Jim and Janet Ayers Named Philanthropists of the Year

Couple Honored by Association of Fundraising Professionals for Long History of Generous Giving to Tennessee Nonprofits

Nashville, Tenn. — Jim and Janet Ayers are among the individual and corporate philanthropists being honored by the Nashville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as part of the association’s annual National Philanthropy Day observance on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

The Ayers were nominated for the 2007 AFP Philanthropists of the Year award by Centerstone, Middle Tennessee’s leading provider of behavioral health services.

“Jim and Janet Ayers are a dynamic couple who have an unmistakable passion for their community and commitment to the organizations they serve,” said Laura Allen, vice president of development for Centerstone. “Janet is notorious for identifying needs within the community and striving to meet them, and both Jim and Janet have demonstrated the importance of philanthropy in leading by example.”

Janet Ayers is a Centerstone board member, serves on the organization’s development committee and has a particular interest in research that seeks to identify, treat and eliminate mental illness. She also serves as board member and president of the Unicoi County United Way, and as a board member of the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee Health Care Association, Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and Unicoi County Economic Development Board. She is president of the Ayers Foundation.

Jim Ayers, chairman of Lexington, Tenn.-based FirstBank, established the Ayers Foundation in 1999. The Foundation manages Mr. Ayers’ personal philanthropy and supports a wide range of programs and institutions across the state of Tennessee with an emphasis on education. He also established and funded the Ayers Institute at Vanderbilt University, giving $10 million to support cancer research. Ayers serves as board member of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, Union University and the Tennessee Bankers Association. He is a member of the Tennessee State Board of Education and the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way.

In 2006, Jim and Janet Ayers gave more than $3.4 million to support community organizations in Tennessee, and in the last three years, they have given and pledged more than $27 million.

“We at Centerstone are grateful for the Ayers’ enthusiastic commitment to our organization, and we are thrilled that the AFP has recognized the Ayers for all they have given back to the community,” says Allen.

Other philanthropists honored this year by the Nashville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) include:

  • Lee A. Beaman, Fundraising Volunteer of the Year
  • Colliers Turley Martin Tucker–Nashville, Corporate Philanthropy Program of the Year