JA Celebrates Centennial at the JA Global Gala

May 3, 2019

JA Celebrates Centennial at the JA Global Gala

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Held in Boston on May 2, in partnership with JA of Northern New England, the JA Centennial JA Global Centennial Gala offered an opportunity for alumni, staff, board members, and all the other incredible JA supporters from around the world to come together to celebrate 100 years of JA. (Be sure to also read up on the other Centennial event of the day, the JA Executive Forum.)

We opened the JA Centennial Gala with a video that celebrates JA’s timeless relevance and impact, looking both at our 100 years of achievement and the future ahead.

After emcees Vivian Lau (President, JA Asia Pacific) and Brandon Samba (JA alumnus) welcomed attendees to the event, Asheesh Advani (JA Worldwide CEO) offered opening comments. He noted that guests from more than 25 countries and over 15 U.S. states were in attendance. “JA brings together people of different cultures, different religions, and different political affiliations, because we all have shared values, including a belief in the boundless potential of young people and the shared view that business can be a global force for good, with a connected purpose.”

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Gala guests were in for a treat when Mark Thompson (executive coach, bestselling author, and tech investor) sat down for a fireside chat with Jim Yong Kim (anthropologist, physician, and former president of the World Bank). They discussed the future of work, especially as it relates to young people. “We need to create opportunities for young people,” Jim said. He also noted that although JA has been working with young people for over 100 years and has reached more than 100 million young people, “JA is just getting started!”

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The program broke for dinner, which gave Gala guests a chance to review the leather-bound JA history book given to each recipient.

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Dinner also gave attendees—and anyone watching around the world—the opportunity to bid on Gala auction items, ranging from an outdoor adventure in Machu Picchu or a ride in a FedEx flight simulator to artwork and sports memorabilia.

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As dinner wrapped up, Radhames Nova (President and CEO, JA of Northern New England) and Jack Kosakowski (CEO, JA USA), shown above, introduced a video message from Randall Stephenson (CEO of AT&T), congratulating JA on our Centennial, noting that he currently holds the same position as Theodore Vail, one of three businesspeople who founded JA in 1919. “When it comes to service, Junior Achievement sets a high bar,” Randall said. Watch the entire message, below.

Amy Tran, a JA alumna from Vietnam, led a trio of JA alumni who told their JA stories. Amy shared her JA experience, in which a sign on a notice board—which promised lunch to anyone who attended—caught her attention. She went for the lunch but found that the International Trade Challenge in which she participated invigorated her latent entrepreneurship, and she was forever changed. She attended university in New York and now works in financial services. “What JA does,” Amy said, “is take talented kids from all parts of the world and every walk of life and make them realize they have the potential to go beyond what they think they can do.”

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John Samuel Ewotu of Uganda participated in the JA Company Program, another life-changing JA program. He co-founded Wot Art, a student-run company that produced locally sourced jewelry and footwear and went on to win the FedEx Access Award and the Delta Social Impact Award at the JA Africa Company of the Year competition. “There are millions of students all around the world, many like me, yearning to experience running a business as a young person,” he said. “With your support, JA will continue to empower young people like me and set them on a course for success.”

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Lina Al Khouri from Lebanon shared her story, which started with a Facebook ad from INJAZ Lebanon, calling for women in technology and entrepreneurship. She wanted to be a part of it, but didn’t have a business idea, until a classmate, struggling with a personal issue, told her how embarrassing it would be to seek counseling. Lina created Dr. Leda, an app that gives anyone the option to get professional counseling in minutes, which won the 2018 Young Entrepreneurs’ Competition for the entire MENA region.

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JA Worldwide Board Chair Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi (Vice Chairman, Institutional Clients Group, EMEA, Citi) and JA Worldwide Board Finance Committee Chair Maliz Beams (former counselor, U.S. Department of State) came on stage to honor JA board chairs and JA leaders over the years.

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JA was thrilled to have the opportunity to honor Citi Foundation, an honor accepted by Brandee McHale (Head of Corporate Citizenship at Citi and President of Citi Foundation). Citi Foundation has supported JA for more than 30 years and has been fundamental to our ability to raise the aspirations of young people around the world. Watch Citi’s recent TV ad about our partnership.

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The Gala also gave JA a chance to premiere a new video that describes our commitment to Global Goal (SDG) #1: Eradicating Poverty. JA is working to combat global poverty and profoundly impact the livelihood of young people by teaching entrepreneurship and work-readiness skills. Youth are empowered to build sustainable businesses, lift their incomes, and become self-reliant.

JA alumna Melissa Moreno—whom we first heard when she won the talent competition at the JA Global Youth Forum last summer—sang for guests in traditional Mexican clothing.

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JA Worldwide Governors Partha Bose (CMO, Oliver Wyman), Asheesh Advani, and Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi came on stage to honor Omar Alghanim (Group CEO, Alghanim), who co-founded INJAZ Al-Arab JA MENA and served as its first board chair 15 years ago.

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JA Worldwide Board Vice Chair Jonas Prising (CEO, ManpowerGroup) announced that JA will be restarting the JA Global Business Hall of Fame, with a commitment to make it even more global and to induct equal numbers of men and women.

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Keynote speaker Kai-Fu Lee (CEO of Sinovation Ventures and former President of Google China) shared insights on what artificial intelligence (AI) can—and cannot—do and how young people can prepare for the future of AI. Every guest also received a copy of Kai-Fu’s book, AI Superpowers.

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Inspired, engaged, and ready to start our second century, we closed the Gala with a fireworks display above Boston Harbor, streaming in JA’s colors of green, yellow, and deep orange.

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The JA Global Centennial Gala—a celebration of JA's 100 years of achievement—would not have been possible without our global funders. Thanks for everyone who supported the event, who attended, and who watched from afar.

Also check out a conversation last month with Bill Schawbel: JA alumnus, entrepreneur, and JA Gala Chair. And, below, see the JA Worldwide team at the close of the Gala. Your support means the world to us and the 10+ million young people we serve each year around the world.

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