18:00 PM

Donna James to give winter commencement address

Donna James, national business advisor and corporate executive, has been selected to speak at Ohio State’s winter quarter commencement. Approximately 1,800 degrees will be awarded at the ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Graduates and guests can find complete information on the ceremony at http://www.osu.edu/commence/.

In 2006, James established Lardon & Associates LLC, a business and executive advisory services firm, where she is managing director. She is also corporate director for several public companies including three Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to her corporate governance expertise, James has more than 30 years of diverse management and leadership experience at the highest corporate levels. She is a trusted resource and advisor for senior business leaders and small businesses on issues related to governance, new business development, strategy, financial and risk management, and leadership development.

She broke many barriers as the first African-American woman to hold increasingly significant leadership positions, and she has continued to advocate for diversity throughout the community and corporate world.

James serves on the board of directors for Coca-Cola Enterprises, CNO Financial, Limited Brands, and Time Warner Cable. She was named by President Obama as chairwoman of the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan advisory council to the President, Congress, and the Small Business Administration on economic development of women-owned businesses.

Previously, James was president of Nationwide Strategic Investments, a division of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. As president, she was responsible for developing and executing growth or exit strategies for five different U.S and global based financial services subsidiaries and affiliates. She also led a new business innovation team and a venture capital fund with responsibility for discovering, analyzing and commercializing opportunities in financial services. She has also served as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Nationwide Mutual and its public company subsidiary Nationwide Financial.

Prior to joining Nationwide, James was an accounting professional with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She earned a B.S. in accounting at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a designation as a CPA. That background provided the foundation for her effectiveness in both business and community endeavors.

James has earned several recognitions: she is the recipient of two honorary doctorates; she was named by the Board of Directors Network as the 2010 Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award Recipient; Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2008; the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hall of Fame in 2007; named in 2005 by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the top 75 in Corporate America; received the national Beta Gamma Sigma Business Achievement Award and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award.

In Columbus, she is the founder and board chair of the Center for Healthy Families, a non-profit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children. She is also a board trustee for Ohio Health and executive director for the African American Leadership Academy. Previous community roles have included co-chair of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio; trustee for The Health Policy Institute of Ohio; United Way of America Board of Governors; Bennett College for Women Board of Trustees; I Know I Can; Wexner Center for the Arts Board of Trustees, and chairwoman of the YWCA of Columbus.

She has served in many leadership and advisory roles at Ohio State University. She was co-chair of the National Council of Ohio State Women, an organization to promote networking and mentoring among Ohio State University alumnae. She has been a featured speaker in the MBA for Working Professionals Program, and served as panelist for Fisher College’s Women’s Leadership Summit. She was also one of the Columbus business leaders involved in a Big Ten and Statewide Conference at Ohio State that examined social and cultural diversity.

She and her husband attorney Larry James, a partner with Crabbe, Brown & James in Columbus, have two adult children, Christopher and Justin, and five grandchildren.