Meet Gabby Blacka – Entrepreneurship Advocate and JA’s New Learning Experience Manager
Author: Beck Ducharme
Published: Wednesday, 06 Dec 2023
Image caption: Gabby Blacka poses in JA BizTown
Junior Achievement of Western PA (JA) Learning Experience Manager Gabby Blacka has had an interest in entrepreneurship for as long as she can remember.
“It sounds silly now, but when I was a kid, I would bake for family events and receive payment in return,” said Blacka. “Although I was young, I realized that entrepreneurship gives people the chance to control their lives and get paid for things they already enjoy doing.”
It’s this interest in entrepreneurship that led Blacka to JA, an organization whose core tenants of financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness align with Blacka’s passions and life goals.
Blacka graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2020 with a degree in small business management and entrepreneurship. Inspired by her childhood experiences as a baker and family members who owned their own businesses, she knew she wanted to obtain a position where entrepreneurship was a core value in her day-to-day responsibilities.
After working a few years in retail management and recruiting, she stumbled across a job opening at JA for a learning experience manager and knew it would be a great fit. Blacka, a former JA student herself, still cherishes her childhood experience with the programming and the impact the lessons had on her life.
“My parents taught me from a young age that people can never take education away from you, and JA solidified that,” said Blacka. “The programming has had such an impact on me, and I still utilize the lessons and information to this day.”
As a learning experience manager, Blacka is responsible for both solidifying and spreading JA’s mission throughout Pittsburgh and the greater western Pennsylvania region. From supporting program implementation to cultivating relationships with enrolled and new schools, Blacka is on the frontlines of disseminating the importance of entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness education – a cause that she’s held close to her heart since childhood.
In her new role, Blacka is excited to spread the knowledge of entrepreneurship to students throughout the region who, without the help of JA, may not have had the chance to learn these skills.
“I really want to make an impact and create as many connections in the community as possible. If I can reach at least one student and make an impact, I will feel as if I’ve done a good job and achieved that goal.”
In her free time, Blacka is continuing to tap into her entrepreneurial mindset by studying for her physical training certification, with an end goal of establishing a side hustle in the fitness industry. She also enjoys working out, spending time outdoors and spending time with her husband and family.