Introducing JA New York’s Director of Hudson Valley Operations, Orla Fitzsimons
JA New York has recently merged with JA of the Hudson Valley, expanding our delivery footprint to the four lower counties of the Hudson Valley – Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Westchester. Our new Director of Hudson Valley Operations, Orla Fitzsimons, is no stranger to JA, on either side of the Atlantic! We sat down with her to just after the merger to get her take on the opportunities that exist now that the two organizations are now one!
Q: How long have you been at Junior Achievement?
A: I started working for Junior Achievement Ireland in 2010 where I managed a $1.6M project which focused on Enterprise in Education. I relocated to the US in 2011 and continued working with Junior Achievement in the Lower Hudson Valley region, where I have been ever since.
Q: What key Lower Hudson Valley school districts do you partner in?
A: Yonkers and Mount Vernon School District are currently the main areas of concentration but there are many districts in the region that we are currently working with. This number is expanding yearly. If you are a school district interested in having JA in your schools please contact me.
Q: When people think “Hudson Valley” they think wealthy, is that really the case? Do these kids need programs like JA?
A: All kids need Junior Achievement! There are certainly pockets of affluence in the Lower Hudson Valley but there is a tremendous number of students living in the area that are facing extreme socio-economic barriers. In fact, students in our two main delivery areas, Mt. Vernon and Yonkers, share many of the same demographics with the low to moderate income students that JA New York serves in the 5 Boroughs of NYC.
In the end, all children need to learn about their potential as individuals and JA programs help do this this with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy and College and Career readiness
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge/opportunity with the merger?
A: I can only see opportunity. The Lower Hudson Valley region will now have the support and resources of the main JA New York office. We now have the ability to expand our student reach and really focus on developing corporate, community and school partnerships. It is an exciting time!
Q: Who are your major corporate partners, and do you need more?
A: We are very lucky to have the support of many large multinational and privately owned companies residing in the region, including PepsiCo, MasterCard, Atlas Air, KPMG and First Niagara. The skills-based volunteer opportunities we offer are very attractive to large companies looking to build teamwork and employee morale, and they enable companies to give back in a very tangible way.
We are continually developing new partnerships and I would love to hear from anyone who has a passion for educating the young people in the LHV in Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy and Work and Career Readiness.
Q: How can people help?
A: Get in contact ASAP – I would love to hear from any school, company or potential donor of human or financial resources and get them involved! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 914-524-9760 or my mobile at 845-213-0606.