WHO: Jacqueline McCracken Wall ’09, president and CEO, Junior Achievement of the Triad
WHAT: Junior Achievement (JA) of the Triad is a nonprofit that educates and empowers young people to transform their futures and own their economic successes.
WHOA! Since McCracken Wall joined JA in 2012 and became CEO in 2015, JA has increased its student reach by nearly 100% – now serving more than 16,000 students annually.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF WORKING WITH JA KIDS?
A: I sought a nonprofit leadership role where the work was proactive, rather than reactive. Young people want to learn about managing money, running their own businesses, and becoming career-ready – they’re just not typically taught these things. It is incredibly fun and rewarding to watch young people understand, and explain to adults, topics that adults assume children can’t grasp or are too young to comprehend.
Q: WHY TEACH CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 5 ABOUT FINANCIAL LITERACY, WORK-READINESS, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
A: With an ever-growing, competitive global economy and a plethora of other community challenges, these life skills need to be taught at younger and younger ages. Every winning athletic team has a feeder system to help with age-level skill building and practice, and this is a similar concept. Our curriculum, developed with educators, reinforces and supplements North Carolina’s Common Core Standards and Social Studies Essential Standards.
Q: WHAT MAKES JA KIDS STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD?
A: JA Alumni, when compared to the public, have higher levels of educational attainment, career satisfaction, financial capability, entrepreneurial activity, and household income. A considerable portion of JA Alumni also credit Junior Achievement for promoting their understanding of business, influencing their career goals, fostering a sense of self-confidence, and enhancing their understanding of how money works.
Q: WHAT’S ONE QUALITY YOU THINK ALL EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR?
A: Partnering with employers across diverse industries, we frequently hear that leaders expect employees to have an entrepreneurial spirit. They want employees who always question how something can be done better, are optimistic about all possibilities, and are willing to explore and take calculated risks. The Bryan School is where I learned these principles and is where I built confidence to speak up, share my ideas, and explore them to the fullest.