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Prichard Committee celebrates 40th anniversary with awards, election of board including two NKyians

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence celebrated its 40th anniversary at its 2023 Annual Meeting and laid out visions for the future of education in Kentucky.

“This meeting was a celebration of our journey, challenges, triumphs, and the unyielding spirit of the Prichard Committee over the past four decades,” said Brigitte Blom, Prichard Committee President/CEO.

During the two-day meeting, some of the most respected figures in education, including Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director Center for Innovation in Education University of Kentucky; Dr. Vicki Philips, National Center of Education & the Economy; Lillian Pace, Vice President Policy and Advocacy with KnowledgeWorks, and many more, provided insights on educational outcomes, the future of education, and strategies for pushing Kentucky’s educational aspirations forward.

Prichard Committee annual meeting. (Photo provided)

The Prichard Committee Awards of Excellence were presented at the meeting. The awards honor individuals and organizations for their unwavering dedication to education.

Lois Combs Weinberg, a trailblazing advocate for public education improvements in Kentucky, was awarded the individual award of excellence. Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne and Senator Julie Raque Adams were both awarded for their sustained commitment to education through their public service tenures. Three organizations, Learning Grove, National Center for Families Learning, and Partners for Rural Impact, were also recognized for their role in enriching education and family engagement.

These 2023 awardees join the Bev Raimondo recipient, JoAnne Richardson of Owsley County, who was honored at the Groundswell Summit over the summer for her exceptional contributions to Kentucky’s educational landscape.

Additionally, the annual meeting also served as a platform to welcome new members to the Prichard Committee and saw the election of board officers:

• Clay Ford – Board Chair
• Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith – Vice Chair
• Gwendolyn Young – Secretary/Treasurer

Eight community and business leaders were also elected, showcasing the Committee’s dedication to ensuring a diversified and experienced board. The newly elected members include:
• John Justice, President/Executive Director, CEDAR, Inc. 
• Mike Hesketh, President and Co-Owner, Superb IPC
• Angela Evans, Fayette County Attorney
• Sandy Nott, Vice President Administration, Toyota Motor Manufacturing 
• Torrence Williams, Partnerships Manager, Pico MES 
• Rick Hulefeld, Retired, Learning Grove 
• Serena Owens, Erlanger City Council member 
• Brett Bachmann, CEO, Heuser Hearing Institute

At the conclusion of the meeting, Blom encouraged the thought leaders in attendance to act in their communities and remain laser-focused on improving education and economic outcomes for Kentucky. “Our strength lies in relentless innovation, collaboration, and in each of you,” Blom said. “Today begins a new, defining chapter for education in Kentucky.”

The Prichard Committee will hold its next meeting at The Groundswell Summit, set for June 13 and 14, 2024, in Owensboro.

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