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ConnectVA Spotlight: Daphne Swanson, President & CEO, Junior Achievement of Central Virginia

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Daphne Swanson, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia (JACV).  I have been with Junior Achievement for 13 years.  Prior to joining Junior Achievement, I worked at Deloitte where I was as an auditor primarily working with clients in the mortgage and financial industries as well as local government.

I’m originally from upstate New York, but moved to Norfolk, Virginia where I attended and graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.  Seven years later I received a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University and shortly after became a Certified Public Accountant.  I have an 18 year old daughter who recently graduated from Maggie Walker Governor’s School and will be attending VCU in the fall.

I serve on the board of ChamberRVA and Henrico Firefighter Foundation and a member of the West Richmond Rotary.  I am also an Advisory Board Member for BB&T of Richmond and I sit on the Virginia Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee.

ABOVE: A video of students at the JA Finance Park.

What is the focus of your work?

As the breadth of our communities’ problems seem to grow every day, we believe there is a way to get to the root of these growing issues. With our mission to inspire and prepare young people for success we work to foster student’s belief in themselves and a sense of purpose to overcome life’s challenges. JA can change “I can’t” to “I can” through a scientifically proven approach by showing students how money, careers, and business ownership work. With the help of volunteer role models in proven programs there comes a simple shift to a positive attitude.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is knowing that we are developing the next generation and instilling the confidence to thrive in the modern workplace.  JA gives students the know-how to manage the related financial and economic decisions they need to make along the way.

Goochland High School students in the JA Job Shadow program at Luck Companies.

 

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?

Some of the challenges, as with any nonprofit, are limited resources. JACV is fortunate that the demand for our programs continues to increase.  Unfortunately every year we have programs that go unfilled because of the increased need for volunteers and funding.  We continue to reach out to new and growing companies and the community for more support.

 

What’s one misconception the public has about your organization?

The biggest misconception is we are seen as an organization that focuses primarily on financial literacy.  Most people would be surprised by the number of programs we offer.  We have over 20 programs for kindergarten – 12th grade that focus on work force development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

Do you have any interesting initiatives or programs on the horizon?

We recently opened our new JA Finance Park and partner with 9 school districts to provide programming to meet the high school Economics and Personal Finance requirement.  Within JA Finance Park is our new JA Career Center where students may explore different career paths, demand for those careers and education required.  We are piloting a new program this fall that correlates to the new middle school Career Investigation requirement and will include a trip to the JA Career Center.

JA in a Day program at Harvie Elementary School. Board Member Amy Miller served as one of 50 volunteers on this day.

Is your organization involved in any exciting collaborations or partnerships?

JACV is fortunate to partner with 20 different school districts:  9 have formal Memos of Understanding with JACV.  With volunteers serving from over 220 different companies from the region, we maintain strong partnerships across all industries. We are the essential partner in relationships between educators, business leaders and community partners of Central Virginia for the benefit of all our youth.

 

How are you leveraging ConnectVA and the Community Foundation to achieve your mission?

We use ConnectVA as a resource to see what else is happening with other nonprofits in the community.  We also benefit from the programming that is offered for staff development.  When looking to fill and open position we JobFinder as our main resource.

We are fortunate to receive continued support from Community Foundation for our programming.

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