Reflections On The 20th Anniversary Of Americorps


ast Friday, I had the privilege to participate in the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps at the White House, which was especially moving for me because I had been in attendance 20 years earlier when President Clinton launched AmeriCorps. My sister in service Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community and Service, kicked things off by swearing in the newest class of AmeriCorps members. It was an honor to hear from President Clinton; he noted that 20 years later, he still believes “service is the spark to rekindle the spirit of democracy in an age of uncertainty,” and it was inspiring to see President Obama reaffirming his commitment to volunteering and service. You can watch the White House event here.

As part of the celebration, President Obama announced new efforts to expand national service and improve pathways to employment for national service alumni. One of those programs, launched by CNCS in partnership with the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps Alums, and the Franklin Project of the Aspen Institute, is Employers of National Service, a new cross-sector partnership that encourages employers to create recruitment, hiring, and advancement opportunities for alumni of AmeriCorps and Peace Corps. Cities of Service is proud to be a charter member of this initiative and would like to congratulate Nashville, one of our coalition members – and specifically, Mayor Karl Dean and Chief Service Officer Laurel Creech – for being the first city government to sign on to the initiative. For more information on how to become an Employer of National Service, please contact us.

During the past 20 years, I have worked at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), in the private sector, for the City of New York, and for various nonprofits. Through it all, I have kept an eye on AmeriCorps and have worked with and hired many AmeriCorps alums. I am thrilled to now be leading Cities of Service, an organization that is doing the important work of supporting mayors to connect citizens to meaningful volunteer experiences that have real and lasting impact on their cities. Many of our coalition cities benefit from the dedicated service of AmeriCorps members, helping Cities of Service replicate and scale its most successful programs and innovations to make an impact in more communities around the country.

I will be forever grateful to Shirley Sagawa for bringing me into the service world 20 years ago and we have been lucky to have Shirley and Deb Jospin – two integral members of the founding team for AmeriCorps – on the Cities of Service team since its inception in 2009. Once you become part of the national service family, it’s hard to leave. It was great to see that many people who were at the White House to celebrate the AmeriCorps launch 20 years ago were there on Friday as well, now in leadership roles in service across sectors and across the country. And I’m pretty sure we all look even younger and happier than we did 20 years ago!

More than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have served their communities in the past 20 years. As President Obama said, “AmeriCorps has changed the life of our nation, and now it’s up to us to make sure it continues, because we’re not just here to celebrate what’s already been achieved, we’re here to rededicate ourselves to the work that lies ahead.”

Every day, our coalition city mayors are leveraging their best resources – national service members and their citizens – to make their cities a better place for all. Measurable impact powered by people.  That’s how we will change the world and I am so honored to be a part of it all.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this service movement. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years brings!

Yours in service,

Myung Lee

We’d love to know how many AmeriCorps alumni we have in our network. We’d also love to hear how you celebrated the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps. Click here to send us an email!