Jim is a native Arizonan and was raised in the small mining community of Morenci. After graduating from Morenci High School, Jim attended Arizona State University, where he received a B.S. in Justice Studies. In 1992, Jim and his wife Lisa moved from Phoenix to Flagstaff, so Jim could start a career with the U.S. Probation Office. In Flagstaff, Jim and Lisa raised their three sons. The relocation to Flagstaff also provided an opportunity for Jim to work on a graduate program at Northern Arizona University. In 1995, he received a M.A. in Sociology, with an emphasis in human relations.