Tell Me Why …

As a fundraiser for 30 years, it was not a surprise for me to end up in this career. 

I started at an early age mirroring my parents’ generosity. Girl Guide cookies when I was 6 years old, a UNICEF box every Halloween when pennies were still currency and all the school sales of chocolate bars and such. 

Every one of those I had to make my own pitch. My father would take me to the police station where he worked to sell cookies, but I had to ask every officer myself. One of my parents would walk with me door to door selling my wares but wait at the end of the driveway. What it taught me was to believe in the cause I was representing and to focus on what the result of my efforts would be. I needed to understand why I believed in what I was selling. 

As I got older and became a donor, results and impact continued to be important to me. What effect would my donation, usually modest, have on a charity I considered supporting? If I could not ‘change the world’ was it worth making? 

This is the time of year when donors of all ages and abilities reflect on questions like these as their mailboxes, both virtual and physical, are flooded with requests. What have the charities they supported in the past done with their gifts? What impact has their support had? Have they heard from the charities and understood the difference they made? 

When you choose a charity to support, how do you align it to your personal why 

Gifts at this time of year are often given for three reasons: timing, requests by charities and tax savings. 

While all of these are reasons for why people give at this time of year, none of them answer the true ‘why’ 

When I meet with a donor for the first time, I like to investigate their personal why for not only their support of the charity I work for but their philanthropy in general.  

Why are you philanthropic? How did it begin? Like me, did you learn it as a child or as an adult from your partner? Have you passed the teachings on to your children? Do you practice it as a family? What was the first significant gift you gave? What did it support and why did you give it? Do you continue to support that charity or have your interests changed?  

After most of my career in healthcare fundraising, which answered my why through the death of my father at 47 from heart disease, the loss of several close family members to cancer, and my own two-year journey with a brain tumor, I now find myself in the social service/education sector. Growing up in a single parent home, after my father’s death, on a fixed income, the teachings of JA are critically important to my why. 

I’m thrilled to be working and personally donating to Junior Achievement South Western Ontario because it aligns with my why. It’s far more than leadership, and financial literacy. JA addresses poverty proactively. It sets young people up with the skills and mentors they need to become successful at whatever path they choose.  

I hope that JA SWO connects with your why as you make your holiday gifts this year. Regardless of which charity you choose to support, I hope you are able to take a moment to connect to your why and make a gift in the true spirit of the season.  

  • Heather J. Scott, CFRE
    Director, Philanthropy
    JA South Western Ontario 

Thoughts from the Quiet Kid…

If you were to travel back in time to when I was in tenth grade and ask any of my teachers, coaches, or family friends to describe me, you would have gotten one resounding answer from all of them: quiet. I was mousy and painfully shy. I did everything in my power to not be seen, acknowledged, and definitely not heard. Tenth grade was also the year that I first participated in JA Company Program. It was on a complete whim – I had attended JA’s summer camps and was looking for something different to do in my spare time, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I quickly found out that my company members were full of confidence and entrepreneurial spirit, and were well prepared to bring our company to success. We decided to sell infinity scarves and set an initial goal of producing and selling 150 scarves. Following the lead of my President and Vice President of Sales, I made my own sales goal and immediately dreaded the idea of having to actually make any sales. Not only did I have to talk to people, but I had to convince them to buy our scarves. In a panic, I ignored all the sales training the team had given us, and spent all my own money buying the scarves I had in my inventory. I figured I would keep that up for as long as I could, and if I could make my sales goal without having to talk to anyone, I’d be in the clear! Lucky for quiet me, my fellow company members were sales experts and we ended up selling over 240 scarves in the eighteen-week period and won the Sales Company of the Year Award. I decided to take a break the year after, partly because I had emptied my bank account buying scarves, and mostly because I was terrified of stepping outside of my comfort zone. At that moment, I was happy to fade back into the background.  

In twelfth grade, one of my classes participated in an in-class JA program. On the first day, Karen Chafe, the program manager at the time, walked in and came right up to me. She remembered my name, my company, the product we did, and how successful our sales had been. I was shocked. It seemed surreal to me that people had remembered I was even there, let alone remember anything that I had done. The moment sparked something in me – maybe I didn’t have to simply fade into the background anymore. When a few weeks later Karen mentioned that Company Program registration had opened, I signed up during her talk. I was still painfully nervous when the first meeting came around, but far more curious and excited about the possibilities of the year. My mentors pushed me to try something new and put myself out there, and so I (very tentatively) went for a management position and to my surprise, was elected Vice President of Human Resources. As the program went on, I started to realize that I didn’t have to just be a quiet kid.  

Mid-December came around, and our production was in full swing. We were making bath bombs, and knew that Christmas-time was going to have a huge impact on our sales. From the suggestion of our mentors, the team agreed to do the one thing I was most scared of doing – door to door sales. While I was terrified, trudging through the snow and knocking on strangers’ doors, the faith that our mentors and entire team had made me fight against everything I knew to be true about myself, and I convinced myself that I was capable of being a salesperson. We didn’t make any sales that night. But still, I couldn’t believe that the shy kid from two short years ago was able to take that on. By the end of the year, my fear of speaking was overcome by a passion for our company and confidence in my team’s skillset and perseverance. I led team building activities, designed participation incentives, and even volunteered to be a speaker at the sales pitch competition.  

My love for JA has grown in new ways, as I’ve now worked on the programs and fundraising teams, and am now running Company Program myself. This year, I had the chance to speak to 30 classes of high school students from across London to get them excited about joining Company Program. For the first time, I got to be on the other side of the room, watching students’ faces as their interest grew and they asked questions. In early November, I got to see those same faces at the JA Centre, nervous and a little tentative, but with that same spark of curiosity and excitement that I remember so well. Every year, the best part of Company Program is seeing that spark bloom into confidence, and seeing those quiet, tentative students realize what they are capable of. I can’t wait to see what this year holds.  


Zoe Burness 

Program Manager
Company Program and Camps
JA South Western Ontario 

That Back-to-School Feeling

I’ve always liked “back to school”. As a young person, I enjoyed going back to school – fresh notebooks, new subjects, seeing friends I hadn’t seen over the summer. It always felt like a New Year and new beginning. When my kids were young, I had the same feelings of excitement and anticipation over the start of the school year. Now with JA, September brings similar feelings of excitement and anticipation as the JA South Western Ontario team gets ready to inspire and prepare tens of thousands of youth across the region, igniting their feelings of excitement and anticipation about their futures.

This school year, we have big plans to deliver JA programs to 30,000 students between September and end of June. Our financial health, work readiness and entrepreneurship programs are delivered free of charge to educators thanks to the generous support of many corporations and individuals. We’re also very fortunate to engage with many individuals who give their time to facilitate JA programs in classrooms. Without the support of volunteers and donors, we wouldn’t be able to fulfil our mission. THANK YOU ALL!

In addition to being free of charge, JA programs are designed to be inclusive and accessible, regardless of race, gender identification, religion or socio-economic background. We seek diverse backgrounds, perspectives and talents in our staff, volunteers and board members that reflect the communities we serve, so that youth can see themselves represented in our work. We believe in the boundless potential of young people and strive every day to empower them to unlock that potential!

We’d love for you to get involved with our work. To find out more about JA and how you can get involved, please contact me at I know you’ll come away fulfilled by your experience and excited about the future. You may even like going back to school!

Karen Gallant
President and CEO
JA South Western Ontario

Self-Efficacy: A Critical Skill for Workers Now and in the Future

I’ve spent a lot of my career focused on talent development – either as a people leader, helping companies attract and retain talent, or – most recently – providing opportunities for youth to figure out what they want to do and how they can get there.

As part of this work, I love to stay abreast of trends related to the “future of work”.

In May 2023, the World Economic Forum released the Future of Jobs Report 2023. There was lots of interesting information (and fuel for future blogs!) but I was struck by what was identified as the most important skills for workers in 2023, and how well JA learning experiences help youth develop those skills.

According to the Future of Jobs report, the top two skills for workers in 2023 are analytical and creative thinking skills. The most important skills all relate to self-efficacy: resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; and curiosity and lifelong learning.

Albert Bandura and Icek Ajzen pioneered the idea of self-efficacy: that people who believe they will succeed are more likely than others to actually succeed. (You can read more about self-efficacy in Asheesh Advani’s 2017 post here).

In Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, Bandura suggested four ways to increase self-efficacy:

  1. Mastering skills through hands-on experience
  2. Observing others with self-efficacy achieve success
  3. Hearing that others believe in one’s ability to succeed
  4. Rerouting negative thoughts into positive ones

Through JA’s immersive, hands-on learning experiences, students have an opportunity to master skills – everything from budgeting to starting a business – which is one of the most important ways to develop self-efficacy. I love to see when a student has an “a-ha” moment or shares the sense of satisfaction they’ve achieved by overcoming an obstacle. Those are the signs they’re developing self-efficacy…a vital skill for now and in the future.

As leaders, you may have seen your staff exhibit signs of self-efficacy (probably a lot during the pandemic, but hopefully you’re still seeing them on a regular basis). How do you help them develop those attitudes and behaviours on a regular basis?

Over the coming months, we’ll be posting regular blogs about JA’s three pillars: financial health, work readiness and entrepreneurship. We hope you’ll learn something or be inspired to share our vision of a world in which young people have the skillset and mindset to create thriving communities.

Karen Gallant
President and CEO
JA South Western Ontario

Systems Upgrade Underway

Starting the week of June 26th, JA South Western Ontario will be transitioning to a new database system in order to better serve our mission. We anticipate our new system being fully operational August 1st, but in the meantime there may be a few gaps in our ability to send out external communications about our programs and initiatives. You can stay up to date with the latest news on our website and through our social media.  And of course, please reach out to us anytime with questions. You can find our team members here:

JA South Western Ontario announces Allan Drewlo and Jill Wilcox as 2023 London & District Business Hall of Fame Laureates

London, ON – June 8, 2023. At the London and District Business Hall of Fame Laureate announcement event, held at the London Public Library, Central Branch on June 8th, Junior Achievement South Western Ontario was pleased to announce Allan Drewlo, President of Drewlo Holdings and Jill Wilcox, Owner of Jill’s Table, as the 2023 Laureates.

Established in 1990, the London and District Business Hall of Fame supports the work of JA South Western Ontario. It was created to honour respected members of the London and area business community, past and present, for their outstanding contributions to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

Allan Drewlo is President of Drewlo Holdings, a family-owned business that has been developing, constructing and managing apartment buildings for over 60 years.  Since taking the reins from his father, Allan has continued to grow the businesses significantly and now has completed over 14,000 units across South Western Ontario. Allan is a co-founder of the Ironstone Building Company, which develops and builds hundreds of single and multi-housing units in the London area annually, and he was recently awarded the Jim MacKinnon Community Builder Award for his impact as an activist. Among his numerous philanthropic efforts, Allan established a Research Chair in the Kidney Unit at University Hospital in memory of his late father Eugene.

For more than 25 years, Jill Wilcox has been leading cooking classes, most recently at her award-winning specialty food and kitchen store Jill’s Table, and for more than 40 years has been a celebrated food columnist for the London Free Press and Post Media. She is also the author of six cookbooks. Jill has received numerous accolades including the London Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award in the small business category and Retailer of the Year Award for Housewares and Gourmet Foods, awarded by the Canadian Gift and Tablewares Association. Jill is an active business and community leader and started The Jill Wilcox Foundation in 2012 to grant funding to food-related and education projects that support women and children in need.

“Our 2023 Laureates could not be a better example of what it means to be a business leader,” said Karen Gallant, President and CEO of JA South Western Ontario. “Allan and Jill have made outstanding contributions to the London region in the areas of business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy and serve as an inspiration to us all. We look forward to celebrating them at our Gala in October and invite the community to join us.”

The 2023 London and District Business Hall of Fame Gala induction ceremony will take place October 25th, 2023, at RBC Place London, with Libro Credit Union as presenting sponsor. Tickets to the event are on sale now for $1,400 for a table of 8, and $175 for individuals. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Visit for tickets or further information.

IN THE NEWS: Honouring tech leadership – Joseph Fung and Sandvine founders inducted into Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame (Communitech)

Honouring tech leadership

Joseph Fung and Sandvine founders inducted into Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Written by: Chuck Howitt | 01 June 2023 | FeaturedNews

(L-R) Sandvine founders Brad Siim, Tom Donnelly, Dave Caputo, Don Bowman, Marc Morin, and Uvaro founder Joseph Fung. ( Photo: Alicia Gall, Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region. )

The Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame has honoured six influential founders who have contributed significantly to the tech ecosystem over the past three decades.

This year’s inductees – known as “laureates” – include the five co-founders of Sandvine and serial entrepreneur Joseph Fung.

The six tech leaders were honoured this week by Junior Achievement of South Western Ontario, which has sponsored the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame awards since 2015.

The Hall of Fame “celebrates local business founders who have made a positive, lasting impact in our community,” according to Junior Achievement.

This year’s laureates have demonstrated “incredible vision” and “strong leadership” within multiple organizations, said Karen Gallant, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of South Western Ontario. Moreover, “a common thread for all of the inductees was their mentorship of others within the community – helping to raise those within and outside of their organizations to success.”

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Ontario Trillium Foundation recognizes Financial Literacy work done by JA South Western Ontario for local high school students

Kitchener, ON – May 3rd. At the virtual JA Personal Finance Event, Junior Achievement South Western Ontario was pleased to recognize a $151,600 Grow grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to expand the reach of their financial literacy programs to high school students in Waterloo Region and Wellington.


“JA South Western Ontario offers programs that help young people develop skills and knowledge to support their financial independence and enhance their economic wellbeing. It is encouraging to see this Grow grant was able to support the successful development and delivery of its Personal Finance programs for high school students. Congratulations on the receipt of this grant and your continued success!” said Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo.


JA South Western Ontario received the Grow grant in 2020 to support the expansion of its Personal Finance programs, which help high school students develop skills such as budgeting, saving, investing, and understanding credit. These skills are essential for navigating the complex financial landscape of today’s world and building a strong financial foundation for the future. With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, JA South Western Ontario has been able to expand the reach of these essential programs significantly, and has helped 1,875 youth throughout Waterloo and Wellington achieve greater financial independence.


“This grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will have a substantial impact on the future of local students and our community,” said Karen Gallant, President and CEO of JA South Western Ontario. “Ensuring our young people are prepared with tools for financial health will help keep them out of the cycle of debt and allow them to contribute back to society in a meaningful way.”


JA South Western Ontario is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Their work bridges the gap between education and the real world by delivering specialized programs both in school and after school in the areas of financial health, entrepreneurship, and work readiness. For more information about JA South Western Ontario, please visit their website at


The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations celebrates 40 years of grantmaking in Ontario and making a lasting impact in communities. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit to learn more.

Thank you Volunteers!

We’re celebrating our Volunteers for National Volunteer Week and we could not be more proud to do so. Our Volunteers make the difference in bringing relevant hands-on learning to thousands of students in our area. Thank you for your hard work and expertise!

Here are a few Volunteers sharing their JA Experience:

JA SWO NVW2023 – Volunteer Highlights

JA Announces 2023 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductees

Junior Achievement (JA) South Western Ontario is excited to announce this year’s inductees into the 2023 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

This year’s Hall of Fame will honour Don Bowman, Dave Caputo, Tom Donnelly, Marc Morin, and Brad Siim co-founders of Sandvine, as well as Joseph Fung, founder of TribeHR, Kiite and Uvaro.

All six inductees will be honoured at the 11th Annual Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Gala on May 31st, 2023 at Bingemans Conference Centre.

The Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame supports the work of JA South Western Ontario, which provides local students with relevant hands-on learning in financial health, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. It was created to honour exceptional entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region’s business community, past and present, for their outstanding contributions to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

This signature gala event showcases the entrepreneurial journey of the inductees, allowing attendees to learn about their achievements and how they have developed and nurtured their legacies. The 2023 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductees will be joining a distinguished group of well-known business leaders, including Carl Dare (Dare Foods), Joseph Seagram (Seagram and Sons Limited), Alan Quarry (Quarry), Carol Leaman (Axonify) and many others.  For a full listing please visit

“We’re very excited to celebrate this year’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees.  Waterloo Region has a long history of entrepreneurship, and this year’s class of inductees reinforces this.  Many of the inductees have founded multiple companies, inspiring other entrepreneurs and creating a legacy for our community as a result” said Karen Gallant, President & CEO of JA South Western Ontario.  “To highlight and celebrate their collective achievements and impact is inspiring.”

Tickets to the event are $1,200 for a corporate table or $150 per ticket for individuals. For tickets and sponsorship information, visit

IN THE NEWS: Students get career advice from mentors at World of Choices event (Blackburn News)

High school students from across Chatham-Kent got the chance to explore career options and meet with industry mentors on Wednesday morning.

The JA World of Choices event at the John D. Bradley Centre hosted 180 students from different schools in Chatham-Kent. They heard from five different mentors to gain first-hand insight into career options, benefits, and challenges in a number of industries.

“We have about 25 or so mentors from a variety of different industries and we’re having small group discussions,” said JA South Western Ontario President and CEO Karen Gallant. “The students got a chance to speak to five different mentors and learn about those careers in a round-table discussion setting.”

During the event, JA South Western Ontario acknowledged receiving a grant of $154,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to expand the reach of their financial literacy programs to Grade 7-12 students in Chatham-Kent.



he JA World of Choices event at the John D. Bradley Centre on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (Photo by Millar Hill)

IN THE NEWS: JA hosts 180 students at World of Choices (Chatham Voice)

Secondary school students from across Chatham-Kent received an up-close and personal look at some of their career options during the JA (Junior Achievement) World of Choices event recently.

The event, held at the John D. Bradley Centre, attracted 180 students who had the opportunity to speak directly with members of the Chatham-Kent business, government, social services and non-profit sectors.

It’s the first time students have been able to participate in an in-person event since the pandemic.

“You can feel the excitement in the room,” said Karen Gallant, JA’s president and CEO of Southwestern Ontario. “The students are more than ready to take part.”