Jill MacDonald: Public service with a smile

Jill MacDonald was raised as a volunteer. At age 13, she worked as an aide in one of the first Head Start classrooms in the United States. San Diego has been her on-again, off-again home since 1983. MacDonald worked in local government after earning a master’s of public administration from Syracuse University. She returned to volunteering after the birth of her first child and was active in PTAs, the Solana Beach Foundation for Learning, and was elected to the Solana Beach school board in 1992, serving as president in 1995.

She later ran for City Council in a suburb of Houston, serving three terms as a council member and assistant fire commissioner. Currently, she is on the executive board of the Del Mar Foundation and is part of a group in the 50th Congressional District working on an education policy paper for President Obama.

What brought you to Del Mar?

I have always wanted to live close to the ocean.

What makes this town special to you?

My friends and family, and the sense of community in Del Mar.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the city?

Create a more vibrant, economically healthy downtown and get everyone to agree on how to achieve it.

Who or what inspires you?


If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

The Dalai Lama for his intelligence, humility and grace; Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols who must be one of the most interesting couples to share a marriage; Tony Blair, a great leader derailed by his attachment to George Bush; Andre Agassi, whom I admire for his skills as a tennis player, but more for his charitable work; Jerry Seinfeld whose humor, unlike many comedians, comes from a place of normalcy; Gloria Steinem, as a feminist she is one of my personal heroes; and my Dad, whose presence I miss every day.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, about Mississippi in the 1960s.

What is your most-prized possession?

That would be the few things I’ve inherited from my grandparents and parents.

What do you do for fun?

I love to walk along the beach with friends, play tennis, and travel to new places.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

My children, who will inherit the Earth.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Pay it forward.