About Us

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.

Board 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 higher education veteran–holding positions as 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, 1,200 student 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 College. She holds a Ph.D. in Post-secondary Education from the University of Akron. She was sponsored by the Myers University Board of Trustees to attend Harvard University’s immersion higher education leadership program, where she earned a certificate of completion.  Joyce has authored articles in U.S. and international journals regarding inter-organizational collaboration.

Karen J. Kilpatrick

Karen has held progressively responsible managerial and information-systems positions at Cardinal Federal Savings Bank, Park View Federal and Key Bank. As a business analyst and an application owner, Karen monitors risk assessment, engages in system troubleshooting and monitors software compliance at Key Bank. Karen J. Kilpatrick has earned academic degrees in the field of computer science and management information systems from the Institute of Computer Management, and is a member of the first generation.

Jim McCargar, Ph.D.

Dr. James W. McCargar currently serves 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.

McCargar earned his bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Potsdam and his doctorate from Kent State University.  Before coming to B-W in 1991, McCargar held post-doctoral research appointments at the Kent State University Liquid Crystal Institute and the University of Cincinnati. Within the field of chemistry, McCargar has co-authored numerous articles in the areas of solution thermodynamics, electrochemistry, spectroscopy and materials.  He has been a visiting scientist at Kent State University and The University of Akron, and was a summer research fellow at NASA–Lewis Research Center and Ohio Aerospace Institute.

Dr. McCargar is a native of West Stockholm, NY and is a first-generation college student.  He is married to Dr. Nita Arora (McCargar) and the father of three children:  Ryan (23), Nalini (19) and Arora (13).  The McCargar family resides in Sharon Township in Medina County.

Leonard Rose

Leonard Rose has experience that joins business and academia. After marketing management experience at Trans World Airlines, Laura Ashley, Inc., and Summit Racing Equipment, Len became an instructor and administrator at northeast Ohio colleges. He earned degrees at City College of New York, Goddard College, and Columbia University, and is a first-generation college graduate.  Len lives in Fairlawn, Ohio with his family.

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. Teri and her husband, Rick, live in Richfield, Ohio.

Robert Young, Ph.D, Board Chair

Robert B. Young has more than 20 years of corporate business experience encompassing both small entrepreneurial businesses and large Cleveland-based corporations.  Robert’s small business experience includes ownership positions in two family owned enterprises and currently operates a small consulting firm.  Additionally, Robert has held Director and Vice President level positions at Griswold Advertising, (a large Cleveland-based advertising agency), KeyCorp, (14th largest bank holding company in the U.S.), and ICI Glidden Paints (the world’s largest coatings company).  Robert has also been involved with higher education for the past 28 years as an adjunct faculty member at a variety of area colleges including Cleveland State University, John Carroll University, Capital University and David Myers University.  Robert’s academic interests include marketing, consumer behavior, management and business strategy.  Robert also has several published papers in scholarly journals, two conference presentations and other manuscripts under review currently.  He has been the Dean of the Business Division at Lorain County Community College for the past 11 years and holds an MBA and a DBA from Cleveland State University.

Brian M. Banjac, Treasurer 

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, and officiates soccer for collegiate and adult leagues.


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.