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President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Dr. Stephen McDonough

Council Member


Stephen McDonough

Dr. Stephen McDonough, member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, has worked for 32 years as a pediatrician in North Dakota. He spent more than 15 years in senior positions at the North Dakota Department of Health. During his time at the Department of Health, he led efforts to prevent smoking and combat childhood obesity in North Dakota. A longtime faculty member at the University of North Dakota Medical School, he has also published articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and Pediatrics and authored a book on the history of public health in North Dakota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School, and completed his pediatric residency at the University of Colorado in Denver.

In 1989, he coordinated the North Dakota Centennial Run involving more than 700 runners and covering 1400 miles during 19 days in May. He finished the Bismarck Marathon in 1993 and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2007. He hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru in 2010 and completed a mountaineering course on Winthrop Glacier, Mt. Rainier in 2011. 

He has lectured at the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control. He served on the North Dakota Council on Physical Fitness in the 1980s and 1990s. He played a leading role in the development and implementation of North Dakota Health Department state plans to address tobacco use, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and adolescent suicide. He was named North Dakota public health worker of the year in 1987, and received a Star Quilt in 1991 for his efforts with Native American cancer prevention and control from his work with the Three-Affiliated Tribes.

He completed the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) on November 1, 2010 and the Presidential Champions Gold Award on June 12, 2011. He enjoys wildlife photography and had several photographs included in the 2010 Mah-Daah-Hey trail map of western North Dakota. He and his wife, Dr. Denise McDonough, support endangered species wildlife conservation with the International Rhino Foundation and White Oak Conservation Center.

Stephen McDonoughHe has long supported children with Down's syndrome at the annual Buddy Walk and children with special health care needs. He was appointed in 2011 to the American College of Medical Genetics committee on newborn metabolic screening. On October 1, 2011, he was appointed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children for a 4-year term.

Short Bio
  • Pediatrician in North Dakota for 32 years.
  • Faculty member at the University of North Dakota Medical School.
  • Authored book on the history of public health in North Dakota.

Fun Facts

  • icon of horse and dogAs a child, I couldn’t pass the President’s Fitness Test. The 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s victory over Russian inspired me to start running. I ran a marathon 13 years later and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro 27 years after exercising regularly.
  • icon of a cameraI like hiking in wilderness areas and photographing wildlife – I’ve been within five yards of a big horn sheep, 10 yards of a brown or grizzly bear and 15 yards of a polar bear, all under safe circumstances.
  • icon of a rhinoceros and a zebraMy wife and I support conservation of endangered species. He has bottle fed baby rhinoceros and okapi, a giraffe like animal that looks like a zebra. He has played with cheetah cubs.
  • icon of a camperI love to go camping, hiking, and canoeing. To me, there is nothing better than being out in the wilderness and hearing just the wind and water. Nature helps relax and heal but requires planning and effort. You must be prepared.