Leadership Kentucky 2021 in Paducah and Eddyville

Posted on: November 4, 2021
Tags: Session Review, Leadership Kentucky
Leadership Kentucky 2021 visit to Kentucky Dam

Written by: Ethan Witt, Assistant Vice President, Government & Community Relations, Eastern Kentucky University, Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021


The Leadership Kentucky class of 2021 gathered in Paducah October 13-15. The session began a bit early with our classmate, Zach Dunlap, hosting the group for lunch as a fundraiser for Family Service Society. The food was delicious and I’m proud to report $1,550 was raised by our class! Zach’s employer, US Bank, generously kicked in an additional $500 to support the Family Service Society for a total gift of $2,050.

Wednesday’s official itinerary began with visits to the National Quilt Museum and Hotel Metropolitan. The National Quilt Museum hosts more than 40,000 visitors annually and contains a collection in excess of 600 artifacts. A key driver of the quilt museum’s attendance is riverboat cruise passengers who visit the museum when the boats stop in Paducah.

Hotel Metropolitan was an unforgettable experience. Hotel Metropolitan was founded by Maggie Steed as a hotel for African Americans during the time of segregation and Jim Crow. Some notable guests that stayed at Hotel Metropolitan included Thurgood Marshall, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, and many more.  Betty Dobson, current owner of Hotel Metropolitan, shared the history of the facility and the story of Maggie Steed and fed the class her legendary chess pie.

We then went downtown to visit Market House Theatre. Executive Director Michael Cochran hosted our class and shared the story of Market House Theatre, a community theatre with a professional staff and an annual operating budget in excess of $1 million.

Wednesday was rounded out with a visit to the Western Kentucky Community and Technical College Paducah School of Art and Design and dinner at Country Club of Paducah with special guest speaker, Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC President. Dr. Reece shared exciting updates from WKCTC and insightful words of wisdom about being an effective leader.

Thursday began with breakfast at the Murray State University Paducah campus with the story of the Kentucky State Penitentiary. Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham and a deputy warden at the prison were there to speak about corrections and the Kentucky State Penitentiary. We learned about Justice Cunningham’s long history with the criminal justice system and about the current issues the facility faces, particularly on the staffing front.

Four physicians from Baptist Health Paducah joined the class for a healthcare panel and shared their personal stories from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and took questions from the class about COVID-19 and the current state of the pandemic.

The class then traveled to the TVA’s Kentucky Dam. At 8,422 feet long, this is the longest dam in the TVA system. Our classmate Derrick Miller is the TVA’s customer service manager and hosted our class at the dam.

We finished the day at the Paducah Public Schools Innovation Hub. Principal Steve Ybarzabal hosted the class and provided a tour of this impressive facility that serves students from Paducah Independent, McCracken County, Graves County, and Livingston County. Private school and homeschool students also have access to the facility that focuses on technology, trades, healthcare, and other in-demand career fields. Following the tour, the class participated in a utilities panel led by classmates Eileen Saunders, Derrick Miller, Darlene Howell, and Eric King.

The class had an opportunity Thursday evening to explore Paducah’s robust local restaurant scene.

The class reconvened at Murray State’s Paducah campus Friday morning for breakfast and a conversation with Dr. Bob Jackson, President of Murray State University. Dr. Jackson updated the class on Murray State and the state of higher education in the Commonwealth.

The final two panels dealt with healthcare and workforce. This healthcare panel was led by our classmates John Brothers, Kelly Anderson, Amy Doane, and Leigh Mayes. The final discussion on workforce was led by Mary Anne Medlock, business liaison with the West Kentucky Workforce Board and focused on workforce needs in that region of the state. 

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