Leadership and service are two very familiar qualities to James (“Jim”) Ahearn. As part of the class of 1961, Ahearn was a member of the men’s basketball team under Coach Milt Simon. Paired with his participation in ROTC and membership in Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, he learned a variety of skills that would serve him well in his future career.
Ahearn graduated from Gannon College in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. Upon graduation, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry in Germany. Following his military service, he completed a master’s degree in social work from SUNY Buffalo.
After completion of his second degree, Ahearn committed to a life of serving others as he began an extensive career in the social work field. Ahearn claims the skill sets he fostered at Gannon provided him the qualities necessary to work in a variety of positions, included serving as Rochester’s first Director of Group Homes for Hillside Children’s Center and serving as a director for an inner-city clinic for a mental health center. “I was provided the opportunity to learn and grow in a very supportive atmosphere, where high moral values and integrity were emphasized. I developed confidence in my abilities to succeed in life.”
For the twenty-six years leading to his retirement, Ahearn maintained the position of President/CEO of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Upstate New York Chapter. In 2004, the Multiple Sclerosis Society established the “Jim Ahearn Award for Excellence in Programming for Long Term Care.”
Ahearn is no stranger to being recognized for his selfless commitments to others. His awards and recognitions include the United Way of Greater Rochester Executive of the Year, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Executive Director Excellence Award, Park Ride Health System Visionary Award, the Mayor Hattie Harris Citizens Award, and Gannon University’s Distinguished Alumni/Monsignor Wilfrid J. Nash Principles of Christian Conduct Award. Now retired, Ahearn continues to lead a life structured around helping those in his community. As a resident of Rochester, New York, he consistently volunteers with the Veterans Outreach Center, as well as the Visiting Veterans Program. He regularly dedicates time as a volunteer with Life Time Care, a Rochester-based agency, and although his work here is varied, he often serves as a hospice volunteer in their Vet to Vet Program. Additionally, he has served as a director on various non-profit boards, including the Gannon University Alumni Association's National Alumni Board. Mr. Ahearn was part of the Red Cross Disaster Team from 2005-2010.
In his free time, Ahearn enjoys reading, swimming, travelling, and learning to play the Irish Tin Whistle. He and his wife, Loraine, have been married for 49 years. They are the proud parents of Kimberly and Kevin and have four grandchildren, Viola, Charlotte, Caroline, and Dalyn.
His advice for current and future Gannon students is to “Stay focused, always remember the values you received at Gannon, stay close to God, help others when you can, and enjoy your life to the fullest!”
(Published June 2016)