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Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City Announces Inductees to the 2021 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame


Image caption: 2021 JA Business Hall of Fame Laureates and KC Innovator Award Winner


KANSAS CITY, KS (July 22, 2021) – Junior Achievement is honored to announce the 2021 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureates from three outstanding area companies:


  • Neal Sharma | Founder, CEO
  • Dale Hazlett | Founder, CFO
  • Jasvindarjit Singh | Chief Technology Officer
  • Jeff Eden | Chief Growth Officer
  • Sky Morey | Chief Software Architect

Mark One Electric

  • Rosana Privitera Biondo | President
  • Carl Privitera II | Vice President
  • Joe Privitera | Vice President
  • Tony Privitera | Vice President


  • John Thomson | Founder, CEO

The honorees and their organizations will be recognized at the annual Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame reception on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at the brand-new Junior Achievement Youth Learning Lab located in Kansas City, KS.

In addition to the JA Business Hall of Fame Laureates, Junior Achievement will also recognize Thalia Cherry, Founder and CEO of sports and fashion apparel company Cherry Co., with the KC Innovator Award. KC Innovators are recognized for positively disrupting their industries, creating jobs and opportunities, and applying innovation to solve critical social and economic problems.

 “Our 2021 Laureates exemplify the collaborative spirit that elevates Kansas City in the world of business, philanthropy, and civic engagement. Our honorees value teamwork, both internally and externally, and inspire young people to envision their own role in the future of our community.” said Leroy McCarty, Chairman of the Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City Board and Vice President of Operations at Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company. “These business leaders play an important role in building Kansas City’s ecosystem of entrepreneurship, creativity, and cooperation.”

Since 2000, the annual Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame event has recognized the achievements of local business leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Kansas City. This year’s Hall of Fame Laureates join a group of well-known business leaders and entrepreneurs including Ewing Marion Kauffman, Dave Cummings, Barnett and Shirley Helzberg, Gary Fish, and Henry Bloch, among many others.

About the 2021 Honorees

DEG | (L to R) Principals: Jeff Eden, Dale Hazlett, Neal Sharma, Jasvindarjit Singh, and Sky Morey. Founded in 1999, DEG is a full-service digital agency helping national and global brands create more meaningful enagements with customers. The company helps its clients meet their business objectives through the creative application of technology—blending technical, strategic, and creative capabilities and leveraging deep channel expertise while partnering with best-of-breed technology companies. DEG has consistently balanced financial and cultural success as both one of the fastest-growing companies in the country and best places to work for more than a decade.

In 2018, DEG was acquired by dentsu—the fifth-largest agency holding company in the world—as one of the largest and most successful acquisitions in dentsu’s history, and is integrating into global agency Merkle. DEG is entering Merkle with nearly 600 global associates working with brands such as Gap Inc., AMC Theatres, Johnson & Johnson, Hallmark, and Party City. In addition, DEG is one of the most decorated partners of, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing software companies.

Mark One Electric | (L to R) Tony Privitera, Rosana Privitera Biondo, Carl Privitera II, Joe Privitera have lead Mark One Electric since 1994. The company was founded in 1974 by their parents, Carl and Josephine Privitera, who built its presence in Kansas City through dedicated work on small business, commercial, and industrial projects. Since the management transition, the company has evolved and diversified. It now provides an array of electrical construction services in design/build, pre-construction, underground projects, data and communications, and specialty systems.

Under current leadership, Mark One Electric has grown to more than two hundred employees. The group looks forward to engaging the next generation of Priviteras in the family business to grow their family legacy in the Kansas City community.

PayIt | John Thomson, Founder and CEO of PayIt, is helping spur government innovation across North America. In 2011, a less than ideal in-person interaction at a local DMV inspired John to create a more modern and mobile-friendly way for people to interact with their government. This approach has garnered extensive interest and several regional and national industry accolades. PayIt has grown to more than 135 employees since it was founded in 2013. 

John prides himself on being an active member of the Kansas City community. He participates annually in the American Legion’s Boys State summer camp at University of Central Missouri where camp-goers learn about government and run mock elections. John is also a trustee at his alma mater Baker University and sits on the board for the National WWI Museum and Memorial. John lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife Holly, their daughter Brinklee, and their two dogs Penelope and Banks.

Cherry | Thalia Cherry left her role as Director of Civic and Community Engagement with the City of Kansas City, Missouri to found Cherry in 2012. Thalia, a collegiate multi-sport female All American athlete, saw an opportunity to break into the sports and fashion apparel market with products that captured innovation and fashion-forward styles for athletes and fans alike. Cherry has featured more than four thousand innovative designs, manufactured 173,000 articles of clothing, and secured 21 collegiate licenses.

Cherry prides itself on community engagement. The company has donated more than $500,000 and sponsored 100+ community events since opening. Through Cherry, Thalia strives to create a clothing brand that exemplifies sports, fashion, fun, and celebrates the greatness in women.   


About Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City

Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City empowers the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and doers by connecting young people to mentors and learning opportunities which teach financial decision-making skills, inspire entrepreneurial thinking, and prepare them for 21st century careers. Junior Achievement’s inspiring volunteer-driven programs take place in classrooms across Kansas City and at the Junior Achievement Youth Learning Lab. Junior Achievement shows kids what is possible. For them. For Kansas City.

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