Jefferey Connell has been appointed as the new director of the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy. Connell is charged with overseeing upwards of 300 Michigan at-risk youth. He will also be responsible for developing a framework to maintain the professionalism and success of MYCA.
Before being appointed as the new MYCA director, Connell has served in numerous leadership roles, many within the Michigan Army National Guard. Connell entered military service as an enlisted Soldier in 1981 and advanced in rank to lieutenant colonel before he retired this year after 33 years of service. He has been a helicopter repairman and a pilot. He has also held positions as a state mobilization officer, a training officer, the director of military support to civilian authorities, and the executive officer to the adjutant general for the Michigan National Guard. MYCA has come under a microscope recently due to an audit by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General that identified issues at the Academy.
“Considering the costs associated with public assistance or incarceration, investing in the future success of MYCA and in the Michigan teens whose lives will be changed in a positive way with program guidance is certainly the right thing to do – but we recognize that programs like these require oversight and standardization and I plan to implement recommendations without delay,” said Connell. “I accepted leadership of the academy at a difficult time, but in my opinion, it’s the challenging times that make an organization stronger.” Connell holds a bachelor’s degree from Spring Arbor College, a Masters of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, and is currently enrolled in the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University.
He has numerous personal interests to include volunteer work. Connell is the president of the National Guard Association of Michigan and member of the Lansing Rotary Club. He resides in Dewitt, Mich., with his wife.
The Michigan Youth Challenge Academy offers young people between the ages of 16 and 18 the opportunity to change their lives and make a future for themselves. The Academy is a 17.5 month, two-phase program. The program incorporates eight core components that encourage physical, mental and moral development. Meals, housing and uniforms are all provided and there are no costs to the cadet or their families for participation in the program. The Academy is paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense and the state of Michigan. Although the program is administered by the Michigan National Guard, there is no military obligation for participation. Some of the benefits to the cadets include; self-discipline, job skills, computer training, physical training, life-coping skills and good health, nutrition and hygiene habits. The cadets may also earn a GED, up to 15 college credits, and a full semester of high school credits.
View a high-resolution photo of Mr. Connell here.