Introducing John Hancock, new President and CEO of JA of Georgia!

It’s been four months since I moved to Atlanta to lead Junior Achievement of Georgia. During that time, I’ve had nearly 300 meetings during which I had the pleasure to talk with many of the people involved with advancing our organization in significant ways. As such, one of my biggest takeaways so far is simple: it really is all about the people.

  • The 175,000-plus students we will impact this school year.

  • The thousands of partners, educators and volunteers that are instrumental in that impact.

  • The JA staff and world-class Board of Directors that drive our strategy and operations, and

  • The Atlanta business and civic community that seems so committed to enhancing the outlook and opportunities of our next generation.

It really is the combination of all these people that has energized me in my role as President and CEO. When I think about my goals for JA of Georgia, I begin with the foundation that has been established over the last ten years under the leadership of my longtime friend Jack Harris. The incredible organizational platform now in place here, combined with my 23 years within the JA network (the past 18 years as President of JA of Oregon based in Portland) gives me clear sight on the way JA fits in to our communities, and the larger educational landscape. As we look towards the next five years our vision is aimed at:

  • Building additional JA Discovery Centers toward a long-term goal of reaching 90% of middle school students across the state annually with our JA BizTown and JA Finance Park programs.

  • Expanding our 3DE Schools from the current six to 26.  

  • Continued innovation and impact in our high school programs aimed at fostering financial capability and increasing economic mobility.

The collective passion and engagement of our people provides inspiration to keep driving our mission to empower our students with the confidence, skills and motivation to thrive; to build a better future for themselves and this region. My time in the Peach State is off to a great start and I look forward to the opportunities ahead for us to bring this vision to life, together!

-John Hancock

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Global Leadership Conference: A week as #OneJA

Do you ever find yourself caught up in the day-to-day, seemingly small tasks that somehow all come together to make up your job description? Same. Sometimes when you’re doing great, big things, that big vision gets lost in the small, sometimes annoying, albeit important, tiny things.

Want to know what can snap you out of the in-the-weeds mindset, and remind you that your work goes far beyond the little things? Spending a week with more than 300 of your colleagues from around the world who have stories to share that go far beyond what you could’ve ever imagined.

JA Worldwide, the organization that connects JA USA local offices to the rest of the globe, has offices in more than 100 countries, and when combined with JA USA, served more than 10,000,000 students last year.

A snippet of this group were the colleagues that made up this year’s Global Leadership Conference, hosted by yours truly, JA of Georgia. For a week, we heard from industry leaders, local staff members, and our own leadership teams. We shared stories of success, and best practices for everyone to bring back to their corner of the globe. We came together as #OneJA, with one mission in mind:

To empower youth to believe that they are the builders of their futures.

After three days of insightful workshops and networking, we had the culminating Awards Night to honor distinguished leaders throughout our network. Below are the winners of these prestigious awards.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a recognition of a chief executive of a member country who has contributed significantly to the growth and impact of JA programs at national level.

Nina Kuznetsova, Executive Director of JA Russia

Nina Kuznetsova, Executive Director of JA Russia

The Soraya Salti Award was created in memory of the visionary leader who started INJAZ Al-Arab in the Middle East, which now reaches students across the region in 14 countries. It recognizes innovative JA visionaries who move JA forward in a positive way, bringing systematic change to a country or a region. 

Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe. Not pictured: Co-winner Majid Khalid Al-shammiri, CEO of INJAZ Yemen

Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe. Not pictured: Co-winner Majid Khalid Al-shammiri, CEO of INJAZ Yemen

The JA Collaboration Award recognizes member countries, U.S. Areas and Regional Operating Centers that champion collaborative projects between and among themselves to encourage worldwide cooperation that promotes efforts around fundraising, operational efficiency and program reach.

JA Bulgaria, JA Greece, JA Latvia, JA Norway, & JA Romania

JA Bulgaria, JA Greece, JA Latvia, JA Norway, & JA Romania

The JA Alumni Engagement Award recognizes member countries, U.S. Areas and Regional Operating Centers that have developed robust alumni strategies including tracking, communication and engagement projects.

Co-winners: JA Nigeria and INJAZ Al-Arab

Co-winners: JA Nigeria and INJAZ Al-Arab

The Karl Flemke Award recognizes the accomplishments of a JA Area President for their outstanding achievements, all while being in the position for four years or less.

Megan Sturges, JA of Greater Kansas City

Megan Sturges, JA of Greater Kansas City

The Charles R. Hook Award  is given annually to the JA Area President whose professionalism and performance best represents the core values and ideals of Junior Achievement. 

Jack Harris, JA of Georgia

Jack Harris, JA of Georgia

What a phenomenal week, topped off with Jack taking home a top honor (more on that next week).

To all our colleagues around the nation and world: thank you for joining us in our hometown for a week of collaborative efforts (and some fun), that will no doubt lead to improved practices and inspired thinking from all.

Sixty seconds with Hunter Pierce

How does your role fit into the organization as a whole?

I am honored to serve JA of Georiga by giving students the opportunity to learn from volunteers at the JA Discovery Centers.  These individuals represent grown-ups from all walks of life who are willing to share their stories and experience with students as they participate at the JA Discovery Centers. My role is to steward these individuals, help them see their value, and help them gain the personal and professional development skills that comes from philanthropic giving of time and treasure. So, basically, my role is to invite great people to the JA Discovery Centers to help inspire our future leaders! 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

My inspiration has been fueled by the stories I hear and the students whose lives have been changed by the simulations. The passion that lives in my heart undoubtedly comes out when I am doing recruitment events, or speaking one-on-one with a volunteer. So my biggest challenge is really more of an opportunity: to work with volunteer champions (what we call the point of contacts from an organization) to help them convey that same passion to their colleagues and our students. 

What do you like most about your role?

My two favorite times of the day are the morning and the afternoon of a volunteer day.  In the morning, most volunteers are a combination of excited and unsure about what will come of their day. We like to make them laugh and help set their minds at ease. We are given the unique opportunity to help people build new personal and professional relationships while volunteering.  I enjoy watching people make friends and make connections throughout the Gwinnett community during the morning arrival time.  I also love seeing a show of hands of how many return volunteers we have! In the afternoon, the volunteers share their stories about the day.  The stories are funny, heart war,, life changing, and inspiring.  Every volunteer debrief is a reminder of why we are here! Who says volunteers can’t have those “ah-ha moments” too?! 

What motivates you?

Service! Sharing those one-on-one conversations with volunteers after their day or reading an email that says “thank you for having me…truly changed my life” keeps me going. So many adults walk the earth thinking that they have nothing to give.  Serving others through our talent or treasure can help us find our worth and I am happy when someone finds their individual value in Service.

Advice for the next generation?

If you find a role or a field that you are truly passionate about, you will watch yourself excel professionally and personally.  It’s never too late to begin listening to your heart and becoming a more compassionate and hardworking person…just never forget why you are here and that you can make a difference.