Jim Denova Retiring from Benedum June 2021

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announces the retirement of esteemed Program Director and Vice President, Jim Denova, effective June 30, 2021.

“Jim Denova has been essential to Benedum’s work over the last twenty years. Everyone knows Jim!” said President Jen Giovannitti. Dr. Denova joined the Foundation on January 1, 2000 as Senior Program Officer for Southwestern Pennsylvania. In his twenty years with the Foundation, he has worked with grantees throughout West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to support and advance strategies in education, workforce, and economic development. In 2007 he became Vice President and assumed responsibility for regional planning, staff support to the President, and the creation of an interstate Education Grants Program that continues to emphasize innovation in instructional practice, arts education, and career education reform. He has created collegial and integrated systems across state boundaries on the principle that creativity is born of the diversity and cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives. Dr. Denova has established lasting partnerships for the Benedum Foundation with university leaders, nonprofit organizations, and progressive thinkers in public and private education.

Dr. Denova’s passion for education has formed valuable alliances in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “I’m losing my partner,” said Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation. “And the funny thing is that probably at least a dozen of my colleagues are saying the same thing. You want Jim by your side. When you’re wrestling with complicated matters, Jim takes apart the hard questions and makes them simple and straightforward. When you go places, Jim usually knows who’s doing what because he’s already invested himself in learning and appreciating what’s going on. And when it comes time to make decisions, Jim’s the one who blends wisdom and wit, always making things seem possible.”

In addition to grantmaking, Dr. Denova has advanced the Benedum Foundation’s established commitment to community leadership by co-chairing such regional entities as the Remake Learning Network, the Tri-State Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Workforce Committee.

Dr. Denova’s devotion to West Virginia has fueled partnerships around education policy and innovation. “Jim is a fan of piloting ideas and trusting schools and teachers and communities to be leaders. He has a deep belief in quality education and embraces research to think progressively,” noted President Jen Giovannitti. “His list of partners in West Virginia is endless.”

Scott Rotruck, Member of the West Virginia Board of Education, and Co-Chair of the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative with Dr. Denova said, “Personally, Jim has been my lifeline as I climb the steep learning curve of being a Member of the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative. Jim is the master of the public, private, academic, nonprofit partnership. In a time when agreement is rare in the public domain, Jim Denova’s retirement allows us a point of overwhelming consensus; that he has been a pioneering, collaborative leader in education. Jim and his esteemed Benedum colleagues and board have built a launchpad for what comes next.”

Lloyd Jackson, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, added, “The Foundation and its Board of Trustees congratulate Jim on his well-earned retirement. He has left an indelible mark on the Benedum Foundation and we are grateful for his friendship and service. The board will miss Jim’s leadership and wise counsel.”

The Benedum Foundation is pleased to announce that Cassie Scarano of Koya Leadership Partners will lead the search for the successor position: Program Director for Education.

Part of the Diversified Search Group, Koya is a leading executive search firm working specifically with mission-driven organizations and philanthropic institutions. You can find the full job description here and if you are interested in learning more or nominating potential candidates, please contact Cassie directly at cscarano@koyapartners.com.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum, natives of West Virginia, as a memorial to their only child, Claude Worthington, who died in 1918 at the age of 20. The Foundation is a regional foundation focusing primarily on West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania following the expressed wish that grantmaking be focused in West Virginia and Pittsburgh, their native and adopted homes. The Benedum Foundation is known for both its leadership in West Virginia as a rural funder and its role as a creative partner with other foundations in the Pittsburgh region. Since inception, the Foundation has distributed in excess of $500,000,000. For more information on the Foundation, please see: www.benedum.org.