Meet James Pancoast, New Board Chair
When a recruiter from Ernst & Young recommended in 1976 that James R. Pancoast, a recent graduate of Michigan State with a graduate degree in business administration, return home to Dayton to start his career, Jim was skeptical.
“You’ll enjoy it, see more and get the same wage increases as in New York but with a lower cost of living,” the recruiter propositioned.
Like everything Jim and his wife, Mary, have done together, they weighed their options and chose to move back home.
“He was right,” said Jim Pancoast, retired president and CEO of Premier Health and the new chair of The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board. “I got the best of both worlds in the Miami Valley, helping to grow an organization I believed in and being around for my children’s Little League, football and field hockey games. I couldn’t have been happier.”
“Once I really understood what the Foundation does for our community and for charities across the nation, I could see the human side to everything they do.”
– James R. Pancoast
Together Jim and Mary established roots in the region, raised two children and embedded themselves in the community through their volunteerism.
Jim, who retired from Premier Health in 2016 after 38 years with the hospital group, first became involved with the Foundation in 2011 as a member of its Finance Committee and as a member of the Foundation’s Governing Board. He later served as chair of the Finance Committee. Part of his philosophy for volunteerism stems from his work in finance.
“In accounting, you’re always looking back. I wanted to look forward,” Jim said.
Although he knew little about The Dayton Foundation prior to joining the Board, he was impressed with the organization’s extensive leadership at the forefront of major community initiatives and the skillful service it provides to charitable individuals and organizations.
“They are good people doing great things,” said Jim, who also established a Charitable Checking Account℠ through the Foundation. “Once I really understood what the Foundation does for our community and for charities across the nation, I could see the human side to everything they do. I wholeheartedly recommend The Dayton Foundation for anyone who just wants to help others.”
“If we’re not helping the community, if we’re not trying to figure out how to solve problems that aren’t being addressed by other means, then we aren’t living up to our promise to the community.”
Looking forward, which is at the core of Jim’s goals as chair, he doesn’t see a need to change the course already set in motion by his predecessor, Craig Brown. “Continuing to push down the road, finding areas in the community where help is really needed, starting a task force or providing seed money to develop a plan – The Dayton Foundation can make a difference,” Jim said. “The methodology works, as we’ve shown over and over. I’ve never been part of something so big, with so many individuals who just want to make the region better. The Dayton Foundation stands for community, philanthropy and helping our fellow person. It’s such a powerful feeling to lead the Board and staff alongside Foundation President Mike Parks.
“The region has many challenges,” Jim continued. “While significant work is underway in the areas of education, employment and food insecurity, we don’t want to run out of steam. At the same time, we need to spread resources to address other issues.”
To Jim, this includes bolstering racial equity within the region.
“We all have different ways of approaching issues and topics, but we all want the same things – a good home, to raise our children well and the opportunity to provide for the people we care about,” Jim said. “Understanding that we have the same goals and embracing what makes us unique, that’s what will keep our region current, vibrant and productive.
“It’s important to just keep doing what the Foundation does best – facilitating giving to help others and being part of a bigger movement of good for the region,” he added. “We have our ears to the ground. If we’re not helping the community, if we’re not trying to figure out how to solve problems that aren’t being addressed by other means, then we aren’t living up to our promise to the community. Dayton, meaning the entire Miami Valley Region, is fortunate to have such a well-respected and well-run organization as The Dayton Foundation. They have nothing but the best interests of the region at heart.” ❧
For “Five Fun Facts” about Jim, click here.
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