2020 40 Under 40 Julie Knudsen

Julie Knudsen Photo by Amber Shumake



Julie Knudsen is a shining example of a selfless leader serving for the betterment of others, says nominator Jeff Snyder, Head of Middle School at Trinity Valley School and Knudsen’s direct supervisor.

“Julie leads her personal and professional life with a positive outlook and chooses to always see the best in people. She creates dynamic learning environments where faculty and students can become leaders among leaders,” Snyder said.

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An example: Kundsen has helped establish the Middle School Student Committees, designed to foster creativity and leadership.

“Each committee provides authentic opportunities for our fifth through eighth grade students to have a significant impact on the overall Middle School Program as well as many day to day activities. This year, more than 80 of our students have served in some capacity on one of these committees,” Snyder said.

Knudsen began teaching second and third graders in the Fort Worth ISD before becoming middle school math coordinator at Trinity Valley in 2012.

Knudsen was born in Tulsa and came to Fort Worth to attend TCU in 2000. She never left. She earned a bachelor of science in Early Childhood Education in 2004 and a master of education in 2007.

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– Paul K. Harral

What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?

Just as she did with her mother, my mom and I loved watching old episodes of I Love Lucy together when I was young. Not only did they always provide a good laugh, I also appreciated Lucy’s up-for-anything attitude and willingness to go “all in” on her latest adventure. In addition, Lucille Ball was an outstanding role model as an early female pioneer in the film industry. As the first woman to run a major production studio, she embodied persistence and hard work, setting a new standard for women in business.

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

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My grandparents, Rondoll and Mary Ellen Gober, have impacted my life in countless ways. Their models of hard work, unconditional love, devout faith, selflessness, and compassion for others have touched my life and set a standard that I strive for myself every day. Never shying away from hard work to provide for their family, my Papa often worked two jobs and my Meme held down one all while balancing life at home with three children.

Even at 91 and 92, Meme and Papa continue to model their commitment to and deep love for one another. While Meme is bedridden, Papa prefers to spend his time by her side in their bedroom, enjoying every moment he can with her. They have always been committed to their church and to their faith, serving as an example of Christ’s love to those around them.

Because of their great example, we named our daughter after them. As we already see the way her bright spirit draws others in, I pray she can make as big an impact on those she touches as my grandparents have on me.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Even before I was in kindergarten myself, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I loved to line up my dolls to teach them, assign them homework, then grade their homework.

What is your favorite song?

ABC, The Jackson 5

Tell us about your photo shoot prop.

My prop is a red wagon filled with items that represent both my own passions and activities our family enjoys doing together. Yoga is my happy place, providing me not only physical exercise but also a place to rejuvenate and recharge. Our 2-year-old daughter loves to go on wagon rides in our neighborhood and to twirl in her tutu! Baseball is a favorite of our 5-year-old sports loving son. As a family, we enjoy all things TCU (especially football and baseball games!) and snow skiing. And of course, Go Trojans!