Bob McDonald is a Chicagoan who adopted DC as his home in 1989 and brought with him a lifetime orientation to community service. His background in health care services, community outreach, and fundraising is unique preparation for operating Village services.
Starting in September, he’ll put those skills to use as Director of Volunteers and Village Services for FBWE Village. Come to the Grand Opening to meet him.
Bob grew up in Chicago’s south suburbs (a White Sox fan, if you have to ask) and knew early in his life that he wanted to help people. That view of the world took him to the Catholic Church. After his seminary training in Illinois, he served as an associate pastor at three Chicago-area parishes and later as chaplain and pastoral counselor at Mercy Hospital there.
By the late 1980’s, he left the priesthood and decided Washington was the place to build a new life and use his caring skills in a new way.
“I found a position working in behavioral health — mental health and substance abuse — with a company in Rockville, Maryland,” he said. He recruited psychologists, social workers and counselors around the country to support the employee assistance programs (EAPs) of Marriott Corp. and others.
Bob continued his work setting up behavioral health services through several mergers and new companies, including a short stint with Mass General/Brigham and Women’s Health System in the late 90s.
Along the way he met David, an architect, who is now his husband. Although they are members of St Thomas Episcopal Church in Dupont Circle they were married at All Souls Episcopal Church in Woodley Park in May 2011.
From 2004 to 2012, Bob served as director of membership services at Foundry United Methodist Church in the Dupont Circle neighborhood that is his home.
“A lot of times, people have had difficult church experiences,” he said. “My role was to help them realize that at this church, things could be different…to relate to people and provide them services.”
At Foundry, he was involved in a wide range of activities from counseling for people getting ready for marriage to fundraising, where he directed annual campaigns for about $1.5 million a year.
When he retired in 2012, a friend from Foundry steered him to a volunteer position with the Dupont Circle Village, started in 2008, where he was the unpaid volunteer program coordinator for about a year. In that position, he recruited and organized a team of about 60 volunteers.
“My first goal with the Village is to get to know the territory and the people. What has struck me in the Village-to-Village exchange network is that every Village is different, it depends on the community. That’s why I really want to get to know the neighborhood, which is so important in doing this kind of development.”