Douglas out as JA president

Dan Douglas is no longer the president of Junior Achievement of Western Kentucky.

Douglas, who had led the organization since 2005, confirmed his departure on Friday.

He said in a prepared statement, “After 19 years of success, I am looking forward to my next adventure and opportunity to serve. JA is a great organization and I wish them continued success in achieving their mission.”

Nick Thompson, chairman of the JA board, did not return calls for comment.

Douglas was executive director of the Volunteer Center of Owensboro for 12 1/2 years at the time he was hired at JA 19 years ago.

When Douglas took over, Junior Achievement only had 3,500 students in Daviess County.

Today, Junior Achievement of Western Kentucky works with more than 23,000 students in kindergarten through high school in 17 western Kentucky counties from the Mississippi River to Breckinridge County.

The agency ran into controversy in the spring of 2023 when two Junior Achievement students of color overheard racially derogatory remarks made by two members of the public at the Owensboro Business Hall of Fame luncheon.

Shortly after the reported incident, Douglas wrote an In My View article to the Messenger-Inquirer, saying, “These comments, as reported by the students, were hurtful, offensive, unacceptable and do not align with the values or mission of Junior Achievement of West Kentucky, and we strongly condemn them.”

He added, “We have sincerely apologized to the students and their families that this occurred at our event. We do not know who made these remarks, but we do not tolerate this kind of behavior at our organization or events.”

But last month, Mya Kelly, who was a JA ambassador at the event, wrote a letter to the newspaper saying, “At this event, two attendees made racist remarks, referring to me and a peer as ‘monkeys’ and indicating we resembled charcoal.”

She added, “I do not believe JA is a racist organization for the comments made at an event they hosted. Yet, there has not been an effective shift in their behavior that indicates they are committed to pursuing diversity as an organization, as they previously promised.”

Kelly added, “Many students I polled noted they feel they need more adequate knowledge. J.A. could host workshops in spaces with students of color and partner with organizations fostering their belief in the ‘boundless potential of young people.’

“If you want to continue to ‘strive to serve every student,’ actively go to every student’s space. To create ‘a more equitable and just tomorrow,’ we must look inward at our actions today and improve.”