Magazine Article

The new normal: Jim Farmer

January 29th, 2014

Jim Farmer photo by Barbara Kinney

Jim Farmer served as an Air Force B-52 pilot from 1969–1975. He went on to an investment career before retiring in 2011. The year before his retirement, he joined the board of The Museum of Flight and serves as its treasurer. Jim joined the WAC in 1976 and plays on the Club’s Platinum Division championship men’s basketball team.

How did you become involved with The Museum of Flight?

My employer, Wells Fargo, strongly encouraged its employees to become involved in supporting the community, particularly encouraging its managers to serve on nonprofit boards. As a former Air Force B-52 pilot, I found The Museum of Flight a natural fit.

As a member of the museum’s board of trustees, what are your responsibilities?

As the board’s treasurer, I’m a member of the executive committee, chairing the finance and expenditures oversight committees. We are responsible for reviewing and approving annual budgets, endowment policies, significant expenditures, auditor selection, etcetera.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining a nonprofit board today?

Get involved! Join a committee that interests you and one to which you can add value.

How would you compare the climate for nonprofits now to the climate of five years ago?

The Museum of Flight has been very fortunate. Its popularity, as measured by attendance, has increased significantly each year right through the recession. We had over 550,000 visits last year. The museum’s mission is to be the foremost educational museum in the world. A large percentage of our visits are kids who are inspired to be future aviators, engineers, builders and astronauts. The newly completed Raisbeck Aviation High School, located adjacent to the museum, focuses on science, technology, engineering and math.

In your view, what lasting impacts did the recession have on nonprofits?

Many nonprofits struggled financially. Like any business, they had to get more efficient and do more with less to accomplish their mission. The rebound of the financial and real estate markets will be most helpful to organizations that depend heavily on the public’s largesse.

Where do you see nonprofit giving and operations moving in the next five years?

The folks in Seattle and the Northwest are very generous with their time and treasure. They enthusiastically support organizations whose missions are important to them. That said, they have limits. When and if the markets continue to do well, more good will be spread around. I believe the outlook is promising.

Where do your business and social lives intersect with the WAC?

When I moved to Seattle 37 years ago, the WAC was a critical component of my business and social integration. Many of my personal and professional relationships were forged here. As an example, I’m part of a men’s book club that meets monthly. Our common denominator is that we all have played basketball together for many years at the WAC.

Fun Facts

  • I never leave home without … A positive attitude (and my wallet).
  • My secret to success is … See above.
  • My favorite place at the WAC is … The 8th Floor gym—in the paint!