JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT USA Leadership
Jack E. Kosakowski – President and CEO
Jack is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Junior Achievement USA. Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices.
Today, JA reaches 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in 100 other countries worldwide. Kosakowski has total oversight of Junior Achievement in the United States.
Starting as a student in the Junior Achievement program in Toledo, Ohio, he attended the University of Toledo on a Junior Achievement scholarship and has since served in a variety of staff positions with increasing levels of responsibility over the past 40 years. He was named President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA in 2007.
Jack was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve a two-year term on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in January 2008. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Achievement Foundation, is a past member of the United States Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and serves on the Council on Competitiveness' Learn to Compete Commission. Kosakowski was also named a Trustee of America's Promise Alliance.
Buzzy Thibodeaux – Executive Vice President
Buzzy is responsible for providing strategic leadership on initiatives that impact the nonprofit organization on a national basis, with particular focus on strengthening JA's relationships on Capitol Hill on the issues of financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship education for young people. As the number two person nationally, he also focuses on the national implementation of organizational strategies, the development and engagement of the national board of directors, and the advancement of partnerships that position Junior Achievement USA as a national leader in the areas of youth, education, and economic development.
Buzzy joined Junior Achievement's Headquarters in August of 1997 as Vice President of Field Marketing. He was promoted to Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications in 2000, making him responsible for the entire national marketing and branding process. Buzzy transitioned to initiate JA's Public Affairs effort in the Nation's Capitol as Senior Vice President in July of 2003. He was named SVP Southern US Region in 2005 and SVP Junior Achievement USA in 2009, widening his scope of responsibility.
Previously, he was President of Junior Achievement of Greater Baton Rouge and Acadiana, which earned the Peak Performance Award four times and the National Junior Achievement Summit Award for nine consecutive years. Before this, Buzzy held several positions within Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans.
Tim Armijo – Chief Financial Officer
Tim joined Junior Achievement in September of 1987 as an accountant on the Finance department. As the chief financial officer, Armijo manages the financial and sales functions of the organization. Working together with Junior Achievement's senior management group and the Junior Achievement USA board, Armijo guides the financial operations of Junior Achievement. He also provides guidance and direction to area offices concerning accounting, taxes and national policies.
A Colorado native, he earned his B.A. from the University of Southern Colorado in business administration – accounting. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Howard Bartner – Senior Vice President — Operations
Howard has served as the senior vice president for the U.S. Western Region since January 2007 and became SVP — Operations of the newly created Junior Achievement USA in 2009. He is responsible for the service, support and assisting the 36 area offices in this region. Prior to this role, he served as Regional vice president for the U.S. Western and Southern regions. Howard has served as vice president-area accreditation and alignment. He also held the positions of director-operations and director–executive transitions for the organization. Howard joined Junior Achievement as program manager in Greater Hampton Roads (Norfolk, VA) in 1982. He held the positions of director-applied economics, director of operations and director of educational services prior to being named president of the Charleston, S.C., operation.
Howard holds a B.A. in Business Administration, Management and Economics from Virginia Wesleyan College. He has served on the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, and is an active volunteer for Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado Inc. He was the 2005 recipient of the Frances Hesselbein "How To Be" award for living JA's values of respect, integrity, and excellence.
Gary Blanchette – Senior Vice President — Development
Gary began his career with Junior Achievement in 1981 as program manager in Miami, Florida. During his tenure, Gary has served in roles with increasing responsibility, including Area Operations Representative for 17 JA markets. Prior to joining Junior Achievement USA, Gary served as president of Junior Achievement of Central Florida and was instrumental in securing JA's first-ever $1 million personal gift. He and his staff of 30 reached more than 100,000 students annually, reflecting market share of nearly 20 percent.
In his current role as senior vice president of development, Gary is responsible for securing and stewarding more than $18 million in annual giving from a diverse stakeholder group comprised of Fortune 500 companies, corporations and foundations. He works closely with Junior Achievement USA's president and CEO to recruit and engage board members and donors to advance JA's mission. Gary also oversees Junior Achievement USA's "Share the American Dream" $25 million campaign, which will revolutionize JA's curriculum development and implementation through a blended learning approach.
Gary is a graduate of the Strategic Leadership in JA program at Penn State, and is a member of the Development Strategic Plan Implementation Team.
Mary Catherine (MC) Desrosiers – Senior Vice President — Education and Learning Technologies
MC has oversight of the education group, managing the blended transformation and directing ideation, design, implementation and evaluation of new program and learning technology.
Prior to joining JA, MC was Chief Program Development Officer for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, where she oversaw the business operations that included research, design, development, evaluation and delivery of an array of association programs, products, and services designed for member and nonmember practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and other constituents. MC has served as the Chief Strategy and Operations officer at Integrated Educational Strategies Inc. (IES) in the creation of new products and services dedicated to assisting schools with the implementation of a "blended model" of instruction. She also served as the Sr. Vice President of School and Academics for Kaplan Virtual Learning, managing the online/blended school delivery of educational programs for charter schools and districts. MC also served as SVP of Product Development, Systems and Operations of K12, Inc., as one of the first executives, she took the startup to a successful IPO and completed their first acquisition. MC served with Origin Technology in Business, a national e-business technology practice. As managing director of Origin Technology, she designed and produced training and customer support applications for the educational and commercial markets. She served as director for Philips Electronics NV, where she established Fountain works, an internal best-of-breed digital/Internet technology organization, and helped develop and implement global e-business strategies. MC also established and managed Studio Interactive which produced award-winning educational software. She started her career as a consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. MC holds a BS in Business and Finance from Mount Saint Mary's University and an MBA from Marymount University.
MC's first experience with Junior Achievement was in high school as a participant in JA Company Program in the Washington, DC area. She has returned to JA with a passion for preparing student to own their future and at a critical time in JA's history as the organization transitions to blended learning. MC is married to Ed Desrosiers, and has a son, Sean, and daughter, Casey, who are both attending college. She is a gourmet cook, who loves to walk, read, travel and play golf.
Ed Grocholski – Senior Vice President — Brand
Ed rejoined Junior Achievement USA's National Office in September 2012 after spending more than a decade in Washington, D.C., in a variety of strategic communications and marketing roles.
Most recently, Ed was a partner in the Lindberg Group LLC in Washington, D.C. He was responsible for business development, management and strategic communications planning and implementation for the firm's clients. In this role he developed social media and media relations strategies for the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright Program and developed digital assets for the Council on Foundations' Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. He developed and implemented marketing and public relations programs for a variety of organizations including the National Association of Workforce Boards, the U.S. Department of Labor, Columbia University, and the National Academy Foundation.
As vice president of Public Education for Ogilvy Public Relations, he developed several marketing and public relations programs for nationwide initiatives including National Job Shadow Day and the U.S. Department of Education NAEP – Nation's Report Card. At Ogilvy he managed a group responsible for $2 million in annual billings.
Early in his career, Ed served as Junior Achievement's director of Public Relations and Development. He has remained an active supporter of JA and worked to develop JA's media strategy.
Susan Luu – Senior Vice President — Business Improvement
Susan began her career with Junior Achievement in 2006, possessing an extensive background in analyzing, designing, implementing, and leadership of large supply chain management systems and business/technology process improvement projects with The Inventure Group, Motorola, and Henkel International. Susan previously served as Executive Vice President for Junior Achievement of Arizona, achieving more than 14 percent student growth in her first year, managing two JA BizTown® facility construction projects, and implementing a new class management system. Susan had statewide responsibilities and in 2009-2010 led fundraising and education teams to generate more than $1.2 million in revenue and delivered programs to nearly 80,000 students. Susan serves on the Student Impact US Strategic Plan Implementation Team and is a graduate of the Strategic Leadership in JA program at Penn State.
Leslie Pierce – Senior Vice President — Talent and Organization Development
Leslie joined Junior Achievement USA in October, 2005, bringing extensive experience in training, business operations and organization design to her role at JA. Leslie began her professional life teaching secondary language arts at Glynn Academy High School in Brunswick, Georgia, before transitioning to the corporate sector. Leslie has worked in a variety of roles in the U.S. and abroad for three major financial service corporations, managing training and development, business improvement, international human resources, and a customer service line operation. She opened offices across Europe and Asia and founded her own consulting practice.
As the Senior Vice President, Talent and Organization Development, Leslie is responsible for the training and development of JA associates in the United States, employment and employee relations, conferences and events, and organizational design. Her focus is ensuring that JA has a comprehensive learning architecture to enable JA associates to be successful in their roles, developing and overseeing events that advance the JA mission, and creating strategic processes that optimize the human element of Junior Achievement across all functional areas of its business.
Leslie earned her MA in Language Arts Education from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters of Teaching Arts from the University of Tulsa.
Steve Schmidt – Senior Vice President — Operations
Steve served 18 years in the field with JA of Wisconsin prior to coming to Junior Achievement in 2004 as the regional vice president of the Western U.S. Promoted to senior vice president of the Midwestern U.S. region in July of 2006, Steve became SVP — Operations of the newly created Junior Achievement USA in 2009.
Steve is responsible for providing service to 47 field markets with a focus on training and district operations.
"Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."
"Junior Achievement reinforced concepts for me to remember later in life."
"I thought the experience was amazing. The presentation was unlike anything I've seen."
"I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."