Junior Achievement of Northern California celebrates centennial anniversary

San Ramon residents honored for volunteerism at celebration

The 100-year mark is a rare milestone that many organizations -- and most people -- don’t get to see.

The global nonprofit youth organization Junior Achievement (JA) is one such organization that has recently reached this Milestone, and on April 4 Junior Achievement of Northern California held its centennial celebration in San Francisco, and took the time to recognize some exceptional San Ramon residents involved in the nonprofit.

“Very few organizations make it to 100 years, much less continue to grow and thrive like Junior Achievement has,” said JA’s vice president of development, Heather Small. “We are taking this opportunity to celebrate and honor what’s come before, but also look toward the future, as we work to inspire and prepare our young people to succeed in our ever-changing world.”

At the centennial celebration, the JA honored a variety of volunteers and associates for their efforts to improve the lives of young people and preparing them to succeed in a global economy. Among those honored were two members of the San Ramon community, Jessica Heagle, who won an Educator of the Year Award, and Zoe Baghdoyan who received a Volunteer of the Year Award.

At California High School, Heagle teaches the Cal High Careers in Teaching Class, and for the past five years has lead JA’s High School Heroes program, which gives Cal High students the opportunity to mentor younger students at Wilson Elementary School in Richmond. The Cal High student teach JA curriculum to their younger counterparts, helping all involved learn about entrepreneurship and the business world.

“Not only do her students experience real-life teaching skills, but in teaching economically disadvantaged students, their minds and attitudes are open to perspectives and realities they otherwise would not have experienced,” Small told “Personally Jessica has so much positive energy towards JA… she also extremely detailed orientated. She is deeply invested that her students are not just volunteers for the day, but mentors and our future teachers.”

Baghdoyan, is a software engineer from GE Digital (which is headquartered in San Ramon), and recognized for her outstanding performance as the JA’s volunteer coordinator at GE Digital.

“In addition to coordinating classroom volunteers for Cottonwood Elementary in Dublin, and implement JA’s Social Innovation Camp for 200 middle and high school students, Zoe also helped GE employees raise over $15,000 for JA programs,” Small said. “Zoe applies logic, analysis and a passion for JA’s mission as she drives for success.”

Serving not just as an opportunity to appreciate the successes of its volunteers, the JA also used its centennial celebration to raise funds for its various programming. JA officials say more than 25 sponsors and 250 individual guests donated $465,000 to the organization.

Those funds will be used to promote financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness programming offered by the JA for young people across the United States.

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Nominations due by Sept. 16 and Pleasanton Weekly are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form