THE BEST IS YET TO COME
JCI New Zealand is a membership-based non-profit organisation for young active citizens aged 18-40 years. We are a part of Junior Chamber International (JCI) - a global network of young active citizens who are developing themselves and creating positive change in communities around the world.
In more than 5000 communities across nearly 120 countries, our members are recognised for embracing new ideas, collaboration and diversity.
We demonstrate passion and courage to address the most critical challenges of our time. We empower young people by developing their skills, knowledge and understanding enabling them to stand up, make informed decisions and lead their community to take concrete action for sustainable impact.
What is JCI
JCI members knows that our strength lies not only in the words we stand by, but most importantly through the actions of our initiatives.
Henry Giessenbier’s Legacy to the World
Henry “Hy” Giessenbier wanted to develop the business skills and the reputation of young people. This approach was a bit unusual, as his era was one in which most young people were out of school and working by the age of fifteen, and their first jobs were the jobs they died in. If they were lucky, they might work their way into an executive position by the time they were in their forties. But Hy knew that twelve signers of the Declaration of Independence were under 35; Thomas Jefferson was only 33 when he wrote the original draft of the document!
So Hy decided to do something positive for the young people of St. Louis; he started a dance club. If young people were to improve their prospects for social and career advancement, they would first have to join forces socially. The Herculaneum Dance Club became the most popular in the city, because of Hy’s progressive philosophy. This progressive attitude, that young people can make a difference, became the hallmark of the Junior Chamber.
In 1914, the Herculaneum Dance Club merged with six other socially-minded groups to form the Federation of Dance Clubs; Hy was elected president. In this capacity, he led a meeting of the Federation on October 13, 1915, at the Mission Inn in St. Louis, Missouri. It was at this gathering that 32 young men agreed to form the Young Members ’s Progressive Civic Association (YMPCA), developing their skills as leaders by tackling difficult civic problems. Today we recognize October 13 as “Mission Day” for chapters and observe the occasion with membership drives and special meetings.
Giessenbier wanted young members to make an impression early in life, so development of business and leadership skills was offered to members of the early movement. Those skills and other benefits are still offered today.
In 1916, the YMPCA changed its name to Junior Citizens at the request of Clarence H. “Daddy” Howard, a St. Louis industrialist and early benefactor of the Junior Chamber organization. The Junior Citizens affiliated with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce in 1918. Following the first World War, a plan to form a national coalition of young members groups was widely circulated.
The “St. Louis Plan” resulted in a gathering of 29 organizations from around the country in January of 1920. This caucus on January 21 and 22 is the official date of the birth for The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. Today, the commemoration of the caucus falls within Junior Chamber Week, which begins the third Saturday of every January.
In June of 1920, when the first Annual Meeting was held, Hy was elected president. Little did he realize how much effect the organization he started would have in America and around the world. He died on November 7, 1935.