10 Questions With Gaddi Vasquez

The Word of God inspires me every day.

Ambassador Gaddi H. Vasquez is a recognized leader and advocate against world hunger, disease and poverty, and has been recognized for his advocacy at home and abroad. He has served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Rome, Italy and as the 15th Director of the United States Peace Corps. Gaddi currently serves on The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board. He is a native of Carrizo Springs, Texas and is a graduate of the University of Redlands.

1. How did you meet the Army?

My parents were migrant farmworkers. The Salvation Army store provided access to clothing and proved to be a blessing in our times of greatest need. Decades later, I was invited to serve on the Orange County Advisory Board in California. While serving on the OC Advisory Board, I was invited to join the National Advisory Board.

2. What initiatives from the National Advisory Board are you most excited about? 

The strategic planning process is of great value to the work of the National Advisory Board. The establishment of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee presents a new opportunity to reach a broader audience and touch the lives of an increasingly diverse population.

3. What should The Salvation Army expect of advisory board members at a local level? Likewise, what is your expectation for officers that work with advisory board members? 

Serving on a local advisory board is an opportunity to provide feedback and prayerful support to officers of The Salvation Army. 

Army leadership should assess and utilize the strengths and attributes of advisory board members to create the proper level of alignment and engagement. 

4. Who inspires you and why?

The Word of God inspires me every day. The application of God’s Word to my daily walk gives me the strength to face challenges of the day with a sense of purpose and a desire to do good every day. 

5. What has been one of your biggest joys as a leader? Biggest challenge?

Leading the Peace Corps was a major highlight of my career. Each day I was inspired by American men and women who worked to promote peace, friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of host countries. 

6. Who has had the greatest influence on your leadership? 

My father was the faith leader in our home. He taught and lived the principles of faith that have guided me throughout my personal and professional life. 

I was honored to serve as the Chief Deputy Appointments Secretary for Governor George Deukmejian of California. He was a model of integrity and authenticity, and the first Armenian American to be elected governor of a state in U.S. history. 

7. What is your definition of leadership and how was it formed? 

Leadership is having the courage to stand in the public arena and advocate for those who can’t speak or advocate for themselves. There is no greater reward in life than to create possibilities for men, women and children [so that they] have a fighting chance in a challenging and complicated world.

8. What are you most proud of? 

My public service career began as a police officer in Orange, California, followed by appointments by three California governors, and two U.S. presidents to four different roles and as a senior executive career for one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities. As the son of a migrant farm working family, it has been a source of pride and honor to serve at home and abroad.

9. What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading “Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. 

10. What do you do to unwind from the day?

Cycling, hiking and daily devotion. All three give me time to clear my mind, reflect on the day and capture a glimpse of the day ahead. 

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