In Memoriam of James Kimsey, Refugees International Chair Emeritus
and Co-Founder of AOL
As we mourn Jim’s passing, I wish to recall how he made it his mission to approach all his ventures with passion, a great sense of humor, and a knack for risk-taking that always proved well placed. From courageous soldier to innovative and successful businessman, Jim brought his skills and flair to patronizing the arts and sustaining humanitarian enterprises, as his chairmanship of Refugees International between 1999 and 2004 demonstrates. When he stepped down as chair of RI, those who paid tribute for his service commented on his “savoir-faire,” his “sartorial flare,” his determination to “make a difference,” and his knack to go “right to the heart of the issues.” Jim was welcoming and kind to me when I joined RI, and I benefited from his guidance and counsel. He will be remembered with admiration and fondness.
President, Refugees International
Jim Kimsey assumed the chairmanship of Refugees International at a crucial time for the organization. Chair-designate David McCall, his wife Penny and RI advocate Yvette Pierpaoli had just lost their lives on a mission to help Kosovar refugees in Albania. At this vulnerable juncture, Jim Kimsey came forward to lead RI. Under his aegis, working with our late president Ken Bacon, RI was able to move on, continuing to expand its size and influence. We recall Jim Kimsey as a strong and generous leader who played a vital role in the growth of Refugees International.
Former President of Refugees International
Jim Kimsey set a great precedent for others to follow in many diverse areas, including as a great entrepreneur, as a military leader, and in advocacy for refugees and those internally displaced. I had the distinct pleasure of working with him and
travelling to major areas of crisis and see him in action. He will be sorely missed by all.
Chair Emeritus, Refugees International
Jim Kimsey was the only one who could possibly have filled the shoes of Richard Holbrooke when Richard stepped down as chair of RI in 1999. Jim quickly became RI’s biggest cheerleader and backer, traveling to the far regions of the world on RI missions to advocate for the displaced. He brought those talents which had helped to create the online giant AOL to RI, making it a giant in the field of advocacy for refugees and those internally displaced. He was truly larger than life and has left a legacy of amazing philanthropy and business acumen.
Board Chair, Refugees International