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FOA names Bente James as Executive Director


Bente James

Introducing Bente James, new Executive Director of Larimer County Foundation on Aging

     Born and raised in Denmark, Bente began her international work experience early, fueled by her delight in language learning.  After graduating from university with a degree in structural engineering, she took advantage of the German in that program to intern in Chur, near Zurich, Switzerland.  In the 90s, she studied theology, adding Latin, Greek and Hebrew to the French, Spanish and English she’d already acquired.

     Bente came to the US 10 years ago, bringing with her “a real passion for people.”   She began a homeless shelter program for single women; her husband David started a retirement home called Friendly Towers for ninety homeless seniors, ninety-five percent of whom had no way to earn an income.  She notes that when seniors have severed ties with their families and friends, through mental illness for example, loneliness is a problem, and she and her husband lived in the retirement home with them.   For Bente, a big question for seniors is, who will love them at the end of their lives.

     Bente’s recent passion is to bring strategy and leadership to developing fundraising for NGOs.  During the past 5 years – 2009-2014 -- she has been the Assistant Director of the House of Neighborly Service in Loveland, where, over the past 6-7 years, the budget has doubled.    “We can all sign up for a mission, but effective mission work needs vehicles to fulfill that mission, one of which is funding.”  Her standards for good fundraising focus on what, in her experience, funders look for:  an NGO run by both passionate experts and good stewards.  Her latest challenge is to determine ways that FOA can grow to the benefit of Larimer County and its seniors.

     Bente can’t think of a more deserving group than seniors.  Every one of them has a story, she says, and listening to just one senior’s story is life-giving.   Appreciating that a 90-year-old has more life experience than she does in her 47 years, she thinks of caring for seniors as caring for their voices.  We’ll all grow old, the big questions are how?  With whom?   With what kind of care?  And especially, in what kind of community?   Bente believes that  Larimer County will be a community who cares for and learns from their seniors’ stories.

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