Jim serves as chief executive officer and is recognized as a leader and innovator in the education field. Prior to this role as CEO, Jim Balfanz has served as President of City Year for nine years, steering its continued evolution as a performance-driven organization. Jim led City Year’s strategic shift toward addressing the nation’s urban education challenge as a scalable human capital strategy for high-poverty schools and co-authored a 2012 City Year report, “Closing the Implementation Gap,” that highlights the critical role national service can play in helping to improve student achievement in America’s highest need schools. In partnership with Johns Hopkins Talent Development and Communities In Schools, Jim has also played a leadership role in the development of Diplomas Now, which was awarded a $36 million Investing in Innovation award by the Department of Education.
Prior to his role as President, Jim served as City Year’s Chief Operating Officer for five years during which he led the organization through a sustained period of growth that enabled it to grow from 15 to 21 U.S. locations and launch its second international affiliate in London. Jim began his work with City Year as a corps member at a Head Start Program in Boston in 1993, after which he joined City Year’s staff and has since assumed various roles in City Year’s National Headquarters, including Deputy Director of National Affairs, and Director of New Site Development, followed by being named the Founding Executive Director of City Year Greater Philadelphia in 1997.
Jim received his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University, is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business Executive Management Program, and a 2011-2012 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. He currently serves on the boards of Eye to Eye and City Year UK. Jim also serves as vice-chair of the governing board of Compass Academy, a public charter school in Denver, inspired by his Pahara fellowship and co-developed by community leaders, City Year and Johns Hopkins University, in 2014, In 2016, he was appointed to the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development as a Distinguished Educator, and in 2019 he was appointed to the Science of Learning Development National Advisory Committee. The Wharton Club of Boston honored Jim with the Joseph Wharton Award for contributions to business and the community.