Julie-Anne Braun is a dynamic speaker and award-winning author with an emphasis on the stigma of mental illness and suicide prevention. Additional areas of expertise include, but are not limited to: fibromyalgia, chronic illness, self-esteem, bullying, special needs travel, leadership and overcoming adversity.
For most of her adult life, Julie-Anne managed multiple careers in both emergency services and the travel industry. For 19 years, she responded to emergencies; first as an emergency medical technician, and later as a firefighter and 911 dispatcher. She also held a “day job” as a leader for American Express Corporate Travel Services. As a new leader, Julie-Anne used creative problem solving and team building skills to help her team transform from one of the worst performing teams in the region, to the best in the nation in just one year. This transformation saved many jobs when market conditions soon changed.
In 2008, Julie-Anne was working full-time as a 911 dispatcher when depression struck. Because she had always judged depression, she did not acknowledge her illness until it was too little too late. On December 7, 2008, Julie-Anne attempted suicide.
After her attempt, Julie-Anne finally understood that depression is an illness. Her colleagues did not. The stigma soon forced her out of the workplace. She was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and stigma was a barrier to treatment. For almost two years, Julie-Anne was home-bound, unable to walk without a cane, and without hope. After losing her home, her friends and the only life she’d ever known, Julie-Anne finally found the right doctor. Soon, she got her feet back under her both literally and figuratively.
Wanting to spare others the suffering she had endured, Julie-Anne published her award-winning autobiography Fallen Angel Rising, under pen name Bridgette C. Kent, in 2012. She was soon appointed to the Wisconsin Governor’s Advisory Council on Mental Health, and began speaking out on mental illness and stigma. Today she sits on numerous sub-committees of the Council and on the advisory board of WISE, Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination.
Julie-Anne continues to grow as a speaker with a focus on incorporating humor into all presentations, making sessions fun and interactive and crafting stories for maximum impact. In 2014/2015, Julie-Anne was the President of two Toastmasters International Clubs, including the specialty club Love of Laugher. She is also a trained facilitator in participatory decision making. This interactive, team building approach makes meetings and planning sessions more productive; helping organizations reach successful solutions while incorporating the views of all stakeholders.
This is one speaker you do not want to overlook! Contact Julie-Anne today to make your next event spectacular.
- Wisconsin Governor’s Advisory Council on Mental Health - Second-Vice Chair, Executive Committee, Adult Quality Committee and Nominating Committee
- Grassroots Empowerment Project – Facilitator, Participatory Decision Making
- Toastmasters International – Immediate Past President, Waukesha Toastmasters and Love of Laughter Toastmasters
- WISE, Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination – Advisory Board Member, Public Relations and Marketing Committee, Health Care Committee
- Fibrcruise - Founder, we offer educational and networking cruises for individuals with fibromyalgia and MS.
- Honorable Mention - best autobiography/memoir in the 2012 Readers Favorite International Book Contest for her book Fallen Angel Rising (Under pen name Bridgette C. Kent.)
- Named in the top seven percent of all American Express Corporate Travel Employees seven of nine years.
- Pioneered “The Blue Box Guide to Special Needs Travel,” which is now used in American Express offices worldwide in the servicing of special needs travelers.
- Numerous awards as a speaker in Toastmasters International, district 35.