Remembering James Lister

To our community,

I am devastated to share that on November 30th, 2021, James Lister, Executive Director of Plummer Youth Promise from 2005 to 2020, passed away unexpectedly from underlying health conditions. Our team is profoundly mourning the loss of our colleague and leader of more than 15 years, and our hearts are with James’ family as they navigate this devastating sadness.

James was an extraordinary human being, a much-loved friend, and leader and a visionary in the field of foster care. He dedicated his entire life to serving young people: especially those who were dealt a difficult hand in life.

At the age of 30, James took the reins at Plummer, transforming a small, local agency into an organization with national impact. James adamantly rejected the idea that family was impossible for older youth, and that the best an organization could do was to prepare them to live without a family. He believed that family was a possibility for every person, regardless of age or circumstance. His conviction inspired a shift in our practice from one that focused primarily on teaching basic life skills to one that heavily prioritized the development of sustainable family relationships.

Not being content with simply embedding this focus in Plummer’s service delivery, James turned to thinking about how these practices could improve the child welfare field at large. He authored several articles and built Plummer’s capacity to share knowledge with others. Under James’ leadership, Plummer became a thought leader- publishing articles, providing training, and coaching others.

If you knew James, you remember his smile, his laughter. His joy in talking with people from all walks of life. You remember that when he asked how you were doing, he listened closely to the answer. You remember his insatiable curiosity, and his delight in learning something new. You remember that he wanted to change the world, to make it a better place for everyone.

James leaves behind a wife and three young sons. Our heart breaks for them and for the loss we all suffer with his passing. We encourage you to donate to the James E. Lister Memorial Fund for Youth in Foster Care, C/O North Shore Bank 248 Andover St., Peabody, MA 01960 and/or to the James Lister Family Memorial Fund.

With love and sadness,





Nicole McLaughlin
Executive Director