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Donna A. James

Headed Human Resources

James was promoted to senior vice president and chief human resources officer in 1998, with responsibility for 290 employees and a $35-million budget. The following year she spoke with Dawn M. Baskerville of Essence magazine about her work: "My division oversees compensation, training and development, recruiting and staffing, benefits, executive development, EEOC compliance, and organizational management for the corporation's more than 27,000 employees. Understanding how a company works as well as the people who drive it are essential skills for effective HR management."

In 1998 James announced that Nationwide Insurance Enterprise would make a four-year $600,000 investment in the College Fund/UNCF (United Negro College Fund), a nonprofit consortium that raised money for historically-black colleges and universities. The Nationwide-funded scholars program provided scholarships, internships, and mentorships for undergraduate students in business management, financial services, and administrative sciences. James was quoted in the PR Newswire: "We are pleased about the opportunity to bring students into our company where they can learn first hand and help us build long-term partnerships with UNCF schools across the country.... This program will help to fulfill our mutual goal of preparing students for the changing workforce of the next century."

The Nationwide board of directors appointed James executive vice president and chief administrative officer in July of 2000. A consolidation put her in charge of corporate communications, human resources, information technology, and the Nationwide Services Company that included corporate real estate and philanthropy.

At a Glance...

Born Donna Anita Scott on June 30, 1957, in Washington, DC; daughter of Bertha (Searles) Scott (later Hawkins) and Herbert Scott; married Larry James, 1989; children: Christopher Michael, Justin Michael (stepson). Education: North Carolina A&T State University, BS, 1979.

Career: Coopers & Lybrand, Columbus, OH, auditor, 1979-81; Nationwide, Columbus, OH, various accounting positions, 1981-90, Operations and Treasury Services, director, 1990-93, executive assistant to Nationwide CEO and chairman, 1993-96, Human Resources Division, vice president, 1996-98, senior vice president, chief human resources officer, 1998-2000, executive vice president, chief administrative officer, 2000-2003; Nationwide Strategic Investments, Columbus, OH, president, 2004–.

Selected memberships: YWCA of Columbus, board of trustees, 1990-97; North Carolina A&T State University, executive advisory council, c.1995–; Bennett College for Women, board of trustees, 2002–; Limited Brands, board and audit committee member, 2003–; United Way of America, board of governors, chair of executive compensation committee, 2003–.

Selected awards: YWCA, Women of Achievement Award, 1999; Columbus NAACP Freedom Fund Gala, honorary chair, 2001; Working Mother magazine, Diversity Award, 2001; National Beta Gamma Sigma, Business Achievement Award, 2004; Black Enterprise magazine, named one of Top 75 Most Powerful Blacks in Corporate America, 2005.

Addresses: Office—Nationwide, 1 Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH 43215.

In 2001 James represented American business leaders in joining with National Urban League President Hugh Price to call on colleges and universities to deemphasize standardized tests—such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)—in college admissions. Such tests had proved to be a barrier to college admissions for talented black and other minority students. The Urban League commissioned a survey of top business executives to evaluate the importance of such tests in identifying future corporate leaders. James was quoted in Black Issues in Higher Education: "Long-term success is determined by an individual's ability to solve problems creatively," rather than by the results of standardized tests.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dan Jacobson Biography - Dan Jacobson comments: to Barbara Knutson (1959–2005) Biography - PersonalDonna A. James Biography - Attended College As A Single Mother, Joined Nationwide Insurance, Headed Human Resources, Elected President Of Nationwide Strategic Investments