News Releases

7/20/2015 - Community Relations Director receives statewide award

Rachel Hinde
Community Engagement Coordinator

Community Relations Director receives statewide award for empowering youth with disabilities

The Kansas State Youth Leadership Forum’s (KSYLF) Spirit of Hope Award
was presented to Gina McDonald, Director of the Community Relations Department for the City of Salina, at the Mentor Luncheon in Topeka, Kansas on July 16.
The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support Kansas youth with disabilities. It was established in memory of John Peterson, “who loved working with people who had disabilities,” said Carrie Greenwood, Director of the KSYLF.
Hosted by the Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy (KYEA), the annual forum provides junior and senior high school students who have various disabilities, with an opportunity to learn about leadership, advocacy, and goal setting in small and large group sessions over the course of five days.
“The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum would not be what it is today without the work of Gina McDonald. Not only is Gina involved, but she has a true passion for youth with disabilities and understands the importance of empowering our next generation of leaders. Gina has so much history, and she shares it with the youth in our state. Gina McDonald is known throughout our nation, but she continues to make youth with disabilities in our state one of her top priorities. For that and her never-ending support,
we honor Gina with our Spirit of Hope Award,” said Greenwood.
Along with six other steering committee members, McDonald helped coordinate the first forum in 2001. She supported the KSYLF as it expanded into the KYEA, and led mock debates and Systems Advocacy sessions at the Kansas State Capital.  
The first Youth Leadership Forum for students with disabilities was created and held in California in 1992. The concept was developed by the California Governor's Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons.
Approximately 17 other states have created YLF’s.

To learn more about KYEA visit, call 785.215.6655 (voice), 785.215.6698 (TTY), or send an email to info@kyea. For information pertaining to services provided by the Community Relations Department, contact Gina McDonald at (785) 309-5745.