Press Releases

President & CEO Joanne Pastula to Retire from Junior Achievement of San Diego County Fall 2015

March 13, 2015


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Junior Achievement of San Diego County (#JAofSD) announced today that Joanne Pastula will be retiring later in 2015 as President and Chief Executive Officer after more than 16 years of leadership.  Pastula will remain with the national nonprofit to ensure a smooth transition for her successor and a successful opening of the new Mission Fed JA Finance Park this fall.   JA of San Diego’s Board of Directors has formed a succession search committee that will be looking for the next President and CEO.  Still passionate about the cause, Pastula will remain as a member of Junior Achievement’s Board of Directors and active in various community involvements while enjoying spending more time with her family and grandchildren.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with so many incredible people since joining Junior Achievement of San Diego back in 1999,” said Joanne Pastula, retiring President and CEO at Junior Achievement of San Diego County.  “I am so proud of our dedicated staff, amazing Board of Directors and I’m looking forward to a smooth leadership transition.”

Under Pastula’s leadership, JA of San Diego grew from a 3 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 16 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 53,000 students that will be reached during the 2014-15 school year and creating a home for Junior Achievement offices, located at the Capdevilla Gillespie Center for Junior Achievement in Mission Valley.

“Really the numbers speak for themselves,” said Junior of Achievement’s Board of Directors Co-Chair Sandy Shippey and Partner at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP.  “Joanne has led the company through a remarkable transformation, generating a huge increase in annual revenues under her leadership, and more importantly because of her vision, Junior Achievement of San Diego, is now reaching 53,000 students each year.”

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.  She is determined to provide all San Diego County students the Junior Achievement experience, which teaches them basic life skills necessary to “make it” in today’s challenging world.  Her emphasis has been on low-income and inner-city students, who are confronted with daily challenges and are in need of exposure to the concepts incorporated into the JA curriculum and the impact of the volunteer role models. 

There are two signature programs that will serve as Pastula’s living legacy: 

The McGrath Family JA Biztown -- Each year, nearly 15,000 students from elementary schools throughout San Diego County act as adults for the day and become JA BizTown "citizens." After four weeks of project-based lessons and activities, students visit JA BizTown for the learning experience of their lives. They work in one of 21 San Diego businesses, make financial decisions, pay taxes and donate to charity. There is currently a waitlist of schools eager to participate in the program.  

Mission Fed JA Finance Park -- JA of San Diego is celebrating the groundbreaking ceremony as demolition begins this month for the new "Mission Fed JA Finance Park.”   The park, scheduled to open its doors fall 2015, is a hands-on, interactive learning center for San Diego teens and young adults.  The technology based, personal budgeting simulation enables teens to build the foundation for making smart, lifelong personal finance decisions.

Pastula joined Junior Achievement in 1999 with three full-time staff, 650 volunteers and a small Board of Directors.  Fast forward to 2015, and Pastula has leveraged her business expertise and community contacts with outstanding success to include 32 full and part-time staff members, more than 5,100 volunteers and 49 active members of the JA Board of Directors.   

“San Diego’s success lies in the cultivation of our young people,” said Pastula. “Schools are expected to provide everything, and that’s not the reality.  To ensure our continued growth and competiveness we need to cultivate the next generation of professionals right here on our home turf.”  Pastula noted JA Finance Park has been one of her goals since the opening of the McGrath Family JA BizTown in 2007.

“Junior Achievement of San Diego is well positioned for significant growth, due in large part to Joanne’s vision, her tremendous leadership and her commitment to excellence,” said Mike Schleyhahn, Junior of Achievement’s Board of Directors Co-Chair and President at San Diego Fluid System Technologies/Swagelok.  “On behalf of the Board, I thank Joanne for all she has done, and she will be missed.”

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.  After 5 years with Psychology Today Magazine, she joined the commercial real-estate and insurance firm of John Burnham & Co in 1977. 

During her 17 years at Burnham, she helped implement the extensive community involvement of the Burnham Company, while serving on various Boards and education-focused groups such as the Business Roundtable for Education.  She was also a volunteer for Junior Achievement and regularly participated in JA’s annual Bowl-A-Thon!  After selling her interest in the Burnham Company in 1995, she joined the Girl Scouts in San Diego and Imperial Counties as their Director of Volunteer Services.

She is an active Rotarian in San Diego’s Club 33, a LEAD graduate and has been recognized as one of San Diego’s Women Who Mean Business, a TWIN (Tribute to Women in the Industry) recipient, founding trustee of the Ackerman Foundation, and honored by Junior Achievement USA as an outstanding JA President. 





About Junior Achievement of San Diego County:

Junior Achievement of San Diego works locally to impact 53,000 students in K-12 classrooms each year.  Junior Achievement’s volunteer-based programs teach kids how to get a job, start a business and how money works. For more information on programs in San Diego and Imperial Counties, please visit