JumpStart Board of Directors Names Julie Jacono As New CEO

JumpStart’s Board of Directors has named Julie Jacono as its new CEO, following an extensive national search. Jacono is currently Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at The MetroHealth System. She will begin the onboarding process in late December, and will succeed founding CEO Ray Leach, who recently departed after nearly 20 years.

“Julie is an inspirational leader with a proven ability to innovate and transform organizations,” said Jeanne Coughlin, JumpStart’s board chair. “She has built her career around a passion for improving lives and nurturing purpose-driven cultures. Her deep experience in health care, a critical industry in Northeast Ohio, will introduce a fresh viewpoint to JumpStart. This perspective will be instrumental in identifying novel opportunities, driving innovation, and ensuring that JumpStart remains at the forefront of both local and national advancements.”

Her selection follows a rigorous national search process spanning more than six months and evaluating more than 275 candidates from across the country. In its search, the board’s primary objective was to identify a leader who could build on JumpStart’s 20-year legacy, and lead the organization forward in its work to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurship to transform communities.

“Julie embodies the three core attributes JumpStart prioritized in its search: fundraising experience, experience in venture capital, and an innate ability to build relationships, bridging diverse teams and visions,” said Cindy Torres Essell, chair of the CEO Transition Committee. “JumpStart is a complex organization, and we are delighted to welcome a proven local leader with demonstrated expertise in leading strategy and diverse teams. Her track record of driving revenue, effective communication, and strategic implementation, along with her deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, will strengthen JumpStart’s community partnerships and engagement.”

Jacono spent the past decade at MetroHealth, where she has led transformative initiatives to improve community health outcomes and advance health equity. She led MetroHealth’s efforts to commercialize tech innovation, forming and raising capital for three start-up companies focused on new healthcare models. Both her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and MBA are from Case Western Reserve University. She also participated in Harvard Business School’s advanced management program, and was included in the Crain’s Cleveland Business “Notable in Healthcare” list.

While new to JumpStart’s specific operations, Jacono is ready to leverage her expansive leadership experience to accelerate its mission, Coughlin said. “By actively engaging our talented team, she will embrace JumpStart’s culture and core values. Her innovative approach will build on our robust legacy and unlock new opportunities to drive expanded community impact.”

After Leach’s departure in September, Richard “Duke” Jankura was named interim CEO. To ensure uninterrupted activity and reinforce organizational stability, Jankura will remain engaged over the next several months to provide additional continuity and support, and Leach will continue serving in a consulting role, as needed. This ensures uninterrupted activity and reinforces JumpStart’s organizational stability. “With this strong team in place, we are poised to continue our mission without missing a beat,” Coughlin said.

“I am grateful to the board for giving me this opportunity to lead the talented team at JumpStart,” Jacono said. “As JumpStart enters its 20th year, I look forward to working with the board and team, and engaging the many partners of Jumpstart to build on past successes and identify future opportunities. Among the reasons I pursued this opportunity are JumpStart’s dedication to reaching into all communities and supporting diverse entrepreneurs, and its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. As a lifelong Clevelander, I know that Northeast Ohio has amazing institutions and a long history of innovation. I look forward to combining the power of Jumpstart with all our assets to drive an economic future that lifts all through radical collaboration.”

About JumpStart

JumpStart is a nationally recognized venture development organization providing capital, services and connections to help entrepreneurs grow and corporations innovate. Our mission is to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurship to unlock entire communities.