James L. McDonald

Special Advisor to the President for External Constituents, President Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Seminary
San Francisco Theological Seminary

Photo of James L. McDonald


PhD, American University

MDiv, Union Theological Seminary

BA, Princeton University


Montgomery Hall, Marin Campus
P: 415.451.2812
E: james_mcdonald@redlands.edu
E: jmcdonald@sfts.edu

Meet Jim

A lifelong Presbyterian, Jim McDonald became San Francisco Theological Seminary’s 11th president in July 2011. He is Professor of Faith and Public Life.

Before coming to SFTS, Jim worked for 13 years at Bread for the World, a faith-based grassroots advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. that urges policymakers to reduce hunger in this country and around the world. In 1998, after completing a Ph.D. in International Relations from American University, he joined Bread for the World as an international policy analyst and led a broad legislative coalition that secured substantial debt relief for the world’s poorest countries. In 2000 he became Bread’s Vice President for Policy and Program, managing the organizations’ work on domestic and international policy issues, and their programs of advocacy, education and social change. In 2010 he became Bread’s Managing Director.

Previously Jim served as director of the Humphrey Fellowship Program at American University, and taught courses in world politics, U.S. foreign policy, and the international relations of Latin America at George Washington University and American University.

After receiving a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary (NYC) in 1975, Jim worked in pastoral ministry for 15 years, serving as associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, IN, (1975-1979) and pastor of Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia, PA (1980-1990). While at Tabernacle, he led the congregation’s engagement in the Sanctuary Movement, a national effort by Jewish and Christian congregations to provide safe haven for undocumented refugees fleeing the violence in Central America.

Jim is married to Dean McDonald, also a Presbyterian minister. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Courses Taught

Introduction to Ethics: Economic Justice


1975-1979: Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, IN

1980-1990: Pastor, Tabernacle United Church, Philadelphia, PA

2000-2010: Vice President for Policy and Program, Bread for the World

2010-2011: Managing Director, Bread for the World