Blog | From the CEO: Local People Know Best


Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters is the chief executive officer of The Carter Center.

The Carter Center operates under the firm conviction that people are capable of solving their own challenges, and our role is to provide them the tools and training to do it.

“The poorest of all people, who are often scorned or derogated, are just as intelligent as we are, just as ambitious as we are. They are just as hard-working as we. They just need some help, and that’s what we provide through The Carter Center,” President Carter said in London in February. “I’ve come to admire their judgment and wisdom, their courage and faith, and their great accomplishments, when given a chance to use their innate abilities in improving their own lives.”

People want to improve their own lives; our job is to help them get there.

That is why, as a global organization whose footprint touches more than 80 nations, The Carter Center relies fundamentally on hundreds of in-country field staff and tens of thousands of volunteers working within their own communities. It is community volunteers who are showing their neighbors how to avoid contracting Guinea worm, river blindness, and other diseases; we simply provide the knowledge and resources. It is determined communities that make democracy flourish; our role is to teach them the principles and observe the elections.


Community legal adviser Stephanie Sayeh helps guide Liberians through formal and informal dispute resolution. The cadre of 32 advisers, sponsored by The Carter Center and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, is made up of Liberians assisting their fellow citizens. (Photo: The Carter Center/ M. Darrough)

Whether in Ghana or Guatemala, China or Chad, we know local people understand local issues best, and it’s up to them to make things better. Cultural respect fuels effective partnerships and true progress.

In concert with governments, partner organizations, and our donors and supporters like you, together as a team we wage peace, fight disease, and build hope.

Related Resources

Learn more about the Center’s peace programs >

Learn more about the Center’s health programs >

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