Paul McDonough (ICPES 84) may be relatively new to the Board of Regents at The Fund for American Studies — joining in 2014 — but he is no stranger in the TFAS family. His first exposure to TFAS was as a student, when he enrolled in the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) in 1984. That one summer turned out to be a life-changing experience.
“For a kid from Iowa,” Paul said, “just to apply, be accepted, get a scholarship and, for the first time, sit in class with students from all over the place, from schools around the country, was transformative. The peer-networking was incredible.” Paul points to his classes with Dr. George Viksnins and his internship on Capitol Hill as equally transformational.
In his summer as a TFAS student, Paul came to understand his own potential while getting to know the other students in his program. “I was a little intimidated by the Ivy League kids, but I saw I could sit in classes with them at TFAS, I could compete with them, I could make friends with them — it was a huge boost.”
After his summer in Washington with TFAS, Paul went back to school for his senior year with a vastly different outlook. He had just tasted the culture of the nation’s capital, which he could only read about in books before joining the program. As a result, he began setting new goals and dreaming bigger.
He graduated from college and went on to law school in Chicago, then landed a job with PNC Bank after completing his law degree. Through PNC, and later J.P. Morgan and his current organization, the Northern Trust Company, Paul has had the opportunity to wear many hats. He has worked on the client-service side, managed teams of people and, for the last 10 years, focused on business development and sales.
Now, Paul is a senior vice president of Institutional Sales at the Northern Trust Company in Chicago, selling and servicing assets to institutions in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern region. This has him running through Chicago O’Hare International Airport frequently. Luckily, he enjoys traveling and the opportunity to work with exciting, Fortune 500 companies, high-caliber healthcare systems and top-tier higher-education institutions.
“I get to work with large, complex institutions and really smart people,” he said. “It definitely makes you do your homework and keeps you sharp.”
Paul points to TFAS as the experience that instilled a large measure of self-confidence and grit in him. “I learned it’s not about what others can do,” he said. “It’s about what I can do, and I saw I can do what I set my mind to. So, when I go from job to job or take on new responsibilities, I think back to those lessons learned.”
Paul loved the ICPES program so much that he came home and convinced his younger brother, Bill McDonough, to apply. Bill went on to attend ICPES in the summer of 1991, but the family tradition didn’t end there.
Years later, two of Paul’s own children, Andrew (ICPES 11) and Catherine (IPJ 12)attended. His younger two children, John and Thomas, are not yet old enough for a TFAS program, but if history is any indication, the family legacy will likely continue.
In fact, Paul’s entire family — his wife, Marianne, and all four of his children, plus his new daughter-in-law Lauren — will be joining him for the 2016 Leadership Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, Nov. 11 and 12.
“It’s a great excuse for a Paul McDonough family reunion,” he said. “Last year, all of us were at the Conference in Colorado.” His son Andrew (and Lauren) now live in Madison, Wisconsin and daughter Catherine lives in Kansas City, Missouri, so Paul uses every opportunity to draw the family back together. He is even bringing family friends as guests to the Leadership Conference, so the mood at the McDonough table will be that of a block party with neighbors dropping by to visit.
While Paul is involved in his Board meetings, his wife, children and guests will be exploring Charleston. They all look forward to attending the dinners, lectures and events with the rest of the conference group.
The Leadership Conference also has other draws for Paul, besides his leadership role — he took on the role of chairman of the Board of Regents this year — and the chance to spend time with family. “The locations are gorgeous,” he said. “Any event hosted by TFAS will be first class and well done. The dinners, socials, receptions and impromptu cocktails are always great. It’s fun to meet new people and see old friends.”
If Paul has anything to do with it, his future grandchildren will also someday attend a TFAS program. “I want them to apply,” he said. “Even if they’re interested in medicine, the lessons they would learn and the exposure they would get would make it well worth it.”
For those who might want to say hello to Paul McDonough and his family at the upcoming Leadership Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, he welcomes the opportunity to meet as many people as he can. He is always ready to start a conversation on the political climate of the day, as well as international travel and sports. While Paul follows many sports, he is most avid about professional baseball and college athletics, especially his favorite teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes.