Name: Jennie Clausen, Ph.D.

Profession: Program Director – JA Inspire

Company: Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA Arizona)

Age: 42


What do you do for a living? 

I am the program director for the amazing Junior Achievement (JA) Inspire Program. We focus on workplace readiness and financial literacy education for students grades five through 12 through our online career exploration platform. With JA Inspire, students can explore careers in sixteen different career clusters and investigate those careers across 100-plus local businesses. We also have an auditorium that houses almost 100 webinar style videos focused on specific jobs and skills. This is all rounded out with our interactive studio which reinforces soft skills like interviewing strategies and communication tips and tricks. The studio also houses a scholarship repository, internship resources, volunteer opportunities, and current job postings.


What type of training do you need to do your job? 

There should be some combination of education and sales and marketing. I put on my educator hat in order to understand the infrastructure of the system in Arizona so we can best reach the students who need us most. I put on my sales hat when I need to market JA Inspire within that structure. JA Inspire is an easy lift for teachers and the right thing for students regardless of geographic location, so it’s a really fun program to get to market. It’s also free to students, and that helps make it extremely easy to talk about.


What’s your favorite part of your job? 

I have two favorite things: The JA family and the impact we are making. I didn’t know that this level of camaraderie or such a deep sense of commitment to students existed anywhere in the world. At JA, every single person on our team works to help Arizona kids succeed in work and life. It’s a passion that can’t be taught, and we are so fortunate that every team member keeps students at the forefront of everything they do.


What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

I think I always knew I would be a teacher! My mom and dad were both teachers all the way through to retirement. That translated into a deep love of learning from a fairly young age for me. I have a picture from when I was 4 years old, where I spread out a blanket in the backyard, called all the neighborhood girls to come over, and then proceeded to ‘read’ to them (or mimic reading, which is an important early literacy skill) just like a teacher would. To me, that photo is priceless because it’s evidence that, even as a little girl, I had a passion in my heart for teaching and serving students. It’s all I have ever wanted to be!


What advice would you give to a kid who wants to have a similar career? 

Don’t rule out nonprofit work as an arm of education! There are so many incredible organizations in Arizona that focus on job readiness from a K-12 approach, and we are fortunate to have strategic partnerships with most of them. I often reference my transfer out of the classroom and into non-profit as a pivot, but it was more like a fork in the education-related pathways I could take. To the left, I could have continued teaching. To the right, I could try something new. Fast-forward two years and I am so fortunate to have stayed to the right.


One fun fact NOT about your job? 

I have three boys ages 10, 8, and 6, and their middle names are Danger, Crash, and Kaboom. For real! It’s on their birth certificates.