Meet James O’Donnell
James O’Donnell worked for years as a highly successful senior executive at some of the nation’s largest investment companies. A thought-provoking writer, his opinions on ethics and finances have appeared in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and Fortune, and he has written curricula on the linkages between faith, economic development, and civil society. He currently serves as associate professor of business and economics and executive-in-residence at Huntington College in Indiana. There, he teaches students to integrate values and ethics into their professional and personal lives.
During his Wall Street career, Jim spent four years as vice president and national sales manager for the Dreyfus Service Corporation. During his last year with Dreyfus, he personally sold $1.5 billion in new investments. He then went to the Portfolio Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Chemical Bank (now J. P. Morgan Chase), and led the sales and marketing efforts, increasing assets under the firm’s management from $800 million to $2.5 billion. From there, Jim joined Fidelity Investments, first as senior vice president for Personal Advisory Services, then executive vice president and founding director of the High Net Worth Group, an investment and marketing arm of Fidelity serving the needs of wealthy individuals.
Though highly-successful, Jim always cut against the grain in the dog-eat-dog world of money. A man of deep convictions and great thoughtfulness, he strove to inject principles of his Christian faith into an industry characterized by cut-throat competition.
In a decision to serve God more intentionally by teaching the next generation of business leaders, Jim and his family moved from the East Coast and the active business world to small-town Indiana in 1994. Shortly after arrival, Jim’s wife, Lizzie, was stricken with life-threatening illnesses that have crouched at their door ever since. As a family, they have struggled with cancer, heart failure, kidney failure and other chronic problems, all the while keeping faith and sharing their hope with others.
During the early months of their suffering and uncertainty, Jim documented the hope, the horrors, and his wrestling with God with searing honesty through a series of letters written to “friends back East.” The letters turned into his book, Letters for Lizzie, which released in 2004 and received extensive coverage from major media including a front page feature story in The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, The Indianapolis Star, The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, The Ft. Wayne News Sentinel, The Arizona Daily Star, and Christianity Today, among others. In conjunction with the book’s release, Jim spoke widely in New York, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Ft. Wayne, on radio, television, in person, and in the press on various topics involving business, the meaning of success, faith, hope, and love.
His second book, Walking with Arthur appeared in 2005 and was reviewed in the New York Times. It will soon be translated into French, having also drawn a wide audience in Europe.
Jim and Lizzie have three sons and live in Indiana.