Ambassador James A. Joseph is President Emeritus of the Council on Foundations where he served as Chief Executive Officer from 1982–1995. He is also Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Before joining the faculty of the Sanford School in 2000, he served in senior executive or advisory positions for four U.S. Presidents, including Under Secretary of the Interior for President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Ambassador to South Africa for President William Clinton. He was also the chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, where he worked with the Congress and White House staff to establish AmeriCorps, and chair of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation established by Governor Blanco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In 1999, the Republic of South Africa awarded Joseph the Order of Good Hope, the highest honor bestowed on a citizen of another country, and in 2008 he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. At Duke, Ambassador Joseph was founding director of the United States – Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values, a partnership between Duke and the University of Cape Town.  From 19,71-1977 he was President of the Cummins Foundation and Vice President of Cummins Engine Company, the world’s largest producer of heavy duty diesel engines. An ordained minister, he has taught at Yale Divinity School and the Claremont Colleges where he was also university chaplain.  In 1985, he was a Fellow at Nuffield College at Oxford University and now serves as an Honorary Professor and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. He has nineteen honorary degrees.

A frequent speaker to academic, civic and religious audiences, he is the author of four books, most recently Saved for a Purpose: A Journey from Private Virtues to Public Values published in 2015 by the Duke University Press. His undergraduate alma mater, Southern University, has named an endowed chair in his honor and the Association of Black Foundation Executives established the annual James A. Joseph Lecture on Philanthropy.

In 1979, Joseph was named by Ebony magazine as “One of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans” and later by Fortune magazine as one of “America’s Best Nonprofit Managers.” In 2014, he received the Lux et Veritas award that honors a distinguished graduate of Yale Divinity School. He has served as chair of the Children’s Defense Fund and as a member of the board of directors of the Brookings Institution, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Pitzer College and City Year South Africa. He is a former member of the board of advisors of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and the Andrew Young Leadership and Policy Center at Morehouse College. Ambassador Joseph is married to the former Mary Braxton, an Emmy Award winning television journalist. He has two children and two grandchildren.


Consensus and Complexity: A Retreat for New Family Foundation CEOs

Posted on October 11, 2019 by Alexa Cortes Culwell, Nicholas A. Tedesco, Virginia M. Esposito, Ambassador James A. Joseph, Stephen Treat, June L. Wilson, David Weitnauer, Jim Parsons

SOLD OUT! Contact NCFP at (202) 293-3424 to add your name to the wait list. Serving in the leadership staffing role for a family foundation can be one of the best jobs you’ll ever have, but it is not without challenges and complications. This first-of-its-kind NCFP peer retreat provides a unique opportunity for new family foundation CEOs to reflect on… Read More