Every community must face an ever-changing environment and its influence on human well-being. How a community responds can be shaped by effective planning.  That’s where United Community Services of Johnson County comes in.  Through information, collaborative planning and mobilization of resources, the availability of health and human services can be enhanced to meet present and emerging needs.

To see the video played at the reception on May 6 hosted by the board to say farewell to Karen and welcome Julie, click here. 

Julie Brewer Named UCS Executive DirectorJulie

Julie K. Brewer has been hired as executive director of United Community Services of Johnson County. Brewer will begin her new role in mid-May. She succeeds long-time executive director Karen Wulfkuhle, who will retire on May 31.

“Julie Brewer will complement the UCS staff’s work with honed core competencies in communication, fundraising and advocacy skills,” said Jill Quigley, board member who chaired the transition committee. “She takes over an incredibly stable and respected organization. We feel confident that she will use her skills to widen the impact that UCS makes even further.”

Quigley said the succession planning committee was impressed by Brewer’s appreciation of UCS. Brewer and her husband, Steve, moved to the Johnson County area in July of 2011. She immediately embraced our community through volunteer efforts including advocacy roles for the Blue Valley School District, CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties and the Kansas City Chapter of CHADD.

Before relocating, Brewer served as the first Chief Operating Officer of Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties in the Omaha, Nebraska area, which was founded to take action to reverse decades of poor student achievement in an 11-member school district region. She also served as both Vice President of Resource Development and Vice President of Communications for United Way of the Quad Cities Area in Davenport, Iowa.

“Real and effective solutions begin with a plan well-grounded in thoughtful collaboration and research, which is the hallmark of UCS,” Brewer said. “I am thrilled to be joining this team of professionals and volunteers and continuing its legacy of community action leadership.”

2016 Human Service Summit

Reducing Poverty and Creating Opportunity:  Expanding Income and Employability

Registration is now open for the 2016 Human Service Summit.  For more information about this year’s Human Service Summit, click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – Noon
Program and Discussion

Best Conference Center
University of Kansas – Edwards Campus
12600 Quivira Rd.
Overland Park, KS 66213
Parking located on North side off 125th Street.

Registration cost: $30.00 per person

To register online with a credit card go to:
A processing fee of approximately $2.00 will be assessed.

To register by check, complete and mail this form with payment to:
United Community Services of Johnson County, Inc.
12351 W. 96th Terr., Suite 200, Lenexa, KS 66215

Johnson County Data 

UCS has produced “Johnson County Poverty,” a PowerPoint presentation featuring the most current Census data.  The 17 slides demonstrate trends since 2000, show the geography of poverty, and document the number of adults who work yet are still poor.  UCS identifies four ways that the business community can aid in reducing poverty and creating opportunity.


  • If poverty was a city, it would be the 5th largest city in the county; and the fastest growing city.
  • 37,000 people, or 6.5% of the population, live with income below the federal poverty level ($11,770 for one person; $20,090 for three).
  • 1 in 4 Johnson County census tracts have poverty rates of 10% or higher.
  • The majority of poor are white and U.S. citizens.
  • The majority of poor adults have at least some college education.
  • 3 in 4 poor adults work at least part time or part year.
  • 1 in 9 jobs in Johnson County pays an average hourly wage less than $10.
  • Estimates suggest that it requires a full-time hourly wage of $28 to meet basic needs for a single parent and two children.

2015 Public Policy Forum

UCS and the United Way of Greater Kansas City hosted a Kansas Public Policy Forum on December 11 at Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park.  The panel featured three issue experts and a moderated Q&A session.

 The Kansas Budget:  Annie McKay, Executive Director, KS Center for Economic Growth.  (KCEG)

Annie presented an overview of the Kansas Budget.  State general funds make up $6.3 billion of the total $15.3 billion state budget for fiscal year 2016.  The majority of the state general fund comes from sales and use tax (45%) and individual income tax (40%).  Most of the state general fund is spent on education and health & human services, but the unprecedented tax cuts passed by the Kansas legislature beginning in 2012 created a $1.4 billion shortfall for fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017.  Analysis by KCEG showed that various sweeps and cuts from other state funds are being used in an attempt to balance the budget, but it is not enough to fund critical programs or maintain the safety net for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Link to PowerPoint

Food Sales Tax:  Ashley Jones-Wisner, State Policy Manager, KC Healthy Kids

Ashley provided an analysis of why the sales tax on food is such an important policy issue, citing the low consumption rates of fruits and vegetables and the poor health outcomes in Kansas.  Kansas has the highest sales tax on food in the nation, which leads to residents in border cities to purchase their groceries in surrounding states.  The food sales tax is especially harmful for low-income families who spend more of their income on groceries than other income groups.  KC Healthy Kids recently commissioned an economic study from Wichita State University, which will lead to a series of papers analyzing the impact of the food sales tax, including its impact on rural grocers.  Ashley notes that this issue is relevant to many different sectors and therefore has great potential for grassroots support in the 2016 legislative session.

Link to PowerPoint

KanCare Expansion:  Audrey Dunkel, Director Financial Advocacy, Kansas Hospital Association

Kansas remains one of 20 states that has not expanded Medicaid, known as KanCare, as part of the Affordable Care Act.  This has led to large gaps in health care coverage, leaving many low-income adults with no health insurance options.  Approximately 150,000 working Kansans would become eligible for coverage if KanCare is expanded.  Furthermore, research has shown that Medicaid expansion would create jobs, save millions of dollars in health care costs, and increase state revenue.  Since January 2014, more than three quarters of a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars have left Kansas and are going to the federal government to support expansion in other states.  While public support is high, Kansas Hospital Association encourages Kansas residents to contact their elected officials and advocate for Expansion in the 2016 legislative session.

Link to PowerPoint

Leaders from Johnson County Cities Meet to Discuss Poverty and Opportunities for Action

City leaders from across Johnson County gathered on August 18, 2015 for a conversation on poverty, co-hosted by Johnson County Government and UCS.   The purpose of the event was to provide city staff leaders the opportunity to learn more about poverty trends , share what is being done locally to address poverty, and consider innovative ways to improve our collective impact. UCS presented strategies for cities to address poverty, which can be found here.

A Focus on Poverty

UCS released the Frame for Reducing Poverty and Creating Opportunity and issued a Call to Action to the health and human service sector in June 2015.

  • Make every health and human service sector job a “good job”
  • Increase access to safety net supports for adults without children and transitional age youth

Johnson County Poverty, a two-page overview of local poverty.

Now available, the January 2016 UCS Community Report

Framework for Reducing Poverty and Creating Opportunity Brochure, August 2015


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