by Michelle Simmons
Ambassador Tom Hull '68 stays connected to Sierra Leone, the first country he worked in as a Peace Corps volunteer.
After four decades working for peace and democracy in some of the world’s hottest spots, Tom Hull ’68 knows something about patience. The former history major began his peripatetic career in Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps volunteer. After earning a master’s in government from Columbia University, he joined the Department of State, leading to 31 years of foreign service that have taken him to South Africa, Nigeria, Somalia, Congo and the Czech Republic.
In 2004, Hull returned to Sierra Leone as the U.S. ambassador to help the war-torn country hold free and fair elections and rebuild its civil society.
“What you discover is that change quite often comes one person or one community at a time,” he says. “When political change is difficult, what you do is show people that the world is paying attention regardless.”
For his work there, Hull received his second Presidential Meritorious Service Award in 2009; his first, in 1993, was for helping transform communist Czechoslovakia into the democratic Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Hull recently completed a three-year term as the Warburg Chair in International Relations at Simmons College. He remains connected to Sierra Leone, serving on the board of directors of Friends of Sierra Leone, a nonprofit organization comprised of former Peace Corps volunteers who successfully advocated for the corps’ return to the country in 2010, and the Bunce Island Coalition, an organization that is restoring a historic slave-trading site there.
Published September 1, 2010