August 2015, Features, Features, Special

Top Women in Business: 2015

Elizabeth O'Neil

Elizabeth O’Neil

Elizabeth O’Neil

Title/Company: Master Taster and Associate Sensory Scientist, Brown-Forman

How long at company/position: Three years

Previous jobs/positions: Sensory Technician with Brown-Forman for three years

Education: M.Ed. in counseling psychology

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: My parents have always encouraged me and my brothers to reach for our dreams and have always nourished our passions.

What inspires/drives you: If you are going to do something, do it right.

When and how do your mornings start: At 5:30 a.m. with a workout, then a cup of coffee with lots of creamer.

What does goal-setting look like for you: I keep many to-do lists – long-term and big picture – then break those down into smaller tasks. Then I have another list for “needs to be done ASAP.” Breaking tasks down into baby steps makes every large
goal manageable.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up,” as a child: An actress or
a teacher.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Horseback riding, Bikram yoga, secretary of the board for Green Hill Therapy, Younger Women’s Club member.

What are you reading or watching right now: “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, “Friends” and “Seinfeld.”

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: Instability. I like to know where my things are and that I can manage on my own. I constantly check finances and keep up on all the moving parts in my life.

Your advice to younger women in business: Never underestimate yourself; you are capable of more than you could possibly dream.

What you are the most proud of in life: My independence.

Mary Ellen Weiderwohl

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl

Title/Company: Chief, Louisville Forward, Louisville Metro Government

How long at company/position: In the position one year and one month; I joined Louisville Metro Government in July 2012.

Previous jobs/positions: Deputy chief of staff and chief of strategic initiatives, Louisville Metro Government, July 2012-June 2014; assistant director, MML&K Government Solutions, McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland PLLC in Frankfort, February 2003-July 2012; director of legislative and public relations, Education Professional Standards Board, April 1999-January 2003, Frankfort; legislative assistant, Kentucky Senate Majority Leader David Karem, Legislative Research Commission, Frankfort 1998-1999

Education: Bachelor of Arts in music, political science minor, University of Louisville

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: I have been fortunate to have great bosses throughout the years – David Karem, Dr. Susan Leib, Terry McBrayer and Greg Fischer. I also have had amazing women mentored me along the way.

What inspires/drives you: I was fortunate to be born with a pretty heavy innate drive. But making a difference and changing people’s lives keeps me moving even when the internal gas tank is near empty.

When and how do your mornings start: Early. Most days it’s around 5 a.m. for a run or a workout.

What does goal-setting look like for you: Impactful, measurable, time bound. Aspirational yet achievable with a stretch.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up” as a child: Everything, literally. Botanist, astrophysicist, architect, band director, governor, president, etc.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: As a Junior Leaguer, I’ve volunteered all over the place. But some of the most rewarding volunteer work I’ve done has been pro bono advocacy for causes in Frankfort, like Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS).

What are you reading or watching right now: Real news and thought-provoking periodicals on how urban design and built environment impact our economic success and mobility.

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: I actually get a little shy in public and a little stage fright sometimes! A deep breath and a smile at a friendly face in the audience always works. Find your own comfort zone.

Your advice to younger women in business: Work for good people doing good things. If your boss isn’t promoting you, get another job.

What you are the most proud of in life: Making a difference every day in some small way, even if I’m the only one who knew or noticed. The quiet victories can be the most satisfying.

Dianne Leveridge

Dianne Leveridge

Dianne Leveridge

Title/Company: KCTCS Director of Technical Programs, Kentucky Community & Technical College System

How long at company/position: One year. This is a new position within the community college system.

Previous jobs/positions: Director of Project Lead the Way, University of Kentucky for five years. Engineer, IBM/Lexmark International Inc. for 22 years.

Education: Ph.D in civil engineering project management and master’s in engineering project management, University of Maryland; Bachelor of Science, electrical engineering, University of Kentucky.

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: I have been fortunate to have multiple mentors at each stage. Dr. Lillie Crowley, Lexington Community College math faculty, showed me I have a brain and can use it. Betty Preece, may she rest in peace, the first woman to earn a UK electrical engineering degree, showed me how “fun work” means working at something bigger than us. Dr. Greg Baecher, University of Maryland, taught me to conduct a balanced discussion and do the research to inform that discussion.

What inspires/drives you: Teaching people who don’t know they can think how to think, and think critically, so they can have informed, balanced discussions.

When and how do your mornings start: Quietly. Coffee and my Bible app.

What does goal-setting look like for you: My career has been about solving problems, developing sustainable processes to provide consistent, repeatable, quality outputs. In education, I enjoy the privilege of applying those problem-solving and process-development skills to programmatic outcomes.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up,” as a child: Olympic show jumping rider.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Reading; gardening; crocheting; writing; riding; anything old. Member of the Society of Women Engineers for 25 years and the Project Management Institute for 10 years.

What are you reading or watching right now: My new favorite website is the Guttenberg Project with thousands of free books. Reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. I just finished “Night Comes to the Cumberlands” by Harry Caudill. Next is “The Federalist Papers” by Hamilton, Madison and Jay. I also
like Ambrose Bierce. I don’t own a
TV, and my screen watching is online news outlets.

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: I am most afraid of personal inertia. Many women suffer from this lack of confidence and/or the fear of failure. For me it’s been a fear of the work and of the failure that is necessary to overcome to enable learning more and more about how to improve what you do. Research continues to show confidence is boosted more by learning from failures than by achieving success. Success happens once; learning is a continuum.

Math terrified me so I worked 17 workbook chapters in one day to learn how to do my college algebra homework, due the next day. The result was a hard-earned A
in the course, and becoming an engineer.

Your advice to younger women in business: A huge component of success is recognizing we all bring elements of a problem’s solutions. Today’s complex, interconnected problems provide opportunity for jointly developed solutions. Also, grow and expand your strengths. Research shows improving upon strengths results in higher-magnitude gains than gains associated with improving weaknesses. Focus on what you do well, and build a career upon that.

What you are the most proud of in life: Overcoming personal inertia. Ten years ago a Ph.D. in engineering was outside the realm of my possibility, just like college algebra had been. Persistence to learn and obtain education paid dividends. Money comes and goes, but you can’t unlearn – you can only build upon it.

Jenean Hampton

Jenean Hampton

Jenean Hampton

Title/Company: Candidate, Kentucky Lieutenant Governor (running mate with Matt Bevin, Republican)

How long at company/position: Six months

Previous jobs/positions: Worked in the corrugated packaging industry 19 years as a sales representative, quality facilitator, plant manager and machine supervisor. Served in the U.S Air Force seven years as a computer systems officer, including deployment to Desert Storm. Worked at General Motors five years as a computer operator and one summer as an engineering intern.

Education: Bachelor of Science, industrial engineering, Wayne State University. MBA with concentrations in marketing, entrepreneurship and electronic commerce, William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester (N.Y.)

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: My 87-year-old mother taught by example that the right path isn’t always easy, and the easy path isn’t always right. She instilled a love of reading and cooking, and is the epitome of Southern hospitality.

What inspires/drives you: I find great joy in learning something new and solving problems. I’m a firm believer in continual, life-long personal improvement.

When and how do your mornings start: I rise between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. depending on first campaign event. I start every morning with prayer. Breakfast is usually a protein shake.

What does goal-setting look like for you: I make handwritten lists to track short-term goals. For long-term goals, I use a spreadsheet or word processor to subdivide big tasks into smaller ones. Love to brainstorm using the big dry-erase board in my office.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up,” as a child: In the 1960s, inspired by America’s space program, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Although the space shuttle program is defunct, I still harbor hopes of traveling in space someday.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I volunteer at a low-income housing complex, ministering with conversation, food, biblical reading and inspiration. Also, as an amateur ham radio operator holding an Extra Class license, I’m acutely interested in the communication role that hams perform during emergencies
and disasters.

What are you reading or watching right now: Currently reading Malcom Gladwell’s “What The Dog Saw” and Sarah Young’s daily devotional “Jesus Calling.”

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: I’m alarmed by the accelerated erosion of liberties in America caused by the failure of elected officials to uphold the constitution and the failure of American citizens to demand accountability. I’m running for office to help reverse that trend.

Your advice to younger women in business: Approach your job as though you own the company. Watch for opportunities to improve processes, even ones outside of your immediate responsibilities.

What you are the most proud of in life: I’m proud and honored to be part of the Matt Bevin gubernatorial team that will help revive Kentucky’s independent spirit.

Sannie Overly

Sannie Overly

Sannie Overly

Title/Company: House Majority Caucus Chair, State Representative 72nd District; partner at Overly & Johnson law firm; candidate, Kentucky Lieutenant Governor (running mate with Jack Conway, Democrat)

How long at company/position: Kentucky General Assembly for eight years. I’ve owned my own business for 14 years.

Previous jobs/positions: Attorney with Jackson Kelly for six years; civil engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for five years.

Education: Bachelor of Science, civil engineering, University of Kentucky; juris doctorate (cum laude), University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: First and foremost, my parents Betty and Larry Overly. Professionally, Don Kelly, the former secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, also served as a mentor.

What inspires/drives you: My two daughters, who are 18 and 13, both inspire and drive me every day.

When and how do your mornings start: I usually start my day around 6 a.m. getting my girls ready for the day and preparing them to go to school.

What does goal-setting look like for you: Setting goals and outlining a sturdy plan for achieving those goals is vital, but I have found the ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities to be the most important key. Setting goals is crucial, but it is no substitute for a keen eye for the open door and the courage to walk through it.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up,” as a child: I wanted to be a private detective. I loved to look for clues and try to solve mysteries.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I enjoy reading and traveling with my family. Kentucky history and working on my family farm are primary interests. I have previously served on the board of the Paris-Bourbon County Hospital, Historic Paris-Bourbon County Inc., and the Hopewell Museum.

What are you reading or watching right now: I recently finished re-reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” and am starting “Go Set a Watchman.” I watch lots of KET shows, from “Downton Abbey” to “Antiques Roadshow” and all of its political and current events programs.

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: With only a few changes in our commonwealth, instead of moving forward like we have been for the last few years, Kentucky could move backwards. I want to make Kentucky a place where everybody has the opportunity to succeed academically, economically and personally. I stay involved locally and statewide politically to help make it a place where our children are confident they can live safely and happily, where they want to stay and raise a family, and prosper if they are willing to work hard and play by the rules.

Your advice to younger women in business: Be confident, be fearless.

Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper

Lisa S. Cooper

Title/Company: Executive Director, Northern Kentucky Area Development District

How long at company/position: I have been with NKADD for 19 years, and am beginning my fourth year as executive director.

Previous jobs/positions: Associate director for public administration/community development at NKADD; business manager at The Counseling Source Inc.

Education: Master of Public Administration, Northern Kentucky University; Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Kentucky.

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored you: Many local government officials, community leaders, board members, family members and colleagues have taught me valuable lessons in my career and in life. Their work ethic and dedication to public service and community have been such a positive influence on me and my professional development.

What inspires/drives you: The three most important women in my life.
My talented, eager and intelligent daughters Sydney and Emma motivate me to work hard, make a difference, have fun and live in the moment. My mother has always been a supportive rock and encourages me to smile
and make the best of whatever life
has in store.

When and how do your mornings start: No one day is like the other, but beginning the morning with my incredible and supportive family gets me off to a good start.

What does goal-setting look like for you: I like to step back and look at the long game – determine the ultimate goal and what steps, challenges and opportunities need to be taken or overcome to succeed.

What you “wanted to be when you grew up,” as a child: I wanted to be an attorney or an actress. On any given day I may get the chance to dabble in one or both.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I enjoy hiking, reading, travel and attending my daughters’ plays, concerts and sporting events. In addition to various professional boards, I serve on fundraising and planning committees in our local school system and church.

What are you reading or watching right now: “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee

What scares you the most and how you overcome it: I am an admitted control freak, so not having a plan of action makes me uneasy. I try to overcome this by surrounding myself with trustworthy, capable people who provide balance in my sometimes crazy and hectic life.

Your advice to younger women in business: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, take chances, fall, be loud, forge a new path, or be the only woman in the room. Life is an adventure – have an adventurous spirit.

What you are the most proud of in life: I am proud of my family, our sense of community and the life we have built. I am proud of the meaningful work I get to do with NKADD. Our organization, board, staff and the whole Area Development District network around the state work together, behind the scenes in most instances, to improve the lives of commonwealth residents. Public service is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Current Issue, Economic Development, Fast Lane, March 2015, Special

Kentucky Takes 2014 Governor’s Cup

gov cupKentucky’s record-breaking 2014 economic development efforts are gaining national notice. The commonwealth placed first nationally in Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for new and expanded industry activity per capita in 2014.

Site Selection editor Mark Arend came to the state Capitol from Atlanta on March 3 and presented the Governor’s Cup trophy to Gov. Steve Beshear at a happy ceremony.

“Winning the prestigious Governor’s Cup is a true honor,” Beshear said. “Kentucky works extremely hard to build and maintain relationships with our companies, and we go the extra mile to support their plans for growth. The Governor’s Cup speaks to the dedication of everyone in this state who’s working to build Kentucky’s economy, grow jobs and create success for our industries, our communities and all Kentuckians.”

site selection coverIn addition to the Governor’s Cup, Site Selection recognizes top metropolitan and micropolitan areas for their economic development successes. The Top 10 Metro Areas Ranking includes Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (ranked third) and Louisville (ninth) in the top tier category (population over 1 million), and Bowling Green (fourth) in the tier three category (population less than 200,000).

In the commonwealth’s portion of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metro area in 2014, there was $224 million of investment by expanding or locating companies. Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. reports 23 companies announced projects in the Boone, Campbell and Kenton County region and that 2,087 new direct jobs are projected as a result.

“Northern Kentucky Tri-ED facilitated significant growth in target industries, such as advanced manufacturing, e-commerce/logistics and technology, in 2014,” Tri-ED President and CEO Dan Tobergte said. “Automotive suppliers, advanced manufacturers and other existing industries contributed significantly to Kentucky’s success in 2014.”

Kentucky had 10 communities make the magazine’s Top Micropolitans list. Those communities include: Paducah, Danville, Campbellsville, Frankfort, Glasgow, Mount Sterling, Maysville, Madisonville, London and Fulton/Union City.

The Louisville metro area improved seven spots from the year before and made the largest jump of any metro area in the Top 10 to achieve its ninth ranking among metro areas with populations over 1 million – Louisville secured 31 company expansions, relocation and business development projects, which represented more than 5,000 new jobs and $1 billion in investments during 2014.

“This ranking is further evidence that we have a solid game plan for job creation and it’s producing strong results,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We still have much work to do, especially in the area of wage growth, but clearly businesses of all kinds are recognizing our strategic advantages and strong quality of life.”

Last year, Kentucky announced more than 350 new location and expansion projects, which are projected to create nearly 15,000 jobs and more than $3.7 billion in new investment. That is the most business investment in Kentucky since the state started recording investment data nearly 30 years ago.

Kentucky is at its lowest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent in seven years – down from 10.7 percent in 2008. Nearly 70 percent of the state’s announced new investment and jobs came from existing Kentucky businesses.

“Though we still have plenty of work to do, this is a very exciting time for Kentucky’s economy,” said Secretary Larry Hayes with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “More and more companies are seeing the value of doing business in the commonwealth, and the ones that are already here are growing. Winning the Governor’s Cup shows that what we’re doing to help businesses succeed is working.”

Site Selection has rated the states annually since 1978. ■

Faster Lane, Passing Lane, Political Commentary, Special

Wendell Ford, former governor and senator, dead at 90


Wendell H. Ford: 1924-2015

Wendell Hampton Ford, former Democratic Kentucky governor and U.S. Sentaor, died today at his Owensboro residence at the age of 90. He is reported to have been battling lung cancer. He served in elected position for 33 years and is the only Kentucky politician to be serve as lieutenant governor, governor and senator in consecutive terms.

Ford was known for his wit, wisdom and his continual energy. Many remember him as one of the most likable public officials to take the national spotlight and potential candidates often sought his advice and approval before launching their campaigns. While governor, he pushed through legislation enacting the severance tax on coal and other minerals. That in turn gave him the ability to shepherd legislation removing grocery taxes, a move which produced a lasting political popularity.

He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1947 with a business degree, and a law degree in 1950. He practiced law in Hopkinsville, and ran for and was elected to the Kentucky Legislature in 1951 and, in 1952, became widely known as president of the Kentucky Young Democrats where he was active in Adlai E. Stevenson’s presidential campaign.

His political star rose quickly and he won elections as a state senator in 1965, lieutenant governor in 1967, governor in 1971. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 until January of 1999 and held the positions of Senate Majority Whip (’91-’94) and Minority Whip (’95-’99).

He was born September 8, 1924 in Owensboro and married Jean Neel in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII (1944-1946) where he achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant, and the Kentucky National Guard (1949-1962) and left there as a First Lieutenant. He served as Lieutenant Governor under Louie Nunn from 1967-1971, and as governor from 1971-1974. His full biography and details of his rich political career and life can be found at this link to Wikipedia: Wendell Hampton Ford

Features, Features, Perspective, Special

Worthy of Note

Our occasional feature, Top Women in Business, highlights some of the women around Kentucky who are making an impact in business, the professions, politics and economic development. The intent is to recognize not the household names, but those in key roles whose work ethic and body of work are making important contributions to commerce in the commonwealth and are worthy of praise.

The four women in this issue are among many The Lane Report editorial board has identified. We welcome your suggestions for others around Kentucky who deserve recognition for their efforts to boost Kentucky’s economy. Send your recommendations to editorial@lanereport.com.


Heather French Henry

Heather French Henry

Title/company: Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs
How long at company/position: Since July 1, 2014
Previous jobs/positions: Vice president of domestic programs for Corrisoft; creative designer, Frenchy Prom, Heather French Henry Collection; executive director, Heather French Foundation for Veterans Inc.
Top accomplishment: Being appointed to lead the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs
Education: Bachelor of Science, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning; master’s degree in design, UC College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My father, Ronnie French, a Marine Vietnam veteran; teacher Margie Volker-Ferrier, my master’s thesis advisor at UC; my mentor Pete Dougherty, past national director for homeless veterans with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Others include Gen. George C. Marshall, artist John Singer Sergeant, poet Robert Frost, singer Rosemary Clooney; and my Miss America sister, Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990.
What inspires/drives me: My life’s mission is to provide better quality care for American veterans. Nothing gives me greater joy than knowing I am helping create new, innovative programs to build a brighter and more supportive future for Kentucky’s veterans.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Reading, music, watching movies, designing websites, emceeing events
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: “Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend”; “White Christmas” (on the big screen); and my daughter Taylor’s orchestra concert.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: There have been many, namely the different transitions I have had to make in life: from college student to Miss America, Miss America to politics, to motherhood, to business owner … each chapter has its unique challenges but helps form who you are in the end. How you handle those transitions helps define you.
My advice to younger women in business: Seek out mentors in business and in the world around you. Don’t forget to ask for help, which can be a challenge. I love this quote from Babe Ruth: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”


Rachel Phelps Bayens

Rachel Phelps Bayens

Title/company: Partner, Government Strategies, a full-service government relations firm in Frankfort, specializing in legislative and executive branch lobbying.
How long at company/position: 12 years
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kentucky; 2008 graduate of Leadership Kentucky.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My parents are the hardest working and most God-loving people I know. I can’t imagine giving less than 100 percent professionally because they give 100 percent at everything they do. They have great pride in their work, and I’m so thankful I grew up in a home where I could see that every day. Their hard work and sacrifice is inspiring and drives me to make them proud every day.
What inspires/drives me: A peacemaker at heart, it is ironic I work in a field often consumed with conflict. Whether working on a compromise for a piece of legislation or working through disagreements with friends or family, I look for solutions. Life is far too short to dwell on problems when we can focus on the solution.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I love to travel with my husband and friends. Exercise, specifically running, has become a hobby, although I enjoy it most when it’s over! I’m an avid UK basketball and football fan.
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I attended the Broadway musical “Newsies” at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: I work in a field where political dynamics can determine the success or failure of an issue and have always been frustrated when an issue’s politics trump its merits. I enjoy the challenge of putting together a strategy for clients that will allow them to be successful based on sound policy and open and honest dialogue.
My advice to younger women in business: Always work hard and always be honest. At the end of the day, if you know that you gave 100 percent and were honest with yourself, your colleagues and family, then you have built a solid foundation for success.


Cynthia Knapek

Cynthia Knapek

Title/company: President of Leadership Louisville Center
How long at company/position: Four years at LLC, three as president
Previous jobs/positions: Executive director of Brightside, a public-private partnership with Louisville Metro government that promotes a clean and green city.
Top accomplishment: While I was at Brightside, we were a two-time Center for Non-Profit Excellence Pyramid Award winner and a national award winner with Keep America Beautiful. The volunteer program grew from 5,000 to 20,000 people. Under my leadership at Leadership Louisville, we also won a national award, but I think I am more proud of what we are doing to help others achieve.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in education from the University of Louisville. Also a certified John Maxwell coach/trainer.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: Family is certainly my biggest influence. Also, my Leadership Louisville predecessor Chris Johnson offered great mentorship when it mattered most.
What inspires/drives me: There is some old advice that you shouldn’t wish for life to be easier, you should wish you were better. That idea of always seeking to be a better version of myself is what drives me. It’s also what makes Leadership Louisville programs so popular. People who participate in our programs are the inspiring sort of people who come to us seeking to be better, and it’s a great perk to get to surround myself with those kinds of people.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I serve on nine other nonprofit boards. While out promoting the importance of civic engagement to others, I have found outstanding organizations that I am personally interested in. I try to model our mission: show up and be of service. I also have two young boys, so school projects and sports are a big part of my calendar too.
My advice to younger women in business: First, surround yourself with people smarter than you and be ready to learn. Second, surround yourself with people who build you up and will help build your confidence. Choose to be confident in your ability. Finally, pick one or two people and ask them to be your sponsor – not just your mentor but your sponsor. Mentors offer advice, sponsors truly invest in your success.


Jeanne Schroer

Jeanne Schroer

Title/company: President/CEO, Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky
How long at position: Six years
Previous jobs/positions: I have 30-plus years of experience as a real estate professional specializing in commercial real estate project financing. I began my real estate career as a financial analyst with Urban Investment and Development Co. in Chicago, developer of large urban mixed-use projects. In 1984, I joined Corporex Companies and held positions of financial analyst, manager of capital acquisition, director of the mortgage and equity group, senior vice president and member of Corporex’s executive management board. I also held the position of vice president of finance at Tipton Associates and was the interim director of the University of Cincinnati Real Estate Center and Field Service Professor of Real Estate.
Top accomplishment: My entire education and career have been specifically focused in commercial real estate development with special emphasis on executing what many consider “pioneer” projects developed in less-than-proven locations in urban areas and communities and difficult urban revitalization initiatives. One of my top accomplishments was executing the financing transaction for RiverCenter in Covington, a Class A office complex and hotel project that had significant economic development impact in what had been considered one of the most distressed urban areas in the United States. Another was executing the Vision 2015 initiative of creating a “catalytic fund” to accelerate urban revitalization projects in Northern Kentucky’s River Cities by capitalizing a $10 million investment fund to provide patient and flexible financing tools and creating an organization with real estate structuring expertise.
Education: Bachelor of Urban Planning with concentrations in urban design and economics from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning; Master of Business Administration with concentration in finance and real estate from Indiana University Kelly School of Business.
Person(s) who most influenced me: I am inspired by people who never give up. My father, who worked until he died at age 98, has always inspired me because of his unbelievable character and work ethic. Working for Corporex and Bill Butler was very inspiring because of Bill’s vision, his belief in our community, and his unique ability to execute the projects that many said “could never be done.” I currently have the privilege to work closely with Chuck Scheper, who is the founder and chairman of the Catalytic Fund. His personal story as a late-stage cancer survivor is inspiring enough, but when you add that to his past professional accomplishments as COO of Great American, his groundbreaking work as interim mayor of Covington and his current work as chairman of Bexion, a biotech company developing a promising cancer cure, he is downright amazing. What these individuals all have in common is sheer perseverance and the fact that they never consider the possibility of failing.
What drives me: I am driven by challenge, solving complex problems and executing work with tangible outcomes, which is why I love my work in the real estate development business.
Hobby/Interests/Volunteer Work: I am an avid golfer, an avid reader and am interested in all things having to do with cities. When my daughters were in school I was a very active volunteer in youth sports and coached high school golf and managed select soccer teams and AAU basketball teams.
Currently reading: I just finished “Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd and recently saw “Kinky Boots” in New York.
Biggest challenge and how I overcame it: When I had my daughters (now 22 and 23), I didn’t feel as though I was able to live up to the standards I set for myself as a professional in a very challenging and demanding industry. I decided to suspend my career indefinitely. I was very fortunate that at that time, Dr. Norm Miller offered me a teaching position in the University of Cincinnati Real Estate Center, which provided a perfect situation for me. I had a much more flexible schedule, yet this kept me very connected and engaged with our local real estate community and enabled me to keep learning and growing as a real estate professional. Because of this, I was to make a very easy transition back into full-time industry work with all of my business relationships in tact and my skills up to date.
My advice to younger women in business: I was brought up to believe that hard work, competency and professionalism would be respected and rewarded and that is exactly what I have experienced in all of my professional positions, even early in my career when there were not as many women in the work force. I think one’s attitudes and expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies. As far as trying to “have it all,” I think it is possible to have a successful career and raise a family but that does come at some personal costs and requires a very high energy level. The good news is that there are now many options for women to participate in the work force that don’t necessarily involve sitting in an office 50 to 60 hours a week. And there is no requirement that women have to attempt to “have it all” simultaneously. I know many women doing amazing things professionally that returned to the work force in their 50s. ■

Special, Special

Ky Tax Revenues exceed CFG’s FY 2008-09 estimates

Since U.S. economic conditions started to rapidly deteriorate in the fourth quarter of 2008, The Lane Report has been providing expanded coverage of Kentucky’s economy. The January issue of The Lane Report included an update from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear on a projected $457 million shortfall of the enacted FY 08-09 general fund budget. That is based on a revised and lower tax revenue estimate released by the state’s Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) on Dec. 2, 2008. (See chart 1.)

Since the CFG’s update, Kentucky’s YTD actual revenue data for the first half of FY 2008-2009 (July 1-Dec. 31) were released. December’s General Fund receipts increased 1.3 percent compared to December 2007. The General Fund’s year-to-date tax receipts were 2.3 percent greater than the first six months of receipts in FY 2007-08. (See chart 2.)

The revised revenue forecast by CFG forecast FY 08-09 General Fund revenues would decline 2.7 percent versus FY 07-08 actual General Fund revenues. The Office of the State Budget Director estimates that General Fund revenues in the last half of the FY 08-09 (Jan. 1-June 30) will have to decline 7 percent if the CFG estimate is accurate. Because of recent modifications in Kentucky’s business tax laws and rapidly changing global and U.S. economic conditions, it is obviously difficult to determine the probability of the CFG’s lower revenue estimates.

Kentucky’s December 2008 employment data (preliminary) estimates that 1.893 million people were employed compared to 1.894 million in November 2008, a decline of 1,000 employed persons.

Based on interpolation of these data, the unemployment rate in the MSAs noted on chart 3 was 6.4 percent. The state’s reported overall unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. The unemployment rate for the balance of the state is estimated to be 9.9 percent based on the foregoing data. Northern Kentucky’s unemployment rate is estimated at 6.1 percent and was included in the ‘balance-of-the state’ estimate of 9.9 percent. Deleting Northern Kentucky with a lower unemployment rate would push the ‘balance of the state’ unemployment estimates to over 10 percent.

The three largest components of the state’s tax revenues are sales and use taxes, individual and corporate income taxes, and property taxes (see chart 4). It is the number of people employed – not the number unemployed – that ultimately determines the amount of state income tax collected. Sales taxes are also related to disposable income. Higher employment creates a positive impact on per household, per capita, and disposable income levels.

U.S. economic conditions at press time were very uncertain and their volatility make it difficult for Congress and state and local government to assess future tax revenue expectations.

Likewise, business owners are unable to project and plan for the future demand for their companies’ products and services.

Special, Special

High-Tech Superhighway

Kentucky has upgraded and greatly expanded its access to the national Internet backbone for academics in the past year. The ultrahigh-speed Internet2 is creating an infrastructure for potential high-tech economic impact across the commonwealth.

For more than a decade, the University of Louisville had accessed Internet2 via a node in Indianapolis and the University of Kentucky via Atlanta. But as the national network rebuilt to improve data transmission from 10 billion bits (gigabits) per second to 100 Gps, the state gained its own switching node in Louisville early last year and created an optical fiber network to connect schools and libraries across the commonwealth.

It’s paid off already in more than $1.5 million in research grants, said Allen Lind, vice president of Information and Technology, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. And it’s expected commercial ultrahigh-speed service will follow in the foreseeable future because the private sector can build on to the educational infrastructure at a lower cost than creating a network from scratch.

Since UofL and UK connected to the special, education-only technology in the mid-1990s – part of an early 200-university national network – the effects have consistently broadened, said Lind.

“This is so new and growing,” he said. “I think we’re just beginning to see its potential.”

For now, Kentucky academics are networking with counterparts across the world. For example, an education committee with the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is crafting plans to provide global educational access to the games in Lexington.

Internet2, also known as NewNet since its recent national upgrade, provides unparalleled capability. According to Lind, the average home cable-based connection has a “character pipe” of 10 million characters per second. By comparison, Internet2 provides 10 billion characters, which is 1,000 times faster.

The entire contents of the Library of Congress – a common Internet volume metric – would take more than a decade to download on today’s average home connection but about 13 seconds on Internet2, Lind said.

A partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Gigapop in Philadelphia for Internet2 is expanding the applications available on the Kentucky Regional Optical Network, or KyRON.

“These new applications can let (Kentucky) students explore the effects of HIV on the immune system with an emergency room doctor in Pennsylvania, learn about operation of a modern astronomical observatory with scientists in Hawaii or take a guided tour of Earth’s polar regions with NASA scientists and more – all from the convenience of the classroom,” said UK President Lee Todd.

What’s this mean for Kentucky’s economy?

A major Internet2 node in Louisville opens the door to leasing capacity for commercial traffic to telecommunications companies in the future.

“That creates a telecommunications infrastructure that can then become available,” Lind said. “We’re kind of an anchor tenant.”

Meanwhile, he said, Internet2’s existence brought a $1.4 million grant to improve UK’s connectivity to the national drug research network and $150,000 for a UK computer scientist researching how to improve how the Internet functions.

The network bolsters UK’s goal of becoming a top 20 research facility, and because the network enhances education across Kentucky, it improves the state’s economic forecast.

More Kentucky content on the network should pique more people’s interest in the state, which could lead to more tourism, Lind said. Combine that with the other Internet2 economic catalysts and a multifaceted revenue tool emerges.
“We’re just putting the basics in place and nobody knows how far it will go,” he said.

Special, Special

At the Track

Nestled amid famed Bluegrass horse farms and across the street from a major airport, Keeneland Race Course on the western edge of Lexington has a central role in Kentucky’s multibillion-dollar equine industry. The beautiful track is best known for its spring and fall racing sessions, but the operation is far more than those exciting dashes around the oval. Yes, the races are crowning moments of Thoroughbred pageantry, attracting tens of thousands of spectators. But there is more.

With the photos on these two pages, The Lane Report wanted to give Kentuckians a glimpse of the larger Keeneland operation. Obviously, there is the picturesque track, the paddock, stone grandstand and offices, and acres of parking. Beyond this, though, there is the sales pavilion that attracts buyers, literally from around the world, who spend in the neighborhood of $1 billion a year here. There are dozens of stabling barns, a track kitchen that opens at 5:30 a.m. most days, and a practice track, all buzzing with the activity of hundreds of support workers. There is also a one-of-a-kind equine library for bloodstock researchers.

It’s all more than we can adequately present in two pages, but we hope these photos begin to give you an idea of what this special place in the heart of the commonwealth’s signature industry is like.