James C. Dobson, Ph.D., is founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family, a non-profit, multimedia organization with a global reach. As founder, Dr. Dobson's vision and philosophical perspectives shaped Focus on the Family at its inception and supplied the impetus for its outreach for the first three decades of its existence. Even though a new generation of leadership now bears responsibility for carrying out the ministry's mission, Dr. Dobson’s influence remains significant.
The initial inspiration for Focus was conceived in the 1960s, at which time Dr. Dobson was completing his Ph.D. in child development at the University of Southern California. He joined the faculty of Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and, in 1970, became associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine. Over the next several years as Dr. Dobson authored his first several books, he became increasingly concerned about the breakdown of the traditional family and its negative effects on the culture at large.
In 1977, Dr. Dobson left Children's Hospital and the USC School of Medicine to open a small, two-room office, calling it Focus on the Family. The first Focus on the Family radio broadcast aired that same year. By the end of the 1970s, the seven-part Focus on the Family film series had become a popular resource for parents (it has since been viewed by more than 80 million people).
During the 1980s, the Focus radio program grew dramatically, and the ministry soon began publishing a number of magazines and expanded into Canada and the UK. Dr. Dobson completed several more books and participated in the White House Conferences on the Family, the National Advisory Commission for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, and other appointments.
In the 1990s, Dr. Dobson was appointed to the Commission on Child and Family Welfare and the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Focus on the Family relocated its headquarters from Southern California to Colorado Springs, Colo., and continued to grow and expand on a number of fronts, including the establishment of associate offices in countries worldwide and the creation of a website and other online endeavors.
In May of 2003, Dr. Dobson resigned as President of Focus on the Family (although he retained his position as Chairman of the Board). Dr. Dobson stepped down as Chairman of the Board in February of 2009, and a year later, he released his radio and newsletter responsibilities when he resigned from Focus. This brought the ministry's leadership transition process to a definitive conclusion – clearly, however, Dr. Dobson's passion for families and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to inform Focus on the Family's ministry efforts. The current leadership team shares Dr. Dobson's conviction that the organization is not a monument to any one person, but rather a vehicle for ministering to families in Jesus' name.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley, a former Focus on the Family board member and the National Day of Prayer chairman since 1990. They have two children, Danae and Ryan, who are both respected authors and speakers in their own right. Ryan is married to Laura, and in 2006 they became the proud parents of Lincoln Cash Dobson. Dr. and Mrs. Dobson reside in Colorado Springs.