The 28th annual Washington Business Hall of Fame benefiting Junior Achievement of Greater Washington was held on Dec. 2, 2015, at the National Building Museum. Five laureates were inducted into the Hall of Fame: Seth Goldman (Honest Tea), Sheila Johnson (Monumental Sports & Entertainment), Joe Rigby (Pepco Holdings, Inc.), John Toups (Planning Research Corporation, retired), and J. Scott Wilfong (SunTrust Bank, retired). They join over 100 laureates, all of whom have shaped the regional landscape and consistently demonstrated the following characteristics: outstanding business accomplishments; visionary, innovative leadership; integrity and strong core values; and passionate community engagement.
A record $1.3 million was raised for Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, including more than $55,000 raised during the text-to-pledge portion of the program, with proceeds benefiting JA’s innovative financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship K-12 programs designed to inspire the next generation to navigate their own path to the American dream.
“It’s time as a community, that we have to systematically make sure our young people are truly prepared to adapt and excel within this complex world economy," said Junior Achievement of Greater Washington President and CEO Ed Grenier. “Our 2015 class of laureates bring with them decades of experience and leadership. And while they each took a very different path to their own American Dream, there are a few things they have in common: Drive. Innovation. A commitment to excellence. And they are all pillars of success – and some of our region’s finest inspirational role models.”
2015 Event Chair Jerry Carlson, Managing Partner, Washington Metro Area, KPMG, noted, "Together, tonight, we are making a commitment to inspire this generation to be better prepared for success than any other generation in history. We are making a commitment to prepare them to take on the future with passion and confidence. ...Tonight we are standing together to give our JA kids every tool in the book – so they can dream big, achieve more, and change our world.”
The show was kicked off by Junior Achievement student and Marshall High School Senior Anya Karaman, who spoke passionately about her work as a JA volunteer and the need for these types of programs in the region.
“As I finished my junior year at Marshall High School, I went back into the classroom as a JA volunteer at Shrevewood and Westbriar Elementary Schools," she said. "These were some amazing kids. We talked about careers and I challenged them to start planning how they would achieve their dreams. Together we explored the hands-on JA program and talked about budgeting, saving, and how the economy works. We talked about business. We talked about economics. We talked about the age old question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' I wish you could see their face when they 'got' it. ...Students like me struggle with decisions like student loans, finding a fulfilling career, and getting the real skills to succeed in a job … skills that we don’t always get in a classroom. That's the gap that JA fills.”
Dubbed the “Academy Awards of Business” for the DC region, approximately 1,100 attended the black-tie event which was founded by Greater Washington Board of Trade, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, and Washingtonian magazine in 1988, and to date, has inducted over 100 of the region's leading business leaders and entrepreneurs. Presenting sponsors for the 2015 event were Capital One, KPMG, and Pepco/Exelon.