Barbara McDonald has spent a lifetime moving, shaking and nurturing. Married at 19 to John McDonald, they had 4 young children when Barbara entered Pepperdine University Law School in 1970. At a time when women were a tiny minority among law students, Barbara graduated at the top of her class, served as Editor of the Pepperdine Law Review and Editor of the Law School newspaper.
Barbara started her legal career at the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, but her journey started some years before law school---when as a group counselor at Orange County Juvenile Hall, she saw the vagaries and injustices of the juvenile justice system. That experience persuaded her to become a lawyer and, ultimately, a Public Defender.
Barbara was appointed by the Governor as the Public Defender representative to the California Criminal Justice Council. She served with law enforcement, corrections, appellate practitioners and other community representatives in reviewing proposals to improve the criminal justice system for all Californians.
When John was recruited by the national Legal Services Corporation, the McDonalds moved to Washington, D.C. and Barbara was recruited by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). At DOJ, she worked on the other side of the courtroom---as a federal prosecutor---investigating and trying cases of excessive force and abuse of power by public officials across the United States.
While in D.C., she began a life-long study and use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] to help people understand themselves and others and to communicate and collaborate with diverse groups. She has lectured on MBTI, published articles, and conducted training along with John.
In 1981, the McDonalds returned to California where Barbara entered the private sector while still focusing on enabling people to better their lives. In one particularly difficult and egregious case, a young man was mislabeled as “mentally retarded” and institutionalized at the age of 7. His true disability was deafness. He was an adult before the depth of this injustice was discovered and his family filed a law suit. Barbara was asked to take over the case and was able to get him an income for life and his release back into the community. With the means to live independently, he was able to obtain remedial education in life skills and signing. Although nothing can compensate completely for the lost years, he established contacts in the deaf community and was able to thrive in spite of the damage to his life.
Barbara and John moved to San Diego County where Barbara returned to the kind of work she had found most satisfying over her professional career---public defender. Barbara retired from the practice of law 18 years later and since then has been pursuing a myriad of activities, including co-founding MycoMesh with John. [Barbara also satisfies her creative urges as owner of Whim of Iron, where she originated a unique form of steel on board wall sculptures formed in fire with a 30,000 degree plasma cutting torch and a lot of other cool tools.]
The McDonalds’ four children have blessed them with thirteen grandchildren, all of whom are thriving.