• 63°

Brafford to lead fundraising campaign for Challenger Learning Center

From Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky

The Board of Directors of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky announced today that Janice Brafford,
former Hazard Market President of Community Trust Bank, will serve as Chair of the first-ever comprehensive
fundraising campaign to support the Center. Brafford has served on the Center’s Board of Directors since 2013.
“I am excited about the future of the Challenger Center and am committed to doing what I can to make sure its
future is secure.”

In making the announcement, Board Chair, James Combs stated, “The Board and I are grateful to Janice for
agreeing to lead the “Continue the Mission Investment Campaign” and help us ensure that future generations of
young people across eastern Kentucky will benefit from the unique programs of the Challenger Center.”
According to Combs, the Board has completed a strategic plan that includes a redesign of the interactive science
center, new outreach and virtual programs to the schools, and a matching grant program to help pay for
program and transportation fees. “We need to increase our existing endowment too”, said Combs.

Brafford recently retired from Community Trust after 18 years serving as the Market President in Hazard from
2002-2020. In addition to serving on the Challenger Center board, she has been active in many organizations
throughout eastern Kentucky including, the Hazard-Perry County Chamber of Commerce, the Hazard-Perry
County Economic Development Alliance, the Hazard Rotary Club, and Chair of the HCTC College Foundation as
well as others. “I believe the Challenger Center is a great asset for eastern Kentucky. It provides young people
with amazing learning experiences that inspires a passion for science, math, and technology. I have heard from
so many kids about how impactful the Challenger Center has been for them and how it has increased their
awareness of new ideas and new careers. I’m honored to help bring this opportunity to the next generation of
eastern Kentucky students.”

As Chair of the “Continue the Mission Investment Campaign”, Brafford will lead a group of volunteers from
throughout the region who will help tell the story of the Center’s impact on the lives of children. “While we
have not set a campaign goal, I am confident that when people learn about our plans to help educate young
people, they will be supportive, noted Brafford. “This is all about the kids and their future.”

According to Tom Cravens, Center Executive Director, well over 150,000 students have participated in programs
offered by the Center during its first 21 years. “Students have come from over fifty school districts and
individual schools from forty counties across eastern and central Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and West
Virginia,” he remarked. “In addition, over 600 teachers have received special STEM training in center programs
which they use in their classrooms.”

The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky is one in a network of 40 Challenger Learning Centers created to
carry on the educational mission of the 51-L Challenger Crew who lost their lives in the January 28, 1986 Space
Shuttle accident. This mission included teacher Christa McAuliffe who was to teach lessons from space. The
Center, located on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, opened in March of 1999.
Its signature programs involve exciting space mission simulations, robotics, and other science, technology,
engineering, and math (STEM) educational programs. It recently was recognized for its work with students by
the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation with its Organization Award.