Few others have left as indelible a mark on Heron as Ambassador James “Jim” Joseph, who served on Heron’s board of directors for many years. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a dear friend whose legacy continues to be a source of great inspiration within our organization. Like others who have had the esteemed honor to know him, we have spent the last week reflecting on his distinguished life of service.
Ambassador Joseph dedicated his life to being a humble force for good. He was a giant in both the public and private sectors, forever leading with compassion and integrity. Having served as a trusted advisor to four presidents in various senior level positions, he started under the Carter administration as an Undersecretary at the Interior Department and was later appointed by President Clinton to be the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, working alongside President Nelson Mandela during a pivotal moment in history.
In addition to an illustrious career in public service, Ambassador Joseph was a successful businessman, an ordained minister, a civil rights activist, a social justice champion, a teacher, and a veteran. He also made a profound impact on the philanthropic sector, not only in the United States, but around the world.
In fact, Ambassador Joseph’s wisdom remains a guiding light for how we at Heron strive to operate in the world. His words are oft cited by the team; his theories persist in the day-to-day workings of the organization with our intent to put communities first. One such lesson, which continues to be deeply embedded in Heron’s culture, is the notion of a “…foundation as not simply a grantmaker, but as a social enterprise that strategically deploys not just its financial capital, but its social, moral, intellectual and reputational capital as well.” We refer to these as Ambassador Joseph’s capitals and challenge ourselves to leverage all of Heron’s capitals in service to each of our partners. Although his tenure on our board ended some years ago, his teachings endure.
With his passing, we have lost a visionary, a leader, a mentor, and a friend. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, children, and grandchildren. He will be profoundly missed.