Leadership Kentucky 2021 in Lexington and Frankfort

Posted on: December 13, 2021
Tags: Session Review, Leadership Kentucky
LKY Lexington and Frankfort

Written by: Chris Crumrine, Director of Government Affairs for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021

On Friday, the 2021 Class of Leadership Kentucky graduated from the seven-month program following its final two-day session, which featured visits to Frankfort and Lexington where participants heard from education, civic and government leaders.

The class’ visit to Central Kentucky began with remarks from program classmate and Transylvania University president Brien Lewis, a tour of the campus and lunch with student leaders in the new William T. Young Campus Center. Participants learned about the history of the university and the importance of a liberal arts education.

Continuing the program-long focus on Kentucky’s signature industries, participants visited Woodford Reserve for a tour and tasting organized by classmate and Brown-Forman product manager Garnett Phelps. The Woodford Reserve campus nestled along Glenns Creek is home to the spirits conglomerate’s signature bourbon brand and where Master Distiller Chris Morris has been crafting innovative products since he began his career as a trainee in 1976. In addition to the sampling, Morris shared the critical role Woodford Reserve played in fostering a bustling bourbon tourism—or “bourbonism”—economy in the region. 

The first day concluded at the Frankfort Country Club with a panel of education leaders in the Leadership Kentucky 2021 class and a dinner keynote address from Brigitte Blom Ramsey, the president of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Guests highlighted the importance of P-20 education, as well as the opportunities and challenges to advancing Kentucky through education, workforce development and job growth.

Day one’s education agenda set the stage for thoughtful policy discussions with Kentucky lawmakers in Frankfort. The second day began with a legislative panel featuring Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-19) and House Small Business Committee Chairman Representative Phillip Pratt (R-62). In their comments, they shared priorities on the horizon for the 2022 Regular Session, including the decennial redistricting process, state budget and appropriation of significant federal infrastructure funds. The bipartisan panel emphasized that while we often see coverage of partisan conflict, lawmakers work together on several issues including continuing the state’s broadband deployment effort.

The class also heard from its peers who hold public office or work on behalf of their agencies/clients to advance important public policy. The remainder of the day included Executive Branch leaders and other constitutional officers such as, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles and Heather Dearing, deputy chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor. The diverse agenda provided participants with exposure to the varied policy agendas and public service of Kentucky’s elected officials. Before returning to Lexington, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller provided an overview of the state’s highest court and how it interfaces with the other two co-equal branches of government. 

The final day concluded at the University of Kentucky’s new Gatton Student Center with a look back at the class’ Predictive Index scores, as well as questions and discussion challenging participants to think about how they have grown as leaders throughout this experience. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto served as the featured graduation speaker, sharing the university’s leadership role in the state over the last 10 years and its enduring commitment to serving Kentucky—part of the mission of Leadership Kentucky. The bold vision and extraordinary growth of the university in the difficult context of limited state support, growing competition and a global pandemic illustrates one of the key leadership lessons President Capilouto shared with the class that morning, “If you can find the why, you can bear the how.”

Over the last seven months, nearly 50 leaders from across Kentucky came together to learn more about the Commonwealth, themselves and one another. The time together was marked from start to finish by compassion and caring for the communities they visited, their peers and the state at large. Though the class graduated on Friday, their compassion persists in the wake of devastating storms that scorched many parts of Western Kentucky they visited only a few months ago as they took collective action to help and support families and communities in need, representing the mission, vision and values of Leadership Kentucky.

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