Each year, hundreds of JA staff members from area offices across the country gather for the Junior Achievement National Leadership Conference (NLC). For a bit of context, Junior Achievement is a federated organization with a national office that provides strategic direction, leadership, and support to over 100 JA Areas across the nation. Local volunteer boards of directors comprised of business, education, and civic leaders set the policy and direction for each local office. Our team enjoyed several inspiring and thought provoking keynote presentations, as well as daily breakout sessions specific to our departments and roles, and heard from JA USA with new updates on program direction, marketing strategy, and results from a recently completed, large-scale alumni survey. Due to Covid-19, this was the first in-person NLC since 2019, so excitement was high as we converged on Fort Worth, Texas for a week of networking, learning sessions, and resource sharing…and even a bit of line dancing for some!
Director of Foundation & Individual Giving, Emily Maurer, shared this about her experience at NLC: “During the awards dinner on Thursday night, individuals who have been with JA for 20+ years received their milestone service awards. Having received my five year service award earlier in the week, it was incredibly humbling and inspiring to see so many people who have been a part of the organization for such a long time and have seen the change and growth, built lifelong relationships, and made a lasting impact on Junior Achievement. Another exciting element of the conference was when JA USA shared new data from a large scale alumni study conducted in 2022 that demonstrates the incredible long-term impact of JA. We’ll be sharing more on this in the coming months.”
Perhaps, the most valuable aspect of the week was the chance to get to know our counterparts from other local offices and share best practices, strategies, and resources for better achieving our mission. Director of Special Events, Liz Guillebaud concluded, “The best thing about the NLC was that it reaffirmed for me the value of intentional in-person gathering and the sharing of stories and ideas, with new faces!”
One particular presentation that stood out to Director of Education & Finance Park, Stephanie Murphy, was a discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that focused on factors that reinforce bias. Stephanie noted, “The speaker on DEI helped me realize it starts with you as an individual, and being vocal in times that we need to be. The factors discussed that reinforce bias spoke to me about how to be open minded when uncomfortable topics are discussed about DEI.”
During the week several JA-Rocky Mountain staff members received service year milestone awards including:
Stephanie Murphy—15 years
Megan Silbert—15 years
Liz Guillebaud—5 years
Emily Maurer—5 years
JA-Rocky Mountain also received the 5 star area award for 21/22 (highest level) for increase in student reach, financial stability, and overall organizational health.
What a week it was! With much gained by all who attended, we can hardly wait for the upcoming school year to kick off, and we look forward to welcoming new faces and opportunities that come with it. President & CEO, Robin Wise adds, “The time we spent at NLC last week just intensified the wind under our wings as we begin this new year!”