JIM GRAHAM: OUTREACH AND DRIVER EDUCATION KEEPS FORD COMMUNITY RELATIONS MANAGER ON THE GO
- Ford Motor Company Fund’s Jim Graham says he’s fortunate to be in community relations, because he loves making a difference in people’s lives
- In 2003, Graham spearheaded the development of Ford Driving Skills for Life, an award-winning hands-on advanced driver’s training program
- As the "face of Ford" at community relations events, Graham has had the honor of meeting and working with many celebrities and dignitaries, including several U.S. presidents
Jim Graham is a "people person," which is a good thing because he meets a lot of people as community relations manager for Ford Motor Company Fund.
Graham, who grew up with eight brothers and sisters in a "blue collar" family in central Illinois, said if he hadn’t joined Ford Motor Company 26 years ago, he might have become a teacher like some of his siblings. Although his career at Ford has never been purely about teaching, he said it’s offered similar rewards.
"As the ‘face of Ford’ for a number of communities, nonprofit organizations and schools, I feel that I’ve been able to make a difference in people’s lives on behalf of Ford," Graham said. "It seems like I’m always on the go, meeting people, and – in the case of Ford Driving Skills for Life – helping to provide kids with a life-saving education."
Going from place to place is nothing new for Graham. He started his career at Ford in sales and marketing, bouncing from Chicago to Washington, D.C. to Indianapolis to Seattle before settling in Dearborn and making the transition to community relations.
Graham earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Illinois State University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, Chicago, while he worked for Ford in the Windy City.
Having worked in such disparate areas of the business as customer service, marketing and community relations has enabled Graham to be involved in Ford sales, racing, special events, government and environmental affairs and educational programs.
"What I’ve learned along the way is that every job is what you make of it, whether you’re selling spark plugs or working with nonprofits," Graham said.
Since 2003 Graham has been deeply involved with Ford Driving Skills for Life, an award-winning hands-on advanced driver’s training program that reaches thousands of teen drivers every year. A special FDSFL event is slated for Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. as lawmakers deliberate a possible ban on sending text messages while driving. At the events, FDSFL instructors will demonstrate their techniques of alerting teens to the dangers of distracted driving.
"Working with teens has been really rewarding," Graham said. "Providing this invaluable resource to communities across the country is helping to save lives through driver education."
Graham said it’s amazing how much of his life revolves around Ford Fund’s community relations efforts. He and his wife of 23 years, Brenda – who have a 20-year-old daughter – are constantly traveling the country to meet with nonprofit organizations and attend charitable events. Along the way, Graham has met and worked with hundreds of dignitaries and celebrities who are involved with or sponsor nonprofit organizations, including several presidents, as well as Bill Cosby, Tim Allen and Muhammad Ali. He has a prized collection of more than 200 photos of himself with these key influentials.
"We’re out in the community all the time, mingling with the public, putting a positive face on Ford," Graham explained. "Community relations can’t be done sitting in an office. You really need to get out there, meet people and be involved in lives. I can’t think of a job I’d rather have, because everyday we’re out there making a difference."
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Oct. 5, 2009