ChildFund’s Presidents Week: Paul F. McCleary, 1988-1994

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

This week, we turn the spotlight on ChildFund’s top leaders throughout our history. Visit earlier posts about our first four executive directors: Dr. Calvitt Clarke, Verbon E. Kemp, Dr. Verent Mills and Dr. James MacCracken.

Dr. Paul F. McCleary, Christian Children’s Fund’s fifth executive director, came from Save the Children, where his predecessor Dr. MacCracken was employed. Dr. McCleary served as a missionary in Bolivia for 12 years while working for the United Methodist Church and the National Council of Churches. He brought a global worldview and approached his leadership at CCF with an eye toward political shifts in the eroding Soviet Union, Germany, Iraq, Poland and South Africa, as well as population growth, debt and changing economies.

Dr. McCleary in Lithuania

Dr. Paul McCleary with children in Lithuania.

Dr. McCleary was the first leader of our organization with considerable hands-on experience in developing countries since the tenure of Dr. Mills, who was overseas director before becoming our third executive director.

“Working among the poorest, we were exposed to the full spectrum of problems that poverty breeds — high infant mortality, annual pregnancies, malnutrition, low productivity, low income, as well as the repetition of the poverty cycle from one generation to the next,” Dr. McCleary said in 1991 of his time in Bolivia, according to Larry E. Tise’s A Book about Children. “So, for me, it’s not at all difficult to know what people must be experiencing in Brazil or India or the Philippines, and to have a strong, empathetic relationship with the staff who are attempting to change things.”

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