Jacqueline McCracken Wall ’09

From College Grad to CEO in Under a Decade 

Finding a job after graduation can be stressful for any student, but those who graduated during the Great Recession faced an even greater challenge. Just ask Jacqueline McCracken Wall, who received her BS in business administration with a concentration in human resources management in 2009.

Wall, like many of her fellow graduates, found the situation incredibly stressful. “While I had an incredible education, I was not as equipped as I needed to be to secure employment where I could meaningfully contribute to the success of an organization,” she said.

Six months after graduation, Wall interviewed at a local university for a position in human resources. She was ultimately hired for an advancement role. At first, she was unsure how the position fit into her career plan; however, she ended up learning a great deal about fundraising.

That position led to one with a local nonprofit named Partners Ending Homelessness. There, Wall worked with the executive director who became like a mentor to her. Because of that relationship, Wall, at age 25, set the goal that she would be the executive director of a local organization by age 30. She met that deadline with a year to spare by becoming the president and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Triad at age 29.

“The mission and impact of Junior Achievement is more than a job – it’s personal,” said Wall. “With programming at our fingertips that can transform and empower the futures of young people and our communities, there is no reason not to reach out to as many students as possible.”

Junior Achievement (JA) is a non-profit youth organization committed to providing students K-12 with education in life and business skills focusing on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness.

As president and CEO of JA of the Triad, Wall is responsible for franchise vision and leadership. She works with the board of directors to ensure the vision is met by preparing and overseeing plans for public awareness, overseeing program implementation, managing JA’s financial resources, and establishing new private and public sector collaborative partners.

Wall feels that her greatest learning experiences happened because faculty and staff invited her to participate in extracurricular projects or clubs. “They mentored me outside of the classroom,” Wall said. “It was in those settings that I developed leadership skills and lifelong working relationships that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

Looking back at her time at the Bryan School, Wall realized that it helped her become an excellent problem solver. “It is rare that I find myself or the organization I lead saying ‘no’ to potential partnerships or projects because of a few roadblocks,” she said. “We can always find a way to make it work if it fits our organization’s strategic plan.”

Writer: Alison McKane ’17