Following two decades of unprecedented success leading Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana, Debra Hoffer has announced she will retire as President on January 4, 2022.
Hoffer, who participated in Junior Achievement (JA) when she was in high school, has lived out her deep passion for the organization’s mission during her tenure, creating and expanding programming to help the region’s young people learn financial literacy, to understand the value of careers and become work ready, and to develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
A few examples of Hoffer’s remarkable accomplishments during her term include nearly doubling the number of students served through JA programming since she began in 2000, doubling the annual revenues of the organization, and growing JA’s assets by more than 600%.
Perhaps the most important measure is the quality and depth of programming JA of Kentuckiana now provides: annual instruction hours have more than tripled during Hoffer’s 21 years leading the organization to more than 667,600 hours per year (pre-pandemic).
Other significant milestones:
- Led the capital campaign to bring JA BizTown and JA Finance Park to the region, JA’s capstone programs.
- Led the effort to create JA Inspire, a mega career fair for middle and high school students that has been adopted and implemented now in more than 50 other JA regions across the U.S.
- Established a partnership to implement a pilot program starting this fall designed to reengineer high school by integrating interdisciplinary, competency-based case methodologies.
- Received numerous awards including the highest JA USA 5-Star Award, Business First’s Non-Profit of the Year, Art of Excellence in Vision from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the Service to Entrepreneurship category, and the MetLife Outstanding Entrepreneurship International Award.
- Currently serves on the Academies of Louisville Work Group and Guiding Team, and the Greater Louisville, Inc. Board of Directors.
- Served on many national task forces and committees, most recently the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Learning Experiences Task Force.
“Debra’s tireless work on behalf of young people in the Kentuckiana region has not only changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of students, but also their families, their neighborhoods and the entire community,” said JA board chair Chris Brooker. “No one could have been more committed to the success of these young people or the ideals of JA than she has been. She is leaving an extraordinary legacy and all of us owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.”
Prior to her work with Junior Achievement, Hoffer served as Executive Director of the Louisville Ballet and was also Managing Director for Stage One, The Louisville Children’s Theatre.