Ambassador James Joseph has served four U.S. Presidents, beginning with President Jimmy Carter who appointed him Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior in 1978, and including President Bill Clinton who appointed him the United States Ambassador to South Africa in 1996. He was also appointed to national commissions under President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush. In South Africa, he was the first and only American Ambassador to present his credentials to President Nelson Mandela. In 1999, President Thabo Mbeki awarded him the Order of Good Hope, at that time the highest honor the Republic of South Africa bestowed on a citizen of another country.
Ambassador Joseph has also had a distinguished career in business, education and organized philanthropy. From 1982-1995, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Foundations, an international organization of more than 2000 foundations and corporate giving programs. He served as a Vice President of Cummins Engine Company and President of the Cummins Engine Foundation from 1971-1976. An ordained minister, he has taught at Yale Divinity School and the Claremont Colleges where he was also University Chaplain. In 1985, he was a Distinguished Visitor at Nuffield College at Oxford University. He is currently Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Studies and Executive Director of the United States – Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University. He is also an Honorary Professor and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.
In 2015, Ambassador Joseph published his autobiography Saved for a Purpose: A Journey from Private Virtues to Public Values. Saved for a Purpose explores Joseph’s work with civil rights, corporate ethics, and political morality.