Sept. 30, 2010 — A San Francisco man who has devoted his entire career to educating high school students in civic literacy and helping them polish their leadership skills has been named chief executive officer of the country’s largest student-run organization, JSA.
Jeff Harris will become CEO of the Junior Statesmen Foundation Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., effective Oct. 1. He has been executive director of the foundation since 2008 and earlier served for more than 20 years in a variety of roles in the organization, working his way up from resident assistant at the group’s summer schools to directing the summer school programs and helping to guide programs in Southern California. “We are so fortunate to have someone of Jeff Harris’ quality and high caliber to lead JSA, as he is the personification of all we hope to teach students about leadership and statesmanship,” said Alex Evans, president of EMC Research Inc. of Oakland, Calif., and president of the JSA board of directors.
Harris succeeds David Viotti, who has been chief executive of JSA since 2008. Viotti left the JSA board and private sector to guide the organization through the economic downturn and to mentor a new leadership team. An alum of JSA, he provided the group with financial, human resources and planning skills, and expanded JSA’s programs internationally. After a transition period, Viotti will return to the JSA board.
“Dave Viotti brought steady, insightful leadership to JSA at a key point in its history,” said Mike McCurry, chairman of the JSA board of trustees. “He did a great job migrating the board and staff to a new generation of leadership and his strong corporate background brought many of JSA’s programs and processes into the 21st century.” McCurry is the former White House press secretary who ran the JSA fiduciary board for almost a decade.
Harris, 44, is a Los Angeles native who first joined JSA while a student at L.A.’s University High School. He was a student leader in the organization and was named “Statesmen of the Year” by the group. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Harris joined the JSA foundation, where he directed 15 sessions of the group’s Summer School at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He also served as a program director for Southern California and has been intimately involved in curriculum development since the mid-1980s. His career highlights include creating the Junior State’s popular student-run Congressional simulation format and spearheading the foundation’s urban outreach programs.