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Junior Achievement’s Hall of Fame to Celebrate the Best in Business and Philanthropy The nonprofit will honor four visionary leaders on September 15, 2015

June 19, 2015


 Kristi Zimsky




Junior Achievement’s Hall of Fame to Celebrate the Best in Business and Philanthropy

The nonprofit will honor four visionary leaders on September 15, 2015


SAN DIEGO, June 18, 2015—Junior Achievement (JA) of San Diego will induct four visionary leaders into the San Diego Business Hall of Fame on Sept. 15, 2015, at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The 27th Annual Business Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding business and philantrophic leadership over a career span of service in the San Diego community. This black-tie event will feature dinner, auction and awards presentation for the 2015 Hall of Fame laureates. All proceeds from the event benefit JA’s mission to impact 53,000 students each year by teaching them how to get a job, start a business and how money works.

Junior Achievement is proud to honor these leaders for their impact, integrity, leadership and legacy of service. These individuals truly embody the ideals of JA and personify the lessons taught by our programs. Please join us in celebrating this year’s 2015 Hall of Fame Laureates:


Rolf Benirschke, Co-founder, Legacy Health Strategies and NFL Hall of Famer

Rolf Benirschke had an illustrious 10-year career as the placekicker for the San Diego Chargers before retiring as the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. He played in the Pro Bowl and received numerous awards including NFL Man of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, NFL Player Association Hero of the Year, and the NFL’s most prestigious award, the Byron “Whizzer” White award.

In 1997, Rolf became the 20th player inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame.  During his second season, Rolf was struck with ulcerative colitis, an intestinal illness that required major abdominal surgery and nearly cost him his life. He returned to play for seven more seasons and created Great Comebacks, a patient support program that provides information and inspiration and has been connecting ostomy patients around the world for more than 30 years. His experiences led him to co-found Legacy Health Strategies, a company that creates personalized patient support programs for medical devices, pharmaceutical companies, and health systems.


Tom Hom, Civic Leader, Statesman and Businessman

Tom Hom, a second generation Chinese-American, was born in San Diego in 1927. Throughout his life, he helped transform San Diego into the vibrant city it is today. In 1963 he made San Diego history by becoming the first minority ever elected to the San Diego City Council. In 1968 he won a seat to the California State Assembly, serving alongside then Governor Ronald Reagan.

As a successful civic, business, and community leader, Tom has become a legacy in San Diego. Among his accomplishments, he was instrumental in the transformation of what was San Diego’s skid row into today’s historic Gaslamp Quarter District – now a major destination. He also played a key role in the establishment of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. This pioneer has received numerous accolades for his efforts and contributions to improve his community and beyond.



Joanne Pastula, President & CEO, Junior Achievement of San Diego County

Joanne Pastula is the visionary who first brought awareness to the San Diego business community about the need to teach our students how to get a job, how to start a business and how to manage money. Under Pastula’s leadership, JA of San Diego grew from a three person staff and small budget to today’s financially strong operation. As a passionate advocate of connecting the business community to our local schools and students, she led the organization through sixteen years of remarkable growth, increasing its annual budget from $300,000 to almost $2 million, expanding the overall student participation from 15,000 students to 54,000 students that will be reached during the 2014-15 school year.

Although Pastula will be retiring later in 2015, she will remain at the national nonprofit for the official grand-opening of the new Mission Fed JA Finance Park in October. A graduate of San Diego State University and a lifetime credentialed secondary teacher, Pastula has maintained a strong interest and involvement in education throughout her career. Prior to her leadership at JA, she was a senior executive at John Burnham & Company for seventeen years. 


T. Denny Sanford, Businessman and Philanthropist

After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Sanford proved to be a successful entrepreneur. His early career in Minneapolis was in sales, marketing and venture capital. He eventually purchased a bank system in South Dakota, later adding a credit card company as well. Sanford has given over one billion dollars to enhance people’s lives through his generous donations to health, education and children related causes. Over just the past four years, he has given more than $600 million, including the largest single donation to a healthcare organization, the Dakota-based Sioux Valley Health System, later renamed Sanford Health.

In 2008, he provided $30 million to the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (now the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine) and $20 million to the Burnham Institute of Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif. Later, he issued a $50 million matching gifts challenge to benefit the organization now known as the Sanford-Burnham Institute. And his giving did not end there. In 2013, he committed $100 million to the creation of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at the University of California, San Diego. His gift to UCSD has the potential to treat, cure, even prevent, myriad afflictions, including cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease and spinal cord injury. Sanford has recently committed to the Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge. He has also announced a donation of $100 million to help Sanford Health launch the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer initiative, named after his mother who died of breast cancer when he was four-years old. No doubt the impact of Sanford’s giving and generosity will be felt for decades to come in the San Diego community and across North America.

Sponsorships and tables are available. Please contact Tracy Nakamura at for more information.


JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT OF SAN DIEGO, INC. works locally to impact 54,000 students in K-12 classrooms in the 2014-2015 school year. Junior Achievement’s volunteer-based programs teach kids how to get a job, start a business, and how money works. For more information and the latest news on programs and events, please visit