Head of the Corporation for National Service since the fall of 1995, Harris Wofford has dedicated much of his career to the goal of making citizen service a common expectation and experience for all Americans. As a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1994, he played a key role in both crafting and working to pass the trailblazing legislation that created the Corporation with broad bi-partisan support.
Wofford’s role in The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future is in keeping with that bi-partisan spirit. A national service summit was the brainchild of former Michigan Governor George Romney, who shared his vision with Wofford shortly after Wofford was named as the Corporation’s CEO. Wofford and Points of Light Foundation President Bob Goodwin agreed to enlist their organizations in initiating the unprecedented meeting. What has become the Presidents’ Summit was born. Romney did not live to see the realization of his dream, but he died knowing that the Summit would go forward.
Since helping to launch the Peace Corps in 1961 under the Kennedy Administration, Wofford has been in the forefront of the nation’s service movement. In the 1970s, he formed and chaired a panel to study the idea of national service, which in 1979 produced the landmark report Youth and the Needs of the Nation . In 1987, as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Labor and Industry, he established and led Governor Robert Casey’s Office of Citizen Service, which promoted school-based service-learning and youth corps, and managed the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps.
In 1993, then-Senator Wofford worked with President Clinton’s task force, headed by Eli Segal, on both drafting and passing the National and Community Service Trust Act, which created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National Service.
Wofford played a key role in the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King. Under President Eisenhower, he was counsel to the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame on the first U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In the Kennedy years, he was a Special Assistant to the President and chaired the subcabinet group on civil rights. While on the White House staff, Wofford helped Sargent Shriver plan and organize the Peace Corps and in 1962, he became the Peace Corps’ Special Representative to Africa and director of its large Ethiopia program. In the Johnson Administration, he took on the post of Peace Corps Associate Director.
Wofford has been both a law professor and president of two colleges, the State University of New York at Old Westbury and of Bryn Mawr College. An alumnus of the University of Chicago, and both Howard University and Yale Law Schools, he has also practiced law and authored several books, including Of Kennedys and Kings.
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