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May 10, 2013
Don't Bang Your Head on a Wall, Go Around It

The Doe Fund was nearly crippled by Mayor Giuliani. So George McDonald pushed into a fresh part of the city and thrived. Here are his lessons on being dogged, not deterred.

by Colin Weatherby

The 1990s were, in many ways, a rough time for New York City.  Crime rates were high.  City budgets were low. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and when Mayor Rudy Giuliani decided to unload thousands of subsidized city-owned apartments in 2000, it looked like the beginning of the end for George McDonald's campaign against homelessness.

Up until that point, the Doe Fund had relied heavily on government property to house and employ the thousands of homeless clients that enrolled in the non-profit's workforce training programs. As CEO and founder, McDonald was forced to think outside the blocks if he wanted his project to survive.


"It wasn't anything against our program, but we weren't going to get any relief from the government," says McDonald. "We had to solve the problem ourselves and, of course, we did."

The Doe Fund pushed into new neighborhoods and found new funding streams that diversified the programming and ultimately allowed the organization to grow into the multifaceted service agency that it is today. A seemingly devastating policy was transformed into a powerful moment of growth and ingenuity.

The Takeaway: Instead of being deterred by a setback, be dogged.




Video produced by Shalini Sharma // Camera & edit by Tony Ditata

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