Junior Achievement and Me

Jul 29, 2021

Being the oldest of four children close in age, I learned my selling and negotiating skills early in life. It’s no wonder that I was attracted to the Junior Achievement after school program while attending Roland Park Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Although it’s been nearly four decades since participating, I still remember the impressive, awe-inspiring business community volunteers who taught us about money and meaningful life principles for its use.

Two months from today on September 29th, I will have the chance to give back to Junior Achievement (JA) when my organization, the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), hosts the 39th Capital Challenge three-mile road race in support of JA USA. This Washington D.C. tradition brings Members of Congress, the Administration, the judiciary including the Supreme Court, their staffs, the media and life insurers together in a bipartisan way to support this very worthy cause. It also aligns with ACLI’s Board-led Economic Empowerment and Racial Equity Initiative, which includes advancing financial education as early in the pipeline as possible and closing the wealth and benefits gaps.

A few of JA’s financial education tips that stuck the most with me were:

  • Live below your means
  • Think of yourself as a business
  • Remember that character counts
  • Be prepared for any emergency with a rainy day fund at the ready

I also remember developing my business plan with my team to sell pens. Looking back, I realize it was so not about the pens and all about the planning.

These important lessons have guided me for a lifetime.

I’ve never felt like I had to compromise pursuing my life goals or passions because money for me is not a mystery, an end or thing to be chased. It’s a means to have choices on how I wanted to live, which includes a mid-career job change to pursue a life of public service in the hallowed halls of Congress.

JA empowered me and all its participants to work hard and be wise with the money you earn so you can pursue your dreams, help your community and be of service to others in any variety of ways. A good friend who was in the program with me said it best: JA works! We are both homeowners, money-wise, engaged in our community and life-happy.

JA is an impactful program that taught us that planning your money is a sure way to secure your future. Let’s keep the mission going at this year’s Capital Challenge.

Kimberly Ross

Kimberly Ross was Senior Vice President, Federal Relations at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). She oversaw ACLI’s federal advocacy on financial services, tax, retirement, income security and DEI issues. Before joining ACLI in December 2020, she served 20 years on the Hill most recently as Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel to Rep. Joyce Beatty.