandable degree of skepticism with respect to the skills and intentions of a Peace Corps volunteer – in order to successfully promote community-based health interventions ranging from HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to broad maternal and child health care services.”
Ken’s contributions to the Peace Corps during his service are underscored by two notable initiatives. He launched Volunteer Voices, a compilation of best practices and “how-to guides” in an engaging, humorous, and accessible format, available digitally to all volunteers in country. Ken’s innovative approach to sharing helpful volunteer experiences and stories was showcased as a “spotlight” volunteer achievement on the Peace Corps’ global website. Ken also led a successful HIV/AIDS testing and treatment campaign featuring hula hoops, which led to unprecedented local youth participation. This successful initiative was subsequently featured on the global Peace Corps website and garnered a letter of commendation from the director of the U.S. Peace Corps nationwide at the time.
Since joining ME&A in 2023, Ken has been providing programmatic support to USAID and U.S. Department of State projects on evaluations, assessments, and learning activities. He is currently assigned to:
- A U.S. Department of State activity developing evidence-based guidance to address gender disparities in forest and carbon monitoring in developing countries.
- A monitoring, evaluation, and learning project supporting the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA) to help it achieve its goal of “a more resilient, inclusive, and secure Southeast Asia.”
- A USAID/Kenya and East Africa (KEA) investment mechanism to evaluate the design and implementation of business-enabling environmental interventions carried out by USAID/KEA to inform finance, investment, and trade activities.
“I’m proud to work at ME&A given its far-reaching contributions to international development. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges inherent in working internationally, am energized when interacting with people from diverse historical and cultural backgrounds, and take enormous pride in being part of a talented team of professionals committed to promoting health equity and accessibility around the world,” he said.