Response to NPCA's Statement: Calling in the NPCA Board of Directors
Dear Peace Corps Community,
It has come to our attention that the NPCA Board Chair, Kim Herman, released a statement that was also shared with NPCA affiliate groups and community members. The Board Chair did not contact RPCV Allies. The statement claims that the allegations against NPCA are not credible and unfounded.
Let’s be clear - these allegations are credible and well-founded.
The NPCA board of directors hired an attorney to investigate the September 2021 complaint. The attorney did not determine if the allegations were credible. He determined that there was no unlawful sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Unfortunately, legal protections fall short, and the burden of proof is high for sex discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
To demonstrate an abusive working environment, the investigator considered whether there was discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that affected a female employee's employment. The attorney did not provide an opinion on this point to the signers of the complaint. The signers of the complaint were not given the full investigation report to see his detailed findings.
Finally, the attorney found that the actions did not violate NPCA's policies concerning discrimination, harassment, or retaliation because NPCA policies follow the legal framework and there is no NPCA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy.
Again, we see hypocrisy between what NPCA says it stands for and what it does. We want to see change.
Please continue to stand with us.
Dear NPCA Board of Directors,
Let’s be clear - we are not attempting to damage the reputation of NPCA or its employees. We are raising concerns with the community because internal channels failed. As staff members we followed advice, policies, procedures, and used the channels available to us. Those actions were not enough, and harmful behaviors continue. We want to ensure current and future NPCA employees are not forced to deliver such a high burden of proof in order for change to happen. We seek positive change – an inclusive, equitable, and welcoming NPCA and Peace Corps Community – and at the bare minimum, we want the harm to stop.
Our allegations are credible because we experienced them and are affected by them. Our allegations are well-founded because this is a pattern of behavior. NPCA’s statement furthers our point because it lacks empathy and denies acknowledgement of the lived experiences of women–which does not align with advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kim Herman, NPCA Board President, says “NPCA is committed to providing support, resources, and advocacy while promoting a spirit of respect and acceptance of all people,” but as former employees we are bringing attention to NPCA’s distinct and persistent lack of support and resources, specifically for women, and especially in the realm of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
We want to emphasize that this is a pattern of behavior. Two women filed a complaint of sex-based harassment and a lawsuit, after which the NPCA board failed to hold NPCA leadership accountable. Because the behavior continued, four more women filed a similar complaint three years later. NPCA did not inform the community at any point about these concerns. Both staff and board turnover have been high during these years, and several women have left NPCA in silence for similar reasons.
If the board reduces its responsibility to only what is legal, then it has already undermined Peace Corps Ideals and abandoned the Peace Corps community. Legal standards are not enough at this point, as harm continues. Concerns are laid out in pages of documents and hours of interviews over several years. There is room to act.
We are Peace Corps Volunteers. We hold ourselves to Peace Corps ideals all over the world and we need the same in our own community at home.