Krista Brinkley McDonald ’01
Words: Bethany Peterson Lockett ’20
Photos: Justin Fennert
Krista Brinkley McDonald ’01 is from Lamar, a small town in southeastern Colorado near the area her grandparents and great-grandparents called home. It is also where multiple generations of her family have operated a dryland wheat farm for over 100 years. She lived in the same neighborhood for her entire childhood.
“While my hometown gave me really deep roots and wonderful opportunities to develop a depth of relationship with people, I think my experience at Wheaton was so good for developing and maturing my faith and then also enabling me to get a better glimpse of the world and possibilities that lay beyond for me,” she said.
“I would say that I’ve always had a real passion for agriculture and for people who make up our rural communities. I love serving the people who take a tremendous amount of risk every year to feed the world despite a number of challenges, including uncertain weather and fluctuations in the markets,” McDonald said.
She decided to major in political science at Wheaton. Her dream was to one day run for office and represent her community. After graduation, she was hired to work in agriculture and transportation policy on Capitol Hill. McDonald went on to study marketing, earning a graduate degree at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Still, she had a desire to stay connected to agriculture, so she took a job as a brand director at Conagra Brands, a company that produces food products.
Conagra Brands brought her to Nebraska. Later, she transitioned to Farm Credit Services of America/Frontier Farm Credit and was eventually promoted to chief strategy officer. “I tell my team that our job is to create the future,” McDonald said. “Ultimately we know that everyone needs to eat, but to feed a growing world population, our customers’ businesses will evolve and we need to think differently to serve them well.” She met her husband, Jeff McDonald ’02, after moving to Nebraska. He is also a Wheaton graduate, although they did not know each other on campus. He serves as a pastor and holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Stirling in Scotland.
“Being grounded in Scripture and in church history can give us insight and understanding into what we’ll need to try to chart a course for the future,” she shared. “Trying to model God’s really deep love for people is a passion of mine in whatever sphere I’m in.”