When Barbara J. Janson first saw the impact educational policy could have on a country and its workforce, she knew she had to get involved. She initially started her career as a mathematics teacher at public high schools in Avon, Farmington, and Bloomfield, Connecticut, and then at Ulster Academy and Ulster County Community College in New York. In 1974, however, she decided to move more behind the scenes and joined the Houghton Mifflin Company (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) as a mathematics editor. She really enjoyed the work, and advanced rapidly through the field. She became the assistant editorial director of the American Mathematical Society in 1978, and by 1982, she was the director of publishing. The role included maintaining a high level of mathematics research from all over the world and corresponding with prize-worthy professionals. In a typical year, the American Mathematical Society releases 15 scientific journals and 50 books.
It wasn’t until the release of “A Nation at Risk,” a scathing indictment of American education, that Ms. Janson considered stepping out on her own. She wanted to make services available for to educators that were not otherwise on the market, so she founded Janson Publications, Inc. At this time, the National Science Foundation (NSF) was also looking to improve instruction in mathematics and science. They funded numerous projects, and Janson became a major outlet for publishing and promoting many of the new materials. Some of their titles were even translated and used in Russian and Israeli schools. One of the things that set Ms. Janson apart from her peers was the fact that she made it a point to take on any job that needed to be done. This approach resulted in her gaining hands-on experience and knowledge of all of the editing, production, and printing processes within the company.
Although Ms. Janson loved her job, she decided to step aside in 1985 to found Janson Publications, Inc. under McGraw Hill Education. The company continues to thrive to this day. Ms. Janson is thrilled that others are carrying on her legacy; she believes her impact on students and teachers around the world to be her greatest professional accomplishment.
To prepare for her endeavors, Ms. Janson earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island in 1982, a Master of Science in mathematics from Trinity College in 1970, and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Iowa State University 1965. She also completed coursework at the Rhode Island School of Design and became a certified mathematics teacher in the states of Iowa, New York, and Connecticut.
In recognition of her hard work, dedication, and passion, Ms. Janson was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from Iowa State University in 2018, an Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Mathematics at the school in 2009, and a Mortar Board Award from the school in 1965. She also received the Rhode Island Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst and Young. Her achievements were featured in numerous editions of Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women.
Now that Ms. Janson has more free time, she is focusing on a new phase in her journey: giving back. This involves consulting on publishing strategy for research projects and organizations, and sitting on boards and committees involved in philanthropic work and higher education. Some of her current roles include overseer of both the Boston Ballet and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and member of the board of directors of the Iowa State University Foundation. The latter seemed especially appropriate, as it allows her to both help her alma mater and continue to contribute to mathematics, education, and society in general.