Witness and Welcome Liaison

Bill Penoyar

Bill Penoyar’s international career began with the Arabian American Oil Company when he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia in 1983. There he gained experience in contract negotiations and the international travel bug that endured after he returned to the United States. After working as a contract negotiator with the Navy in 1987, Bill accepted a job in the USAID contracting office in 1992. He obtained a project development job in the European and Newly Independent States (ENI) Bureau until 1999 when he was offered a Limited Appointment Foreign Service Position with the West Newly Independent States Mission in Kyiv, Ukraine.

While working at ENI, Bill started on a path of helping people he met along the way in his international service. The many immigrants he has assisted during his work with USAID has continued during retirement and provided great personal fulfillment.

He and his wife, Sandi, hosted a Russian woman visiting the U.S. on a USAID work internship in 1997. When the company for which she interned had her return to the U.S. on a long-term visa, she needed a place to live, so Bill and Sandi offered her a room in their home. Eventually, she obtained her green card, and later, her U.S. citizenship. She was the Penoyars’ first opportunity to support an immigrant. Twenty-five years later, Bill and Sandi still count Elena as one of their good friends.

Bill, Sandi, and their two daughters have continued to develop friendships and have sponsored an extended refugee Iraqi family whom Bill met while working as a USAID Provincial Reconstruction Team representative. The two families included five children in 2012. They are all U. S. citizens now and have in some ways become part of the Penoyar family.

Since then, Bill has also helped a Ukrainian woman who is presently in the process of applying for her permanent Green Card status and eventual citizenship.

Although he retired from USAID in 2011 and U.S. Personal Service Contract work in 2016, Bill continued to offer assistance to folks who are talented and have taken substantial risks to immigrate to the U.S on Refugee or Special Immigrant Visa status. Since the evacuation of Afghan refugees in 2021, Bill has helped a UAA identified refugee, located in Modesto, California, with his resume and job search which helped him obtain a job. Through the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. Bill helped a young Afghan woman obtain a job in the Arlington, VA area. He is presently assisting a Ukrainian, and other Afghans with their resumes and job search.

Bill says, “This ongoing volunteer assistance continues to be a rewarding avocation for me in addition to the many other pleasures of being retired. I continue to enjoy being a “big brother” to the Iraqi kids which we sponsored years ago.  This includes my favorite outdoor activities, skiing in Colorado in March, and walking or biking on the cooler days around the NOVA area.  This also includes the occasional outing with my new Afghan friends, when I take them to places they haven’t visited before in the area. Sandi and I also manage to take a trip somewhere other than Colorado once or twice a year.”

His experiences have also contributed to his writing and publishing two books available on Amazon.com: On the Road with a Foreign Service Officer,thisSurviving Dreamland – Escape from Terror,