John McDonnell has been actively involved in establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in St. Louis to enable start-up companies to commercialize life science research breakthroughs, for the past 15 years. He is founding chairman of the board of BioSTL, a non-profit established in 2011 to encourage capital formation, stimulate entrepreneurial activity, support regional efforts, and promote St. Louis life science developments with local, state, and federal government agencies. Prior to that, he was founding chairman of BioGenerator, which provides direct funding and support to researchers, entrepreneurs, and young companies in the life sciences in this region. He continues as a member of that board and of Cortex, an emerging bio-scientific research district in St. Louis.
McDonnell retired as Chairman of the Board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation in 1997 after a more than 35-year career at the company. He was elected chairman and chief executive officer in 1988, a position he held until September 1994. From then until his retirement in 1997 at the time of the merger with Boeing, he was chairman of the Board. He then became a member of the Boeing board of directors until his retirement in April 2012.
McDonnell has also served on numerous civic boards and as chairman of the boards of Washington University in St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and the Saint Louis Science Center. McDonnell now serves as Chairman of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and is a Life Trustee of Washington University in St. Louis.
McDonnell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University and a master’s in business administration from Washington University.