Leadership Kentucky Class of 2022 visits Northern Kentucky

Posted on: January 6, 2023

By: Christina Perkins, Leadership Kentucky Class of 2022


To believe writing the closing summary for Leadership Kentucky 2022 would be an easy task was naïve. I volunteered in June not knowing what exactly was in store for us. The ask is to focus on what we experienced in Northern Kentucky, but I can’t keep from reflecting on the entire seven-month affair.

Each month exposed a different energy among our class, typically pre-determined by the heaviness of the agenda, but also the closeness of our relationships. By December, we were thick as thieves, and this brought out bittersweet emotions knowing we had blinked, and six months had disappeared. The closing session took place in Northern Kentucky. This region has experienced mass growth and development in recent years and the landscape is almost unrecognizable if you haven’t visited in a while. Like my classmates who wrote before me, I too struggled to pin down one word to describe this session. Inspired, Emboldened, Revitalized? Each are all applicable not only to the region itself but what my classmates have awoken in me.

The session began at the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky guided by our very own classmate Kim Webb, Executive Director. Kim has exuded passion when previously discussing her work with the Shelter, seeing it in person and learning the logistics of running a shelter was humbling. Touring the new state-of-the-art, 68-bed facility tugged at opposing emotions. We saw work program beds for men, a year-round shower and laundry program for men and women, and the emergency cold shelter operating from November-March for adult men and women. At first, the sting of guilt rushed over a few in my group, thinking how we could do more for those who are facing this life-threatening emergency. Then the more we heard the sting turned to warmth witnessing the pure love for others from the shelter’s staff. Being advocates for attaining sustainable governmental support of homelessness is a platform this class adopted…Inspired.

The afternoon was packed with insight from our classmates who are leaders in the non-profit world followed by a panel of regional workforce development experts. Monday evening our class had the opportunity to mingle with a host of LKY alumni at the Metropolitan Club in Covington, KY. Stories from years of friendships filled the room with hope knowing our experience may be coming to a close, yet our journey together is just beginning.

The morning of day two came very early as we attended the Northern Kentucky Chamber’s monthly breakfast “Eggs and Issues.” Our fellow classmate Joe Chillo, President of Thomas Moore University joined leaders from Gateway Community and Technical College and Northern Kentucky University (NKU) to discuss challenges in higher education. Each speaker eagerly shared how they are adapting their approach to the college experience from all angles. Engaging with leading industries in the area best prepares students with internships, real-life experience, and training. Adapting recruitment tactics is crucial while battling the lack of importance being placed on higher education as surveyed by NKU and realizing there is not a typical college student while studying evolving demographics. Interestingly enough, everything that is being faced by these higher education institutions can be translated to the corporate world.

The afternoon convened at Thomas Moore University with a panel of business, nonprofit, and economic development leaders from Northern Kentucky. We heard about their common vision for the region as each shared how the region’s progress has stemmed from efficient collaboration and strategic alignment. The panel discussed managing the competitive market, planning for future workforce, and the importance of building strong communities and successful schools. The panel discussion was followed by an interactive dialogue led by Beth Silvers, co-host of Pantsuit Politics “a podcast where they prioritize curiosity over the conflict that often drives political conversations.” Our class considered how to navigate controversial topics, dissected how to approach opposing viewpoints, and appreciate diversity in conversation within the workplace.

The evening of day two took us to Newport, KY where we discovered Ovation. Ovation is a 25-acre, riverfront mixed-use development comprised of 1,000 residential units, 500,000 square feet of office space, hotels, retail spaces, and a health and wellness club. The MegaCorp Pavilion is the centerpiece of Ovation. It’s only the third indoor/outdoor concert venue in America. Structurally, it's divided into three independent concert spaces: an indoor music hall, an indoor club, and an outdoor amphitheater. The unparalleled engineering and planning that went into creating a sustainable riverfront community wowed many in our class- especially the civil engineers. The landscape in Newport is even foreign to me, someone who frequented the area just 10 years ago while attending NKU… Revitalized. The evening of night two consisted of a much-anticipated holiday party with fare from Goodfella’s Pizza in Covington, a visit from Santa Claus himself, and a rowdy rendition of the White Elephant gift exchange.

Ahhhh the Grand Finale. The weather on the morning of day three reflected the gloominess we all felt about leaving this program behind. But once we stepped foot into the newly renovated Turfway Park the excitement, the awe of the glitz and glamor perfectly prepared us for a remarkable ceremony awaiting. Dr. James Votruba, past president of NKU, delivered a marvelous address to the LKY Class of 2022. He reflected on the opportunities this year has brought and the responsibility we now hold. “How will you take what you’ve learned in this program and translate it into action on behalf of our collective future?” he asked. Dr. Votruba reminded us that leadership is not a spectator sport, we must unpack our bags and not be afraid to get our hands dirty. We must combine knowledge with action. To see Kentucky through the eyes of my 50 classmates has gifted me with a perspective I believe can only be attained through this program. “Great leaders not only see the whole, they feel a responsibility for the whole and they act on behalf of the whole.” Dr. Votruba articulated the uniqueness of this perspective that will allow us to make deeper impacts in our communities knowing how it will affect other parts of the Commonwealth. Each of us have walked very distinct paths that landed us flawlessly into the class of 2022. We are now blazing a trail before us to better ourselves, our communities, and our Commonwealth… Emboldened. Signing off one last time, Leadership class of 2022 (the GOAT).

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