BRIGHT Visits Pikeville

Posted on: November 1, 2022
BRIGHT 2022 Pikeville

By: Sydney Holcombe, BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2022


It’s a unique thing when a large group of people can come together for a few days over the span of several months and go from almost strangers to feeling like family so quickly. Each session has felt like a mini-reunion to me, and our time in Pikeville was no exception! Wednesday started off strong with a collection of classmate updates and celebrations, followed by an introduction to the history and economic development of Pikeville. This momentum carried through the rest of the afternoon with a tour of the Appalachian Wireless Arena by our own Josh Kesler, which was a concrete example of what Pike County has done to increase tourism and garner exceptional entertainment and talent for the area. 

It’s clear that Pikeville and its people place a huge emphasis on history and moving the area forward (the presentations from Jordan Gibson, Jill Dotson, Tony Tackett, and Rusty Justice were evidence of that), and I really admire all of the work that has been done in the area, creating a catalyst for more established businesses to thrive and new ones to grow. During our second day, we got to tackle a scavenger hunt woven throughout downtown, which gave us a fun excuse to pop in several of the local businesses and support them. Shoutout to Coffee Guy Cafe for the best iced mocha!

The main reason that I applied to the BRIGHT program to begin with was because of my passion for people. That passion is one that I saw so clearly mirrored in our time at both the Pikeville Medical Center and the Mountain Arts Center. Both institutions have groups of the most adamant, talented people, who are striving to improve the lives of those they come into contact with every day, using top-of-the-line resources and equipment to do so. Whether performing a life-saving cardiac procedure or creating an artistically life-giving learning center for music students, both places prioritize increasing the quality of life for the people of Appalachia. This has not only been encouraging but also eye-opening in giving me ideas of ways to volunteer back in my own community.

Overall, every single person we met and heard from in Pikeville was fantastic. From the returning speakers, like the exceptional Janet Ratliff and our beloved Karen Butcher herself, to new figures like Amanda Jo Sloane and Burton Webb, we received excellent personal coaching, leadership building blocks, and a broader perception of Eastern Kentucky. The networking and collaboration that has flowed out of BRIGHT for so many of us have been nothing short of wonderful, let alone the invaluable lessons learned and experiences gained along the way. I’m so looking forward to our last session and graduation in Frankfort/Berea in November!


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