David Mathews was elected to the Kettering Foundation’s board of trustees in 1972 and became its president and CEO in 1981.
Prior to his work there, David served in the Ford administration as secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), where he worked on restoring public confidence in government and reforming the regulatory system. From 1965 to 1980, he taught history at the University of Alabama, where he also served as president from 1969 to 1980, an era of significant change and innovation, including the integration of the institution.
David serves on the boards of a variety of organizations, including the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, National Issues Forums Institute, Council on Public Policy Education, and Public Agenda. He has received numerous awards, including a citation as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Nation, United States Jaycees; member, Alabama Academy of Honor; Nicholas Murray Butler Medal in Silver, Columbia University; Educator of the Year, Alabama Conference of Black Mayors; and the Brotherhood Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews. He was inducted into the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2007, the Alabama Center for Civic Life was renamed in his honor as the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. He is the recipient of 16 honorary degrees.
David has written extensively on such subjects as education, political theory, southern history, public policy, and international problem solving. His most recent book, The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future (Kettering Foundation Press, 2014), focuses on how the work of democracy might be done to put more control in the hands of citizens and help restore the legitimacy of our institutions.
For more on the book, visit http://ecologyofdemocracy.org
Transcribed highlights from John and Peter's conversation with Kettering Foundation president and CEO David Mathews on the role of citizens in making democracy work as it should. For more than three decades, David has led the Foundation’s work with communities and institutions from the citizen's perspective: "We trade what we have learned for what they are learning, and both benefit.”… read more »
Video with Kettering Foundation president and CEO David Mathews explaining how people and communities can get greater control over their collective future. One way to do this is to ask questions that will reveal new possibilities for acting together on shared problems. Here Mathews talks about five of these questions and why they are seldom asked.… read more »
Politics is not simply passing legislation and electing representatives. It is about creating opportunities for citizens to make choices together on the issues that concern them most. Changing the way people talk can change the way they relate to each other and to their problems — and that can eventually change the community.… read more »