2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Jennifer Burk

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
burk-5-15col.jpg Jennifer Burk (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Why would a top executive give up a job with one of the most successful businesses in Indiana to head up a not-for-profit?

Just asking that question indicates one of the challenges faced by not-for-profit leaders. Let alone a financially struggling organization.

“I don’t think there’s a stigma, but there might be a curiosity about it,” said Jennifer Burk who, in 2009, left a position with Duke Realty to become president and CEO of the troubled Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.

“My role at Duke gave me the opportunity to get involved in the community, serve on some boards, and do some volunteer work. My husband at one point said, ‘It seems you come home energized by some of the volunteer work. I would support you if you wanted to consider a career change at some point.’”

Burk began work at Junior Achievement as a volunteer.

“I was in Exchange City [the predecessor to JA’s interactive BizTown] and, because I was a lawyer, they put me in City Hall mentoring a group of students playing the mayor, a judge, an attorney, and an environmental agent. The environmental agent was so busy running back and forth to the other businesses all day to see if they were in compliance, writing up citations and certificates of compliance, dripping with sweat. He had on a navy blue suit jacket with sleeves extended below his fingertips and I asked if I could find a hook for it. He said, ‘No ma’am. My grandpa loaned me this suit because I have an important job today.’

“That gave me a sense of what an important experience this is for kids.”

Inspired, she accepted a spot on the JA board of directors. It proved a good fit for Burk, an education major at Butler University before earning her law degree from Indiana University.

She joined Duke Realty as a staff attorney in 1995 after a stint practicing business and real estate law at Ice Miller. Promotions led her to become the first female business unit head at Duke, taking her up to senior vice president of the company’s Indiana group. When the leadership position opened at Junior Achievement, she was asked if she would consider taking over.

In 2012, her achievements with Junior Achievement were recognized nationally when—thanks to a debt-elimination plan (after three years in the red) and a roughly 20-percent increase in student reach over the previous year—the national JA gave the central Indiana chapter its Phoenix Award for most improved operation.

“I didn’t fully appreciate the challenges until I was well into the job,” she said, “but I was drawn to the opportunity to combine my love of business and my desire to work with kids.”

The situation in Indiana, she knows, is challenging: “One of Indiana’s most pressing challenges is the lack of a prepared work force,” she said. “Our goal is to really [inspire kids] at an early age and continue to carry it through those critical middle school years. If we can show them that what they are learning in the classroom has a direct correlation to future success, we think we can keep them excited about their futures.”•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

  2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

  3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

  4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

  5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.