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Circular Economy 360 Video Series – Terry McDonald, St Vincent de Paul Society

Welcome to the last of our Circular Economy 360 Video Series featuring Terry McDonald, of the St Vincent de Paul Society, brought to you in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. In this series SIS Associate Naomi Johnson speaks with inspiring leaders from around the world to find out their amazing experiences within the Circular Economy sector.

For many of us in the reuse sector Terry is a real pioneer and leader in scale, innovation, and sustainability having been Executive Director of St Vincent de Paul (SVDP), Lane County, Oregon for some 37 years. Not frightened to tackle difficult issues and materials, for Terry, a problem is just a solution in waiting.

With a turnover reaching $56 million, SVDP has both an impressive environmental and social track record. They run thirteen reuse stores, have developed a mattress recycling programme (no easy feat) and work with other reuse organisations through the Cascade Alliance. Utilising profits they have made the organisation supports housing initiatives, family support, veterans’ programmes, and emergency shelter work. For more information on SVDP and the social impact they deliver you can read their latest 2021 Impact Report.

In the last of our interviews, I was keen to look at what has made SVDP a success. We focus in on how the business operates, its approach to risk and the way it balances both business and social objectives to deliver its mission.

For me this encompasses very much what social enterprise is all about and it aligns well with the ambition and scale SIS supports too. While every organisation may not want to grow to this size we can see how, by keeping a keen eye on its social objectives SVDP has been able to increase its impact, not lose touch with its key purpose but recognise that to do this it needed to generate funds of its own to maximise its impact.

I hope you too will be inspired by both the entrepreneurial drive and desire for social impact and social change come through in this video conversation.

Go for it!

Terry McDonald, Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society

Terry McDonald, Executive Director, St Vincent de Paul SocietyTerry McDonald became the executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc. (SVDP) in 1984 and is a hands-on visionary leader of the agency. With degrees in Political Science and History and a Masters of Education from the University of Oregon, Terry’s energies are focused on affordable housing and economic development projects that create jobs while improving the environment and the community. In recognition of his accomplishments, Terry was named 2013 First Citizen by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, one of many such awards.

SVDP is the largest non-profit humanitarian agency in Lane County, Oregan, with 700 employees, 1,500 units of affordable housing, five emergency service programs, fifteen retail thrift stores, a vocational services department, an appliance shop, and four mattress recycling warehouses.

They have a glass foundry, established after driving past a growing mountain of glass for recycling, upcycling department and a national mentoring arm, the Cascade Alliance, supporting other organisations across the US.