Faces of SAL: Jim Duncan
January 20, 2021
We have a few new faces on the SAL Board of Directors to introduce to you over the coming weeks! Most of our board members began their SAL journey the same way you did as readers and event-goers. Learn about the moments that inspired them to get involved more deeply, what they do, where they come from, and what excites them.
Meet Jim Duncan!
What do you do when you’re not doing work for the SAL Board?
I am a passionate advocate for arts and culture. I believe reading has the power to inspire, transcend differences, and bring people together even when they are apart. Reading and writing play a pivotal role in building equitable communities and should be accessible to all.
I’m an avid adventure traveler: sailing the Caribbean, hiking the jungles of Borneo, bicycling the French countryside. I love art and music of all kinds, sailing, hiking, and skiing.
I’m also a board member and advisor to profit and not-for-profit boards. I’m currently serving on six boards including KING FM 98.1, Path with Art, Benaroya Hall, among others, including the Advisory Council of ArtsFund, having served sixteen years as a Trustee and two as Board Chair. I am an active volunteer at The Center for Wooden Boats.
What was your favorite book as a kid?
The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes. To this day, it reminds me not to procrastinate and be a lazy bum. I still laugh and think about loading my dirty dishes into a pick-up truck and let rain do the work. Another favorite is Gift from the Sea, which is about life’s journeys and the joy of finding the double sunshine shell.
Before I came into my current role, I was . . .
The former CEO and Board Chair of Sparling (now Stantec), the market leader in electrical, technology, acoustical, and lighting consultancy.
What’s a memorable SAL event for you?
I love the SAL Literary Arts talks and conversations and the poetry series. Malcolm Gladwell—I enjoyed his engaging, entertaining storytelling and his research. And Annie Leibovitz, for her creative process and photoshoots of celebrities. I will never forget the eminent biologist E.O. Wilson talk celebrating ants. Who knew: “Ants have the most complicated social organization on earth next to humans?” There are so many memorable lectures from Salman Rushdie, the humor of Alexander McCall Smith, and recently Ta-Nehisi Coates, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Luis Alberto Urrea among many others.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Maryland, sailing, canoeing, and feasting on Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.
What’s your favorite book right now?
A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan. I loved learning more about European history, theology, and philosophy as he walks the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome.
What’s your personal motto?
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Saint Augustine
Thank you, Jim!