"Being a Fellow helped me to expand my professional network here in Pittsburgh and gave me some amazing opportunities to work for Girl Scouts Trillium Council as well as for the United Steelworkers of America," Iris Winter said on reflecting on her time as a Peace Corps Fellow in Duquesne University's Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy.
Iris has a strong ethic of social justice and service. Before joining the Peace Corps she was an Americorps VISTA at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Tucson, Arizona. As a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa she helped introduce new educational techniques to teachers. There she also met her future husband, Manuel Zuniga, another Peace Corps volunteer, who preceded Iris as a Peace Corps Fellow in the Policy Center.
As a Fellow, Iris wanted to work in a women's organization. As it happened, just as she started her studies Girl Scouts Trillium Council in downtown Pittsburgh approached the Policy Center with a need for help in developing a needs assessment of girls in their service area. Though initially they had no money to offer, after Iris's first successful year they included her in their regular operating budget. "Iris demonstrated exceptional initiative," her supervisor reported. She managed and supervised a team of six interns and staff; developed a project timeline, assigned tasks, and tracked ongoing progress; created and implemented standardized templates, spreadsheets, forms, and questionnaires for an eight-part process; gathered, compiled, entered, and analyzed census, school, and membership data; and organized and assisted in the facilitation of community leader focus groups.
Even after she finished her fellowship she continued to work for them, doing a variety of projects including some fund development, until her son was born. She even did some freelance from home after that, too, including setting up the first ever Girls Scouts Build a Dream event.
Iris delivered her second child in April 2008. She considers her decision to stay at home to raise her children a conscious policy decision. "I do, but not everyone does," she says of her choice.