Teaching Girls about Economics

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Elizabeth Paulson is passionate about women and girls.

That passion is reflected in her community work - she's on the boards of the Professional Women's Council and the Women's Center of Jacksonville - as well as in her career.

Hired in November 2006, Paulson is program director of JA Girl$, which is a program of Junior Achievement of North Florida.

Founded in 1919, Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to teaching young people about business, economics and entrepreneurship. JA Girl$ is aimed specifically at teaching girls financial literacy, career preparation and entrepreneurship.

"We're teaching girls about money using gender-specific strategies," Paulson said.

The program starts at age 8, about the time "girls start losing their self-esteem and begin doing poorly at math," she said.

A native of Minnesota, Paulson was working at a Girl Scouts camp in Alaska when she was contacted by Steve St. Amand, president of Junior Achievement of North Florida, about the new program he wanted to start for girls.

Paulson took the call during a storm with the sky lit up by lightning, which she took as a great sign.

She remembers thinking, "Oh my God, this is it. This is what I'm meant to do next."

Paulson was familiar with Jacksonville, having spent 6 1/2 years working for the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, the governing body for the Girl Scouts in 16 Northeast Florida counties.

"I was so healthy down here," said Paulson, who has worked for four different Girl Scout councils during her career. …