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Expanded Background Information


Advisors, MycoDesigners, Partners, Owners



For those who would like more detailed information about various MycoMesh Movers and Shakers, you will find expanded biographical information on this page.

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John McDonald

John McDonald

Mover & Shaker, MycoMesh

John has spent the past 50+ years helping enable people to survive and thrive and advocating for, and working in a variety of business, non-profit and community settings.​ 


Most recently, John and his wife, Barbara, co-founded MycoMesh, which is the subject of this website. MycoMesh helps businesses, non-profits, community groups and individuals "roll up their sleeves"​ to create the innovative, sustainable, bio-inspired MycoPLACES ECOSYSTEMTM .

Over the past five decades, John has worked in an array of business and social structures. He has spent more than 50 years working directly with leaders at various levels in for-profit, not-for-profit companies, and community groups to resolve critical people, strategy, process and technology issues.

The following is a sampling of the diversity of settings in which John has had the pleasure of serving: 

Professional Advisors, a privately-run consulting group, San Diego

For more than 20 years, Professional Advisors, and its predecessor, provided a unique, crossover perspective (from the fields of technology, business management, and human relations) ​to small and medium sized businesses. ​ John and his colleagues work focused on conflict resolution, team-building, partner-Board-owner coaching, business /non-profit strategy, organization turn-around and restructuring, MBTI counseling (qualified and certified, 35+ years experience), project and process design, and technology assessment and design.

Partners for Innovative Community, Inc. (Partners) a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, San Diego

Partners focused on helping groups produce truly innovative and sustainable communities by bringing together people from Arts, Technology and Environment/Ecology. One of Partners first on-the-ground initiatives was the Arts Technology & Environment (ATE) District in Oceanside, California which the City Council approved as part of the City's broader Coast Highway Vision. Partners also co-sponsored the 78Collaborative---a large scale, private-public sector collaboration involving the people and institutions along the 17 mile Highway 78/Sprinter corridor. 

[In late 2014, John recommended that the leadership of Partners be transferred to a team that proposed to dramatically expand the non-profit's efforts and funding. John and his colleagues on Partners'​ Board added two outstanding women leaders, including internationally-recognized, Naila Chowdhury. The newly named non-profit, Alliance4Empowerment, is now aggressively carrying on the non-profit's core mission and John encourages everyone to consider supporting Alliance's important work.​ This change freed John to turn his full attention to forming the social purpose corporation, Mycologies SPC and, now, the current organization that is the subject of this website, MycoMesh.]


Arts Commission, Oceanside, CA

John was appointed by the Mayor to serve on Oceanside's Arts Commission and was elected Chair in 2006. He left the Commission in March 2008 to work on arts and community advocacy projects directly within the community. While on the Commission, John designed and led the successful effort to create a comprehensive Arts Strategy and Workplan to weave Arts into all aspects of the fabric of the city (private and public sector) and to establish an Arts Overlay policy (which was adopted unanimously by the City Council).


Pepperdine University School of Law, Los Angeles

Designed, developed and taught innovative courses on negotiation and legal practice management, including how to successfully start up small, team-based law firms. John introduced MBTI as well as other counseling tools as a core component of the curriculum. He taught these courses at various times over a period of years. 


National Legal Services Corporation (LSC), Washington DC

John was brought in to reconstitute the nationwide management development and training program which had been struggling. He restructured the department into a very successful in-house training and consulting group that was responsible for designing and providing training to some 3,000 legal services' managers nationwide, and for assisting local non-profit law firms in solving serious management and organizational problems.

He returned to California in 1980 after the Presidential election and efforts by the new Administration to shut down LSC's training national training program. Before the shutdown could be completed, John co-authored, and his group successfully distributed, a 300+ page MBTI training book designed to help legal services programs and others continue to thrive. [Déjà Vu: We have come full circle from 1980 where, in 2017, LSC is once again threatened with complete shutdown by the new Adminstration.] 


Legal Aid of Orange County, California

John was recruited to “turn around” a failing organization; rebuilding the firm into one of the larger and more successful legal service programs in the country, with five local community offices. John developed a number of innovative community services and successfully built broad community support for what is often a very controversial service---resulting in what was believed to be the largest private funding of a legal services program by a county Bar Association, and the highest level of local funding by a County government in the country.

In 1976, John received the highest honor of the Orange County Bar Association, the Franklin G West Award, for "lifetime achievements (that) have advanced justice and the law," and, three years later, he was recruited by the National Legal Services Corporation to head its national Management Training and Development department (based in Washington, D.C.).

Aerospace Companies, Los Angeles (private industry); County of Orange (government); and xxCohen, Stokke and Owens (private law firm)

Over a period of some 14 years, John held various professional positions in aerospace, in county government and in a private law firm and worked extensively throughout this period on various community advocacy projects.

Barbara McDonald

Mover & Shaker, MycoMesh

Barbara McDonald has spent most of her adult life striving to enable others to thrive. That has been the impetus for every major work and personal decision since her marriage to John McDonald at the age of 19, including the MycoMesh movement.

The McDonalds raised and nurtured their 4 children, attempting to provide them with the tools they would need to fulfill their own potentials. At the same time, though, through her employment and political work, Barbara helped free others from the barriers in life that they faced.

As a group counselor at Orange County Juvenile Hall, Barbara witnessed, what she perceived to be, a flawed system of remediating the behaviors of juvenile offenders. As a result of that disquieting experience, Barbara entered law school as a first step in being able to obtain realistic results in the flawed system.  

At a time when a woman in law school was still a novelty, Barbara maintained a position at the top of her class of around 200 people and graduated with a J.D. degree.  Along the way, she broke through another barrier by being appointed the editor-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review.  

Fiinally, she saw the opportunity to begin to ameliorate some of the damage she had perceived when she was working as a Group Counselor.   She applied for employment with the Office of the Public Defender, and began 5 1/2 years as an advocate for people who had little power in the justice system or anywhere else.


In many instances, Barbara achieved a result that enabled her clients to move on and up in their lives. [Sometimes that involved drug rehabilitation; sometimes remedial education; sometimes a comprehensive program to address multiple barriers; sometimes something as simple as  a driver's license to get a decent job.]

During her service as a Deputy Public Defender, California's Governor, Jerry Brown, appointed Barbara as the Public Defender representative to the California Criminal Justice Counsel, a state-wide body charged with reviewing and making recommendations on applications for criminal justice funds. The applications covered a variety of approaches to improving the justice system---from equipment requests to funding of social programs designed to attack the causes of criminal behavior.  

When John was asked to take over the job of Director of Management Training and Development for the national Legal Services Corporation, the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area and Barbara accepted a position as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section. Most of the work of the Division involved investigating, evaluating and prosecuting abuses of power by government officials, including police and correctional officers. The abuses of power cases that she prosecuted ran the gamut of offensive behavior from assaults and batteries to homicides, as well as crimes on the high seas.

Barbara was one of a handpicked group of Civil Rights Division attorneys who participated in investigating the conditions that impelled racial riots in the Liberty City section of Miami, Florida.

During the time in D.C., Barbara and John also discovered and began a decades-long study and use of the, then, emerging psychometric instrument, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The McDonalds used the principles of MBTI extensively in their work, have written articles, consulted with a variety of individuals and organizations, and co-authored articles on the subject.  John and Barbara also co-authored an MBTI training manual for human resources people.  Their decades long experience with this tool for communication, conflict resolution and personal development is being translated into a bio-inspired approach to understanding people's different perspectives that will be made available to MycoMesh participants.

In the early 1980’s the McDonalds returned to California and Barbara embarked on a new form of advocacy. She joined a highly respected plaintiffs' firm and then branched out into her own practice, where she continued her focus on advocacy for disadvantaged people.  An especially notable case was that of a young man who was institutionalized at a relatively early age, where he was erroneously branded as “mentally retarded.” In fact, the young man was handicapped by deafness, but his intellect was at least normal, if not above. Unfortunately, the mistaken diagnosis led to many other mistaken diagnoses and treatments as the young man remained institutionalized. The litigation was complex and lengthy  (8 years) and very expensive to pursue.  Ultimately, Barbara was able to achieve a result that freed him from being warehoused for the rest of his life, and funded his independent living.  Long before Barbara began work on MycoMesh, this young man, in a very real sense, was enabled to thrive.

Around this time, Barbara and John made one last move to San Diego County and Barbara took the opportunity to return to the work she had always found most fulfilling---that of a Public Defender.  She remained there for another eighteen years of trial work and advocacy, retiring from the office in December 2007.

Retirement has freed Barbara to turn her attention to using her decades of experience with people facing small to horrendous barriers to start up MycoMesh. 

Dr. Tamsin Wooley-Barker

Senior Biology Advisor to MycoMesh


Dr. Woolley-Barker is a leading evolutionary biologist, biomimicry pioneer, and the author of a ground-breaking new book, Teeming: How Superorganisms Work to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World. She is also a founding member of MycoMesh, and serves as our Senior Biology Advisor.  

Dr. Woolley-Barker is a frequent and inspiring speaker with an extensive background in leadership, innovation, and sustainability. Tamsin works with a global clientele, helping develop bio-inspired solutions to pressing technological and social challenges.

She teaches at Arizona State University’s new Biomimicry Center (where she also holds a Masters in Biomimicry), and is a regular content contributor for outlets like AskingNature (the Biomimicry Institute’s blog), Greenbiz, and Triple Pundit. Her column ‘The Biomimicry Manual’ appears on Inhabitat, a digital magazine with over three million followers.

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