AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – WJBF’s Black Excellence 365 recognizes inspiring black individuals and organizations in the CSRA year-round. Recipients are honored with the Mary L. Jones Black Affirmation Award.

This month, we honor James Heffner. Tiffany Hobbs spoke with him about dedication to improving the community he lives in.

James Heffner grew up in Toledo, Ohio. 

He says that, as a child, he watched his grandparents dedicate their lives to service in the church. 

“It was about family,” said Heffner, a business banker and community leader. “And it was about taking the time to give back.”

Heffner tells us that his grandparents’ example set his foundation.

“I guess…genetically predisposed is the best way I can put it,” said Heffner. “I had no say in the matter. I watched my family do this all their life and, so, here I am just trying to do my little part to give back to the community and use my time and my talents in the best way possible.”

And he did. 

Heffer adopted a motto early on: leave people – and communities- better than you found them.

He soon found himself at Leadership Augusta – where he now serves and Immediate Past Board Chair.

“It really became the catalyst for taking the things that I was doing at my church, the things that I was doing with some smaller programs,” said Heffner. “And just giving me this incredible exposure to all of the inner-workings of our city, nonprofits.”

Heffner serves on seven other local boards, including Augusta Downtown Development Authority, Golden Harvest Food Bank and the Burn Foundation of America.

He says his greatest desires are to inspire unity and help shape children in the community. 

“Education seemed to be the equalizer,” said Heffner. “And, so, trying to come up with new ways to help young people get educated- that they can begin to have a sustainable, family, living wage and be on a path to being able to be great citizens within our community. That’s my hope.”

With more than 25 years of banking experience, Heffner has helped people and businesses access funds needed to grow.

When asked about his ‘why’, his answer was simple: his children.

He says when he looks at them, he sees hope for the future. 

“I’m not a perfect man, I don’t have it all together,” said Heffner. “But I have learned so much as their father – how to be a better father, how to be a better person. They truly are my greatest gift.” 

With faith as his driving force, Heffner says he wants to leave behind a legacy of giving people hope… in instances where this is none.

“When my day comes,” said Heffner. “…that there will be cars and people lined up to celebrate not me as an individual, but what we have been able to accomplish together.”

If you would like to nominate someone in the community to receive the Black Excellence Award, visit