Three pictures of Julia smiling- two of them are with her poodle Madonna and one is of her standing in an office doorway

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

Julia with Carrie, Zach, Shawn, and Traci outside in front of the US Capital building in DC

Today marks a bittersweet moment for Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy as we bid farewell to our fearless leader, our Executive Director, Julia Connellis. Julia has dedicated 20+ years of her life to the KYEA mission, and the lives of so many youth have been changed because of her work. With gratitude, admiration, and heartfelt appreciation, we gather here to say goodbye for now, THANK YOU, and celebrate her remarkable journey.

Julia's tenure as our Executive Director has been extraordinary. Over these two decades, she has led our organization with unwavering dedication and infused it with her steadfast vision and passion. Her hard work and commitment to the KYEA mission, particularly her tireless advocacy for youth with disabilities, has touched countless lives and transformed our organization into the hugely impactful organization that it is today.

Picture of Julia with bunch of KSYLF delegates in 2019 and a picture of Julia, Rosie, and Carrie smiling at KSYLF

Throughout her tenure, Julia has embodied the very essence of leadership. She lives and breathes leadership and youth empowerment. Her vision for our organization has always been inclusivity, empowerment, and growth. Under her guidance, we have witnessed countless success stories of youth with disabilities who have blossomed and thrived thanks to her relentless efforts and determination. Julia not only believes in the potential of youth with disabilities, but she challenges them to have high expectations of themselves and be their authentic selves. Her unwavering commitment to making our community a more inclusive and accepting place has profoundly impacted those we serve.

Julia with two KYEA alumni, Patrick and Dezarae

As we say goodbye to Julia, we want to assure all our alumni, friends, and supporters that her legacy will continue to grow and flourish within this organization. We are committed to building upon the foundation she has laid and furthering her vision. Her values and passion for our mission will guide us as we progress, ensuring that her spirit continues shining brightly in all we do.

Julia with Carrie and two KSYLF alumni- Herschel and Megan, Julia presenting in front of a Disability Heritage Project powerpoint, and Julia dancing with Roger Frischenmeyer

While we will miss her dearly, we are so grateful and proud of Julia’s remarkable accomplishments during her tenure. Her dedication, wisdom, and compassion have truly motivated us all, and her legacy will be a constant reminder of the incredible impact one person can have on an entire organization and community. Julia may be one person, but she has been a mighty force that has changed the landscape of youth empowerment in Kansas.

Julia with current KYEA staff Carrie, Johnna, and Kirstianna, and another picture of Julia and Carrie smiling with their heads together
Julia and Carrie way back in 2003 smiling and taking a photo together

Please join us in extending our deepest gratitude to Julia for her unwavering service and dedication. We want to be able to share your appreciation and well wishes for Julia! We invite you to share your fond memories and well-wishes with her as she embarks on her next journey by emailing us videos or audio files of your well-wishes. Or send us an email that we can forward to her! Send it to, and we will compile and share it with her.

Thank you for your continued support as we honor Julia Connellis's legacy and work towards our mission of educating, mentoring, and supporting youth with disabilities to be contributing members of their community.

Visit to donate today in Julia's honor!

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