Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Avilla Elementary fifth grader Cailyn Lash, right, does a heath examination on classmate Zaylee Davies, left, in the Lutheran Health Network room at Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 4:30 pm

New JA Headquarters named after Ian Rolland

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

In Fort Wayne, the name of the late Ian Rolland graces a college arts center and a bridge. Now his name is attached to another structure.

The new headquarters of Junior Achievement of Northeast Indiana Thursday was christened the Ian and Mimi Rolland Discovery Center during a ribbon-cutting at the $10.75-million campus at Coldwater and Wallen roads.

In response to the announcement, Mimi Rolland said her late husband was involved with Junior Achievement for many years as the program worked to expose children to the principles of business and finance.

"I know he spent a lot of time here (with Junior Achievement). I don't know how much money," she said, drawing chuckles from the approximately 120 dignitaries in attendance.

The new facility houses both the JA BizTown and JA FinancePark experiential education programs. The former allows children to experience what it's like to work in various jobs by simulating a town economy. The latter teaches about personal finance by having students draw up a family budget.

That makes it one of only 30 affiliates to contain physical facilities for both programs, said Jim Johnston, Junior Achievement Foundation Board chairman.

The new facility also contains an Entrepreneurship Center sponsored by Steel Dynamics Inc.

Junior Achievement expects 200,000 students to use the building in the next 10 years, at a rate of 20,000 a year, said Lena Yarian, the organization's president.

About 1.4 million more will be reached through a program that sends business people into schools to work with children, she said.

Junior Achievement programs are in 27 counties in Indiana, two in Michigan and one in Ohio.

After the ceremony, Mimi Rolland said her husband was active in Junior Achievement for about 20 years. A prolific philanthropist, Ian Rolland was former president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Lincoln National Corp., Fort Wayne, before his death in 2017.

He was a big believer in "opportunity," she said.

"I just think it's fabulous they can come here and learn and get the idea of what they can do later on," Mimi Rolland said. 

She added that the naming of the building was a "generous" gift given posthumously to her husband from Rick and Vicki James of Auburn. The two, through their James Foundation, were the largest givers to the project.

"He always said he wanted to follow in Ian's footsteps when he came here," Mimi Rolland said of Rick James, chairman of Metal Technologies, Inc.

"It's almost like closing the circle," Yarian said.    

rsalter@jg.net