BRIGHT Kentucky 2020 Graduates

Posted on: November 20, 2020
Tags: BRIGHT Kentucky
bright 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (December 16, 2020)— Leadership Kentucky proudly congratulates the BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2020 on its November graduation held in Hazard. The Class of 2020 is the second cohort to participate and graduate from BRIGHT Kentucky.

BRIGHT Kentucky began in 2019 with the hope of engaging bright, entrepreneurial minds from various occupational sectors to offer non-partisan, ethical leadership training, expanded networks, and mentors designed especially for residents of the 54 Kentucky counties of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). BRIGHT Kentucky has been made possible by a $500,000 ARC grant and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation, SOAR, and others.

BRIGHT Kentucky’s training seminars and experiential learning focuses on understanding the local economic context and working to build a robust skillset in communication, collaboration, consensus building, visioning, and community engagement. This year’s program ran from July through November and took participants across Eastern Kentucky: Somerset in July, Ashland in August, Berea/Frankfort in September, Pikeville in October, and Hazard in November.

“BRIGHT Kentucky was formed to help develop local leaders that will transform the Appalachian region for future generations. To move this region forward, the local leaders will need resilience, courage, a strong network, and commitment,” said Elmer K. Whitaker, President/CEO of Whitaker Bank and Leadership Kentucky board member. “There is no doubt that these 38 individuals possess all that and more, having responsibly navigated a leadership program in the midst of a global pandemic. We are so proud of what they overcame to take full advantage of this experiential program; their futures are indeed bright!”

This year’s graduates include 38 participants from 32 different ARC counties representing a variety of public and private sectors. Leadership Kentucky congratulates the following graduates:


  1. Sarah Adkins – Whitley County - University of the Cumberlands
  2. Frank Baker - Leslie County - Hyden Citizens Bank
  3. Adam Bowling – Bell County - Self-Employed - Small Business Owner
  4. Ben Carr - Montgomery County - Kentucky 4-H Foundation
  5. Crystal Cox – Pulaski County - United Way of South-Central Kentucky
  6. Tyler Curran – Nicholas County - Kentucky Army National Guard
  7. Gene Detherage Jr. – Rowan County - The Fletcher Group
  8. Aaron Dockery – Pulaski County - City of Somerset
  9. Hanna Gabbard – Johnson County - Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR)
  10. Courtney Gillette – Boyd County - Boyd County Tourism and Convention Bureau
  11. Laura Gregory – Wolfe County - Kentucky Waterways Alliance
  12. Sara Hacker – Rowan County - Morehead State University
  13. Megan Haile – Monroe County - TJ Samson Community Hospital
  14. Jennifer Hall – Knott County -Alice Lloyd College
  15. Jenni Hampton – Pike County - Big Sandy Area Community Action Program, Inc
  16. Tena Hunley – Magoffin County - McDonald's Of East Kentucky
  17. Summer Jackson – Whitley County - University of the Cumberlands
  18. Mindy R. Johnson - Edmonson County - Western Kentucky University
  19. Kayla Jude – Martin County - Big Sandy Area Community Action Program
  20. Patrick Lager – Montgomery County – Whitaker Bank Corp.
  21. Josh Little – Pike County - Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  22. Caitlin Mason – Laurel County - Cumberland Valley Area Development District
  23. Aaron Montgomery – Greenup County - Addiction Recovery Care & Rise Above
  24. Courtney Oliver - Laurel County - Reppin2Recovery INC
  25. Andrew Owens – Bath County - Michael R. Gray Funeral Home, Owingsville
  26. Justin Pruitt – Boyd County - Boyd County Fiscal Court
  27. Jessica Ritchie – Breathitt County - Juniper Health, Inc.
  28. Jacob Roan – Bell County - City of Pineville
  29. Jonathan Shell – Garrard County - State Solutions LLC
  30. Dustin Stephens – McCreary County - East Ky Power Cooperative
  31. Jacob Taylor – Rockcastle County - Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center
  32. Erica Trammell – Harlan County - Appalachian Challenge Academy
  33. Gavin Tussey – Boyd County - Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 248
  34. JoAnn Vanzant – Lee County - Operation UNITE
  35. Tyler Ward – Letcher County - Jacobs+Ward
  36. J. Wilson – Hart County - Hart County Fiscal Court
  37. Elijah Wilson – Cumberland County - University of Kentucky
  38. Jennifer Wilson – Johnson County - Kentucky Cancer Program


Applications for the BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2021 will be available in the spring at




About Leadership Kentucky

Leadership Kentucky, created in 1984 as a non-profit educational organization, brings together a select group of people who possess a broad variety of leadership abilities, career accomplishments, and volunteer activities to gain insight into complex issues facing the state. Our goal is to prepare our participants to take an active role in advancing the state for the common good. By fostering an understanding of how the state’s issues are interconnected, and by forging new relationships among community and regional leaders, Leadership Kentucky graduates bring a fresh and informed perspective to their communities and companies, serving as important participants in the unified effort to shape Kentucky’s future.


BRIGHT Kentucky is designed to build the capacity of next-generation leaders in the Appalachian region of Kentucky to innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development.

Norton Healthcare
Pikeville Medical Center
Kentucky Power
US Bank
RunSwitch PR
Stites & Harbison, PLLC
Republic Bank
Whitaker Bank
Putting Kentuckians First and Reentry with the Kentucky Office Of Adult Education and the Education and Labor Cabinet
CHI St Joseph Healthcare
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
University of Louisville
Delta Dental
Kentucky Association of Health Plans
Whitaker Bank Foundation
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Tennessee Valley Authority
Appalachian Regional Healthcare