32 years of leadership in eastern Kentucky

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The 32nd Annual East Kentucky Leadership Conference, held in Benham on Thursday and Cumberland on Friday, closed another successful year of events and lectures with a gubernatorial candidate forum.

Those in attendance were able to hear from multiple candidates, including Robert Goforth and Adam Edelen.

Goforth spoke about himself and what he would be able to provide Harlan Countians with as governor, answering a number of questions asked by the crowd.

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A video of the “Hey Kentucky!” Democratic gubernatorial debate, aired on April 24, was also available for viewing. The video included candidates Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear and Adam Edelen discussing a number of topics important to Kentuckians. These topics included the pension crisis, marijuana, the future of coal and the controversial topic of abortion.

After the candidates’ forum, attendees were able to participate in a drawing for various door prizes before closing the books on another year.

As part of the two-day event, awards are given out every year as a way to recognize individuals or groups who demonstrate their leadership abilities throughout the area. The Benham School House Inn hosted the conference’s 2019 awards banquet on Thursday night, recognizing these individuals.

Of these individuals, Harlan natives David Davies and Marilyn Schraeder were given the 2019 East Kentucky Leadership Private Individual Award. The award is given to recognize an individual whose private service is dedicated to the betterment of the region.

Davies is the founder and 44-year director of the Harlan Boys Choir and Schraeder the director for the Harlan Musettes. Both are well-known for their love and dedication to music and their students.

A number of other awards were also presented during the banquet.

The Youth Leadership Award was awarded to Harlan County High School students Garry Henson (senior), Caleb Ashley (junior), Brenna V. Early and Abigail B. Vitatoe (sophomores) and ARI Coordinator Scoot Pace for their project (CHHAR). The award is given in recognition to young people in eastern Kentucky who have demonstrated excellence in leadership and service to the region.

The Media & Technology Award was awarded to retired Lexington Herald-Leader editorial writer/associate editorial page editor, Jaime Luke. The award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of news publication, broadcasting, technological innovation and/or digital communication.

The Organization Award was awarded to Hazard Challenger Center Director Thomas Cravens. The award is given in recognition of groups that have organized to provide a needed service to the region.

The Culture & Arts Award was awarded to retired professor, musician, producer and musical composer, Ann Schertz. The award is given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the advancement of culture/arts in the region.

The Tony Turner Award was awarded to first SKCTC President Dr. Edsel Godbey. The award is given to an individual, group or organization that has demonstrated major contributions to the betterment of the region and is not awarded every year.

The Public Individual Award was awarded to SKCTC Vice President of Diversity/Inclusion & Special Programs Dr. Carolyn Sundy. The award is given to recognize an individual whose public service is dedicated to the betterment of the region.

Other events included in the two-day conference involved various lectures, a tour of the Kentucky Coal Mine Museum located in Benham, a presentation of the CHHAR Project from the Harlan County High School Student Senate and a number of concurrent sessions at the SKCTC Cumberland campus. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were also provided throughout the conference.

The East Kentucky Leadership Foundation (EKLF), established in 1987, was designed to bring leaders and community members together throughout the region. The two-day conference is held every April and focuses on the important issues the area may face. The goal is for leaders to come together and find solutions to obstacles keeping the region from reaching its full potential.