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About Junior Chamber International

The Junior Chamber is a global organization that was founded in 1915, aimed at creating positive change and developing leaders in their communities. Originally being coined as the Grand Rapids Junior Board of Trade, The Grand Rapids Jaycees became an affiliated chapter of JCI in 1929. Since being founded, we have made a significant impact in the development of our city. Whether it be building voter support for local initiatives or fundraising for charitable causes, our group has always been dedicated to making a positive impact on the community around us. Our members continually hold leadership positions in their respective fields, and we aim to develop leadership skills for all members through hands-on community involvement and participation.

Where it all Started


Founding A Movement

By the age of 18, Henry Giessenbier Jr. formed the Herculaneum Dance Club, a social outlet for the community’s youth. Unknown at the time, Giessenbier was laying the foundation for what would become a global movement.

Grand Rapids Jaycees were at the forefront of this movement being founded near the beginning of its creation.


First National Convention

With 41 cities present, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce held their first official convention, where their first constitution was adopted and the first President, Henry Giessenbier Jr., was elected. Giessenbier closed the ceremony with his expressed goals for the organization: “We have definitely launched a great institution into the world of progress. Let us hope that from this institution will emerge citizens of loftier ideals, higher privileges, greater opportunities, purer patriotism, broader ideas of service and greater capacity for happiness.” — Founder, Henry Giessenbier, Jr.

1954 and 1981

JCI and the United Nations

In 1954, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted JCI Special Consultative status, officially defining the supportive relationship between JCI and the UN.


1981 JCI President Gary Nagao visited with the UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at the United Nations to discuss the long-standing partnership between the two organizations.


GRJC Ushering In A New Era

Grand Rapids Jaycees reestablish chapter name as the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of Junior Chamber International! 

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