Alumni Profile: Dorine Andrews, D.C.D. ’01
“We do magic,” Dorine Andrews, D.C.D. ’01, says matter-of-factly of the 70-person staff she manages as the chief information officer for the Peace Corps, the storied volunteer organization that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Her description of the task at hand—supplying a global infrastructure and systems to more than 75 posts around the world, many in decidedly low- or no-tech regions, on a shoestring budget—sounds vaguely reminiscent of MacGyver: “We really do some sophisticated work,” she says. “But sometimes I feel like we’re holding it all together with wire and sealing wax. I always say, ‘Imagine yourself running an IT organization where one-third of your offices don’t have power 24 hours a day. And during the rainy season it could be as little as four hours a day.’”
Despite the technical obstacles, it has become increasingly important for the organization’s roughly 8,500 volunteers to have access to the information superhighway, even in rural areas, Andrews explains. “There are tremendous opportunities to use media in new ways in terms of instructional design and [to] share it collaboratively,” she says. “When you work in a post, you’re assigned to a project; it may be farming, business development or helping a village build a composting site, and there are always language challenges. Some of our young volunteers have built videos of instructions on how to graft a tree, for example. They can watch the video and then teach it, or if that doesn’t get [it] across, they can show the video [to the community]. They’re doing very clever things.”
“I decided life had to be an adventure, and you must do the things you want to do.”
In a sense, the new CIO and her team are helping to reinvent the Peace Corps for the 21st century. Not coincidentally, Andrews’ August 2010 White House appointment to the position has enabled some professional reinvention as well—and that’s what she does best. Only a decade ago, she wrote her dissertation on midlife career change and became the first graduate of the University of Baltimore’s Doctor of Communications Design program. Today, the former computer programmer, management consultant, business owner, author, professor and (short-term) retiree is a staunch proponent of change.
“I decided life had to be an adventure, and you must do the things you want to do,” says Andrews, who remembers thinking that the CIO’s job description—an ideal fit for her background in both network theory and change management—“sounded like fun.”
“It’s a classic leadership role for building business relationships, changing attitudes about IT and managing,” she says. “It’s the perfect job.”