JA Near You :: Headquarters :: Executive Management
President and Chief Executive Officer
Jack E. Kosakowski 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 4.2 million students per year in 122 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.8 million students served by operations in 120 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 37 years. He was named President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA in 2007.
Kosakowski 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 also 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 recently named a Trustee of America’s Promise Alliance.
Executive Vice President
Buzzy Thibodeaux 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.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Buzzy earned his BS in business administration at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He currently volunteers in various capacities at his alma mater.
Chief Financial Officer
Tim Armijo 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. Armijo is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Senior Vice President -- Operations
Howard Bartner 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. Bartner has served as vice president-area accreditation and alignment. He also held the positions of director-operations and director–executive transitions for the organization. Bartner 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.
Bartner 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.
Senior Vice President -- Development
Gary began his career with Junior Achievement 28 years ago as program manager in Miami, Florida. Over the years, Gary’s responsibilities have progressively increased. He was instrumental in obtaining JA’s first-ever one million dollar personal gift in Orlando, and has served JA in a variety of functions and leadership positions, including serving as Area Operations Representative for 17 JA cities. Prior to joining Junior Achievement USA, he served as President of Junior Achievement of Central Florida. Gary and his staff of 19 associates reached over 84,000 students in the Central Florida area, reflecting market share of nearly 20 percent. Gary is currently a member of the Field HR Committee, a graduate of the Strategic Leadership in JA program at Penn State, and a member of the Board Strategic Plan Implementation Team.
Chief Academic Officer
Motivated by the thousands of students she has worked with during her 20+ year tenure in the education, political and business arenas, Lisa Gillis has tirelessly devoted her career to achieving one goal – to create a new learning landscape that honors, equips and prepares each child to take control of their future and be successful in the digitized global workplace.
Recognized as a national leader, Lisa directed the Digital Learning Council, an initiative led by Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Bob Wise and included 100 of our nation’s top leaders culminating in the release of the “Digital Learning NOW!” report; has provided legislative testimony; is a published author (Virtual Schooling – Macmillan) and was featured on a speaking tour in partnership with Apple, Inc. at the Apple Stores.
Lisa is the new Chief Academic Officer for Junior Achievement, USA and was formerly the President/CEO of Integrated Educational Strategies (IES), a national non-profit with expertise in policy/advocacy, re-designing learning programs (specializing in digital/blended programs), and parent engagement strategies. Lisa was on the leadership team at Insight Schools, a subsidiary of the Apollo Group, where she led the Government Affairs department and served on the School Development team. At K12, Inc., she served on both the business development and school management teams. Lisa has served in a variety of roles in public education including teacher, school administrator, charter developer and in special education. Her responsibilities included the design, development and management of innovative programs for students in more than 11 states. Lisa is a graduate of the California School Leadership Academy – an elite nomination-only program for top school administrators - was on the Advisory Board for EdNet 2011 and is the Chairman of the Advocacy and Issues Committee for iNACOL.
Senior Vice President Brand Strategy and Communications
Ed Grocholski 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, Grocholski 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, Grocholski 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.
Senior Vice President -- Business Improvement
Susan Luu 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.
Senior Vice President -- Operations
Steve Schmidt 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.
Schmidt is responsible for providing service to 47 field markets with a focus on training and district operations.