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 advocates for, and serves, first generation college students aspiring to attend and graduate from academically rigorous institutions of higher learning. The First Generation Foundation provides free digital resources and information to students and offers a range of higher education services for college and university campuses striving to better understand this unique first generation student population. We offer services that assist postsecondary enterprises with the following aims: To recruit, retain, serve, educate, graduate and evolve first generation college graduate relationships as they transition into contributing alumni.

The First Generation Foundation narrows its scope to students and its fee-based services to postsecondary institutions.  We offer hope, inspire goal setting and academic achievement,  and strengthen institutional resolve, at the campus and community levels, to advance the first generation college student agenda. Standing together, we aspire to defeat societal forces that construct barriers, block hope, trap cognitive ability, and suppress imagination, and creativity. Our intention is to unlock dreams and action plans to empower brighter futures among the first generation college student population, and for the institutions of higher learning that serve them.

Current Board Members and Affiliations

Joyce A. Banjac, Ph.D.

Joyce Banjac serves as President, and currently fills the role of Executive director of the First Generation Foundation. A first-generation college graduate, Banjac is also a seasoned higher education insider. She is a member of the Baldwin Wallace University teaching faculty, where she serves as a Lecturer in the Graduate Leadership in Higher Education (LHE) program (Baldwin Wallace University). Banjac has held various senior, presidential cabinet  level positions throughout her higher education career. She served Notre Dame College as the Interim Dean of the Finn Center for Adult, On-line and Graduate Students, and held the position of Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Student Services for  Jefferson College, (7,000 students). Other posts included Dean of Academic Affairs, Cuyahoga Community College (30,000 students) and Vice President and Interim President of the private,  Myers University — Cleveland’s oldest continuously running institution of higher learning, 1848-2008.  Banjac holds a B.A. degree in Business/Economics, and an  MBA from Baldwin Wallace University, with a Ph.D. in Post-secondary Education from the University of Akron. She attended Harvard University’s Higher Education Leadership Program with her registration sponsored by the Myers University board of trustees.  Joyce has authored articles in U.S. and international journals regarding inter-organizational higher-education and business collaboration, and has presented numerous workshops and training sessions regarding leadership, collaboration and higher education.

Brian M. Banjac, Statutory Agent

Brian Banjac, J.D. is a 2011 graduate of Cleveland State University’s Marshall College of Law, and is a 2008 graduate of Ohio State University, majoring in economics. He holds the certified financial planning designation. (CFP).

Brian is a Vice President and Financial Planner with the  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.


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 visiting marketing professor with John Carroll University, and a highly accomplished marketing/technology entrepreneur. Born in the former Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, Bob immigrated to the U.S.A when he was a child, and is a member of the first generation.


Jenna Ashley 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.

First Generation Proudly Collaborates With Jason Miller, President of the JCM Group

Mr. Jason C. Miller, Founder of Cleveland Humanity Investing, First Generation Affiliate     

Past Board Members


Karen J. Kilpatrick

Karen, a computer programming graduate of ICM Technical Institute, is a senior analyst with Key Bank, working with lines of business to advance and automate banking. Serving as an integrated software expert in the banking industry,  Karen is currently a member of the Women in Technology association, and the Key Bank sponsored Aspiring Leaders Program, having served the Foundation from 2010-2015.

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 managerial 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.

Our Services

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.

  • Advocate for first generation college students
  • Offer digital commons for first generation student assistance.
  • Advise first-generation friendly (and academically rigorous) colleges and universities to embrace change initiatives.
  • Donate to organizations dedicated to serving first generation students.
  • Design and implement collaborative models to recruit, prepare, engage, retain and connect first generation students to higher education.