Volunteer Team Leader Julie Knudsen began volunteering with Global Volunteers in 2006 and has served as a team member or Volunteer Team Leader on 13 programs: six times in Cuba; twice in Vietnam; and once each in Minnesota, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Tanzania. Julie is a licensed clinical social worker and currently works as the only social worker for a large urban PA school district. She dedicates much of her free time to volunteering in her community and abroad with Global Volunteers. Read on for details on Team Leader Julie Knudsen.
What initially motivated you to serve with Global Volunteers and then become a team leader?
In 2006 I read about Global Volunteers in Time magazine and immediately signed up my three daughters (ages 8, 10, and 11 at the time) and me to participate on our first service program with a team on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I was so impressed with the structure and mission of Global Volunteers that I inquired about becoming more involved and leading teams. I attended Team Leader Training later that year and then led my first team the following year in Minnesota.
What compels you to lead teams for Global Volunteers?
Leading teams for Global Volunteers is one of my greatest passions. I am continually inspired by the local people we serve as well as by the volunteers — people with a global outlook and altruistic spirits.
What is one of your favorite parts of your role as team leader?
As a licensed social worker, I think that one of my great assets is seeing and developing the strengths in others. As a team leader, I find it so rewarding being able to do this regardless of the setting or location. I believe that having this ability then allows me to easily facilitate relationships between volunteers, between local people, and between volunteers and local people.
Why do you recommend a Global Volunteers service program?
Global Volunteers is an outstanding organization. I spent years working for a nonprofit in various roles including program development and process improvement, grant writing, and supervisory. I have also served on various boards of directors. Not only does Global Volunteers’ mission – “promoting peace and justice around the world” – resonate with me personally, just as importantly, I am continually impressed by the professionalism and integrity of Global Volunteers.
“Not only does Global Volunteers’ mission – “promoting peace and justice around the world” – resonate with me personally, just as importantly, I am continually impressed by the professionalism and integrity of Global Volunteers.”– Julie Knudsen
If you can pick just one, what is your favorite place to serve and lead teams?
Cuba! What I love most about Cuba is the people. The Cuban people exude such warmth and kindness and are always willing to help. They are so resilient, creative, and solution focused. I also love the culture, art, and music. The overall vibe is special and difficult to describe in words.
What is one of your favorite experiences in service in Cuba?
I was able to work with our host in Cuba to offer salsa dance lessons and Spanish lessons to volunteers. I also offer yoga “classes” to volunteers and local people, which has been really well-received and provides another forum to bring us all together.
What can you say to people who are thinking about joining a service program for the first time?
Serving as a Global Volunteer is truly transformational if one is open to learning, serving, and immersing in experiences different from “ordinary life”. After every program, I return filled with humility, gratitude, and new rich friendships.
“Serving as a Global Volunteer is truly transformational if one is open to learning, serving, and immersing in experiences different from “ordinary life”. After every program, I return filled with humility, gratitude, and new rich friendships.”– Julie Knudsen
What Volunteers Have Said About Julie
“Julie Knudsen is an extraordinary leader and facilitator. She was responsive to each volunteer – above and beyond.” – Mary Horstman, Cuba volunteer
“Kind, welcoming, and calm. She was an excellent manager, but also was flexible – amazing combination in a great leader.” – Michael Blaustein, Cuba volunteer
“Attentive to the group, thoughtful, flexible, and approachable. Well-liked and fostered strong community partnerships. Straight-forward and honest.” – John Horstman, Cuba volunteer
“Julie is the greatest. Her knowledge, professionalism, and compassion for both Global Volunteers and the Vietnamese people and their country is fantastic. She is a dynamic Team Leader and a strong woman. It has been an honor and a privilege to know her and work with her.” – Barbara Hamilton, Vietnam volunteer
Julie’s Background & Dedication to Service
Julie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works full time as a public school administrator as Supervisor of Pupil Services. She also works part time conducting court-ordered child custody evaluations. Julie earned her bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and her Master’s of Social Work from Bryn Mawr College. She has three daughters aged 23, 25, and 27. Julie’s dedication to volunteering runs deep. In addition to volunteering with Global Volunteers, Julie serves on the board of directors of the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, an organization which provides free legal counsel for abused children. She also serves on her local police department’s police chief’s advisory board and as a Youth Aid Panel member and ESL teacher at a local Latino non-profit.
Julie enjoys doing almost anything outdoors, including hiking, biking, and water sports. She spends a lot of time with friends at the beach during the summer. She is a certified yoga teacher and teaches part time. She recently began playing pickle ball. She also loves spending time with and walking her Golden Retriever.
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