James L. Terman, Class of 1973
Public affairs and strategic communications expert
James Terman is the President and Chief Financial Officer of Jasculca Terman and Associates, a public affairs firm specializing in public relations and event planning and management. He has more than three decades of experience in public affairs and public relations, serving as senior strategist on a variety of projects including health, education and environmental issue advocacy. His crisis communications work has included numerous projects that focus on product liability, labor disputes, employee related negligence, litigation, zoning and expansion-related issues, as well as mergers and public accusations of hospital and employee misconduct.
Prior to establishing Jasculca Terman, Terman served in the White House as associate counsel to Vice President Walter Mondale. He also served on the advance team for President Clinton’s visits to South Korea, Berlin and Moscow, as well as several U.S. cities. Previously, he served as counsel to U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson III and was an attorney in private practice.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
Kent gave me a good practical teaching and learning experience. Secondly, because of the fact that it was in the city, it provides opportunities for people to sort of lay the ground work professionally. For me, it allowed me to be exposed to the Adlai Stevenson campaign who I subsequently worked for.
Can you describe your career path?
During my time in law school, I worked on a senatorial campaign. I ended up then spending my summers in Washington working for Senator Stevenson and subsequently worked on his staff. Then I practiced law for a couple of years with a small law firm. I then worked for Vice President Mondale in the White House and subsequently set up my own public affairs firm and came back to Chicago in 1981.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The challenges of operating a business- making tough decisions and being able to ultimately make decisions on the employee side in terms of human resources. You want to have the best and the brightest employees and it’s easy sometimes to let things go rather than making tough decisions to let someone go.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I think being in the same business for 30 years. There have been great and tough times over that period. You just have to think things through and enjoy what you do every day after 30 years. That, to me, is a great accomplishment.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I thought I wanted to be a communications lawyer. I thought I’d represent the Chicago Tribune in slander and libel cases. That’s what interested me at the time.