Larry and Donna James exemplify leadership in community and philanthropy. Perhaps the motto of Larry’s alma mater, Wittenberg University, best encapsulates the couple’s giving spirit: “Having Light, We Pass It On to Others.”
The Jameses strive to be role models by supporting diverse organizations and causes, giving generously of their time, talent, and treasure. Most notably, they lead both by example and by encouraging and lifting up those around them.
But for Larry and Donna, their commitment to philanthropy and cultivating the next generation of leaders comes down to, as Donna puts it, helping people do well personally and professionally so that they, too, can do good in the community.
“Of all the things, one of the most rewarding aspects is helping people get to their ‘best next.’ As much as you are giving to them, they are giving to you.”
Through the Larry H. and Donna A. James Fund, a Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation, the Jameses have given generously to numerous charitable causes in central Ohio and beyond, empowering countless individuals to reach their “best next.” Among the many organizations the couple has supported through their fund are the Columbus Museum of Art, the Lincoln Theatre Association, United Way of Central Ohio, Marburn Academy, The Center for Healthy Families, and the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University.
As Larry describes, investing in the community through charitable giving carries many personal rewards. “It helps you grow, it gives you insight, and it also provides you an assessment of the needs of a community,” said Larry. “The dividends are just unimaginable in so many ways.”
2022 Harrison M. Sayre Award honorees, Larry and Donna James
A respected litigator and Managing Partner at Crabbe, Brown & James LLP, Larry is Co-Founder of the African American Leadership Academy, which is dedicated to increasing the number of African American leaders in central Ohio. Previously, Larry served as President of the Lincoln Theatre Association Board and President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Performing & Cultural Arts, as well as a Board Trustee for the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and Columbus Urban League, to name a few.
Larry has been honored with several awards for his service to the community, including the Ohio Civil Rights Commissioners’ Community Spirit Award, the Columbus Museum of Art 2018 Art Celebration Award, the Lincoln Theatre Association’s Walk of Fame, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council Michael B. Coleman Arts Partner Award. In 2012, he and Donna also received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American Red Cross of Central Ohio.
Donna’s dedication to the community runs just as deep. In addition to being the Co-Founder and former Board Chair of The Center for Healthy Families, a nonprofit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children, Donna is also a Board Trustee for OhioHealth, Co-Executive Director for the African American Leadership Academy, and a committee member of the Gideon Development King-Lincoln District Scholarship Fund at The Columbus Foundation. Donna’s past community roles include Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, Co-Chair for CelebrateOne, Co-Chair of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, the United Way Board of Governors, and Chair of the YWCA of Columbus, among many others.
Donna is the recipient of the King Arts Complex Award, the Columbus Metropolitan Library Celebration of Learning Award, and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She also has been inducted into the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hall of Fame.
“Larry and Donna James are true community leaders and share a deep passion for giving, proudly supporting organizations and programs that strengthen our community,” said Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “As individuals who are hands-on with their philanthropic decisions, they assess what best aligns with their emotional, cultural, and human dignity perspectives.”
In recognition of their incredible generosity and contributions to the central Ohio region, Larry and Donna James have been selected as the 2022 honorees of The Harrison M. Sayre Award.