Jim Towey is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aging with Dignity, the non-profit organization he established in Tallahassee, Florida in 1996, and today heads its Washington, DC office. The Five Wishes advance directive he created has sold over 35 million copies and is available in 29 languages.
Towey spent 13 years in academia, including the last nine as president of Ave Maria University. He also served in the nation’s capital from 2002-2006 as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush and was a member of his senior staff. In the early 1990s, Towey was secretary of Florida’s health and human service agency – at the time, the nation’s largest – with 40,000 employees and a $4 billion budget. In 1985 Towey met Mother Teresa of Calcutta and later served as legal counsel to her for the last 12 years of her life. He occasionally traveled with her in the U.S. and Mexico as she established new homes for the elderly and dying, and at her urging, lived for a year in her home for people with AIDS in Washington. Because of his close relationship with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, Towey was asked to do the first reading at her Mass of Canonization in St. Peter’s Square in 2016.