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Volunteer Spotlight

Colonel Gary Gutowsky                                                                                                                December 2013

At beginning or end of every class, Junior Achievement volunteer retired Colonel Gary Gutowsky tells the class, “I do this as a volunteer because I care about you and your future.  The information I’m sharing with you is important in helping you succeed.  When you succeed, society succeeds.” 

Col. Gary Gutowsky first became interested in Junior Achievement when he was serving on active duty with the Air Force, and received an email from JA in Illinois asking for volunteers.  He looked into the program, learned more about JA’s mission, and decided that he would like to get involved when he had more time. 

When Gary retired and relocated to Sacramento, he looked up the local JA office and contacted program manager Susan Nelson who promptly put him to work.  Gary began volunteering in October 2012 and by the end of the school year he had served over 140 students, teaching six JA programs in elementary, middle and high school at five different schools.  He greatly assisted JA in achieving our goals for the year and was honored as “Classroom Volunteer of the Year” at JA’s 2013 volunteer recognition event “JA Day with the River Cats”.

Gary feels that the most important values he can instill in students early on are the importance of teamwork and developing people skills which will help them resolve workplace conflict and build consensus with people in general.

 “There are three reasons why I volunteer,” Gary says.  “First, I enjoy it.  Secondly, the kids enjoy it.  But most significantly, its stuff that they aren’t going to get otherwise and these life skills are important.  I’m hoping that what this program has to say, what I have to say, gets taken to heart and helps them succeed.”

Junior Achievement relies on volunteers like Gary to reach our community.  Sign up today to teach one of our programs in a school near you!  Contact Program Manager Susan Nelson at or 916-480-2770 ext 13.

Claudia Niedzielski

 November 2013

In a Calvine high school classroom Claudia Niedzielski awards students who pass her quiz with a Starbucks gift card.


“Why didn’t I get one?” one students asks.


“It’s a reward for those who have been participating,” she says. “It’s up to you if you engage or not – this is your life. This is not just school.”


Claudia, a Real Estate Professional in the greater Sacramento area, has been volunteering for Junior Achievement of Sacramento for two years. Although she began working in the younger grades, she has now settled into her area of strength teaching high school students in a traditional format. Each semester she is on campus once a week for a series of eight classes which gives her the opportunity to make lasting connections with students.


This fall Claudia is teaching “Career Success”, a new Junior Achievement program focused on equipping high schoolers with the tools and skills required by employers to earn and keep a job in today’s high-demand industries. This innovative program introduces students to the soft skills desired by employers while stressing the importance of building a personal brand. Claudia teaches that it is easy to make excuses based on personal insecurities such as skin color, perceived attractiveness, illness, disability, or poverty, but “you must liberate yourself from these things so that you can move forward.”


Claudia was originally inspired to volunteer her time in the classroom by author/speaker Jack Canfield, who emphasizes the importance of building self-esteem at a young age. It was shortly after reading his work that Claudia was introduced to Junior Achievement. “I wanted to share with students in my community that they still have a choice no matter what background they’ve had.”


Claudia has made such an impact, that Calvine High School invited her to speak at graduation last year. “The most important message that I share with students is that success is 100% their responsibility.”


Certainly by partnering with great volunteers like Claudia, we can empower our next generation to own their future economic success!  For more information please contact Susan Nelson 916.480.2770 ext 13 or