David Mathews, President and CEO

David Mathews is president and CEO of the Kettering Foundation and directs the studies of the foundation’s Cousins Research Group.

Prior to his work with the foundation, he served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Ford administration. From 1965 to 1980, he taught history at the University of Alabama, where he also served as president from 1969 to 1980.

Mathews has written extensively on Southern history, public policy, community problem solving, education, and international relations. His books include Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice and The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future.

He has served on the boards of a variety of organizations, including the Gerald R. Ford Foundation; National Issues Forums Institute; Center for Citizenship, Community, and Democracy; Southern Institute on Children and Families; PACERS; and Public Agenda. In 2007, the Alabama Center for Civic Life was renamed in his honor. He is also the recipient of 17 honorary degrees. Mathews earned an AB degree in history and classical Greek. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama, he received his PhD in history from Columbia University. 

A serious gardener and amateur landscaper, he is married to Mary Chapman Mathews; they have two daughters and six grandchildren.