On the job since late August following her selection by the JA Board of Directors, McCartney succeeds the retiring Sandy Moore who had held the post for the past 11 years. Moore was a 20-year veteran of Junior Achievement and spent several days working with her successor.
“I’m very excited about being in Cleveland, and being closer to family and friends,” McCartney told the Cleveland Daily Banner in her first official interview as JA leader. “I’ll be trying to help serve and inspire young people.”
As region president, McCartney will lead JA’s work and partnerships in a five-county area including Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, Polk and Meigs counties. She has lived in Cleveland for the past 1 1/2 years while commuting to Chattanooga where she had served as marketing, communications and fundraising manager for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Prior to her stint with MDA, McCartney worked as marketing, communications and community coordinator for the March of Dimes affiliate in Atlanta. In her communications background, McCartney also previously held a couple of positions with WTVC NewsChannel 9. One was assistant manager of news for the station and the other was as producer for “Good Morning Chattanooga.”
A 2001 graduate of Red Bank High School who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2005, she is married to Dr. Matt McCartney, a chiropractor on the staff at Tennessee Valley Bone & Joint. At UTC, McCartney also earned minors in Women’s Studies and Spanish.
“My affiliation with Junior Achievement started in middle school,” McCartney pointed out. “JA did a program there and I learned how to balance my first checkbook.”
Her early training through JA points to the mission of the widely respected organization whose outreach stretches far beyond Southeast Tennessee and the U.S. Not only are Junior Achievement affiliates located in 120 markets across the country, the organization operates as well in 119 countries around the globe.
“Through my work with March of Dimes and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I have been able to enhance the lives of many families throughout the country,” McCartney said. “Helping others is what truly inspires me. I am delighted to be joining JA, an organization that leads in educating and inspiring young people to succeed.”
Acknowledging that nonprofit organizations face an uphill battle in fundraising because of the country’s sluggish economy, and the fact that more groups are competing for fewer donor dollars, McCartney said she comes to JA with several ideas for promoting awareness, but said she first wants to better learn and to understand the communities within the five-county region.
Rick Platz, JA board chairman who announced McCartney’s selection on behalf of the full board, agreed.
“Tracie is coming to us with some great ideas,” he stressed. “We will work together, along with the board volunteers, to build strong relationships and to determine the best fits within the five-county region.”
JA volunteers operate throughout the five counties, but the central office is located in Cleveland. The organization is provided office space at Cleveland High School which will be McCartney’s home base.
McCartney said her focus on JA’s three key components, while working to fill all requests for programming and classroom instructors in area schools, will rely on continuing — and expanding — strong corporate partnerships.
“We are teaching their (area businesses) children ... so we want to help better the workforce in the overall JA community,” she stressed. But it won’t come easily and it will require two prime ingredients — volunteers and funding, she said.
As under Moore’s leadership, McCartney will embrace both priorities.
The new JA president praised the work of her predecessor and pointed to the significance of Moore’s commitment to stay involved with JA as a volunteer in the classroom, in soliciting volunteers and in spreading the JA message.
Of her brief transition with Moore, McCartney offered with a laugh, “It’s impossible to cram 20 years of JA experience in four days. Sandy is a great asset to JA. I have some big shoes to fill.”
Platz said the local JA affiliate has grown and expanded its partnerships under Moore’s presidency. She will be missed, he stressed, but pointed out — like McCartney — that he considers the affiliate fortunate that Moore will remain in a volunteer role.
“It’s hard to replace Sandy, but I’m ecstatic about getting Tracie,” he said. “Her enthusiasm, her outlook and her background are exactly what we’re looking for.”
Platz added, “We’re very lucky that we found someone who is a part of the community. I think it’s important that you live in the community that you serve.”
Platz also pointed to the importance of JA’s strong relationship with area school systems.
“The school systems and teachers that support JA and that allow us into their classrooms are key partners,” he said. “We certainly credit their support and their belief in what Junior Achievement is doing in unison with their curriculum.”
McCartney isn’t wasting any time in plotting JA’s next community fundraisers.
One is the annual Monster Ball set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Museum Center at Five Points. Corporate tables are available for $500 and individual tickets are $45.
Another is “Christmas with the King of Rock’n Roll,” featuring “Young Elvis” Travis LeDoyt who has appeared in Cleveland on behalf of JA for the past two years. Each year he drew huge rock’n roll crowds. LeDoyt’s concert is set for 7 p.m. at the Dixon Center on the Lee University campus on Nov. 15. Reserved early VIP seating is $35 and general admission is $20.
Additional information about the coming JA fundraisers can be obtained by calling the organization’s office at 423-476-6772 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re inviting everyone within the five-county JA territory to come to our fall and winter events!” McCartney stressed.
Further details about the coming fundraisers will be published in future editions of the Banner.