Giving thanks to Jim
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Jim loved Thanksgiving because it was a time to acknowledge, honor, and thank people. We want to create that space for him here. Join us in sharing your thoughts, memories, and stories of Jim in a perpetual thanks giving...
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Kristina Leigh Copeland
2018-11-28 15:03:06 -0500
Dear friends and family,
We also lost our Mom this year too cancer.
Our hearts and prayers are with you !
2018-11-28 15:02:43 -0500
Back in 2003 or so, I put out word I was looking to hire a researcher who could find their way around the internet for a new documentary about the Iraq War, Uncovered. And into my office walked one of the tallest, skinniest, whitest – and smartest – people I had ever met.
That was my introduction Jim Gilliam. I learned he had left a lucrative career in the tech world to do something meaningful. Jim’s powerful mind, technical expertise and belief in ideas impacted and inspired everyone he came in contact with during the time we worked together.
During the making of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, Jim spent countless hours researching Fox News and working with a group of volunteers called the “Newshounds.” Their motto: “We watch Fox so you don’t have to.” We distributed the film through a combination of house party screenings in collaboration with MoveOn.org, and online
sales, completely bypassing the normal documentary distribution system.
When the attacks and pushback to the film began, with Bill O’Reilly and others calling me names and attempting to smear us, Jim was thrilled. “Robert,” he said, “this will get the film so much more attention!” And of course, he was right.
I remember Jim being frustrated at my lack of computer interest. He decided to personally come to my house to set up what he thought was a more appropriate, sophisticated computer and monitor for me, with actual speakers. Watching him crawl under my desk to untangle wires was quite a sight. He was undoubtedly the most overqualified installer ever.
Several years into our collaboration, illness struck Jim. He had already survived cancer, but a side effect of the treatment was that his lungs were damaged, and his breathing became increasingly labored. Eventually he could barely walk, but he would drag himself, and his oxygen tank, slowly across the office courtyard. We helped him fight to get insurance coverage for a double lung transplant. On paper, he was not a good risk. But damn, they didn’t know this guy’s heart and soul, or his courage. With a combination of carrot, stick and internet outreach, the powers that be were convinced, and he was added to a waitlist for new lungs.
The wait for the transplant seemed endless, but there was never a word of complaint from Jim. His fortitude was off the charts. Eventually he got the call – and got his new lungs. And he got back to work.
So many memories stand out:
Like: Jim walking into my office. We had just released Iraq for Sale, Jim said, “Robert, there’s this thing on the internet, we should take a clip from the film and post it. They let you post for free.” (Back then it usually cost money to post video online.) I said, “Why would anyone watch that?” Jim said, “Let’s try it – it’s called YouTube.” I looked at the site – it was filled with cat videos and people slipping in the shower. It made no sense. But we posted, and in two days, Jim walked back into my office. He said we had 10,000 views! It was amazing, exciting – truly a brave new world for distribution.
Like: In staff meetings, back when we only had three or four people – I remember someone pleading to not have Jim in the meeting because he was SO intimidating. And, well… tolerance was not his greatest quality.
Like: Going to Washington, DC to testify on war profiteering after “Iraq for Sale” launched. The Republicans refused to allow me to show a clip of the film. Jim was, again, ecstatic. “The internet will go crazy over them censoring you.” Right again.
Eventually Jim decided to go out on his own and start NationBuilder, which was perhaps the bravest thing he ever did, given that he was an introvert and basically hated talking to people.
In 2008, I introduced Jim as he was presented with Campaign for America’s Future’s second annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award, recognizing the social justice impact of his technology work in reaching audiences directly.
In 2011, he gave his now famous talk at Personal Democracy Forum, The Internet is My Religion.
Throughout this time, Jim struggled with recurring health issues, but he continued celebrating each birthday and remained committed to living his life as fully as possible.
I never heard him complain. He always had a clear-eyed commitment to tech, to the internet, to progress.
Jim, I hate talking about you in the past tense.
I will miss you – my warrior, Brainiac friend.
President, Brave New Films
2018-11-28 15:01:11 -0500
I didn’t know Jim personally but I have read a lot about him and have admired his brilliance and his courage. I am so sorry to hear about his passing. I want to send my condolences and my thanks for everything that Jim made possible. His inspiration, his humanity, and his warrior attitude at a time of personal challenge. He will be missed. Thank you.
2018-11-28 15:01:09 -0500
It always so much sadness when a brilliant and thoughtful person passes, Jim brought community together and he will always be celebrated through the people he touch directly and indirectly.
My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
2018-11-28 15:00:26 -0500
I’ve used Nationbuilder on a number of campaigns for community engagement and outreach. I don’t know what I would have done without it.
I am also a cancer survivor, I take no moment for granted.
Grieving with all of you and so sorry for your loss.
2018-11-28 14:59:17 -0500
Amazing man! Amazing thoughts! A big loss for the world for sure. No one can replace him. Let him rest in peace.
2018-11-28 14:59:15 -0500
My condolences and prayers for Jim’s loved ones.
2018-11-28 14:59:13 -0500
Terrible Terrible .. sad I have a son 36 yrs old I can relate to “god forbid” losing him ..terrible ..life is so unfair. So sad, there should be a cosmological law against death before the age of 100.
2018-11-28 14:58:17 -0500
Jim, thank you for creating a wonderful platform. I love NationBuilder.
2018-11-28 14:57:07 -0500
! This hits hard for some weird reason. Not because I knew Jim, we never met. However, he impacted my life for the better; with every new campaign season and with every new charitable organization who wanted a website, including Wheelchairs for Warriors, which I am the Executive Director of. His brilliance and leadership has made my work-life, and the work-life of my staff, clients, and partners more streamlined than ever before. We have “Built their Nations”, one website at a time! Marina Bay Marketing is eternally grateful for his vision and his leadership and for giving us the opportunity to connect our worlds… however vast and different. Well played Jim, well played.
2018-11-28 14:56:39 -0500
We are new customers at The Congress for the New Urbanism, thanks to our new Membership Engagement Manager who swears by NationBuilder and talked us into becoming part of it. Already, it is helping us transform our network of support for a vision of more walkable, bikable, equitable, and lively places. I am sad to know of Jim’s loss, but his life is part of every keystroke his team has used to build this wonderful connective technology.
2018-11-28 14:56:24 -0500
from For Britain @
2018-11-28 14:56:04 -0500
Jim was an inspiration, a visionary followed by action, leading to transformational change. His vision helped us to create a positive impact for hundreds of thousands of kids, and will continue to do so for a long time.
2018-11-28 14:55:26 -0500
I did not know Jim personally but I can tell by the expression of words he was a remarkable human being and as a user of his creativity, a talented man.
I am sorry for your loss.
2018-11-28 14:54:03 -0500
When I was hired to do the user experience design for a nationwide campaign I needed help integrating my designs into the NationBuilder framework. Jim actually emailed me back and forth answering questions I had even though he had team members that could answer my questions; he didn’t have to get involved in those questions but he did. I gained a huge amount of respect for NationBuilder and the company culture, because of Jim’s compassion and dedication to excellent customer service. I’m sorry to hear about his passing. He will be missed.
2018-11-28 14:53:13 -0500
Jim had a grand ambition that came from a personal place and journey that change is real and possible if you act. I am thankful that he put into the world that hope > fear. #
2018-11-28 14:53:10 -0500
Jim, Thank you for leaving this world a more connected and meaningful place through your work and vision.
2018-11-28 14:52:35 -0500
Sorry to hear! You’ll be in our prayers! He built a great company!
2018-11-28 14:52:29 -0500
Oh man. I loved Jim. I worked with him when he was just a kid and knew he was something truly special. He will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
2018-11-28 14:52:12 -0500
Thank you Jim.
God bless you.
2018-11-28 14:52:02 -0500
My husband passed away on April 21, 2015 and it hasn’t been the same since. I will be adding Jim to my prayers and he will be sadly missed.😢
2018-11-28 14:50:53 -0500
What you have accomplished and the changes you have helped bring lives for eternity. Thank you Jim.
Erika Avellaneda Celis
2018-11-28 14:20:06 -0500
Jim inspired me through his vision, his passion for a more connected humanity. His relentless approach at doing something that could change the world despite challenges inspired me to start campaigning out of college. I’ve been able to help hundreds of people connect to thousands. Thank you Jim for your way of being, for your humanity, for your love and passion. Thank you for reminding us to be grateful in the moment for what we have.
2018-11-28 13:46:06 -0500
Jim’s vision for a connected humanity has guided my life and work for the past 7 years. As a friend, Jim was kind and loving and always game to jump right past the fluff to get into deep, honest conversations. As a leader, Jim was brave, unapologetic, and visionary. Thank you, Jim, for transforming my life and helping me find what it is I’m meant to do.
Jane St. John
2018-11-28 13:16:19 -0500
Meeting Jim and joining his team unquestionably changed my life for the better. I will always be grateful to him for that, and for the inspiration he ignited in seemingly everyone he met. I’ll never forget the first staff meeting where I heard him speak, during which he was back from the brink of an especially trying moment of his illness and still spoke with such verve and uncompromising vision that all I could do was cry. At my new job. In a staff meeting. And feel so incredibly thankful be doing just that. Thank you, Jim, for everything.
2018-11-28 10:15:37 -0500
Jim was the most fearless, brilliant, and determined person I’ve ever met. On an intense journey fueled by purpose and meaning, we closely collaborated for over 13 years. We were friends for even longer. I’m forever grateful for everything I learned, and will continue to learn, for his unwavering belief in me, and his insistence that everyone always show up as their full, authentic self. It was one of the great privileges of my life. Thank you Jim. ❤️