Natalie Vega O’Neil —
CEO & President
Natalie Vega O’Neil is the President & CEO of Junior Achievement of WA, the largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. With 20 years’ experience in non-profit leadership, and a commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty; Natalie is a relentless advocate for marginalized, underserved and vulnerable communities. As a dynamic Latinx leader steeped in early childhood development and educational programs, Natalie is the first female and first person of color to lead Junior Achievement of WA in its 68-year history.
Natalie has a rich background in nonprofit leadership as the associate vice president of Save the Children; founding staff member at Thrive by Five Washington; and co-founder and director of early childhood education for a public charter school in Los Angeles, California. This background has charged her mission and resolve to provide access and equity to education for all families.
Natalie’s team of over 600 at Save the Children, a global humanitarian agency, executed domestic programs focused on early childhood education and grade-level reading across 38 states, reaching more than 300,000 children. While at Thrive by Five Washington, Natalie co-led the development of a statewide Quality Rating & Improvement System, as well as the state’s work on developing kindergarten readiness indicators.
In addition to these programs, Natalie has a breadth and depth of experience rolling up her sleeves to help build and nurture a host of non-profit programs including the creation of bilingual, play-based birth to five programs, and an onsite health clinic, for children and families living in severe poverty; worked for other non-profits, including Make-A-Wish Foundation and the YWCA; and organizing advocacy efforts to raise awareness and support for programs that promote children’s well-being and racial & geographic equity.
Natalie is a skilled fundraiser, securing tens of million dollars in individual, foundation, corporate, state, and federal grants; and holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Development from the Erikson Institute. Natalie was recently named a Reign FC Legend in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the Seattle community and featured by Seattle ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America) as a Latina Trailblazer. Natalie serves as a board member for Children’s Institute and Leadership Tomorrow.
Munira Sheriff —
Vice President, Programs & Evaluation
Munira brings unique skillsets to JA, pulling from her experience in designing and implementing programs focused on improving the lives of underserved populations and from her expertise in evaluation. She is a believer in the power of data and has a passion for building capacity among teams to utilize data to hone strategy and to deepen impact of programs. Munira has a strong record of translating research and evaluation into programming practices.
Before joining Junior Achievement of Washington, Munira served as the Director of Research, Evaluation, Planning, and Accountability at the College Success Foundation, an organization working to increase college completion rates among underserved students. Prior to coming to Seattle, Munira worked for several international development organizations, including the United Agency for International Development, (USAID) the Aga Development Network (AKDN), and MSI.
Munira earned a Bachelors of Science in Engineering from Northwestern University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University.
Jan O’Connell —
Chief of Staff
Jan swapped the Emerald Isle of Ireland for the Emerald City of Seattle and since then has managed a music school and a communications company, as well as immersing herself in American life and culture through work, volunteering, friendships, and interests.
Prior to moving to the U.S., Jan worked in the research facility of her alma mater, Tyndall Institute, and as a Senior Executive in Ireland’s largest advertising agency. But her longest and most fulfilling tenure was as the Managing Director of an Opera Company producing 50+ productions: large-scale operas including La Traviata, La boheme, and Carmen, as well as operetta and musical theater productions such as Oklahoma, The King & I, and Me & My Girl, all in support of the larger programming aspirations of the company. Second only to that in terms of time and passion was Jan’s over-a-decade commitment to Threshold, a housing charity as part of their finance committee to secure a right to housing, in particular for households experiencing poverty and exclusion.
Jan has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University College of Cork (UCC) and diplomas in Marketing, Quality Management, and Human Resource Management from UCC and CIT. Jan is also a winner of the Arts Council of Ireland Management Bursary in recognition of her service to the Arts in Ireland.