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In 1977, child psychologist James Dobson left his job at Children’s Hospital and the USC School of Medicine to open a small, two-room office, calling it Focus on the Family. During the same year Dobson created a radio show that, at its height, was heard on over 3,000 radio stations and seen on 80 television stations daily in the U.S.

Over the years, Focus became associated with political activism despite the fact that the organization’s political wing receives only about 5 percent of the overall budget. Part of the misconception was due to the media portrayal of Dobson; part of it was due to the way Dobson allowed himself to be portrayed.

In 2003 Dobson resigned as president of Focus and handed the reigns over to Jim Daly. Although he’s not as well-known as Dobson, Jim is someone worth knowing more about. He’s an engaging leader and a charming spokesman for the pro-life and pro-family cause. In the latest Christianity Today , Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports on the changes at Focus brought about by its inspiring president:

Daly, the youngest of five children born to alcoholic parents, entered the foster care system after his stepfather walked out during his mother’s funeral, a story Daly tells in his 2007 book, Finding Home: An Imperfect Path to Faith and Family . After he and three of his siblings moved into a foster home of 10, his foster father accused Daly of trying to kill him. His biological father, who had left the family when Daly was 5, returned to take the boy from his increasingly mentally ill foster father. After a year of living together, Daly’s father fell back into alcohol abuse and committed suicide.

“I come from a broken childhood. That’s what gives me the energy. I don’t have a Ph.D. in it, but I guess it’s the school of hard knocks,” Daly says, wearing a striped blue shirt and grey suit but no tie. “I have a driving passion to try to get every child a better home and to be an advocate for that child who has no home.”

At 17, after living with his brothers, Daly found his own place—a trailer. He began pursuing his bachelor’s degree and an MBA. He married at 25, and he and his wife, Jean, now have two boys, Troy, 10, and Trent, 8. They attend Red Rock Church, which is connected to Andy Stanley’s Atlanta-based North Point Community Church. Daly was working at International Paper when he joined Focus in 1989 at one-third his previous six-figure salary at the Fortune 500 company.

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