A letter from our founder and CEO, Jean Kristensen
Hi, I’m Jean, and I work to eliminate the wealth gap for underserved individuals and communities throughout the U.S.
I believe all people are here for a purpose. And when there is real access to opportunity, everyone wins.
My professional story begins in 1984 when my father started a private security business. He launched the company on the side while working full-time and did so with little outside assistance.
At the time, I had a great position in the marketing department of a large corporation. I thought it was my dream career—full of glitz and glamor. I was fortunate, I had a mentor, support, and I was well on my way to becoming a top producer for one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the world.
Yet something kept nagging at me. I felt a call to help build my father’s security business. So, in addition to my regular nine-to-five, I started working with my dad on the weekends. I answered phones, met with clients, and took care of administrative duties. Until eventually, I joined the company full-time.
One of my first tasks was to get the company certified as a diverse supplier with public and private concerns. We eventually had every certification you could think of including 8 (a), MBE, DBE, SBE and LBE. I thought with all these certifications, we would start seeing more opportunities.
But it didn’t.
In fact, we were right back to where we started—struggling to meet payroll and expenses and facing the difficult decision to potentially close the business. It was then that I made the critical decision to learn everything I could about leveraging our diversity certifications to acquire more clients.
I immersed myself in understanding how government agencies and large corporations worked, and what role supplier diversity programs had in terms of their success. Drawing upon my professional background, I created a framework for increasing business opportunities that focused on increasing capacity and developing a communication strategy to demonstrate our value to government agencies and large corporations looking to work with diverse suppliers.
Through intense years of effort, our family-owned business from 5 to 500 employees I’d finally found the way to navigate the corporate and government agency world to increase diverse supplier contracts—a tried-and-true method I could now impart to my own community and beyond.
My family’s lives changed drastically. We have become a multi-million-dollar firm, creating jobs and empowerment for vulnerable communities throughout New York.
Our private security firm worked with unemployed, underserved populations, professionally training them for lifelong careers in law enforcement. Many of those folks went on to proudly serve with the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
However, success is never a linear trajectory. I have failed many times during my career. But each time, I’ve learned vital lessons from those failures. It’s my unwavering belief in the power of possibility that keeps me motivated.
I know that when we change minds and hearts around diverse businesses—from a scarcity mindset to realizing the power of their potential—so much change is possible.
As the founder and CEO of JKA Solutions, my purpose is to connect government agencies and socially conscious businesses with top-notch diverse suppliers so that everyone can thrive. It is my privilege to serve as a trusted guide, helping our clients navigate the complexities of connecting with the right diverse partners to create sustainable, prosperous businesses that elevate lives.