Julie Harvey Van Egmond comes from a long line of Quakers on her father’s side and was raised to believe in service to others.
Julie attended Wilmington Friends beginning in 7th grade and graduated in 1968. Prior to that, she attended Friends Select in Philadelphia from nursery until 3rd grade. Julie’s father, aunts, uncles and grandparents all attended Westtown Friends School, outside of Philadelphia.
While at Wilmington Friends, she spent her Junior Year Abroad (’66-’67) with the American Friends Service program in Berlin, West Germany.
After graduating from Wilmington Friends, Julie attended American University (AU). She studied at the Free University of Berlin, during her Junior Year, facing a growing anti-war sentiment and disapproval of US policy in Europe. Once she returned to the US, she was awarded her BA in German Literature. However, she decided to change direction and pursue studies in the environmental field which was beginning to take hold in both industry and government. She began a new master’s program at American University in Environmental Management (of Toxics), while working full time in the AU Admissions department. She finished the program in 1976.
Julie’s first environmental job was with DuPont, working successively in three states: Delaware, Tennessee, and Mississippi. She was a first line Supervisor in the waste treatment area of Titanium Dioxide plants. Her responsibilities included landfills, wastewater treatment, deep well injection and occupational safety and health training.
From Mississippi Julie moved back to Washington DC and worked for American Cyanamid and the Chemical Manufacturer’s Association. She managed toxicology research projects and conducted advocacy on waste treatment, which was focused on clean-up of the old, abandoned waste sites.
Julie married Alan Van Egmond in 1983, who at the time was a Senior U.S. Foreign Service Officer. In 1988 Julie put her career on hold and moved with her husband to Zambia and Ethiopia for 5 years. A wonderful new adventure lay ahead as Julie worked with and supported scientists conducting wildlife research in Southern and Eastern Africa. Ironically one couple, Mark and Delia Owens achieved fame in their own right, after publishing 3 books jointly, dealing with Wilde Beests, Elephants and Lions. Delia Owens went on to author the best-selling fictional novel Where the Crawdads Sing.
Julie and Alan had two children while living in Africa; their daughter now resides in Washington DC, and their son lives in Los Angeles, California.
When they returned from Africa to Washington DC Julie resumed her career, working as Director of Government Relations for the German company, Bayer Corporation. Julie opened Bayer’s Washington DC office in 1993; and retired 21 years later in 2014.
When Alan retired, they moved to the Bonita Springs/Naples area of Southwest Florida in 2017. They now reside in Pelican Bay, Naples.
One of the lessons from Friends School that Julie took to heart was the one about giving back to your community and giving strength to others so they may grow and prosper.
She is involved in a program called New Horizons which helps hard working, bright, Hispanic children achieve academically. The program has a 95% success rate. Julie and hundreds of other volunteers help the children with homework and encourage them to reach higher academic goals. The program starts in Kindergarten and goes through 12th grade. She has developed a strong bond and support foundation for the kids she tutors weekly in 1,2 and 3rd grades. As Julie has become a full-time artist in retirement, she also works with the children in fostering their imaginations and drawing talents.
Julie is also on the Board of The Women’s Giving Circle of Southwest Florida. There are many Women’s Giving Circles throughout the US. This one was founded 10 years ago by 10 women in the Naples area and is growing rapidly. There are now over 120 women who belong. Each woman gives $1000 in November and an issue is chosen to be the focus for grants awarded in April of the following year. Last year, Sex Trafficking was the issue because it is a big problem in southwest Florida. Over $112,000 was awarded in grants to organizations trying to help trafficked women. The programs focused on job training, drug rehabilitation, clothes for interviews and help in finding jobs.
Julie and her husband are both very active in the Naples Council on World Affairs (NCWA). Alan is on the Board and leads their Model UN program and scholarships for area high schools throughout Southwest Florida.
The Model UN program involves approximately 15 high schools, each with a team of competitors comprised of 9-12th graders. The size of the team varies according to the size of the school- some schools have teams of 20-30 students, others may only have 5-10 students.
Each school has a coach, usually a faculty member who volunteers their time to help prepare the students to compete in Model UN programs around the country. The Southwest Florida MUN awards over $50,000 in scholarships each year. Each high school is assigned 1-3 countries to represent. The high school competitors (Delegates) are assigned to represent one of the countries in the UN and participate in one of the 12 standing committees of the UN.
Julie has served as a Model UN judge for the last 4 years. As a judge, she follows the work of a particular committee for 1 and ½ days. She rates the top students and ranks their performance. She also reads the position papers they write on the assigned UN Committee subjects. For example, the World Health Committee’s assigned subject this past year was “Distribution of COVID vaccines in the Global South.” The top 5 position papers are awarded significant prizes to underscore the importance of impactful writing as well as to develop public speaking as a strong foundational skill.
Participating in the Model UN program is very rewarding for students; it teaches them poise, effective public speaking, writing and team building. They are noticeably more accomplished after 4 years of high school. Serving as a judge is an honor and privilege. One sees the growth, the developing talent and the polished skills that emerge in these wonderful students.
The background and education Julie received at Wilmington Friends led to and enabled her volunteer work. She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute in these various programs during retirement.