Dr. James Dobson steps down as Focus on the Family chairman
Focus on the Family's James C. Dobson, Ph.D., has stepped down as board chairman of the ministry he founded 32 years ago, it was announced today (Friday, February 27, 2009), reports Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries.
His wife, National Day of Prayer Chairman Shirley Dobson, has also left the Focus on the Family Board of Directors. They have been elected to the positions of Founder and Chairman Emeritus and Director Emerita, respectively, for the nonprofit ministry they started in 1977.
According to a new release from Focus on the Family, the Dobsons' decision represents the "next step in a transition plan begun six years ago, when he stepped down as president in order to lessen his administrative burden." Executive leadership was handed to Don Hodel in 2003, and then to Jim Daly in 2005. Dr. Dobson had been board chairman until today.
The board of directors issued this statement: “One of Dr. Dobson's objectives during the last decade has been to help identify the next generation of leadership for the ministry, and to see it established securely before he stepped away from administrative oversight. That purpose has now been fulfilled, and we applaud Dr. Dobson for this concern for the future of the ministry.”
Dr. Dobson's other responsibilities at the ministry will not change significantly. He will continue the “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast, and handle other duties as in the past. He will also continue to write the newsletter, sent to 1.6 million people per month. He and Mrs. Dobson are anxious to devote themselves to the joys of grandparenting.
“One of the common errors of founder-presidents,” Dr. Dobson said, “is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority. I have wanted not to make that mistake with Focus on the Family, which is why I stepped back, first from the presidential duties six years ago, and now, from board chairmanship. Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.”
Jim Daly, Focus' president and CEO, said the ministry will “forever be committed to the fulfillment of the mission so definitively served by both Dr. and Mrs. Dobson – helping families thrive.”
“The Dobsons have dedicated their lives to Focus on the Family,” Daly said. “He is my mentor and friend – and an inspiration and role model to millions of Americans.”
Dr. Dobson called Daly a “great leader.”
“We at Focus are blessed to have someone with Jim's passion and skills, as well as a wonderfully experienced and intelligent board of directors. That fact gave me the courage to let them run the ministry. With God's help, they will do it superbly.”
Assuming the chairmanship of the Focus board is Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana (USAF, Retired), a board member since 1996 and vice chairman since 2006. Gen. Caruana, who served 36 years in the military, was Vice President of Northrop Grumman Space Technology from 2002 to 2005 and also served as Vice President and Program Manager for TRW Space & Electronics from August 1999 until the company was acquired by Northrup Grumman in 2002.
Andrew Malcolm, writing in his LA Times blog said, “While Dobson routinely sought to keep his conservative political views separate from his nonprofit organization's, he made little secret last year of his disdain for both Republicans Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, primarily over the Arizona's campaign finance work that put added political restrictions on public outreach by nonprofit groups like Focus. At one point he suggested he might not vote at all.
“When it became clear that McCain would win the GOP nomination, Dobson endorsed former Baptist preacher and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He later said that, given the candidate put forth by the Democrats and his abortion stance, he had a moral obligation to vote, presumably for McCain.”