At Aspire, we help people to reach for their highest potential. Jim Kales is a visionary leader who wants to extend this reaching spirit to everyone touched by the agency-children and adults with disabilities, their family members, Aspire team members, volunteers, donors, and our community.
Jim has served as Aspire's President and Chief Executive Officer since January 2007. He has helped Aspire to broaden our circle of friends, by sharing our message of hope through new technology and innovative marketing. But while he's a big believer in new technology, he's also keen on developing personal relationships with as many Aspire families and friends as he can.
Since taking the helm of Aspire, the agency has solidified its financial foundation while expanding private funding. Aspire has built upon its reputation as a state leader in services for children and adults with disabilities.
Prior to joining Aspire, Jim served in a number of non-profit leadership roles, where he created bold, new approaches to help people and communities build better lives.
From 2003-2006, Jim served as the Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County. During his tenure, this agency developed a new way of getting adults involved in mentoring. The new program partnered with local churches and community centers as "Homebases" where Big Brothers and Sisters could meet Little Brothers and Sisters. The new approach helped to lead to a record number of adult volunteers. Jim also helped Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County forge pioneering mentoring partnerships with Fortune 500 companies such as Baxter, CDW, HSBC, and Macy's.
From 2000-2003, Jim was the Director of Communications for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, one of the nation's largest United Ways. Jim helped to oversee United Way's rebranding process, and led the development of a website to promote volunteerism across Chicagoland, Chicagovolunteer.net.
From 1997-2000, Jim acted as Project Coordinator for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a statewide advocacy organization led by former Senator Paul Simon and prominent business, labor and civic representatives. This organization led the effort to enact the most sweeping ethics reform in Illinois history since Watergate. The reform legislation was crafted by a select group of young legislative leaders, including then-State Senator Barack Obama.
Jim received his Master's in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he focused on health and human services policy. His master's thesis at Harvard examined the problem of family homelessness in New York City. As part of his thesis research, Jim spent time interviewing homeless families in New York City shelters, to learn their personal stories. Jim received his B.A. in Economics and History from Bucknell University. He graduated from Bucknell summa cum laude with honors, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Jim feels blessed to be at Aspire every day, where he gets to share in the achievements of the children, adults and families Aspire serves. To hear more about Aspire in Jim's own words, click here to watch our new video. – less – More from ZoomInfo »