Generations of Generosity

Founder of J.D. Power and Associtates, the late James David Power, Jr.


James David Power III revolutionized the auto industry when founding J.D. Power and Associates. He was third in a line of five generations of sons to carry the name that’s synonymous with quality and integrity. At the University of San Diego, his dedication to excellence, the importance he placed on education and the role he played in helping students achieve invaluable hands-on work experience will endure.

Known to family, friends and many around campus simply as “Dave,” the legendary entrepreneur (pictured) died on Jan. 23, 2021, at the age of 89. His legacy at USD, however, lives on through his son, James D. “Jamey” Power IV.

“It’s a challenge to walk in the footsteps of such a remarkable man. He had an impact on society, he was an entrepreneur, he was a great husband, father and friend to many,” says Jamey of his father. “It’s tough to think of yourself as being able to fill those shoes.”

The way Jamey does that is by passing on to others the values his grandfather passed on to his father and his father passed on to him — values such as serving the community, the idea that knowledge, truth and beauty are inextricably linked, and the belief that we’re put on this earth to make an impact.

“He did everything with integrity,” Jamey says. “He had a modest approach to philanthropy.”

Like father, like son.

The younger Power carries many titles at USD — an alumnus from the class of 1985, a 2006 recipient of the Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award, former vice chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, former chair of USD’s most recent fundraising campaign, Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, a past USD parent to two second-generation Toreros and a former USD trustee.

And while Jamey and his wife, Julie, have supported USD in many ways over the years, including annual support for the endowment of scholarships in general and a specific scholarship fund for middle-class families, what Jamey found most gratifying was giving $50,000 in December 2013 to create the Career Development Center’s high-impact Summer Internship Award Program. Awarded annually, it honors the professional achievements and personal values of his father.

The gift is funded through the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, named to honor the origins of J.D. Power and Associates — the street where the family grew up and the kitchen table Jamey and his siblings sat around while helping their parents stuff and address envelopes and tape quarters to questionnaires — always with George Washington’s profile facing up.

Robin Darmon, director of USD’s Career Development Center, says that in summer 2020, 86 students received awards due to the generosity of seven donors. Since its inception, additional donors — and groups such as USD’s Parents Association Board — have joined in to help grow the internship fund.

“Supporting students so they can experiment with career opportunities changes the trajectory of their lives,” Darmon says. “They leave the experience with a better sense of what they enjoy professionally and what they want to pursue. They finish with newfound confidence and have added value to an organization or community.”

This gift honors the family’s dedication to education, while strengthening USD’s endowment and giving students invaluable work experience.

“One of the things we’re proud of is that we were able to help students who are caught in the middle,” Jamey says. “Families with means and wealth are OK. And families who come from lower economic areas, or are faced with other challenges, have scholarships and other resources available to them.”

The Power family started out squarely in the middle class. Dave worked his way through school at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. To save money, he lived at home. Years later, when Jamey was a student at USD, the success of his father’s company wasn’t certain. Jamey relied on merit scholarships, work-study jobs and student loans — working in the registrar’s office, at a photocopy shop and delivering children’s furniture for a local business. 

The values that Dave Power instilled in Jamey, he has, in turn, instilled in his own children.

His eldest son, James D. Power V, who goes by J.D., graduated from College of the Holy Cross like his grandfather. Like family members before him, he’s now a teacher at an inner-city charter school in Sacramento, California. Second son Michael, who graduated from USD’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering in 2018, works on a continuous glucose monitoring device for Dexcom. Jamey’s daughter, Laura, who graduated from USD in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, is dedicating a year of service through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps working with the homeless community in New Orleans.

So, at USD, the legacy of the J.D. Power name is truly generational. — Krystn Shrieve

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