COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Dr. James C. Dobson, chairman and founder of Focus on the Family, has stepped down from his post. His wife, National Day of Prayer Chairman Shirley Dobson, has also left the Focus on the Family Board of Directors.
The news is a stunning development on the national Christian ministry stage has Dobson has helped serve as one of the public faces of the pro-family movement for decades. He founded Focus on the Family 32 years ago.
Although the announcement was unexpected, ministry officials said it came after a planned transition that began more than six years ago when Dobson turned over his presidential duties to Don Hodel. Jim Daley assumed the role of president in 2005.
"One of Dr. Dobson's objectives during the last decade has been to help identify the next generation of leadership for the ministry, and to see it established securely before he stepped away from administrative oversight," read a state released by the ministry's board of directors. "That purpose has now been fulfilled, and we applaud Dr. Dobson for this concern for the future of the ministry."
Although Dobson sheds many of his administrative duties as chairman, he will continue the "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast, and handle other duties as in the past. He will also continue to write the newsletter, sent to 1.6 million people per month.
"One of the common errors of founder-presidents, is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," said Dobson, who plans on enjoying some grandparenting time. "I have wanted not to make that mistake with Focus on the Family, which is why I stepped back, first from the presidential duties six years ago, and now, from board chairmanship. Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."
The new chairman of the Focus board is Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana (USAF, Ret.), a board member since 1996 and vice chairman since 2006. Caruana, who served 36 years in the military, was vice president of Northrop Grumman Space Technology from 2002 to 2005 and also served as vice president and program manager for TRW Space & Electronics from August 1999, until the company was acquired by Northrup Grumman in 2002.
Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, will continue in his capacity.
"We at Focus are blessed to have someone with Jim's passion and skills, as well as a wonderfully experienced and intelligent board of directors," Dobson said. "That fact gave me the courage to let them run the ministry. With God's help, they will do it superbly."
As part of the transition, Jim and Shirley Dobson have been elected to the positions of founder and chairman emeritus and director emerita, respectively.
Founded in 1977, the Christian nonprofit provides practical tools, spiritual resources and emotional support to families at every stage of life. Its ministry reaches more than 220 million people in 155 nations. For more information, visit www.FocusOnTheFamily.com.