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Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest names new leadership

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August 05, 2019
St. Paul, MN – Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest welcomes Michelle Bjerkness to the executive leadership team as Senior Vice President of Operations.  Michelle came to Junior Achievement from Scientific Societies, a cooperative of seven non-profit organizations serving the combined needs of 12,000 researchers and professionals worldwide, where she served as Director of Operations offering innovative leadership, strategy development and operational excellence. Her experience working with these multi-faceted, mission-driven and education focused organizations will be of great value to JA as she strives to strengthen existing relationships and cultivate new ones.

The organization also congratulates LaChelle Williams on her new role as Senior Vice President of Development. LaChelle has been a key member of the Junior Achievement team for 15 years, nine of those as SVP of Operations. She has an extensive background in business start-ups and team development in her past experience owning an advertising company, leading multi-site operations with Amoco Oil Company, and as executive director with the YMCA. In 2018 she obtained her masters in leadership and management from Concordia University and was a member of the Graduate Honors Society. She is a strong believer in a Strengths Based Leadership philosophy and earned her coaching certification with the Gallup Organization in 2007.

"Michelle and LaChelle’s experience and passion for our mission will be invaluable to our organization," said Gina Blayney, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. "Their leadership will help ensure our future success throughout our three-state region and allow us to impact more students with our experiential programs."

Junior Achievement teaches students in grades K-12 about money management, how to prepare for the workforce, and how to start businesses that create jobs and strengthen our economy. Each year, Junior Achievement partners with more than 10,000 volunteers to teach its experiential and fun programs to students. Junior Achievement volunteers inspire and prepare students to succeed in school and in life by serving as role models and sharing their personal and professional experiences.
About Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest
Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest has been serving students in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin since 1949. In 2019, the national organization, JA USA, celebrates its 100th anniversary, and we’re celebrating 70 years locally. During the 2018-2019 school year we reached more than 167,000 students in grades K-12 with financial literacy, work and college readiness, and entrepreneurship education. Our programs are implemented by more than 10,000 volunteers, mostly business professionals, who share their skills and experience to motivate and inspire students to succeed. Learn more at
Lori Dossett, Director of Marketing & Communications
(651) 255-0038