Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

James V. Kimsey

A Washington , D.C. native and West Point graduate, Jim Kimsey boasts a list of professional accomplishments, charity work and awards received that out surpasses many of Washington 's busiest and most philanthropically-minded citizens. After founding America Online, Inc., in 1985, Kimsey went on to found several other successful businesses in the Washington area, as well as start one of the city's most influential foundations.

The Kimsey Foundation was established in 1996, and while it has provided grants that benefit the community in areas from the arts to education, its overall mission is to level the playing field, through education, for disadvantaged kids in the D.C. area. Currently, the foundation is focusing primarily on community development initiatives to promote healthy families and thriving communities east of the Anacostia River . Their approach is to fix underlying problems in D.C. public schools, not with a “Band-Aid approach,” but by implementing strategic reforms, and by acting as a catalyst for strategic partnerships to leverage resources and talents.

Presently, the Foundation is working with the D.C. Public School System to achieve two of the nine initiatives in their strategic reform plan, one of them being the coordination and improvement of “wraparound programs,” such as afterschool and summer programs for children who are most in need to have a safe, clean, and constructive place to learn. Kimsey and his foundation are also focusing on better leadership and teacher selection, recruitment, retention and training in D.C. public schools. A current matter of concern here in the District, for example, is that 40% of all D.C. principals are eligible for retirement. In response, Kimsey has formed a partnership with New Leaders For New Schools to get new and effective highly qualified principals into the system.

Kimsey is also active on numerous non-profit boards, including Innisfree, a life-sharing community for adults with mental disabilities; Washington Scholarship Fund; DC College Access Program; and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. He is a gold sponsor for the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund as well as a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners, which works to improve the lives of children from low-income communities. Kimsey is also a member of the board of several other organizations, including Capital One Financial Corporation and Thayer Capital. He serves on the executive committee of the Washington Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra, and is on the board of Georgetown University .

Deeply involved in international affairs, as chairman of the board of Refugees International, Kimsey has visited Bosnia , Timbuktu , and Cambodia to assess refugee repatriation, landmine removal and other human rights concerns. He has visited Iraq twice in the past six months as chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The ICMP is an organization dedicated to identifying, through DNA, the more than 40,000 missing from the conflicts in the region of the former Yugoslavia . Furthermore, Kimsey provided DNA analysts to help in the recovery process of those who perished in the attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. ICMP is currently making recommendations to assist with the missing persons issue in Iraq.

Crediting his time at West Point in conjunction with his three combat tours (two in Vietnam , earning various awards for service and valor), Kimsey has a deep commitment to peacekeeping and national security.

For over three decades, he has supported a Vietnamese orphanage and school which he helped construct during his first tour in Vietnam . His experience in Vietnam has led him to foster strong relations with the expatriate Vietnamese community and work with many Veterans groups and organizations.

Kimsey has three grown sons, Mike, Mark, and Ray.

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