Jo Kirchner, president and CEO of Acworth-based Primrose Schools, won the Womenetics’ POW Award in the Game Changer award category. Atlanta-based Womenetics is a business resource company which promotes women in the workforce, and the advantages of hiring them in high-level positions.
This is the fourth year the award has been given. More than 150 applications were submitted, but only 12 women were winners, said Womenetics CEO Elisabeth Marchant.
“It is something the women hold as a badge of honor,” she said. “With the POW Award, these are women you don’t always read about in the newspapers.”
Kirchner was nominated for the award anonymously.
She has other accolades such as the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the service category, and in 2007 was named in Catalyst magazine’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs in Atlanta, according to a news release from Primrose.
Kirchner has been a leader in Primrose since she started as vice president in 1990. She has taken the company from four schools in Atlanta to 267 schools across the nation, with 70 more franchise locations to be built over the next three years.
“I think what has driven the growth is my passion for early childhood education,” Kirchner said.
She said through her vision and those working with her, Primrose has become a success.
“I could not have done it single-handedly,” Kirchner said.
Before coming to Primrose Kirchner created her own marketing firm, Atlanta-based Creative Logistics. She started the firm because she was a working mother, whose husband also works and could not find adequate child care, Kirchner said.
She met the founders of Primrose while doing some work for them, and found their services were what she had been looking for.
When Kirchner started she focused on raising money for the Ronald McDonald House, to which Primrose gave $750,000 within seven years. Then she changed gears and started focusing on a new partnership with Reach Out and Read, which gives books to low- income families. Primrose has given $1.1 million in the past six years, she said.
“That is the most proud I have been of anything I’ve done,” Kirchner said. “My natural belief is to give back to others.”