Kristi Miller An Inspirational Winner of 2017 Ted Anderson Community Leadership Award
If you ask First West Capital’s National Managing Director, Kristi Miller, why she loves to give back to the youth community in BC, she’s not shy to tell you all of the moving reasons why.
Earlier this year, the CVCA announced BC’s own Kristi Miller as the 2017 winner of the prestigious Ted Anderson Community Leadership Award—an award honouring an individual CVCA member for outstanding community involvement and their commitment to fostering corporate social responsibility as a foundation for building solid and vibrant communities.
Miller was awarded the honour for her dedicated, long-time commitment and involvement with an organization called Junior Achievement Canada—a program that brings together the business community, educators and volunteers who all work together to prepare and inspire young people to reach their potential and succeed in today’s global economy.
While Junior Achievement is an international organization, their Canadian chapter (Junior Achievement Canada, or JA Canada) is headquartered in Toronto and run by Scott Hillier. In Canada, Junior Achievement operates 16 charters, with six of said charters based in Ontario. It’s the country’s largest youth business education organization and each year, touching over 250,000 students across the country.
Offering programs in the areas of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, JA Canada strives to help students make informed and knowledgeable financial decisions, develop career plans and express their innovative spirit. It’s through JA Canada that youth develop the confidence and the skills that are key to their success.
The program is quite unique insofar as it caters to young people of all ages, from as young as ten to seniors in high school. Programs for older youth focus on everything from business planning and e-commerce through to social media and website building.
Of the 16 charters, Miller touts the strength and success of BC’s charter, Junior Achievement British Columbia (JABC)—the organization Miller is strongly affiliated with and the reason for her recent CVCA recognition.
As per annual tradition, the CVCA makes a donation to the charity of choice decided by the Ted Anderson Community Leadership Award winner. This year, proceeds collected from the CVCA’s 2017 Golf Tournament were donated to both Junior Achievement Canada as well as Junior Achievement British Columbia.
MAKING TIME FOR COMMUNITY
Again, there are many inspiring reasons why Miller feels passionate about this particular cause. It all goes back to her three key passion points: kids, sports, and entrepreneurship.
Miller explains that, over the years, her professional life has only gotten busier, but she’s always made it a priority to give back to her community through one of these passion points. In this case, Junior Achievement allows her to champion a cause that combines youth, education, and business.
She also loves how she can apply what she does with JABC to her own three kids. Miller says she’s enjoyed and appreciated every minute of helping both her own children, and the youth involved in JA, learn the basic principles of business.
“It brings business home and makes it very real and tangible for kids of every age,” she says.
“For me,” Miller adds, “it means that my kids and their peers have a clearer lens on the world and better tools in their tool box.”
But, there’s a unique reason why Miller feels it’s particularly important to work with children.
“We were all kids at one point. Initiatives aimed at children have virtually universal impact. Everyone benefits. I enjoy working with kids. It’s not only a long-term investment for my own kids, but all the kids enrolled in Junior Achievement.”
Miller truly does wholeheartedly love giving back to the youth community, and it shows.
“The more we can support organizations that support kids, I think that’s a good thing for all of us. As employers, we’re all looking for people who are ready to hit the workforce, as entrepreneurs or engaged employees. JA addresses a practical gap in the education system, getting people ready for real jobs and real life in real companies.”
FOSTERING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CANADIAN BUSINESS LEADERS
When asked if there has been a single moment that really made giving back all worth it, Miller took no time at all to answer, immediately recalling a group of youth that excelled in Junior Achievement’s flagship Company Program. Inspired by Vancouver’s rainforest climate, this group of teens conceptualized and executed a practical and effective rain cover for bicycles. The youth involved in the cleverly named “Vancover” project learned multiple business components, including supply chain management, wholesale and retail distribution, marketing, branding, pricing strategies, e-commerce, and much more.
“I was tremendously impressed by these kids. They are going to have the world by the tail.” Miller cites this team as just one example of the deep learning impact Junior Achievement programs can have.
“They built a real business out of their concept and it was impressive.”
Miller also explains why it’s absolutely critical for capital providers in the ecosystem to give back; it all boils down to the need for real people who see real businesses to share their insight with our next generation of youth.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the kids. Our goal is to ensure that our programs are as impactful as possible. We want to give kids the power to make the best choices possible in life, and to understand the range of opportunities available in the world of business and entrepreneurship.”
Miller has been involved with JABC since 2013. She joined the executive committee in 2014 and became chair in 2016. In addition, Miller has served on the organization’s governance and risk management/audit committees —both of which are standing committees of the board.
More information about the CVCA’s 2018 Ted Anderson Community Leadership of the Year Award will be announced early in 2018. Stay tuned for more information about how you or your firm can nominate a colleague or peer for their outstanding community involvement.
About First West Capital
First West Capital specializes in providing innovative junior capital solutions to mid-market businesses across all industries in Canada and, selectively, the United States. We are a small, dynamic group of un-bankers who understand entrepreneurs – because we’re entrepreneurs too. We empower our clients by eliminating financial hurdles, creating strong partnerships and providing flexibility. We’re passionate about helping businesses grow, acquire or transition.
About Junior Achievement British Columbia
JA British Columbia (JABC) is a member of JA Canada and part of JA Worldwide (JA), the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating young people about business. Since 1955, British Columbia schools have relied on JA to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in an ever-changing global economy. JABC programs focus on work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, providing students with the confidence and skills they need to become the next generation of business and community leaders.