Few people start off a conversation with the benefits of Bio-Diesel for our environment, move to an explanation of their passion for their city’s economic development, and end with their history as a marathoner and latent stand-up comic. But, then again, few people are like Jim Coleman.
Born and raised in Northeastern Ohio, Coleman attended Kent State University, where he graduated with a B.A. in Rhetoric Communication, which, according to him, is a degree for people who just plain live to give speeches. “The focus of rhetoric is on the audience,” he says. “If you have something brilliant on paper, but the audience doesn’t get it, you lose the message. A lot of people in politics study the message, not the audience.”
After a ten-year stint with United Way and then a run with City Year, he joined the political arena as the finance director for Governor George Voinovich’s race for US Senate, where he raised over 10 million dollars for the governor’s campaign. “That was probably one of the proudest moments of my career,” he remembers, “when I was able to pull the lever for George Voinovich and send him to the Senate after I had the most grueling year and a half of my life.”
These days, Coleman, who is Vice President of Fundraising for American Strategies, a national political strategy, public policy, government affairs and public relations firm, still spends his days encouraging the public and the politicians who represent them to dig a little deeper. Only now, it’s not necessarily into their pockets, but into their minds by educating themselves about what is going on in their districts and locales. “Our job isn’t necessarily lobbying or winning on Election Day,” he says. “It’s educating our legislatures on what’s going on in the world and in their own backyards.”