- The Media School Distinguished Alumni Award (2019)
After graduating from IU in 1974 with a B.S. in Journalism, Jim Bright worked as a reporter at the Jeffersonville (Indiana) Evening News and the Louisville Courier-Journal. In 1978, he began his career at Ford Motor Company, traveling the southeast region writing an employee newsletter. He left Ford for four years to work in internal communications for Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Bright rejoined Ford in 1984 where, during his tenure, he led a PR blitz promoting the company and its products in the Southwestern U.S.; led the launch of new products; served as co-leader of Ford's centennial celebration; and guided the company through communication crises.
From 2000 to 2001, Bright served as deputy general manager, corporate communications, at Mazda's World Headquarters in Hiroshima. He was the first non-Japanese member of the team which laid the communications groundwork for the largest launch of new products in the company's history. As global executive director of public affairs, he led Ford's PR team in North America and overseas. At the CEO's request, he created and led the Ford Volunteer Corps, an effort to mobilize Ford employee and retiree volunteers to address needs of tsunami survivors in Thailand and India, hurricane survivors in the U.S. Gulf Coast region, and nonprofits in Detroit and other communities where Ford has a presence.
After retiring from Ford, Bright taught for four years at the IU School of Journalism as the Ralph Winslow Visiting Professor. He created an International Public Relations course and, during spring breaks, accompanied students to Tokyo, where they met with journalists and PR professionals.
IU students selected Bright for the 2009 Student Choice Award. In 2010, he was named to the New Albany (Indiana) High School Hall of Fame.
Bright is a past president of the Bloomington Press Club. He and his wife, Anne, have supported dozens of IU international students through Bloomington Worldwide Friendship. They also volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bright is active in Rotary International and serves as chair of his Rotary District's Global Scholarship program, which provides $40,000 annually for an Indiana graduate to study at any university outside the U.S. He has served as president of Bloomington Rotary and as governor of Rotary's Southern Indiana District.