About Us

The First Generation Foundation is comprised of everyday people who care and do. We care for students who have fewer educational opportunities. We do what we can do to embolden first generation college students, and to enrich their post-secondary educational experiences for the betterment of individuals, organizations, families, communities, and the world.

The First Generation Foundation connects first-generation college students to academically rigorous institutions of higher learning and to organizations bolstering academic preparation, fostering peer and mentor connections, and delivering financial support. The First Generation Foundation offers services and resources to institutions of higher learning that recruit and retain first generation college students.  Our mission is to build a First Generation family that stirs hope, inspires academic achievement, and unlocks student potential by uniting educational and collegiate neighborhoods and strengthening collaboration between and among support organizations. Standing together, we aspire to defeat societal forces that block hope and trap cognitive ability.

Current Members

Joyce A. Banjac, Ph.D.

Joyce Banjac serves as the executive director of the First Generation Foundation and is a member of the Baldwin Wallace University teaching faculty. She is first-generation college graduate and a seasoned higher insider, holding positions as Lecturer in the Graduate Leadership in Higher Education program (Baldwin Wallace University), Interim Dean of the Finn Center for Adult, On-line and Graduate Studies, Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Student Services, Jefferson College, (7,000 student body), Dean of Academic Affairs, Cuyahoga Community College (30,000 student body) and Vice President and Interim President of the private,  Myers University — Cleveland’s oldest continuously running institution of higher learning.  Banjac holds a B.A. degree in Business/Economics, and an  MBA from Baldwin Wallace University.  She holds a Ph.D. in Post-secondary Education from the University of Akron, and attended Harvard University’s Higher Education Leadership Program, earning a certificate of completion.  Joyce has authored articles in U.S. and international journals regarding inter-organizational collaboration.

Brian M. Banjac, Statutory Agent

Brian Banjac, J.D. is a 2011 graduate of Cleveland State University’s Marshall College of Law, and a 2008 graduate of Ohio State University, majoring in economics.

Brian is a trust-officer for Key Bank Corporation. He serves on the Greater Cleveland Soccer Association Board, the Brecksville  Broadview Heights School Foundation, the Serbian American Networking Association, the Audit Committee of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, and officiates soccer for collegiate and adult leagues.

Karen J. Kilpatrick

Karen, a computer programming graduate of ICM Technical Institute, is a senior analyst working with lines of business to advance and automate banking. Serving as an integrated software expert in the banking industry,  Karen is a member of the Women in Technology association, and the Key Bank sponsored Aspiring Leaders initiative.

Pete Honsberger 

Pete, a John Carroll University alumni, earned a masters’ degree in communication, and completed an undergraduate degree in communication. Pete is the managing principal of Culture Shoc. Pete’s division is responsible for transforming corporations, businesses, and institutions of higher learning into highly effective organizations, with well synchronized teams. Although Pete’s clients are located throughout the U.S.A, he calls Northeastern Ohio his home.

Bob Banjac 

Bob, a graduate of Bowling Green State University’s accounting program and Masters in Business Administration, is a marketing/technology entrepreneur, and has owned and sold former technology ventures. As a visiting marketing professor with John Carroll University, Bob teaches graduate and undergraduate marketing courses.  Born in the former Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, Bob immigrated to the U.S.A when he was a young child.

Jenna Honsberger 

Jenna, an Ohio University graduate in Family Studies, doubles as an entrepreneur. As a co-founding member of the Ohio University’s Entrepreneurship Student Association, Jenna pursued her passion for fitness and health, becoming certified in several exercise programs including Body Sculpting and Zumba, before advancing into fitness instruction. She teaches classes in large Northeastern Ohio recreation centers and facilities. Jenna’s post-college profession centers on the manufacturing sector where she engages with distributors and clients, serving in a liaison capacity.

Past Board Members

Jim McCargar, Ph.D.

Dr. James W. McCargar served as Professor of Chemistry (physical chemistry) and Chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics at Baldwin Wallace University (formerly Baldwin-Wallace College) in Berea, OH.  He previously served as the Associate Vice President of Baldwin Wallace College.  As Associate VP, he had direct responsibility for the review and implementation of the College Strategic Plan, external approvals and compliance and strategic partnerships.  He also served as the College’s liaison to the Higher Learning Commission (regional accrediting body) and the Ohio Board of Regents.

Teresa Sciria

Teri Sciria founded 2Market Strategies as a strategic planning and marketing consulting business in 2000.  With an executive MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, Teri has worked for companies that lead their industries, including Honeywell, Diebold and Tremco/RPM.

Len Rose

Len’s marketing career included mangerial positions with household marketing brands including Laura Ashley.   Later, Len ventured into higher education, holding positions as a member of the business/management information systems faculty, and served in the capacity of director for institutions of higher learning.

Our Beliefs

We believe in education. We believe in academic rigor and high expectations. We believe education liberates and empowers. Education permeates every aspect of our current reality and our envisioned future from individual minds to collective energies.  Rigorous education engenders critical discernment,  encourages civil discourse, and stimulates creative possibilities within individuals and organizations. We believe that non-profit, academically rigorous colleges and universities serve the broader educational needs of society and of first-generation college students–including the need to develop, and enhance, social capital stock.


The First Generation Foundation growth agenda includes public donations, governmental and foundation grants, fundraising proceeds, and individual or organizational donations. A sustainable revenue model includes services designed to attract, prepare, retain and graduate first generation students.

  • Connect students to first-generation friendly (and academically rigorous) colleges and universities and to neighborhood networks of service organizations.
  • Donate to organizations that are dedicated to serving first generation students.
  • Design and implement collaborative models to recruit, prepare, engage, retain and connect first generation students to higher education.