When JA alumni reflect on their experience as a JA student, they most often remember being part of a JA Company Program. This beloved program is still going strong thanks to dedicated volunteers like Andy Lenec who spend 12 weeks mentoring a team of high school students as they organize and operate an actual business enterprise. In fact, Andy’s JA Company Program team from Monarch High School was selected to attend this year’s National Student Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. from June 16 to 19. Their company, Coyote Cases, was one of only 15 JA Company Program teams from across the nation to be selected to attend this prestigious annual event and the first ever from Colorado.
Andy had heard about JA throughout his career as both a manager and an executive in the private sector and then in various roles in the nonprofit sector. It was through his civic involvement that Andy finally made a commitment to JA. “I was visiting a Rotary Club in Boulder and one of the members put out a call for volunteers for JA,” said Andy. “I answered the call.”
Volunteering for JA is a perfect fit for Andy who is passionate about personal and academic development of youth of all ages. The parent of two grown children, Andy understands the critical nature of mentorship and non-traditional educational opportunities for a successful and rewarding life. “A key element of a successful and a rewarding life is service – basically giving back to our community,” said Andy. “What greater recipient of my experience, knowledge and efforts could there be than the young people I so love?”
In addition to delivering the standard curriculum, Andy brings the ‘real life’ concepts of leadership, risk taking, innovation and social responsibility to JA’s programs. Andy is particularly proud that his JA Company Program team enthusiastically embraced the idea of social responsibility for their company and set out to maximize their charitable donation, from the company’s revenues, to the Autism Society of Boulder County. This motivation increased their productivity with Coyote Cases and taught the students that service to their community should be a core business value.
Through the JA Company Program, Andy teaches students not only how businesses function, but also about the structure of the U.S. free enterprise system and the benefits it provides. “Beyond these concepts, it is equally important for me personally to instill a passion for the moral and ethical standards that are a crucial component of the truly successful business, and indeed are vital to this country’s future,” said Andy. “Yes, we can teach children how to be ‘financially successful,’ but we must also encourage them to ask the questions: Why should I succeed, and what does success look like, not only for me, but for my family and my community?”