Please join us on November 13 from 10 am - noon in Portland for a conversation with Terry McDonald, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County (SVdP)and Susan Palmer, Economic Development Director, SVdP. Click here to register. 

Terrence R. McDonald

Executive Director, St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, Inc.


Terrence R. (Terry) McDonald became the executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc. (SVdP) on June 14, 1984 and is a hands-on visionary leader of the agency. With degrees in Political Science and History and a Masters of Education from the University of Oregon, Terry’s energies are focused on affordable housing and economic development projects that create jobs while improving the environment and the community. In recognition of his accomplishments, Terry was named 2013 First Citizen by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.


SVdP is the largest non-profit humanitarian agency in Lane County, Ore., with more than 550 employees, more than 1,300 units of affordable housing, five emergency service programs, 15 retail thrift stores, a vocational services department, a glass foundry, an appliance shop, four mattress recycling warehouses, and a woodshop.


Established in 1954, SVdP’s objective is to implement social service programs that provide opportunities for more than 55,000 homeless, destitute, and at-risk people to become self-sufficient. These programs include emergency services/provisions (food, clothing, shelter, basic needs), affordable housing, vocational training/job placement and economic development projects through recycling.


Terry’s passion is creating avenues out of poverty through a unique kind of reclamation: finding new uses for consumers’ “useless” discards, creating new strategies and community coalitions to deal with old problems, and giving low-income and homeless people a chance to reclaim their dignity through employment and self-sufficiency.


Economic development programs the charity runs divert millions of pounds of materials from the waste stream and provide revenue to assist the needy, supply job-training opportunities and create permanent jobs for community members. These programs include:


  • The Mattress Factory, where reusable mattresses are diverted from landfills and rebuilt for sale or donation, four locations, two in California.

  • The Appliance Shop, where discarded appliances are diverted from the waste-stream, and repaired for sale or donation. Ozone depleting refrigerants and oils are responsibly recycled.

  • The Aurora Glass Foundry, where recycled glass is melted and fashioned into beautiful ornaments and items for home decor. Sidelines at Aurora Glass are eco-fire, Brick-O-Wax, and Extreme Wax, all products that utilize recycled candles.

  • Propane Recycling Facility, where the gas is recycled to fuel forklifts the tanks are recycled for scrap metal.

  • Used car lot: Takes donated cars, does minor repairs and detailing and sells them. What can’t be repaired is scrapped.

  • Online and brick and mortar bookstores. Gleaning used books through donations and through relationships with libraries from Portland Oregon south to San Franscisco. The sorting facility processes between 15,000 and 20,000 titles daily.

  • 15 retail thrift stores in Oregon, stocked through community donations and from materials management contracts with retailers and manufacturers discarding returns and warehouse damaged items.

  • Staffed trailers at transfer sites allow the agency to intervene in the waste stream before materials are contaminated.


These endeavors provide training, employment and a financial base for St. Vincent’s housing and social service programs. Resources – both material and human – are reclaimed and given a second life.


Terry also oversees the Cascade Alliance – a national network of nonprofits developing socially responsible diversion of useable materials from the waste stream, a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that to date has created 103 sustainable jobs, diverted 14 million pounds of materials and generated $10 million in revenue among its 12 alliance members.




• U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Excellence in Economic Development award

• Oregon Entrepreneurs Forum Entrepreneurship Award for Nonprofit Organizations

• 2013 First Citizen, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce


Terry’s volunteer activities include memberships in:


  • National Sustainable Jobs Fund Board                                                                      

  • Association of Oregon Recyclers

  • California Resource Recovery Association

  • Environmental Enterprises, Inc. (in partnership with The Enterprise Foundation)

  • State of Oregon Building Codes Review Board 2002-2006

  • Federal Home Loan Bank Advisory Board 2003-2005

  • City of Eugene Budget Committee 2003-2009



Susan Palmer 

Economic Development Director, St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, Inc.

Susan administers a $2.6 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded St. Vincent de Paul to mentor 10 other nonprofit agencies developing waste-based social enterprises. She is involved in all phases of building this emerging network of nonprofits, known as the Cascade Alliance, from selecting the most appropriate business to develop at each site to writing the pro formas and business plans used by members seeking start-up grants and organizing an annual conference for members. She has overseen the set-up of mattress recycling operations, retail thrift stores and online book sales in a dozen cities. Her response to the California RFP for mattress recycling led to a successful contract for the work under the state's new stewardship law. Before joining St. Vincent de Paul, she was an award-winning reporter who specialized in natural resources coverage. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Utah State University and a master's degree in creative writing from Western Washington University.