LKY 2017 in Frankfort & Georgetown

Posted on: September 27, 2017

LKY 2017 Enjoys Whirlwind and Eye Opening Session in Frankfort, Lexington, and Georgetown

By: Claire Parsons (LKY 2017) of Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, PLLC

The Leadership Kentucky Class of 2017 convened again for its fourth session in Frankfort, Georgetown, and Lexington, Kentucky from September 13 through 15, 2017.

No scheduled events were planned for the evening of September 13th but the Class of 2017 is not one to pass up an opportunity to socialize. Fortunately, Class member, Jessica Tretter, came to the rescue and organized a well-attended and delicious dinner at Lockbox in downtown Lexington.

Bright and early the next morning, the Class started its session in Frankfort, Kentucky. Over a light breakfast, the class listened to a pithy discussion of pressing legislative issues facing the state from a panel including, Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, and Representative Wilson Stone (Minority Whip). The legislative plan to address Kentucky’s pension crisis featured prominently in the discussion, as class members probed the legislators for information about how the plan may affect their communities and the state as a whole. Later that morning, the class also heard from a panel of lobbyists, Chris Nolan and Amy Wickliffe, who explained their role in Kentucky’s political process. Briefly but memorably, Governor Matt Bevin stopped in on his way to Washington D.C. to deliver remarks to the class, emphasizing civic engagement and involvement in the political process.

After hearing from the Governor, the session transitioned to a discourse on the media. Renee Shaw of KET discussed news coverage of Kentucky politics and treated the Class to a tour of KET studios, which was organized by Class member, Tim Bischoff. Next, the Class heard from Trey Grayson, former NKY Chamber President, former Kentucky Secretary of State, and former Director of the Harvard Institute of Politics, discuss “fake news” and the impact of the “bubble effect” on American lives and politics.

Over lunch at the Capitol Annex Cafeteria, the Class heard remarks from Vicki Yates Glisson, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Secretary Yates Glisson provided an overview of the numerous functions the Cabinet serves in Kentucky, including the administration of Medicaid services, as well as the policy changes she has implemented since her appointment.

After lunch, the class visited the Kentucky Supreme Court, where they were met by Justice Michelle Keller, who represents several Northern Kentucky counties on the Court and served previously on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Justice Keller provided an overview of the Kentucky Courts system and candidly discussed her job duties and responsibilities on the Supreme Court. 

Though the class had heard from elected officials from every branch of Kentucky state government, their next experience was one of the most memorable: a tour of the State Capitol. The Class learned about the history of several rooms, architectural features, and the statues in the Capitol Rotunda. Their tour guide was visibly enthusiastic about Kentucky history and reinvigorated the Class as they approached the end of the day. As the last stop on the Capital Tour, the Class visited the Senate Chambers and listened to an overview of the important work done by the Legislative Research Commission from Director, David Byerman.

For a bit of historical perspective, the Class visited the Old Capital in Frankfort and, in light of Kentucky’s celebration of its 225th anniversary, participated in a discussion about what it means to be a Kentuckian, both now and in the future. No discussion of the meaning of Kentucky, however, would be complete without mention of Kentucky’s most regaled statesman, Henry Clay. The Class was therefore fortunate that Henry Clay, performed by Chautauqua actor, Henry McGee, paid them a visit. Clay even reenacted a duel with class member, Michael Kleinert (with non-deadly weapons). While the Class was vastly entertained by this spectacle, Leadership Kentucky assures its readers that no Class of 2017 members were harmed in the making of this performance.

Following the whirlwind tour of the Capitol, the Class enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Frankfort Country Club and enjoyed a bourbon tasting led by Jerry Summers of Beam Global Spirits and Wine.

The following morning, the class visited God’s Pantry Foodbank in Lexington, Kentucky. Class Member, Michael Halligan, invited several employees from God’s Pantry to provide an overview of its services and explain how food banks work on the national and local level to participate in the fight to end hunger. The Class was moved by the remarks of a former God’s Pantry client who explained not only how his life turned in a direction that caused him to need the help of a food pantry, but also how that support helped him find stability self-sufficiency again.

After a tour of God’s Pantry, the Class traveled to Georgetown, Kentucky where they were privileged to visit Toyota’s manufacturing plant. The Class heard from several Toyota employees, including Class Member, Kim Sweazy, who explained the values and culture that make Toyota a successful global operation. As a special treat, the Class heard former Governor, Martha Layne Collins, describe her work to attract Toyota to build the manufacturing facility in Georgetown. After hearing this remarkable story, the Class was blown away by the tour of the Toyota facility.

In summing up the experience, Class members acknowledged that the Session had allowed them to explore the many challenges facing Kentucky at this very moment, even it highlighted many opportunities for the future. The Class will reconvene in Hopkinsville in October for its next session.            

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