STEVE MCDONALD, now serving as a Public Policy Scholar (PPS) at the Center, began his association with the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2002 when he was hired as a consultant to help administer a post-conflict reconciliation project in Burundi. He remained in that capacity, expanding that work to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia, until 2008. At that time, McDonald was asked to head the Africa Program and the Leadership and Building State Capacity Project as Consulting Director, moving into the full Director's position in 2010, a role he played until October 2013 when he became a PPS.
McDonald had previously held a variety of positions pertaining to Africa over a 40 year career. As a Foreign Service Officer from 1970-80, McDonald served as Political Officer in the U.S. Embassies in Uganda and South Africa and as the Desk Officer for Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe. He also was support staff for negotiated settlements in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and Namibia in the late-1970s and did conflict resolution work in Northern Ireland and Burundi.
From 1982–1985, as Executive Director of US-South Africa Leader Development Program, McDonald designed and conducted educational exchange programs with institutions like Johns Hopkins School of International Advanced Studies and Harvard's Niemann Fellowship.
McDonald worked with both the National Endowment for Democracy, as a consultant from 1985-1992, and with the African-American Institute, from 1992-97, in implementing democratization activities. He has personally led missions of elections observers to Ethiopia, Benin, Gabon, Sierra Leone, and Madagascar. He has worked on assessment teams to design civic education, monitoring and training for elections officials for elections in South Africa and Uganda and has done assessments of human rights situation in Nigeria. He initiated and organized a series of regional conferences, with USAID, Department of Defense, World Bank and United Nations funding, on the role of the military in democratization in Africa. McDonald also oversaw the African Regional Electoral Assistance Fund which engaged in training of elections officials, civic voters education, observation and monitoring of elections throughout Africa, to include 34 separate country activities in partnership with the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, and the Carter Center at Emory University.
McDonald also served at the Aspen Institute as the Director of the Southern Africa Policy Forum, a project that brought members of Congress together with Southern Africa leaders from 1988 – 1992 to become more engaged and informed about the South Africa transition to democracy.
McDonald has taught at University post-graduate level at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri; taught and supervised the Advanced Areas Studies Course for Francophone Africa at the Foreign Service Institute, Washington, DC; and guest lectured at several universities and institutions, to include the National War College, Georgetown University, and Yale University, amongst others.
M.A., African Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, England; graduate studies, East European History, University of Missouri; B.A. French and Political Science, Southwest Missouri State University