Press Release: Ada Jobs Foundation Announces Departure of Jim Eldridge

ADA, OKLAHOMA – Ada Jobs Foundation (AJF) announces the departure of President and CEO Jim Eldridge effective November 3.

Jim has been an integral part of our organization for seven years, and we extend our deepest gratitude for his dedication, leadership, and unwavering commitment to our mission.

Jim’s vision and leadership have been instrumental in driving our organization forward. Under his guidance, the Ada Jobs Foundation achieved significant milestones, including:

  • Received a Build to Scale Venture Challenge award from the Economic Development Administration in 2021, resulting in $1.1 million of funding to build a regional scalable technology startup program and accelerator.
  • Selected to participate in the Rural Innovation Initiative cohort in 2020 and is a member of the national Rural Innovation Network.
  • Launched a Business Retention and Expansion program resulting in site visits and business support to over 26 local, export-sector businesses in Ada. This program has been carried out in close partnership with Pontotoc Technology Center and has aided local companies by making connections to resources, research, workforce development programs, and grant programs.
  • Partnered with Ada Main Street and the City of Ada to develop and administer the Ada Business Improvement Grant. This program has created $689,675 of total investment in Ada’s downtown since 2019, with 75 completed projects impacting over 40 businesses and creating 8 new mixed-use housing units.
  • Ada and Pontotoc County are designated as one of twelve Oklahoma Centers of Workforce Excellence, which has resulted in a local workforce development strategy and ongoing work to develop workforce pathways in the local Manufacturing, Healthcare, Technology, and Environmental Science industries.
  • Is a member of the Accredited Economic Development Organization program with the International Economic Development Council and successfully passed through reaccreditation reviews in 2020 and 2023.

The Board of Directors expresses its appreciation for Jim’s exemplary service and wishes them the very best in his future endeavors.

“Jim has been an incredible asset to the Ada community,” said Jeannie Forneris, Ada Jobs Foundation Board Chair. “He has put together a team of professionals who have supported job growth as well as helped to bring state and federal funding dollars into Ada. Through his efforts, Ada has also earned the distinction of being one of only three economic development organizations in the state of Oklahoma accredited by the International Economic Development Council. This achievement speaks to Jim’s talent, professionalism, and drive to grow Ada. We have been very fortunate to have Jim serving the Ada community and he will be missed.”

“I have been honored to serve as the President and CEO for the last six years,” shared Jim Eldridge, outgoing President and CEO of the Ada Jobs Foundation. “I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of staff, my board, and our key partners to position Ada as a leading and innovative community for economic development. Ada is a unique place, and I appreciate being able to learn and build alongside the Ada community.”

During this transition, Peggy Grisso Saunkeah will serve as the Interim President and CEO and the AJF Board will begin the search for a permanent successor. We remain fully committed to our mission and the community we serve, and this leadership change will not deter us from continuing our work.

Ada Jobs Foundation looks forward to a bright future, and we are confident that the upcoming leadership transition will usher in a new era of growth and achievement.

Let’s Grow Ada Together