Jimmie Alford, 1943-2012

Jimmie R. Alford C’66 died suddenly on December 18, 2012, following an apparent heart attack at his Chicago home. He was founder and chair of the Alford Group, and executive-in-residence at the North Park University School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM), where he taught graduate courses and workshops. A memorial service was held December 22 in Chicago.

Alford was well-known nationally. To many in the North Park and nonprofit communities, he was known as “Jimmie.” The Alford Group, which he founded in 1979 to serve the nonprofit sector, quickly grew into one of the premier consulting firms in the United States. It has served more than 3,000 nonprofit clients since its creation. He was twice recognized by The NonProfit Times as “one of the 50 most influential people in the nonprofit sector.” Last October, the Chicago Better Government Association presented Jimmie its lifetime achievement award. Jimmie was also an influential leader with the University’s Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, which works to enhance the nonprofit sector through education, service, and resources. He was a founding member of the advisory board for the Axelson Center. Each year, the University presents an award that bears his name: the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence. These awards are presented to two nonprofit organizations at the Axelson Center’s Annual Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers.

Jimmie was born in Madisonville, Ky. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws by the University, and served on the board of trustees, completing his term in 2010. He also was a board member at Aurora University, Aurora, Ill., and had been awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters by the school.

Jimmie served with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago before he founded the Alford Group, and was an early advisor to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Bloomington. He was a longtime member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and in 2009, was the recipient of the prestigious Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service, given to individuals for exceptional service to AFP, the fundraising profession, and the philanthropic community. He was active as a volunteer with Cure Violence Chicago, and was senior advisor to the Better Government Association. Jimmie and his wife, Maree Bullock, received the 2012 “Spirit of Youth” award by the National Runaway Switchboard, a Chicago organization that recognized their work to keep runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth safe.

In a letter to Jimmie’s family from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his life was lauded as “one filled with passion and purpose.” Mayor Emanuel went on to say that Jimmie was “diligent… determined…a stellar example of a Chicagoan.”

Jimmie is survived by his wife and their three children, Ann (Sean) Reardon, and Joshua, Chicago; Alan, Breckenridge, Colo.; and two grandchildren.

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Jimmie Alford