|Jimmy Lynn, Leading AOL’s Diversity Partnerships
By: Jennie L. Ilustre
Jimmy Lynn’s title is Vice-President for Diversity Partnerships and Strategic Relationships at AOL, where he manages employee affinity networks and non-profit partnerships.
Jimmy, whose late father was Irish-American father and whose mother is of Japanese descent, is aware through his work and civic activities that diversity brings strength to a nation. He also noted an interesting trend in the country.
He said: “There’s a major shift occurring demographically in the US. The Asian, Hispanic and African-American demographic groups are continuing to grow in size. There are more and more people now from mixed ethnic backgrounds. And many of our leaders and role models, such as President Obama and Tiger Woods, are of multi-ethnic backgrounds.”
Those who know Jimmy describe him as a leader and role model. Remarked Opus8 Inc. Chief Executive Officer S. Tien Wong: “Jimmy is passionate about doing the very best job he can, whether it’s negotiating a multi-million dollar marquee sports contract for AOL, or mentoring an underprivileged child. His great love of people contributes to his passion.”
He has worked with Jimmy for seven years on philanthropic causes. “He’s not doing this kind of work for glory or fame, or ego purposes. He does it because for him, giving back is the right thing to do.”
“Jimmy is very active in the philanthropic world, especially toward helping low-income children in D.C.,” said Ban Tran, VP-Senior Financial Advisor, PIA Program Portfolio and manager, Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. “He spends time with the children–mentoring them and monitoring their progress until they become a contributing member in the community.”
At a recent Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund community reception, Jimmy pointed out, “A person can do any of four things in terms of giving back–donate time, donate money, donate time and money, or do nothing.”
In philanthropy, mentoring and community service, he said he was “blessed to have two incredible mentors–Ted Leonsis, Vice-Chair Emeritus for AOL and the Capitals majority owner, and Mario Morino, founder of Venture Philanthropy Partners and the person regarded as the ‘Godfather of Philanthropy’ in the D.C. region.”
Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund Founder & President Susie Kay said Jimmy’s work with them as a board director “is the perfect embodiment of this work.” Jimmy connects people, introducing successful people to his students, his work with them, and their struggles to improve themselves though education, life skills and networking.
She added: “He is truly a social entrepreneur. His passions come out with the groups he commits himself to ‘head and heart first’–and he also sees the corporate value in positioning this work so his business can show this impact. It is why America Online has been such a wonderfully engaged corporate citizen in the Washington, D.C. area.”
Jimmy has a B.A. in Communications and an MBA in Marketing from American University in Washington, D.C. In 1995, he started at AOL as a manager, working in business development and account management for its Sports Channel. He became a director, then served as Vice-President for AOL Sports from 1995-2006.
From September 2006 to May last year, Jimmy was the Executive Sponsor for AOL’s “Asian Interest Group,” with some 250 to 300 AOL employees as members. His main task was to mentor and advise the group’s leadership team.
As VP for AOL Sports, he led a team in managing strategic sports partnerships for AOL. Among these are such major names as the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB, NHL, NFLPA, WNBA, Sports Illustrated, ABC Sports, HBO Sports and Turner Sports.
As a child growing up in military bases ((his father was lieutenant colonel in the Army), Jimmy played baseball, basketball and football. He was born at Ft. Belvoir’s DeWitt Army Hospital. His family moved to Japan, where Jimmy lived till he returned to Metro D.C. at age 16.
Working in Sports and Entertainment, he has partial or full season tickets to the Capitals, Nationals, Wizards and Hoyas. He has been to over 10 Super Bowls as well as a number of NBA All-Star Games and NBA Finals, World Series and MLB All-Star Games, Daytona 500, NHL Stanley Cup Finals and Olympics and World Cup matches.
His childhood baseball idols were Al Kaline, who was a star for the Detroit Tigers, and Fred Lynn. He’s a huge fan of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles. His current favorite player right now is Ichiro Suzuki (he loves his passion and all-around game).
He has met Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Cal Ripken, Alex Ovechkin, among others. He has been an Internet mentor to several professional athletes and Olympic athletes, and has become friends with them.
Aside from sports, Jimmy’s other passion is education. He’s in his fourth year of teaching Sports Marketing Strategy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He’s the Chair of the advisory board for the university’s School of Continuing Education’s “Sports Industry Management” program. He’s also on the Leadership Council of George Washington University’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and served on the advisory board of San Diego State University’s Sports MBA program.
Jimmy works with up to 14 non-profit organizations in diverse roles: as a member of the board of directors or advisory board, mentor, connector, volunteer or fundraiser. Many of these groups focus on helping children from lower-income families pursue college education or getting started with their career.
Among these groups are Venture Philanthropy Partners, Hoop Dreams Scholarship Foundation, Asian-American LEAD, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Year Up, Posse Foundation, Super Leaders, Giving Back Fund, America’s Promise, Case Foundation, Greater DC Cares, and Capitol Movement Project.
Jimmy has been recognized for his civic work over the years. These include the Andrew Heiskell award, Time Warner’s most prestigious community service award; Year Up’s Urban Empowerment award; City Year’s “Idealists of the Year,” and Greater DC Cares’ “2008 Class of Change,” honoring the District’s 10 rising leaders in philanthropy. He said, “The best thing about being recognized for these awards is that it allows me to continue to spread the message to others in the community about importance of ‘giving back,’ especially in these difficult economic times.”
Q & A Excerpts
What challenges did you overcome in your life? One of the challenges I had in life while growing up was being bi-racial. My mother is Japanese and my father was Irish-American. Growing up in Tokyo, I was in the minority since I was half-Caucasian. When I moved to Metro D.C. when I was 16, I was in the minority in high school and college, being I’m half-Asian. So, from time to time, I encountered some prejudice.
But when I was a junior in college, one of my classmates told me she thought I was extremely fortunate since I come from two distinct cultural backgrounds. Ever since then, I’ve embraced being both Asian and American.
Who are your role models, and why? I’ve had three primary role models in my life– my father, my Uncle Art, and my best friend’s father, Gen. Jack Guthrie. My father was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, my uncle a colonel in the Air Force, and General Guthrie is a retired four-star Army general. Unfortunately, both my father and uncle passed away in the past 18 months. They’re both buried in Arlington National Cemetery, less than three miles from my home in Rosslyn. I’m committed to carrying on the lessons they instilled in me on the importance of treating people equally, maintaining a high level of integrity and caring about others, as well as having fun in life.