Junior Achievement of North Florida celebrates community partners at its Hall of Fame luncheon

Richard Sisisky presented the Thompson S. Baker Award

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Junior Achievement of North Florida welcomed more than 200 guests and supporters for its 2022 Hall of Fame Luncheon at the University of North Florida’s Adam W. Herbert University Center on May 10. The event is the largest annual fundraiser for the organization dedicated to providing programs that inspire and prepare young people for success.

KaShaun Bledsoe, a JA alumnus, served as the emcee for the event, which began with a presentation of the colors by the Police Explorers Honor Guard and the National Anthem performed by Cassidy Kinsman. Then five young students from Girls Inc. performed their skit, “When I Grow Up.”

Bledsoe presented the first award of the day to Jeremy Harris who accepted on behalf of Ernst & Young, the Company of the Year Award winner. Karen Blutcher from JEA was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award and Lt. Col. William Liptrot, the ROTC officer in charge at William M. Raines High School, was given the Educator of the Year Award.

After a brief break in the program for lunch and a presentation of a video from JA of North Florida President Shannon Italia and JA staff, the program continued with the induction of Charlie Kauffman into the JA of North Florida Hall of Fame.

Kauffman was unable to attend the event but did provide a video to express his honor. Kauffman, the regional vice president of middle market banking for Wells Fargo, has been an advocate for JA of North Florida for many years and served on the board of directors from 2008 to 2021, as board chair from 2014 to 2016. He said his first time volunteering to teach a class for JA was at John E. Ford where he taught junior high students about international business.

“A highlight for me on that day was when a young lady came up to me after the lesson and said what I was teaching that day was not something she was aware that she could accomplish on her own,” said Kauffman. “From that day on I became attached to JA. It was a fantastic experience to be able to let these kids know that they can accomplish what they didn’t know was possible.”

The final award of the day, and the most prestigious, was the Thompson S. Baker “Solid As A Rock” Award, which was presented by Italia to Richard Sisisky. Sisisky is the 23rd recipient of the award, which was named for the founder of Florida Rock Industries and the award’s first winner, who unselfishly contributed to the community. Sisisky was chosen for the award for his dedication to bettering the community through leadership, hands-on involvement and philanthropic deeds.

Sisisky, the president of The Shircliff & Sisisky Co., a management consulting firm, and a partner with SilverSolutions Consulting LLC, a transportation and logistics consulting firm, is dedicated to serving nonprofit organizations in the area. He has served as chair for Baptist Health System, Jacksonville Children’s Commission, Jewish Federation of Northeast Florida, Jewish Foundation of Northeast Florida and the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University. He has also served on the board of many other organizations, including The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, The Bolles School, WJCT Public Broadcasting, United Way of Northeast Florida, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Raven Transport Holdings.

“I had great role models and mentors in my parents and grandparents and eventually my business partner and former JA honoree Bob Shircliff,” said Sisisky. “I often wonder what would my Dad and Bob say and did I make them proud. I have had the opportunity to work with some great organizations like the Jewish Federation and Baptist Health. I thank Junior Achievement for this honor, and I am mindful that my brothers and I didn’t need to be taught capitalism because of the lessons of our father and grandparents. Not everyone has that in their lives. That is why support for JA is so critical.”

“Thank you to everyone who came out to support us today and to all those who support us throughout the year,” said Italia. “Our community volunteers from many different companies and industries help to deliver lessons and share experiences with students. They serve as role models and make a positive impact on students. These industries and organizations are responsible for JA’s success and without them, we would not be where we are today.”

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