Interview by Jan Osborn. Photos Provided by Junior Achievement of Dallas.
Junior Achievement of Dallas (JA Dallas), a nonprofit organization, impacts the lives of students by teaching life skills through budgeting, careers and business start-ups. The organization has been in Dallas for more than 65 years and has reached over a million students. Jan Murfield joined JA Dallas in October 2012 and serves as the organization’s President, providing leadership to volunteers and staff to implement strategies and tactics to reach the mission of inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.
We recently had the opportunity to visit with Jan and learn more about JA Dallas and how they continue to provide life-changing programs for students throughout Dallas.
Where did you grow up and how was giving back was a part of your family dynamic?
I grew up on a farm in KS and went to school in a very small town. I was active in all the school organizations, church and groups who helped keep the small town looking good by helping the elderly who needed help.
Tell us the history of Junior Achievement, the mission of the organization and the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
JA Dallas was founded in 1919 and has a mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Founded as an organization that teaches entrepreneurship after school, we expanded in the 1980’s to teach K-12 in the school and added financial literacy and work readiness to our core pillars. In the Dallas area we have a renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as we prioritize serving students in under resourced areas and over 76% are students in low to moderate income areas. Our priorities are to create an inclusive and diverse future workforce, address the racial, ethnic and gender wealth gap, develop young entrepreneurs, and leverage technology for greater reach and impact. We have implemented monthly trainings and Deep Dive conversations for our board and staff members. We also conduct culture surveys and the results guide our goals for each year. Lastly, we are conducting strategic planning this year and DEI will be intwined throughout all lines of our business.
Junior Achievement is one of a few nonprofits to use independent, third-party evaluators to gauge the impact of its programs. What have you learned about its effectiveness?
By utilizing independent, third-party evaluators, our data is unbiased and provides a true look at our curriculum and the impact on students. The third-party provides excellent feedback for us so we can provide solid evidence of program efficacy for ensuring we are making an impact on the students who we serve. We endeavor to continue to modify curriculum by using pre/post tests to ensure that we are providing student impact and growth.
Junior Achievement strives to empower female high school students. How do you go about preparing these girls to succeed?
In 2020 we piloted BOLD, Business Oriented Leadership Development, a program for girls with panels of professional business women in Dallas. The four-hour event provided virtual panels, break-out rooms for students to ask the professionals questions about their background and how they became successful in their careers. Connecting students with professionals who can tell their story of struggles and successes is a proven way to open students hearts and eyes to possibilities to their best life.
The pandemic has caused a lot of organizations to regroup and do things differently. How has Junior Achievement pivoted to maintain its programs?
Starting in March 2020, we provided all of our educational material online to parents and teachers in order to provide another source of education for the students. Then during the summer of 2020, we re-engineered our curriculum so volunteers could deliver it virtually. We also expanded the educational offerings to high school students in career exploration and overall we expanded our reach during the 2020-21 school year.
What stories have most impacted you during your time working with Junior Achievement of Dallas?
The high school student who was working at Dollar General and stopped one of our staff who had their nametag on and said, “Do you work for Junior Achievement? You changed my life!”
The 3rd grade student who didn’t talk to his teacher much, but when it was JA Day, he danced and skipped and said, “Oh good, we get to learn about budgets today!”
The 8th grade student at JA Finance Park, who looked at the volunteer and said, “So that’s why my Mom won’t let me buy Nike’s.”
There are numerous stories of students who tell us we made a difference in or changed their lives. That is why we do what we do.
How can Dallas residents support both the overall mission of Junior Achievement, and get directly involved with the causes it supports?
Volunteers are needed to teach students this spring. You can find additional information by visiting www.jadallas.org and clicking on the Volunteer tab across the top. Additionally, to reach the over 80,000 students that have requested JA Dallas curriculum, we invite you to support us financially. There is a Donate Now button at the top of our website. Thank you in advance for supporting the students in the Dallas area.
tell us about your upcoming event on february 26, 2022.
JA Dallas will honor four 2022 Dallas Business Hall of Fame® inductees who will join a prestigious group of fellow laureates. This year’s event, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Dallas on February 26th, will honor Arcilia Acosta, President and CEO of CARCON Industries, Clark Hunt, Chairman of Hunt Sports Group, Tom Luce, Founder of Texas 2036 and Fred Perpall, CEO of The Beck Group.
The event will be co-emceed by Spectrum News’ Dr. Nicole Cross as well as by NBC’s Eric Alvarez. Cross, a proud anchor, reporter and host of In Focus Texas, is inspired by her deep love for people and their unique experiences. Alvarez, as a DFW native, frequently sheds light on socio-economic and gender gaps in education during his coverage, and looks to bring his enthusiasm for the same to the Business Hall of Fame event.
The event Co-Chairs include past honorees: Elaine Agather, Chairman of the Dallas Region for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Colleen Barrett, President Emerita of Southwest Airlines, Lucy Billingsley, CEO of the Billingsley Company, Valerie Freeman, CEO and founder of Dallas-based Imprimis Group, Inc., Karen Katz, Board Member, Advisor, and Former CEO The Neiman Marcus Group, Liz Minyard Lokey, former co-CEO of Minyard Food Stores and the first woman chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber, Nancy Nasher, President & Co-Owner at NorthPark Management Company, Melissa Reiff, President of The Container Store Group and Trisha Wilson, Chairman of Trisha Wilson Global.
To learn more about JA Dallas, please visit jadallas.org.