McDonald named AgriLife executive director for community relations, strategic partnerships

           COLLEGE STATION — Former Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald has been named executive director for Texas A&M AgriLife’s community relations and strategic partnerships. In this capacity he will also serve as the executive director of the Texas Rural Leadership Program, Inc. and provide leadership as an ex-officio member of the board of directors.

“I am very pleased to join the Texas A&M AgriLife team and to have this opportunity for building and strengthening collaborations that lead to better lives for Texans,” McDonald said.

Ronnie McDonald (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Kathleen Phillips)

Ronnie McDonald (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Kathleen Phillips)

           McDonald was Bastrop County judge from 1998-2012 during a time in which the population of the county doubled. He oversaw a $31 million county budget. Most recently, he was government relations and education liaison for the firm McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen in Round Rock.

           Prior to being elected county judge, McDonald was in the state comptroller’s office as assistant executive director for Family Pathfinders and executive assistant to then-comptroller John Sharp, who is now chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. McDonald graduated from Texas A&M in 1993 with a bachelor’s in political science and business.

           McDonald will work with the directors of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service to provide direction on strategic priorities and focus. He will serve as the primary contact point for other partners by providing updates on a variety of joint interests such as natural disasters, providing AgriLife agency support to rural communities and grant/partnership opportunities.

           “Ronnie brings enthusiasm and broad experience in both working in rural areas and within county government,” said Dr. Doug Steele, AgriLife Extension director, College Station. “His leadership and character will serve the people and communities of Texas well.”

           Forest Service director Tom Boggus of College Station agreed.

           “Ronnie demonstrated his excellent leader skills during the wildfire disaster of 2011 that claimed more than 17,000 acres of forest around Bastrop,” Boggus said. “His ability to make decisions and keep his public informed are traits that will carry over into this new role.”

           The Texas Rural Leadership Program, which partners with AgriLife Extension, was created in 1989 to provide leadership development opportunities throughout the state for rural communities, cities and organizations. Initially more than 40 agencies and organizations worked together to develop a curriculum to train people in leadership. Thousands have since completed the series, which has continued to evolve as it focuses on community development and improved quality of life.

           More information about the leadership program is available at



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