Raised by an “awesome” single mother after his dad died when he was eight, Jim Everett looked to teachers and coaches to mentor him. He remembers a particular grade school teacher and a sports coach who made a difference in his life because they believed in him and took time to help him improve his skills.
“They were vitally important to my life,” he says. “They cared about me. They made time. Their attention made all the difference for me.”
As an Idaho YMCA leader whose group served one out of every two youth in the valley, he taught his colleagues to use the phrase “youth of promise” rather than “at-risk kids.” Mentoring others is his life’s passion and purpose.
“Find what lights you up,” he advises, adding an indirect plug for the College of Idaho. “A liberal arts education is a great way to find your passion.”
Taking the helm at the College of Idaho
Everett’s community service career has prepared him for his role as co-president, but he makes an unusual college president. He eats lunch in the cafeteria with students daily to learn their stories, their challenges, backgrounds, hopes and dreams. He asks them how the college can improve. He finds host and friend families for the students from out of state. He has a special affinity for the international students. The student body of 1,100 represents 80 countries.
“No matter how bad the world seems sometimes, these students make me an optimist,” he says. “I learn from them every day. They enrich the community with their global view, their unique experiences and their desire to make world peace.”
Eating lunch with students is transformative
“When you sit down to eat together, you will begin to understand each other. It does not matter where we come from, we all want the same things in life — a good life for ourselves and our families, education, good health and, of course, world peace.”
Service to the community
Idaho benefits from his service on as many as 15 boards. Everett knows the community, its needs, its potential, and has a network of benefactors to draw on. During his career, he has been recognized with more than 16 awards and recognitions.
Learning to lead
When asked to name his current mentors, he mentions community benefactor Winston Moore, 94.
“We are so different, and yet I learn from him each time I see him,” Everett says.
He also names his wife of 46 years, Linda, as an important mentor. Together, they have two sons and three grandchildren.
“I have been fortunate to have always been surrounded by talented people, and have just tried to inspire and empower them — and then gotten out of the way,” he says. “The results have been beyond my wildest dreams.”
Passionate about water sports, former All American Swimmer Jim Everett started his career in Ohio as a YMCA swim coach who guided an eventual Olympic gold medalist. He moved to Boise to coach for the Family Y. Then, he became a YMCA CEO in Michigan. By 1987, he was the president and CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA. Next, he led the College of Idaho team to victories and accolades as well as increasing fundraising. Today, he is co-president at the College of Idaho.
All American Swimmer
He set league and school records and was inducted into the Albion College Hall of Fame.
Treasure Valley YMCA president and CEO
He led the organization for 29 years, and during that time, membership grew from 3,000 members in Boise to more than 57,000 across the valley.
Ran successful capital campaigns
He raised more than $100,000 million to build six new YMCA facilities.
He grew the service from one site to more than 23.
He has served on 15 boards throughout his lifetime.
Appointment to College of Idaho
He serves as co-president, overseeing enrollment growth, increased fundraising, and increased diversity and inclusion on campus.