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Donna A. James' Story: Pursuing Passion Through Business

Continuing the Celebrating Black History Month series, Donna A. James, Chairwoman of the National Women’s Business Council, discusses her work and passion as an advisor to business leaders.

Editor's note: This post is part of the Celebrating Black History Month series, which highlights the work of African Americans from across the Administration who are contributing to the President's goals for winning the future.

As the managing director of Lardon & Associates LLC., I have the opportunity to serve as a trusted resource and advisor to business leaders on issues related to governance, new business development, strategy, financial and risk management, and leadership development.  This includes serving on the board of directors for Coca-Cola Enterprises, CNO Financial Group Inc., Limitedbrands, Time Warner Cable, and previously Intimate Brands, as well as working with many small business clients. A formal education and beginning as an accounting professional with PricewaterhouseCoopers provided the foundation for my interest and love of the world of business.

Prior to starting my consulting practice, I served as President of Nationwide Strategic Investments, a division of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. As President, I had direct responsibility for rationalizing and executing growth or exit strategies for five different U.S and global based financial services subsidiaries and affiliates.  Another aspect of my work included a new business innovation team and a venture capital fund with responsibility for discovering, analyzing, and commercializing emerging opportunities in financial services. Prior to this assignment, I served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for Nationwide Mutual and its public company subsidiary, Nationwide Financial.

Doing well at work so that I can do more in my community is a constant theme and focus. I am founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Families, a non-profit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children. And I am a board trustee for Ohio Health and Executive Director for the African American Leadership Academy. Developing and working with young executives is another passion and focus of my personal and business efforts. Most recently, I was named by President Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council. We are advisors to the President, Congress and the Small Business Administration on the economic growth and development of women business owners.  This is an opportunity to facilitate the growth of jobs across our Nation through the collective and individual talents of women in business.