A Message from Bita Diomande

Dear Shoshana and family, 

I am so incredibly sorry to hear about Jim's passing. I cannot begin to imagine what you are all going through. He took such pride in his family and would often tell us what you were all up to. Jim was such an amazing person, larger than life is how I like to describe him. 

I had the fortune of meeting Jim in 2013, in my first year at Sloan. I was part of the Legatum program and kept hearing about this wonderful man called Jim who had mentored some of my favorite fellows. Finally, I told Vimala that I just had to meet this person she was always raving about, so she set up a meeting for us. When I met him, I was going through a bit of an identity crisis. I had one failed start-up under my belt, my dad and primary reason for wanting to move back to Africa had passed away a couple years before, and while everything on the outside looked pretty intact, I was lost. Jim and Vimala were the few people I opened up to while at MIT about what was really going on, about my dream of being an entrepreneur in Africa but also my fears. They did not judge me for being so incredibly confused about what to do with my life, rather they took me in and supported me.

For Jim it did not matter that I was honestly all over the place, exploring each and every opportunity that came my way. Every step of the way, he was there for me. He treated me as a human being undergoing a personal transformation. I often wondered if I was at all deserving of his support if I could not get my act together quickly, but then one day it hit me that to Jim it didn't matter what I did. All I know is that he made me feel that I could do anything I put my mind to. 

This support allowed me to grow and get to a place where my head is back squarely on my shoulders and I know where I am heading. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without Jim. He helped me navigate a difficult transition time and I owe so much to him. More than ever, I feel a pressing need to get out there, carry out my goals, and give back as much as I can. I hope he knew how important he was to us all and I hope we can all fulfill those dreams he believed we could accomplish. He has been a constant presence in my life for the past two years and I feel an incredible pain knowing that he is no longer here with us. 

Jim touched so many lives and I know that his legacy will continue to live through all the entrepreneurs who had the fortune of working with him.