Service in Action: Bill Basl Takes the Helm at AmeriCorps
"Believe in something; stand for something; act on something.” These ideas epitomize the career of new AmeriCorps Director Bill Basl as he continues his impressive work in public and national service and takes the helm of the program with more than 80,000 members.
Basl moves to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) headquarters following an 18-year tenure as the Executive Director of the Washington Commission for National and Community Service where his responsibilities included AmeriCorps programs in the state.
He notes that his passion lies with “developing new strategies where service and volunteerism can be recognized as major efforts that bring our country together,” and his extensive list of accomplishments bears out that philosophy.
A Lifetime of Service
Basl began his national service career as a VISTA volunteer in 1970-71 helping migrant farm workers in Eastern Washington establish their own businesses and continued as a VISTA volunteer leader in '71-'72 where he helped form a regional services network.
He continued to make his mark in the national service movement by founding the Washington Service Corps in 1983, the first statewide youth service initiative in the nation designed to address priority local education and human services needs, and helped develop national service legislation.
Basl also founded the nation's first veterans' corps and is noted for establishing a collaborative regional network to provide AmeriCorps training across the Pacific Northwest. He is a past chair and board member of the American Association of State Service Commissions and was selected by the White House as a Champion of Change-Service Innovator in June 2011.
All in the Family
Service runs in the new AmeriCorps leader's family: His wife served in the Peace Corps in Western Samoa and his daughter recently finished her term as an AmeriCorps member in Seattle.
During Basl's time in the Pacific Northwest, he became adept at growing vegetables in the region's cloudy climes and participated in popular outdoor activities bicycling and cross-country skiing.
He is an avid sports fan, following the University of Washington Huskies football and basketball teams; the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders; as well as his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates. Basl holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island, and he enjoys reading biographies, especially those related to volunteerism and service.
Basl will be joining CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer on social media to spread the word about AmeriCorps and national service. You can keep up with him on Twitter by following @americorps.