March 31, 2022 – Longtime President and CEO of Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates will be retiring after 41 years with the organization. Grace will continue to lead JAG through June 2023 and plans to provide a smooth transition for the new CEO once the appointment of her successor is made.
Grace joined Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates (JAG) in 1982 as the Program Coordinator at Tolleson Union High School where she received numerous local and national awards for outstanding performance. In 1999, she became the Program Manager and provided guidance and support for coordinators throughout the state. Her deep commitment to Arizona’s students, her experience and proven leadership track record led to her appointment as President in 2003.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with an extraordinary group of talented and dedicated staff and Board of Directors,” Grace said. “JAG has an experienced leadership team guided by the Jobs for America’s Graduates model and we’re poised for success through this upcoming transition.”
During her tenure she successfully secured more than a million dollars in new financial support, developed new partnerships that expanded programming across the state, and deepened relationships with state and local government, businesses, and education leaders.
Kenneth Smith, President and CEO of Jobs for America’s Graduates, shared that after working together for over four decades, he believes Grace stands out as one of the truly great state leaders the organization has ever had. “From her very first day working directly with students as a Job Specialist, then as a highly effective Supervisor, and for the last 19 years as President of Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates she has made the lives and futures of young people so much better,” Smith said. “She has made mine so much better as well. I have relied on Grace for her personal counsel and guidance as we charted the course for the work of the JAG National organization.”
The Jobs for America's National organization serves youth in 40 states and is in more than 1,450 high schools, middle schools, and out-of-school programs in 39 states. Over 1.4 million youth have been connected to Jobs for America’s Graduates throughout its 40-year history; and over 40,000 of those young people received JAG services in Arizona. “To paraphrase Christofer Wren, if you wish to see the monuments to her legacy, you have only to look around you and see the success of thousands of young Arizonans who have a better life and are leaders in their communities and fully committed citizens of Arizona as a result of her leadership,” said Smith.
“Grace is an inspirational, steadfast leader who has guided JAG since 2003 and has been instrumental in the success of JAG students throughout Arizona,” said JAG’s Chairman of the Board Kevin Walsh. “On behalf of the Board of Directors, the management team and staff, we want to thank Grace for her leadership, contributions and impact she has made over these past two decades.”
She credits the work done by the Board of Directors and program coordinators – as their courage, vision, leadership and commitment to provide quality programs to the young people of Arizona has inspired her every day. “Grace has made a lasting difference in so many people’s lives,” Walsh said. “She will be greatly missed and we wish her a wonderful retirement.”
Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates focuses on developing career pathways for youth, emphasizing post-secondary education, employment readiness and life-skills training. Since 1980, Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates has served more than 40,000 students, helping them to achieve their full potential.
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), a national nonprofit, has been reaching our nation’s most underserved youth for over 40 years. JAG is a unique, valuable, and necessary program providing youth with the essential skills for success. The JAG National Network has a footprint in 40 states, across 1,450 communities, impacting more than 76,000 youth annually.