Peter J. Donaldson was named eighth president of the Population Council in January 2005. Under his leadership, the Council has played a major role in population, health, and development policy formulation through groundbreaking biomedical, social science, and public health research, the development of new reproductive health products, and the publication of widely read peer-reviewed journals.
Donaldson began his career with the Population Council in 1973 in Thailand, following a fellowship at Mahidol University’s Institute for Population and Social Research. He was initially seconded to the Thai Ministry of Public Health and then moved to the Council’s office in Seoul, South Korea, where he worked at the Korean Institute for Family Planning and the Korea Development Institute. Later (1989–1994), he was the Council’s regional director for South and East Asia, again based in Bangkok. Donaldson contributed to the evolution of national policies, helped improve reproductive health and family planning programs, and advanced the development of population and health-related institutions in several Asian countries.
Donaldson has also been a senior staff member at Family Health International (now FHI360), director of the Committee on Population at the US National Academies, and from 1994 to 2003 president of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, DC.
In addition to his management and leadership responsibilities at the Population Council, Donaldson is a member of the Global Health Council’s board of directors and chair of its nominating committee, a member of the National Academies’ Committee on Population, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served on the board of directors of the Population Association of America and as a member of PAA’s public affairs committee. He was recently named an honored member of the PAA. He has also been president of the Association of Population Centers and a member of the council of the population section of the American Sociological Association.
Donaldson is the author, co-author, or editor of six books and numerous scientific and popular articles on population and development issues. He has a special interest in foreign assistance and population policy, about which he has written a well-received book and several articles. He earned his PhD in sociology from Brown University, as well as master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Fordham University. In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from Thailand’s Mahidol University.