IFA Honors Primrose Schools CEO as 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year

IFA Honors Primrose Schools CEO as 2023 Entrepreneur of the Year

While Growing Her Brand, Jo Kirchner Also Has Boosted the Franchise Industry

The International Franchise Association has tapped Jo Kirchner, CEO of Primrose Schools, as its 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year. Kirchner was chosen for transforming Primrose Schools from just a few schools into hundreds as well as for molding the franchise into a top-tier provider of early education and childcare services.

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which was presented Monday, Feb. 27, at IFA’s 2023 Annual Convention in Las Vegas, goes to an individual who is building and leading a successful franchise. Winners of this award are chosen by criteria such as having a vision for their franchise’s potential, taking risks in developing the franchise and managing it effectively.

Kirchner’s Mission

Kirchner has said her lifelong mission is to create a supportive environment and superior early learning that serves as a foundation for kids to become adults who are comfortable in their own skin, enjoying who they are and what they do. She leads branding efforts for Primrose that have included the launch of Primrose on Premise employer-sponsored schools.

She joined Primrose Schools in 1990 and has been CEO since 1999. Kirchner nurtured the brand, which launched in 1982, from four Atlanta schools to more than 480 in 33 states today. The franchise earns high marks for philanthropy – last year Primrose Schools generated contributions of $450,000-plus to aid at-risk children and their families. Through the years, Primrose Children’s foundation – which Kirchner founded – has raised and given more than $4.6 million to help children in need.

About This IFA Award

IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller said “Kirchner exemplifies the power of franchising, taking a concept and expanding it to hundreds of locations… [She] has led the way in the industry for more than 20 years. Because of Jo’s leadership and entrepreneurial vision with Primrose Schools, thousands of children and families have had greater access to high-quality education and care, sending a positive ripple effect through communities that will be felt for generations to come.”

Founded in 1960, the IFA is the oldest and largest organization representing franchising globally. The association works to advance the franchise industry via government and media relations and educational programs. There are nearly 800,000 U.S. franchises that generate $825.4 billion for the nation’s economy, representing almost 3% of the gross domestic product.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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