Junior Achievement of Memphis and Mid-South CEO and President Leigh Mansberg Speaks at Women’s Leadership Network Luncheon

“Every Child World Ready” is central topic of the event

Leigh Mansberg, President and CEO of the Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid- South, spoke to a packed crowd at the Collierville Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Network luncheon on August 18 at the Ridgeway Country Club.

Prior to Mansberg’s remarks, Pansy Hall and Alexis Heinz of Patriot Bank Mortgage, the luncheon sponsor, welcomed the crowd on behalf of Patriot and noted how pleased they were to be affiliated with the Women’s Leadership Network luncheons.

Collierville Chamber President and CEO Mark Heuberger introduced Mansberg with a quick recitation of her extensive background in teaching and the accolades she has received during her tenure with Junior Achievement.

Guiding the audience to a thorough understanding of the slogan, “Every Child World Ready,” Mansberg highlighted the Junior Achievement programs that are designed to teach young people financial literacy skills and independence from kindergarten through high school. Comparing children to fledglings, Mansberg noted the importance of teaching independence to children and the necessity of “pushing the kids out of the nest.” And, she added, “We [Junior Achievement] will help your children learn to fly.”

Mansberg suggested that hope and fear are the two primary motivations for decisions and that too often parents are motivated by fear. “Our worst decisions come from fear.” Decisions should come from a place of hope, she said, and too often children themselves see little hope. Recounting a career survey recently conducted with some 1600 students, Mansberg commented that while some 80% of respondents were encouraged when given an opportunity to learn about potential alternative careers from those in the respective fields, only 4 out of 10 thought that a path in that area would be available to them in their future.

“It takes us all,” to help all children find a future, Mansberg suggested.

Taking the helm of Junior Achievement three years ago, Mansberg knew that she was going to have to “blow up the model,” and create new paths and new opportunities. Confessing that such a move was a bit scary, she and her team have expanded the program to create a streamline K-12 program. “You can’t teach a child just once,” she said. The new program would increase the number of touch points for each participant – “not one and done” – and would offer a progressive path of continual education with financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness taught over and over again.

Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South offers programs in 25 counties totally – 12 in Tennessee – and reaches some 360,000 children with experiential and layered learning. From foundational skills at the earliest grades to hands-on experiences at the middle school and advance courses for high school students, Junior Achievement’s program strives for that continual learning process. Mansberg detailed one very popular program. Junior Achievement’s Biz Town “combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a simulated town. This popular learning experience is available for [4 -6 grade students] and allows them to operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor. Students are able to connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world.” JA’s Skill Builders program reaches high school students with semester-long business courses. Mansberg noted the exponential growth of the high school program.

Mansberg concluded her remarks with the importance of “adults showing up to help” as volunteers through a host of opportunities, including their Speakers Series, where students could hear from real-world examples of entrepreneurs and successful professionals. Speaking to the importance of such a program for students, she commented, “You can’t become what you can’t see.” The meeting concluded with a lively Q&A session.