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James G. Vella

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

james vella headshotVella leads all of the community service activities of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, and is overseeing Ford Fund’s expanding global outreach. Established in 1949 by Henry Ford II, Ford Fund builds on more than 100 years of Ford Motor Company corporate citizenship by focusing its efforts on community life, education and safe driving. Ford Fund works to improve people’s lives through innovative problem solving with nonprofit partners and signature programs such as Ford Driving Skills for Life and Ford Driving Dreams. It also oversees the Ford Volunteer Corps, which enlisted more than 33,000 Ford employees and retirees to give back to their local communities in 40 countries during 2016.

He became president of Ford Fund on Dec. 1, 2006. Prior to this assignment, he served as a visiting university professor at the University of Michigan Dearborn, a position he assumed in December 2005. From 2000 through 2005, Vella served in a variety of executive leadership positions, including chief of staff, vice president of Corporate Public Affairs and executive director of Corporate Communications.

Vella joined Ford in 1988 as a producer for the Ford Communications Network. He held a series of positions in Public Affairs, including broadcast news manager, regional news manager for the Northeast region, director of Public Affairs for Ford's global manufacturing operation, and director of Public Affairs global operations.

Before joining Ford, he worked in television news at local affiliate stations for 14 years. His television career included news management assignments at WJBK-TV in Detroit, KNSD-TV (formerly KCST-TV) in San Diego and WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio.

He’s a native of Detroit and holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Vella serves on a number of boards, including the following:

  • Chair, Ford Motor Company Fund board of trustees
  • Chair, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
  • National advisory board member, The Salvation Army
  • Executive Committee Member, United Way of Southeastern Michigan
  • Corporate board of advisor member, National Council of La Raza
  • Board of director member, Downtown Detroit Partnership
  • Board of director member, Cass Community Social Services
  • Board of director member, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Board of director member, Enactus
  • Board of director member, Gleaners Community Food Bank
  • Board of director member, HAP
  • Board of director member, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Servce

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