Ambassador James A. Joseph
Ambassador James A. Joseph is President Emeritus of the Council on Foundations and Professor Emeritus 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 founding chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service where he helped 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, at that time the highest honor bestowed on a citizen of another country, and in 2008 he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. Ambassador Joseph serves currently 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 also taught at Yale Divinity School and the Claremont Colleges where he was university chaplain. In 1985, he was a Fellow at Nuffield College at Oxford University. He has nineteen honorary degrees.
At Duke, Ambassador Joseph was also Leader in-Residence for the Hart Leadership Program and founder of the United States – Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values as a partnership between Duke and the University of Cape Town. In 1963, he was founding co-chair of the local civil rights movement that led the fight for civil rights in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A frequent speaker to academic, civic and religious audiences, he is the author of four books, most recentlySaved 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 Fortunemagazine 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 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.