JAG Welcomes Janelle Duray as New President and CEO, Paving the Way for a Dynamic Future


Empowering America’s Youth Takes Center Stage with Exciting Leadership Transition

Alexandria, VA, October 2, 2023 – Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), a national nonprofit dedicated to equipping young individuals with the skills and support to thrive in education, employment, and life, is thrilled to unveil its latest chapter of innovation and impact. With tremendous excitement, JAG introduces Janelle Duray as the organization’s President and CEO, effective October 1, 2023.

Duray’s extraordinary journey within JAG has spanned over a remarkable 13-year tenure, during which she embarked as an intern and ascended through the ranks to her most recent position as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. As she steps into the role of President & CEO, Duray solidifies her place in history as only the second leader of this respected nonprofit, following in the footsteps of Ken Smith, the founder who co-created and established the organization’s roots in 1978.

“I am honored and deeply committed to lead an organization that has touched countless lives and transforms the trajectory of our nation’s youth in such a positive way. In doing so, JAG graduates overcome challenges to secure employment, continue their education, and become productive and engaged citizens leading to personal well-being that strengthens our communities and country.

I’m excited to work with our 39-state National Network to not only continue JAG’s legacy but scale our impact through deep and meaningful collaboration, with a focus on elevating the voice of our young people.” stated Duray.

Throughout its 40+-year tenure, JAG students have maintained a high school graduation rate of more than 90%, well above the national average and a testament to the organization’s unwavering commitment to student success. Eighty-two percent of JAG graduates are engaged full-time through employment and post-secondary education a year after high school graduation, and JAG alumni have gone on to work for an array of 19,000 different employers, further underscoring the organization’s profound influence on the workforce landscape.

Ken Smith, JAG’s founder and exiting CEO, is confident in Duray’s ability to guide JAG’s future to serve more young people. “Janelle Duray brings a visionary perspective and strategic acumen that will propel this organization to even greater heights. I am excited to see where she takes it.” Smith affirmed.

Duray’s distinguished career is marked by a fusion of expertise in education, workforce development, and legislative affairs. Her leadership at JAG has been pivotal in shaping the organization’s developmental trajectory and driving forward its roadmap for expansion.

Before her tenure with JAG, Duray made impactful contributions at the Association of American Law Schools and served on state board and committee appointments at the Minnesota Governor’s Office. Her academic credentials include a master’s in public administration from the George Mason University – Schar School of Policy and Government – with a focus on nonprofit management, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. Duray, a first-generation college graduate, grew up on a small family farm in northern Minnesota and currently lives in Washington, DC.

The appointment of Duray marks a momentous stride in JAG’s mission to shape a brighter future for America’s youth, setting the stage for a thrilling new chapter of transformation and empowerment.

For media inquiries, please contact: James Wall. VP Communications and Marketing, james.wall@jag.org, 303-548-7014

About Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG): Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young people with the skills and support they need to succeed in education, employment, and life. With 39 state affiliates spanning 1,600 communities and a 44-year history of success, JAG has served over 1.6 million youth to date. JAG delivers transformative programs in high schools, middle schools, and after-school programs, equipping 80,000 youth annually who face significant challenges in underserved areas with essential life and career skills. Through project-based learning, trauma-informed care, and employee engagement, JAG ensures its students graduate from high school and seamlessly transition into promising careers or post-secondary education. JAG’s headquarters is in Alexandria, Va.