Heroes of New York – Bill McNamara

Bill McNamara wasn’t always a high-powered businessman with a knack for mentorship. As a former NYC Cop and executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb who would eventually become an MVP Junior Achievement volunteer, McNamara learned about hard work and entrepreneurship over a lifetime of service.

Bill McNamara at the JA New York office for JA volunteering, March 2017

His first taste in the working world was as an entrepreneurial young boy in a New York City housing project trying to make a few bucks as a paper boy. He discovered early on that good customer service led to growth and bad customer service gave competitors an opportunity to poach your clientele. He learned that time management and effective record keeping were important skills all business people should master.

After growing up in a family that valued higher education, McNamara attended college before spending several years as a New York City police officer – a role with unprecedented responsibility and eye-opening experiences. After suffering a severe injury in the line of duty, he was forced to retire and rely on his previous education in order to transition into the business world. He was able to take the lessons he learned from his time with the NYPD into his new career – a valuable tool he advises all young people to foster early on.

Bill adapted to a new life by honing his leadership skills, incorporating a vast range of experiences and life lessons that would serve him well in a new career.  All of the qualities he cultivated in law enforcement helped him succeed – things like willingness to learn, exploration, honesty, and dependability. After 28 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb, McNamara retired and now spends much of his time volunteering with JA New York.

Bill receives an award from Mayor Koch and Police Commissioner Ward at a ceremony in 1978.

In keeping with the current trend of Millennial job-hopping, McNamara encourages young people to explore multiple career options until one inspires them. The key to this, he says, is ensuring “you have good communication and analytical skills, as they are transportable. Be prepared to evolve and perpetually update your skills.”

As a longtime MVP volunteer with Junior Achievement of New York for the past seven years, McNamara is always looking for new ways to inspire students to recognize their infinite career possibilities. Bill feels he benefitted from working for organizations that were committed to developing him and he is consistently invigorated by the opportunity to pay it forward.

Bill teaches JA programs to students from Frederick Douglass Academy II and Wadleigh School of Performing Arts, March 2017

McNamara is a premier example of a Junior Achievement volunteer, dedicating his time and expertise to various JA programs including Finance Park, the Business Plan Competition, and JA Be Entrepreneurial, among others. He seamlessly blends his own experiences into JA programming to teach students how to lead by example, use mistakes as learning opportunities, challenge themselves to cultivate their skills, and so much more.

Junior Achievement of New York thanks Bill McNamara for his devotion to the Junior Achievement mission in helping New York’s kids become economically savvy, confident, and ready to lead and succeed in the real world.

Volunteers like Bill McNamara are empowering young people to own their economic success.

Just like Bill, you too can make a difference. Show them what’s possible.

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Bill poses with St. Mary’s Swim Team, Bronx, NY in 1999 where he was Assistant Swim Coach and Team sponsor for a number of years.

At World Basketball Ambassadors Club – NYPD 43rd Pct. vs. Youth Game 2016. WBAC is a 501(c)3 organization with a goal of teaching youth life skills through basketball. Bill serves as a Board Member and Treasurer.

1 Comment

  • Ralph Menar says:

    I have been Bill’s friend since childhood. He is a hero in every sense of the word. His energy level amazes me. He will help anyone in need. He currently is on the Board of the World Basketball Ambassadors Club. At the WBAC we are making an effort to unite children from different ethnic backgrounds through the game of basketball. In his community he is beloved. Wherever he goes, merchants and neighbors shout out his name and wave. I am truly honored to call Bill my friend and may God continue to bless him!

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