Junior Achievement, Inc.


After I left my job as  Catering Manager of Jack London Inn.  I could not find a job.  In the late sixties I was one of three women to hold a job as a Hotel Executive in California.  I was a member of  the Advertising and Marketing Club of the East Bay.  I went to one of Ad-Mark’s lunches and stood up and announced my plight and asked for their help.  Three of the members came up to me after the meeting.  George Clark was V.P. of Marketing for PIE a big Trucking Company.  He said they were on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement.  There was a job opening  as Asst. Director.  They said they would use their influence and get me the job.  I was delighted.  I did not know what Junior Achievement did,  but I was desperate for a job and was sure I could learn anything. As my wonderful Mentor; Otis Preston use to say;  “If  you have not done something , that means you do not know that you can’t do it.”

I soon learned about Junior Achievement; a Learning by Doing program sponsored by Corporate America, {not the government) to teach High School Students about the Free Enterprise System. It is a great program. We took High School Students and formed Junior Corporations. They sold stock for $1.00 per share. They selected a product, manufactured it, sold it , kept corporate books and completely liquidated them at the end of the season. Each Corporation donated $600. and supplied us with six executives to act as advisers to each Junior Company. It became my job to recruit the students by holding High School Assemblies and presenting the program. Also my job to recruit the Corporations and the Executive Advisers.

Ken McLaughlin was the Executive Director. He had held the job for 19 years.  He had a secretary; “Chris”, she was very protective of him and had been with him for many years.  Ken had 19 Junior Achievement Companies.  He had three centers.  Oakland, San Leandro and Fremont.  He had a very comfortable job.  He mostly went around to civic lunches and spread the word about Junior Achievement and garnered support from the business community.  He also did not want a woman in the Assistant Executive Director position.  He instructed Chris to close all files to me and offer me no assistance.  They would together force me out.  He then decided to have a long put off back surgery.  Leaving me on my own.

I was sent to San Francisco for a five day training course given by  Junior Achievement.Inc.  When I came back I found Ken McLaughlin had gone for his surgery and his Secretary Chris had opted to take her vacation.  Their office was locked.

I called George Clark who had pressured Ken McLaughlin to hire me.  He smiled and said;  “Well, well,  I don’t think their little sabotage is going to work.  My wife Elenore was Ken McLaughlin’s original secretary and she trained Chris.  I think she needs to come out of retirement and be your Secretary.”  And she did.  We got a lock smith to open the locked office and the files.  We went to work.  She made the appointments for me to recruit the High School Students at the High School Assemblies.  Armed with a 1950 very dated all White Student film of Junior Achievement I set out to convince these often very rowdy, disinterested challenging students that they wanted and needed to meet three times a week to learn about business.  Elenore also made appointments for me to recruit the business executives to act as advisors to the JA companies.

We were very successful.  With Elenore’s tutelage I increased Ken McLaughlin’s measly 19 companies to 44  JA companies.  I had fifteen hundred students and 600 executives in my program.

Ken McLaughlin decided to take early retirement as did his Secretary Chris.   I don’t think either one of them wanted to work that hard. George Clark said they retired in embarrassment.    So basically,  I became by default;

Executive Director of Junior Achievement of the East Bay.

The first  woman in the nation and internationally to hold that position. 


McClymonds High School in East Oakland was all Black and had not had an assembly in five years. The students were so unruly no one would confront them. I insisted on them booking me. The teachers had no control. They cowed from the students and allowed them to run a muck.They said they could not guarantee my safety. I went any way. I stood on that stage for one full hour and waited and waited for the students to quiet down and give me the respect of hearing what I had to offer. I signed up 400 students. I could not get a male Program Director to run the Oakland Down Town Center. They were intimidated by these unruly punks. So, I doubled back after working 9-5 doing my Administration duties. I worked three nights a week from 7-9 pm as Program Director. It was never dull. One night I took a knife away from a drunk in the hallway. I recruited the Gang Leaders to be my Hall Monitors. They wanted attention so I gave them positive attention and some power and authority. I am proud to say my kids from the Oakland Center won the best Speech Contest , All the Sales Contests and best Attendance. Note I had 1500 students in my Bay Area Programs. One day several years later I walked into a Bank in Oakland and this young Black man came from behind his desk and said; “Mrs. Smalley, I was in your J A Program from McClymonds High School. I am now Vice President of this Bank. Thank You for teaching me to believe in myself.” This I count as one of my greatest rewards. I am 77 years old and have lived long and hard. It is situations like this that makes me so grateful to all my many mentors that believed in me. Which enabled me to pass it on to others.  These are the true rewards in life.



About marysfarmreport

__From Yachts to Manure___... I have lived in a 9,000 square foot mansion in Piedmont, Ca. to homesteading a mobile home and living without running water or electricity for six months in Oroville, California. These are some tales of my adventures. From traveling the world with my Airline Executive late husband to , operating a Yacht Charter Business on San Francisco Bay as a widow with young children, to retiring to a Ranch in Oroville and raising horses and fancy pure bred dogs. Come join me on my adventures as I write this blog..
This entry was posted in Sailor Daddy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s