GINA BLAYNEY, JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF THE UPPER MIDWEST
Title: President and CEO
Gina Blayney, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest has received a national recognition for leading the growth of the Maplewood-based chapter.
Blayney, a two-decade veteran of the nonprofit organization that teaches students about business, has been president and CEO of the Upper Midwest chapter, which covers Minnesota, western Wisconsin and North Dakota, since 2005.
The chapter engaged thousands of volunteer businesspeople who donated more than 1 million hours of their time with students in classrooms and in the chapter's BizTown and Finance Park programs. Chapter programs reached more than 120,000 K-12 students in more than 650 schools.
"It's a recognition of this chapter and the strong business-education partnerships we've been able to establish to help our children understand their future and look for opportunities and become financially savvy in our global economy," Blayney said. "It really goes to our entire board and staff and partners in the mission that we're involved in."
Blayney traced her interest in Junior Achievement to her upbringing. Her parents both played strong roles in youth development, her father as a pediatrician and her mother as a teacher.
She is helping to write strategic plans for both her chapter and the national organization, Junior Achievement USA.
One focus, Blayney said, is integrating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and objectives into Junior Achievement programming and curriculum.
QWhy should someone volunteer with or support Junior Achievement?
AWe allow and leverage businesses to bring their business acumen into the classroom to help students learn real-world skills and to be fiscally responsible.
How are you incorporating STEM principles into BizTown and Finance Park (classroom and experiential programs for students)?
We've been working with a task force of engineers, scientists and technology experts. They have provided some great ideas on how we can support STEM objectives not only in terms of career awareness but also the scientific method and the use of mathematics. They're suggesting how we embed much more technology into our learning facility as well as an engineering thought process and critical thinking.
QWhat do students get out of Junior Achievement's programs?
AThey get to have an opportunity to understand life as an adult. When students look forward and see their future, they are able to look at today and say, "What do I need to do today to get there? I've got to stay in school, work hard and maybe pursue different careers than I had thought." Their eyes are opened.