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Gina Blayney retires after 15-year career as President & CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midw

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June 29, 2020
St. Paul, Minn. – Gina Blayney is retiring on June 30, 2020, after a 30-year career with Junior Achievement, 15 of those years as President & CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM). 

Blayney oversees Junior Achievement serving Minnesota, North Dakota, and three counties in western Wisconsin. JAUM is the fourth largest JA organization in the country as measured by revenue and students impacted. Junior Achievement serves K-12 students with experiential, age-appropriate programs focusing on three areas: work and career readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. During the 2018-2019 school year, JAUM reached 170,000 students across its 3-state region.   

Blayney began her 30-year tenure with Junior Achievement in eastern Iowa and western Illinois where she served in both programming and fundraising roles, eventually becoming president of JA of the Quad Cities in 1995. She became President & CEO of JAUM in 2005. 

She has received numerous awards for her leadership and impact on a local, national, and global level, including JA USA’s highest staff honor, the Charles R. Hook Award for outstanding strategic leadership, growth, and fiscal responsibility. Blayney was also honored with JA Worldwide’s Gold Leadership Award, recognizing the work she did to bring JA programs to Estonia.   

“Under Gina’s strong and thoughtful leadership, JAUM has become one of the top-performing Junior Achievement areas in the country,” said Jan Kruchoski, Managing Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen and Chair of the JAUM Board of Directors. “Her strategic vision and innovative ideas have put JAUM at the forefront of creativity, best practices, and strong fiscal performance. Her passion for the mission has inspired and encouraged thousands of local students to envision a successful future. We are grateful for her many years of service and wish her a fulfilling and relaxing retirement.”

“JAUM is respected as an innovative and visionary operation within the entire Junior Achievement organization,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President & CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Much of the credit for this reputation is due to the leadership of Gina Blayney, and the board of directors and the team of staff she has assembled. We are confident that the culture of success that has been established will continue through this transition and into the future.”

Some of Blayney’s major accomplishments during her tenure include strengthening the financial health of JAUM by growing assets, operating revenue and students served. In her 15 years as CEO, the organization impacted more than 2 million students in the region and raised $74 million. Blayney has also played leadership roles for JA USA including participation on strategic planning committees, branding task forces and most recently she chaired the Entrepreneurship Pathway Committee to develop JA’s experiential models focused on youth entrepreneurship.  

For the past five years, Blayney has focused on enhancing JAUM’s youth entrepreneurship initiative, including the creation of the youth division of the MN Cup, building the first JA high school business incubator in the country, and growing the competencies and capacity of the organization to support more than 100 student-run companies this school year.

Blayney was also the driving force behind a $20 million campaign to build the James R. and Patricia Hemak Experiential Learning Center in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul. This state-of-the-art learning facility brings business, government, and education partners together to prepare students for the workforce, develop financial literacy skills, and launch companies. Blayney spearheaded a new strategic plan focused on equity, impacting underserved populations, and enhancing programs in JAUM’s three pathways: work and career readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. She has also led the team in operationalizing and piloting the digitization of JA’s curriculum these last few months.  

“It has been a great privilege to lead this organization,” Blayney said. “I am fortunate to work with educators, business leaders, volunteers, and our amazing staff and boards as we forge partnerships to prepare young people to succeed in our global economy. It has been a labor of love to work with the millions of young people who participated in JA during my 30-year career as they learn and prepare for their future.”

Blayney’s successor, Sara Dziuk, will officially resume the role of President & CEO of JAUM on July 1, 2020. Blayney and her husband will remain in the Twin Cities and engage as volunteers to affect meaningful change in our community. They also are very excited to spend more time with their children and grandchildren.
Contact:
Lori R. Dossett, Director of Marketing & Communications
612.298.0050