President Joe Biden has selected Shirley Sacha Sagawa, a longtime champion of youth and national service, to be a member of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent government agency that makes grants to support service and volunteer organizations.
For Sagawa, a Harvard trained lawyer, her confirmation will send her back to familiar territory. She was the founding managing director of the corporation for three years in the mid-1990s. As a top architect of the legislation that established the agency, she was put in charge of launching it as well. She also helped establish AmeriCorps, which connects young adults with service opportunities that come with stipends and education awards.
Both the federal corporation and AmeriCorps have involved millions of people, many of them youth, in national and community service over the years through grants to such youth-leadership groups as City Year. While the national service agency has generally enjoyed bipartisan support, the Trump administration consistently targeted it for elimination in its yearly budgets. In its final budget proposal, for fiscal 2020, the AmeriCorps program – which supplies much-needed, low-cost workers to many nonprofits – would have lost all but $2 million of its $423 million budget. The Foster Grandparent program ($111 million), which funds service programs that put the elderly together with kids, would have gone away entirely.
Sagawa’s extensive background — she served the George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations in various capacities — also includes being the chief majority counsel for youth policy on the Senate labor committee under Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). She is considered an expert in nonprofit innovation and education and currently teaches an innovation course at Georgetown School of Public Policy.
The Maryland resident’s term on the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service would expire in 2024.