MOREHEAD – The 29th East Kentucky Leadership Conference was held Thursday, April 28-Friday, April 29 at the Morehead Conference Center.
Morehead State University’s Center for Regional Engagement, Small Business Development Center, Kentucky Innovation Network, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), U.S. Bank, AT&T, Morehead Tourism and Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the two-day event.
“We are extremely proud to host the East Kentucky Leadership Conference,” said Dr. Wayne D. Andrews, MSU president. “This conference brings together the best of Eastern Kentucky to help focus on strategies for improving our region.”
The theme for this year’s conference is “The Next Big Thing is Really Small.”
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton and Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes highlighted the state office holders that spoke to the crowd. Breakout sessions were held on numerous topics.
The annual East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Awards Showcase was hosted by WYMT’s Angela Reighard and MSU alumnus Tanner Hesterberg Thursday.
This year’s awards were presented to:
Youth Leadership – William Louis Roach-Barrette. Roach-Barrette is a junior at Morehead State University enrolled in the MSU Space Science Program. He serves as theYouth Entrepreneurship Coordinator for the Kentucky Innovation Network, where he encourages youth entrepreneurship in the region. He has served as a software developer for the Center for Regional Engagement Broadband Project and as a consultant for Rural Up, a new organization devoted to teaching coding to Eastern Kentucky students. Since 2013, Roach-Barrette has been involved in a wide variety of projects at the Space Science Center, and most recently, he worked as a software engineer for the CXBN 2 satellite project and the NASA Lunar Ice Cube Project.
The award goes to a young person in Eastern Kentucky who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and service to the region.
Media and Technology – Chuck Mraz, Front Page. Mraz has been an employee of MSPR (WMKY 90.3 FM) since 1986. As news director, he recruits and trains students for MSPR’s News Department and supervises the morning operations of the station. Mraz hosts “Front Page,” a local news and information show and is the local news voice for inserts in NPR’s “Morning Edition.” He has received numerous state and national awards for his work in sports reporting. The award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of news publication, broadcasting, technological innovation and/or digital communication.
Culture/Arts – Foothills Eco-Agritourism (FEAT). Under the leadership of Director Gayle Clevenger, FEAT’s mission is to improve the economy of its five-county region by educating agri-tourism businesses and other business owners to market the region as a tourist and cultural destination. The award is given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the advancement of culture/arts in the region.
Public Individual – Linda Calhoun and Cary Williams. Calhoun serves as instructional supervisor and Williams is the instructional technology director with Ashland Independent Schools. These educators were instrumental in the development of a career and college readiness advisory council for their school district, which has led to the implementation of a five-year plan leading to college and career pathways for area students in technology, engineering, and biomedical science. The award given to recognize an individual whose public service is dedicated to the betterment of the region.
Private Individual – Janice Odom. Odom is a publisher/editor, web designer, writer and entrepreneur who secured nearly $80,000 in grants to help Powell County and the surrounding area. Entrepreneurship classes, live storytelling events, and radio programs were all made possible because of the grants. In addition, she secured a grant for the Stanton Fire Department’s first junior firefighter program. The program allowed young people to undergo training, and it was because of that training that one life was saved. The award is given to recognize an individual whose private service is dedicated to the betterment of the region.
Organization – Appalachian Artisan Center. The purpose of the Appalachian Artisan Center is to develop the economy of Eastern Kentucky through our arts, culture, and heritage. The Center is dedicated to supporting artists by helping them create and grow successful businesses, and it provides assistance to artists in many ways including business plan development, training and continuing education opportunities, studio space, and a venue to sell and exhibit their work. The award is given to recognize groups that have organized to provide a needed service to the region.
Tony Turner Award – Jordan Smith. Smith is a singer and musician from Harlan. Smith began singing in his church choir and continued through his college education at Lee University where he was a member of the Lee Singers. In 2015, he gained national recognition when he won season nine of the singing competition, The Voice. He was the show’s first artist of the season to reach No. 1 on the iTunes Store pop songs list and set new sales marks on Billboard charts. Smith recently released his first album Something Beautiful, which debuted on the Billboard album chart at number two. Something Beautiful also went to number one on the iTunes and Amazon album charts. This award is given to an individual, group or organization that has demonstrated major contributions to the betterment of the region. This is a very special award that is not given every year.
Founded in 1988, the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation was created to promote leadership in Eastern Kentucky. Now in its 29th year, EKLF continues to encourage leadership development, communication and collaboration throughout the Eastern Kentucky region.