JIM: The James Foley Story

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) is proud to announce that Jim: The James Foley Story, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, has received the Audience Award in the US Documentary category at Sundance. Brian Oakes, a childhood friend of Jim’s and the film director, accepted the award on behalf of the film team.  The Audience Award is based on the ratings received from the audience at each screening during the Festival.

Jim: The James Foley Story can be viewed on HBO or through HBO NOW and HBO GO (visit the HBO website for the viewing schedule). The film has been praised as a powerful look into journalistic bravery and provides dramatic insight into Jim’s life and captivity through the personal experiences of former hostages, his former colleagues and his family.

“We are honored that HBO has chosen to make Jim a part of the HBO family.  Jim’s story is important for so many reasons, most notably it speaks to the silent crisis faced by families if a loved one is taken hostage.  It also shows the world the risks that are undertaken by freelance journalists to tell the frontline stories our nation depends on.  We could not be prouder of our son and we are grateful to Brian Oakes for creating a film that captured these issues so poignantly,” said John and Diane Foley.

The documentary was honored by legendary musician Sting, who not only wrote a song titled The Empty Chair for the film, but also spoke at length about the power and influence of the Jim documentary.  “It’s a very devastating film and at the end I had to be picked up off the floor… this movie is the antidote to the nonsense that we see going on in the world now,” said Sting while performing The Empty Chair for a live audience at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café in Park City, Utah.

“We are so humbled and honored to be a part of Jim and the effort to show the world who Jim really was. Brian Oakes, the filmmaker, was Jim’s childhood friend and has known our family for nearly 4 decades. The film is a beautiful representation of who Jim really was, his humanity and his unwavering desire to help those in need,” added Diane and John Foley.

Statement from John & Diane Foley on Jihadi John

“It is a very small solace to learn that Jihadi John may have been killed by the U.S. government.

“His death does not bring Jim back.  If only so much effort had been given to finding and rescuing Jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by ISIS, they might be alive today.

“Our focus is on Jim’s life and all the good that he did in the world. We remain humble and proud of his unwavering commitment to give voice to the voiceless as a journalist, a teacher and a friend.

“As we continue to honor Jim’s life, we are grateful to the thousands of people who supported Jim throughout his captivity and who continue to support his legacy today through The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

“The Foundation is committed to defending the rights of every American citizen by advocating for the safe release of Americans kidnapped abroad, advancing safety measures for freelance journalists in conflict zones, and providing underprivileged youth with access to education.”


“He made such an impact:” 20 Jesuit schools spend the weekend remembering James Foley

The Marquette University campus is holding a weekend of remembrance in honor of alumnus, James Foley. The American journalist was kidnapped and murdered in Syria by members of the Islamic State in August of 2014. Foley, a journalist held several times while reporting in the Middle East, told the University prayer kept his mind focused. Article by Jonathon Gregg. Read more.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) announced that over 2,000 runners across the globe participated in the inaugural Foley Foundation 5K to not only honor Jim’s life and legacy but also the work of the Foundation in support of hostage advocacy, freelance reporter safety and youth education.

“Today was a proud day for our family. We knew Jim had a significant impact on many people, but today we truly felt and saw how many lives Jim has touched. We are honored to support the work that Jim dedicated his life to and we want to thank each and every supporter for their commitment to ensuring Jim’s legacy lives on,” said Diane and John Foley.

The Foley Foundation 5K had over 2,000 participants. Over 1,000 in Rochester, NH and over 1,000 joining the movement from across the world, including China, France, Turkey and London to name a few.

The event raised over $65,000 for the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which will be used to further Jim’s legacy as a committed freelance journalist and compassionate teacher.

Beyond the monetary success of the event, the Foundation was overwhelmed and humbled by the hundreds of tributes and sentiments in honor of Jim shared by race participants. To read some of the participants’ well wishes please click here. Photos of the event are available here.

The Foundation thanked the following sponsors for their continued and unwavering support of the inaugural Foley Foundation 5K: Coed Sportswear, Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Wentworth Douglass Hospital, Turbocam International, Drummond Woodsum, Eastern Swing Fore Charities, Bernier Insurance, Revolution Taproom & Grill, Lilac City Pediatrics, Newton Running, Smuttynose Brewing, Holy Rosary Credit Union, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Albany Engineered Composites, Alliance for Dental Care, Rochester Rotary, Sysco and Safran.

JWFLF also recognized the organizers of the 5K whose tireless commitment to JWFLF over the past several months made this event possible. The 5K run committee included: Walter Hoerman, MD (Lilac City Pediatrics), Stacey Marchionni (Revolution Taproom & Grill), Brian Hughes (Holy Rosary Credit Union), Martha Foley-Jackson (James W. Foley Legacy Foundation), Paula Foley (Drummond Woodsum) and Mike Ambra, DMD (Alliance for Dental Care).

James W. Foley Legacy Foundation Hosts First 5k- October 17th

Foley_Brabo_001The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) will be hosting the first Foley Foundation 5K on October 17. For those of you who are not familiar with JWFLF, Diane and John Foley established the Foundation following the tragic murder of their son Jim Foley in August 2014 to carry out his legacy. Jim was a courageous American journalist who was killed after being held hostage in Syria by ISIS for more than 600 days.

The 2015 Foley Foundation 5K will take place in Rochester, NH, and JWFLF will also host a virtual run on October 17 to encourage participation from friends and supporters across the globe. The race will commemorate Jim’s life and raise funds for American hostage advocacy, press freedom and educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth, which were passions for Jim.

Runners for both the Rochester race and virtual run can register for the event at www.foleyrun.org. If interested in forming a virtual Foley 5K running group in your local community, please reach out to foleyfoundation5k@gmail.com. For those who are unable to run on October 17, please join us by making a donation to the Foundation at www.foleyrun.org.

Remembering James, a year later

Today marks one year since the murder of James Foley; this foundation strives to continue his legacy.



WASHINGTON, D.C. – On August 19, 2014, James Foley was murdered by ISIS in the Raqqa region of Syria. Today, August 19, 2015, marks one year since Jim’s tragic death. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) was founded to commemorate Jim’s life and continue his vibrant legacy as a courageous freelance journalist, committed teacher and compassionate humanitarian. The Foundation strives to faithfully make Jim’s vision a reality through its commitment to American hostages, their families, freelance journalists and disadvantaged children.

“Jim was known for his caring and joyful spirit, commitment and bold idealism,” said Diane and John Foley. “He gave a voice to those marginalized by poverty and conflict. Jim befriended them, listened to their stories and advocated for them. Through Jim’s Foundation, we seek to continue his legacy and inspire others to continue his work of giving voice to those who have none.”

On October 17, the weekend of Jim’s birthday, JWFLF will host the first Foley Foundation 5K to raise awareness about the plight of American hostages, press freedom and disadvantaged children. The official event will take place in Rochester, NH, but due to world-wide interest in the event, JWFLF will also host a virtual run that enables supporters from across the globe to promote Jim’s legacy. For more information on how to participate in a virtual run wherever you are or to support the Foley Foundation 5K, please visit: www.foleyrun.org. Our world is counting on Americans to stand together for liberty and equality.

“August 19 will always be a difficult day for our family and Jim’s friends,” added Diane and John. “But Jim’s spirit of goodness has touched our world and his Foundation is committed to inspiring others to promote freedom and justice.”

About the James W. Foley Foundation

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the vibrant legacy of James W. Foley as a courageous freelance journalist, committed teacher and compassionate humanitarian. The James W. Foley Foundation seeks to: advocate for the release of American hostages kidnapped abroad, establish a resource center for American hostage families, support press freedom and the rights of freelance journalists and promote educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.

The James W. Foley Foundation hopes to inspire others to continue James’ work of giving voice to those who have none.


Why James Foley is my hero
By Jake Zelinksi, Medium
Looking back on the death of James Foley
By Philip S. Balboni, GlobalPost

CPJ Remembers James Foley
By John Eggerton, B&C


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the tragic murder of their son Jim Foley in August 2014, Diane and John Foley established the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) to carry out his legacy. Jim was a courageous American journalist, who was killed after being held hostage in Syria by ISIS for more than 600 days. The primary mission of JWFLF is to continue Jim’s concerns for American hostages, press freedom – particularly freelance journalists, and educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.

As one of their first major projects, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation has been fundraising and working with Rachel Briggs of Hostage UK to establish Hostage US, an independent non-governmental organization focused on supporting American hostages and their families. Hostage US will focus exclusively on the needs of American hostage families and returning hostages, to ensure that all Americans have support when trying to find and bring home their loved ones kidnapped abroad or when finally returning home.

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is indebted to the Ford Foundation for their generous grant and to compassionate Americans, who helped match an extraordinary 125k gift to enable Hostage US to become a much needed reality.

“Our family suffered enormous trauma when Jim was captured, but that trauma was only exacerbated by the ineffective, confusing and uncoordinated response from our government. While we sincerely appreciate President Obama’s new Presidential Directive and Executive Order for addressing the American hostage crisis, families truly need an advocate. We are very proud to help establish Hostage US, which will assist families, and any returning hostages, through this unbearable time,” said Diane and John Foley.

Rachel Briggs, currently the director of Hostage UK, will become the Executive Director and lead Hostage US, assessing the needs of hostage families and the services that the NGO will provide in the United States. Hostage US will be operational by September 2015 and will begin supporting families as early as 2016. Hostage UK is an independent charity that supports hostages and their families during and after a kidnap in Great Britain and elsewhere when asked. They have actually reached out to several desperate American families. This charity was founded by Terry Waite, a former hostage in Lebanon, to ensure that anyone going through a kidnapping had access to the specialist care and support they need, free of charge.

“Most Americans do not realize the criticality of this issue. There are currently 35 Americans being held unjustly in various places around the world. All 35 have families back home who are struggling and unsure of where to turn for help.

“Our son passionately believed in freedom and justice. He believed that press freedom was vital to our democracy. He wanted fellow Americans to know the suffering and courage of Middle Eastern families and their yearning for similar freedoms,” said Diane and John. “Through Jim’s Foundation, we hope to continue his legacy by advocating for the return of American hostages, supporting their families, protecting struggling American freelance journalists, and providing educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.”

Proposal To Establish Hostage US

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, in partnership with Hostage UK, is pleased to announce a wonderful opportunity to establish Hostage US to support American hostage families and returning American hostages. Our hope is that the current director of Hostage UK, Rachel Briggs, will be the first Executive Director of Hostage US, which will be modeled after Hostage UK.

We are $250,000 short of the $500,000 needed by 6/30/15 to launch by the Fall of 2015.


The James W Foley Legacy Foundation, in partnership with Hostage UK, proposes to establish Hostage US. It would be a non-profit, non-partisan organization to support American hostage families and returning hostages, whether subject to terrorist, piracy or criminal kidnaps overseas.

The Need for Hostage US

The US, like most western countries, is experiencing an increase in kidnapping to its nationals overseas. In January 2015, the State Department issued a ‘worldwide caution’ notice, “Kidnappings and hostage events involving U.S. citizens have become increasingly prevalent as ISIL, al Qa`ida and its affiliates have increased attempts to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom operations.” American citizens are also targeted by criminals; each year, the FBI responds to around 150 kidnaps, and many more are handled by security companies without government involvement.

While attention rightly focuses on the plight of the hostage, their families are victims, too. They face months – sometimes years – not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead. They are often helpless to do anything to bring about their release when demands are political or financially outside their means. They struggle to get access to information about the case as this comes through the government or hostage’s employer. They face practical challenges, such as changed financial circumstances when the hostage is the main breadwinner, or difficulty accessing bank accounts or insurance policies in the hostage’s name. Most are advised to keep events secret from even close family and friends, which places a tremendous burden on them. And they suffer the myriad effects of prolonged trauma and acute anxiety.

In November 2014, President Obama announced a review of US government handling of hostage cases, including family support. This followed intense criticism – both publicly and privately – from US hostage families of the way they were treated by their government. The Hostage Review Task Force will report to the President in March 2015. It looks likely to highlight significant failings in family support. While the review is welcomed, it is limited in focusing only on terrorist and piracy kidnaps and ignoring kidnaps for ransom (criminal). Early indications suggest it will suggest the US adopts the UK approach, where a dedicated unit within the British Foreign Office works with families in partnership with Hostage UK, a non-profit, non-partisan organization specializing in hostage family support.

US families need better support from their government. But as the quote below from the mother of a British hostage demonstrates, they also need an independent organization focusing exclusively on their needs without other interests.

“It’s difficult to describe the feeling of shock and despair when we were told of Chris’ kidnap. It was a world were we had no footing, no map, no understanding of the language; we were lost, unbalanced and floundering.

Throughout the ordeal, Hostage UK were able to help and support us, whether by acting as a sounding board, linking us into similar experiences, explaining the political nuances and background, or by simply being available to understand the impact and effect that kidnapping has on all those involved. Through them, I began to understand that people could and had survived such experiences and that we could, too.

Hostage UK does not have an enviable task when faced with distraught families but they are prepared to stand by you with deep commitment, tolerance, compassion and rock solid sense. Thank you.”

Mission and Purpose

Hostage US will be a non-profit, non-partisan organization with three aims:

  • To ensure hostage families and returning hostages receive the necessary support by delivering a range of support services during and after a kidnap.
  • To improve the support provided to hostage families and returning hostages by other relevant organizations (e.g. the US government, employers and private security companies) via an education and training program and awareness raising activities. This would be self-financing through fees and offer an income stream to the organization.
  • To improve public policy relating to support for hostage families and returning hostages through public information, advocacy, and research.

Operational Model

The James W Foley Legacy Foundation, in partnership with Hostage UK, plans to establish a US-based organization based on the model and experience of Hostage UK, but adapted to specific US needs. Its first Executive Director will be Hostage UK’s current Director, Rachel Briggs OBE (Officer of the British Empire – Rachel was honoured by the Queen in 2014 for her work with hostage families), who brings unique expertise having run Hostage UK since 2007. This will ensure the best possible start and a close ongoing relationship with Hostage UK.

This process will involve three stages:

  • Needs assessment exercise surveying approximately 50 hostage families with different experiences (country, motive and outcome of kidnap) to establish the needs of US families to inform the adaptation of the Hostage UK model to the US context.
  • Design and set up of Hostage US family support network and services, including recruitment and training of volunteers and expert advisors, establishment of pro bono partnerships (e.g. legal, psychological, health, financial advisory), and relationships with US government and non-government partners.
  • Launch and delivery of Hostage US, including full-scale delivery of family support services, production of information for families, and delivery of education and training program. We expect Hostage US to be providing support within 6 months.

Support to families is likely to include personal support, practical help, access to information, and professional services. The operational model will be determined by the needs assessment exercise, but UK experience suggests:

  • Referral of families to Hostage US via the US government, law enforcement, employers, private security companies, and directly from families via a dedicated confidential helpline and website.
  • A network of trained family supporters, each family allocated a dedicated supporter to work with them throughout to ensure a trusted relationship and continuity.
  • A wider network of expert advisors affiliated to Hostage US providing specialist support to families according to need and on a pro bono basis. This will include psychologists and psychiatrists, medical specialists, lawyers, financial advisors, regional/political experts, and communications professionals.
  • A series of institutional relationships with large organizations able to offer sustained support to families according to need (e.g. law firm, health care provider, communications consultancy).

Hostage US would operate with the following principles:

  • Support and services are provided to families free of charge
  • Operating as an entirely independent and confidential service
  • Strictly non-operational (i.e. not involved in negotiation)
  • Maintaining the highest levels of professionalism
  • Not duplicating support available elsewhere (e.g. child abduction, domestic kidnaps)

Preliminary Budget

The preliminary 3-year budget for Hostage US is as follows:

  • One-off set up costs: $48,000 (principally related to relocation of Rachel Briggs to the US)
  • Year One: $424,560
  • Year Two: $457,060
  • Year Three: $556,780

Adopting the same financial model as Hostage UK, Hostage US will minimize administrative in order to dedicate maximum resources to family support, which forms the largest proportion of the preliminary budget. Administration as a percentage of running costs will decrease significantly over time and Hostage US will work proactively to secure pro bono support wherever possible to further reduce administrative costs (estimated $50-75,000 per year). It is anticipated that the education and training program will generate $50-100,000 per year from year two onwards.

About the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation is dedicated to the vibrant legacy of James Foley as a committed freelance journalist and a compassionate teacher/mentor. We seek the safe release of American hostages abroad, a resource center for American hostage families, support for freelance journalists, and the promotion of educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.