Gina Blayney, JAUM President & CEO, announces retirement

Gina Blayney, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM), announces retirement

August 19, 2019

St. Paul, MN – Gina Blayney, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM), will retire after a 30-year career with Junior Achievement, Inc. She will step down once her successor has been identified and the leadership transition has been completed — no later than June 30, 2020.

JAUM’s President and CEO for 14 years, Blayney oversees the Junior Achievement organization serving Minnesota, North Dakota and three counties in western Wisconsin. JAUM is the 4th largest JA organization in the country, impacting 170,000 K-12 students annually.

Blayney’s 30-year history with JA includes leading the JA organization serving Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. She has received numerous awards for her leadership and impact on the global organization and community, 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 Worldwides’s Gold Leadership Award, which honors the expansion of JA’s education initiatives around the globe.

“Gina has guided the transformation of JAUM through significant change and economic conditions. Under her leadership, the organization invested in new programming, grew into new communities and developed program models to serve the needs all young people,” Jan Kruchoski, Managing Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen and Chair of the JAUM Board of Directors said. “She was also the driving force behind the creation of the Junior Achievement James R. and Patricia Hemak Experiential Learning Center where business, government and education come together to build the talent pipeline for the region.”

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

Among some of the major accomplishments Blayney has achieved include strengthening the financial health of the JAUM organization by growing operating revenue 70% and students impacted by 130% during her tenure. Under Blayney’s leadership, JAUM was quick to respond to the economic downturn in 2008 by investing in piloting and growing new financial literacy programs. The past five years, JAUM has been very focused on growing a youth entrepreneurship initiative including sponsoring the youth division of the MN Cup, building the first JA High school Incubator in the country and growing the competencies and capacity of the organization to support 92 student-run companies during the 2018-2019 school year.

The most recent transformation includes the purchase, renovation and completion of the $20M campaign to build the state-of-the-art James R. and Patricia Hemak Experiential Learning Center that houses three simulation labs. Business, government and education partner to teach and inspire students to learn about the great careers they can build here, hone their financial literacy skills and learn how to launch companies. On July 1, JAUM also announced a new strategic plan focused on building out programs in their work and career pathway and continuing to develop their entrepreneurship and financial literacy pathways.

The JAUM board of directors will conduct a comprehensive national search for Blayney’s successor. She and her husband are looking forward to remaining in the Twin Cities and spending time with four daughters, three son-in-laws and two grandchildren.