Elizabeth Kitzito sees her cookie business as a way to provide for her family here and in Uganda.
Born in Uganda during the 1950s, Kizito moved to America in 1975 to attend school. Unfortunately, civil unrest and war in Uganda prevented her from returning. She moved to Louisville in 1978 and began making and selling cookies – originally as a way to pay for her son’s birthday present. She started selling cookies downtown and within a few years, in 1989, she traded her cart for her own bakery on Bardstown Road.
Kizito’s heritage plays a large part in her life and business as she sells cookies from a basket atop her head, while dressed in traditional African attire. She can regularly be seen at local concerts, sporting events and festivals in Louisville selling cookies, brownies and biscotti. Her products are also sold at many restaurants and stores throughout the area. Today, many locals affectionately refer to her as the “Cookie Lady.”
Each year Kizito travels to Uganda to provide financial assistance to her relatives. In 2003, she was named Woman Business Owner of the Year by the Louisville chapter of NAWBO. Kizito has two sons, and resides in Louisville.
Summer Auerbach is committed to local independent businesses and leads Rainbow Blossom Natural Foods.
In 1977, Auerbach’s parents started the first Rainbow Blossom Food Market in Louisville. After growing up in the business, she decided to go away to school and travel extensively.
Auerbach graduated from Bentley University in Massachusetts with a degree in international studies. She had plans to serve in AmeriCorps and help in disaster relief. However, when her father became critically ill, Auerbach came back to Louisville to help with the store. She ended up staying for ten years, bringing the business back from the brink of bankruptcy, at a time when two national natural food chains opened stores a mile from her flagship store. She overcame these hurdles, expanding the business to five stores, eventually taking ownership of the business.
Committed to the local community, Auerbach was on the ground floor building the Louisville Independent Alliance, focused on buying local first, which now has over 700 members.
She has earned several recognitions for her work, including a 2013 Member of Bingham Fellows, 2011 Today’s Woman magazine’s Most Admired Woman in the Food and Entertainment category, and one of Business First’s “Forty Under 40” in 2010. She also serves on several boards in the area and co-hosts a local food podcast called “Mighty Fine Farm & Food.”
Dr. Donna Hargens’ unwavering belief that every child can learn serves her as she leads the country’s 28th largest school system, with more than 101,000 students and nearly 17,000 teachers and staff.
In 2011, Hargens began her position as the superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). She quickly brought the community and education communities together with a series of ongoing forums dubbed the Superintendent’s Summit. These valuable meetings allowed the School Board and her to initiate a five-year plan for the district’s future.
Hargens has proven to be a distinguished and caring educator, and was chosen by the US Education Secretary as the featured superintendent at the 2012 National School Turnaround Summit.
Previously, Hargens served as the interim superintendent and chief academic officer for Wake County school system in North Carolina, where she focused on reinventing struggling schools and achieved unprecedented academic gains. Before moving to the administrative side of education, she taught Spanish and English in Lomira, Wisconsin.
Hargens loved to read as a child in Wisconsin and she was determined to become a teacher. She is the first college graduate in her family. She serves the community on many boards, including the Fund for the Arts and the Mohammed Ali Center.
Hargens and her husband, Jeremy, have two adult children and one grandchild.
Jim Allen cites leadership by example as his style leading Hilliard Lyons.
Allen is the president, chairman, and CEO of Hilliard Lyons. After joining the firm in 1981, he has devoted his entire working career to the same company.
In 2003, Allen was named the president of Hilliard Lyons and a year later, he was elected chairman and CEO. Allen oversees more than 70 offices in 12 states and assets management of over $40 billion. He founded and served as president of both the Hilliard Lyons Growth Fund and the Hilliard Lyons Research Advisors. The firm is consistently included on “Best Places to Work” lists.
Allen is heavily involved in civic engagements throughout Louisville, and serves on several community boards and committees, many of which are education related. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Joseph W. Kelly Award from the Kentucky Board of Education, and he has been named to the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.
Allen and his wife, Missy, live in Louisville.
Matt Thornton cites his desire to win as the trait that drives him in his roles leading Thorntons and contributing to the community.
Thornton is president and CEO of Thorntons Inc., a leading, independent gasoline and convenience chain retailer with well over 170 stores. Originally founded by Thornton’s father, James H. Thornton, the first location opened in Clarksville, Ind., in 1971.
For eight years, Thornton served as vice president of operations. During this time, Thorntons revolutionized the convenience store industry with a new award-winning prototype store, featuring a wide variety of fast food products, groceries, and beverages within a well-lit, customer-friendly environment. In 2001, Thornton was named CEO of Thorntons Inc. He practices “lead by example” in his role and it is not uncommon to see him picking up discarded items to ensure a clean store for his customers.
The company is proud to be an ongoing member of Forbes magazine’s list of largest privately held companies in America, and for their peer-awarded recognition as the Most Admired Convenience Store Chain in North America.
Thornton also founded a private equity real estate firm, L3, targeting urban retail investments within first tier US markets. He has served as chairman of the Waterfront Development Corporation and chairman of the Metro United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society. In addition, he has served on the boards of several organizations including the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, and the Crusade for Children Foundation.
Thornton lives with his wife, Fran, and their three children.
Cathy Fyock’s belief in being true to your heart sparked her career as an author and human resources consultant.
Fyock launched her author-consultancy business, named Your Possibility Partner, to provide professionals with coaching support to help them cut through the daily distractions of everyday life and find the focus they need to write their books. She has provided keynotes and workshops for hundreds of clients and has authored six books, including “On Your Mark: From First Word to First Draft in 6 Weeks.”
Fyock was an employment strategist with several business and HR consulting firms before leading her own company, Innovative Management Concepts, for more than 20 years. Fyock also sang professionally with the Kentucky Opera for two seasons.
Fyock received her undergraduate degree in music from Western Kentucky University and her master’s in human resources from the University of Louisville.
Christen Boone is a community connector, social entrepreneur, and leader in nonprofit development and strategic philanthropy.
In 2014, Boone was named the president and CEO of Louisville’s Fund for the Arts. Fund for the Arts supports a range of arts organizations and drives accessibility across neighborhoods, schools, community centers, and public spaces.
Boone also leads The Boone Group, which focuses on building strong and vibrant communities through the power of collective action and the spark of strategic philanthropy.
Before starting The Boone Group, she served in leadership roles within the Greater Louisville Project, 21st Century Parks, Fund for the Arts, Actors Theatre of Louisville, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Fine Arts Fund in Cincinnati.
Boone has served on several boards and has received many community service honors. She was named the 2005 Outstanding Volunteer for Safe Place Services and a “Forty Under 40” leader by Business First. She has also served on the Kentucky Governors Scholars Board of Directors and Foundation.
Boone lives with her husband, Mike, and their three sons.
Tom Partridge thrives on helping businesses secure capital for projects that will have a positive impact on their communities.
Partridge is responsible for 45 bank branches of Fifth Third Bank in the greater Louisville and Lexington areas, and well as over 2.5 billion in assets. He oversees the growth and strategic direction of four lines of business, including commercial banking, branch banking, consumer lending, and investment advisors for the affiliate.
Partridge began with PNC in Cincinnati straight out of college. In 1997, he moved on to be a vice president with Fifth Third Bank. He took care of operations in Northeast Ohio and became president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank Kentucky in 2010.
Partridge has served on numerous Louisville community boards, including Fund for the Arts, the Louisville Orchestra, and Leadership Louisville, among others. He rises at 4:30 each morning, six days a week, to work out, and reads extensively on leadership.
Tom Fawbush began in broadcasting as a teenager.
He has been the General Manager at WBNA TV, an ION affiliate and the only locally owned station in Louisville, for over 10 years. He sees the impact, and responsibility of the impact, that broadcasting has on the community as a calling. The channel strives to present positive and entertaining programs. Fawbush transitioned the station from a network run entity to an independently run station.
He previously served as the operations director at Clear Channel Louisville and in sales for ION Media Networks.
Fawbush is a Louisville-native and graduate of the University of Louisville.
Tim Laird loves interacting with people and sharing experiences with food and beverage.
Laird is an authority on wines and spirits, as well as a gourmet chef, and a master at entertaining and execution. He makes hundreds of appearances a year on radio and television programs and has appeared on multiple news programs. In his current role as the chief entertaining officer of Brown-Forman, Laird serves as its brand spokesperson.
He also hosts three weekly television shows: “Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs,” “Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live,” and “Secrets of Resort Chefs.” Laird is a featured columnist for Louisville’s Food & Dining magazine and is also a published author.
Laird is an active volunteer, serving as a board member for Winston Industries, as an honorary board member for the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky, and as a member of the advisory board for APRON, Inc.
Dawne Gee grew up dreaming of working in communications.
In August 1994, Gee joined WAVE 3 News, where she had applied nine times before they hired her as a writer in the promotions department. Eventually, Gee filled in for an anchor on “WAVE Listens,” a television talk show. Four years later, she was named the morning anchor of WAVE 3 News.
Gee now co-anchors the 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. newscasts and hosts “WAVE Country with Dawne Gee,” which profiles people making a difference in our community and highlights events of interest in the area.
Gee is involved in many charitable organizations and serves on the board of the Kentucky Brain Injury Association. She frequently donates her time to serve groups that need help, and is especially active lending her time to local healthcare not-for- profits. In 2010, she was selected Louisvillian of the Year by Leo magazine. Her extensive speaking engagements on behalf of the community are upwards to 200 a year.
A Louisville-native, Gee earned a B.A. in communications and a B.A. in biology from the University of Louisville. Her faith and family keep her grounded. She has two sons and a daughter.
Challenge motivates Ed Hart, and business turnarounds meet that need for him.
Hart has a long and distinguished history of entrepreneurial undertakings, with a particular focus on the successful turnaround of high profile, previously failed projects. Hart successfully rescued two real estate buildings in the historic Highlands neighborhood and two theme parks, both of which he and his team brought from bankruptcy and neglect back to vibrant success.
Hart is now, again, deeply engaged in the redevelopment and reopening of the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, which has been dormant for five years. The original Kentucky Kingdom, which had previously closed after only one season in 1987, developed into the number one paid tourist attraction in Kentucky during the eight years this team owned and operated the theme park.
Hart began at the NYC headquarters of J.C. Penney Company and developed a chain of hair styling salons in Puerto Rico before becoming involved in the amusement industry. He has also produced independent films and was instrumental in funding and establishing Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. In 1995, Hart received Louisville’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
He and his wife reside in Louisville, Ky.
Dr. James Calleroz White wakes up every morning excited about how education constantly changes to stay relevant to a student’s future.
He is the head of school at the Louisville Collegiate School, a Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 co-ed school with over 700 students in Louisville, Ky. He is a change agent and sees his role as continually improving the education experience. Since arriving in Louisville, White has served as a guest columnist in Business First, has a regular column in the Voice-Tribune, and has served on many leadership and educational organizations and boards. White was also a speaker at the Leadership Louisville Best of Louisville Summit.
Prior to coming to Louisville, he was the assistant head of school at Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he also served as director of institutional advancement and director of the office of community engagement. This followed a stint as the director of college counseling at Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, and admissions officer in the Harvard College undergraduate admissions office.
White was born and raised in Hopkinsville, Ky. He received his bachelor’s in government and a master’s in education from Harvard University. White also earned a doctorate in education leadership, teaching, and administration from Arizona State University.
He lives in Louisville with his wife and three children.
Dan Rivers sees each day as an opportunity to “do better” and make a contribution.
From a near drowning incident at age ten, and teachings from his parents, Rivers has learned to see each day as an opportunity to achieve and contribute to the world.
In 2005, Rivers moved to the area to oversee the merger of a number of offices in Kentucky and Sothern Indiana and to create the managing team for the newly created Northwestern Mutual of Louisville. He is currently its managing partner and president.
He began with Northwestern Mutual as a college intern in South Carolina. After his graduation in 1988, Rivers became a full-time financial representative and earned a lifetime membership of the Million Dollar Roundtable. By 1993, he became the Columbia, S.C. office’s managing director. During this time, he led his office to be one of the leaders in the district.
In 2003, The State newspaper named Rivers one of their Top 20 Under 40. He holds many professional designations and has served on numerous local charitable and leadership boards in both South Carolina and Kentucky.
Ed Webb thrives on the challenges of business, change, and growth.
Webb became president and CEO of the World Trade Center Kentucky in 2008. He oversees the operations and strategic direction for global trade and international trade organization. Webb is responsible for strengthening businesses in Kentucky and supports economic development by facilitating import and export opportunities.
Webb reports to a 35-member board of directors, which includes the governor of Kentucky, the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, and other high-level business leadership from across Kentucky. Webb has spoken on numerous panel discussions on trade and serves on many board positions.
Webb was the founding executive director of the Frasier Museum and traveled frequently to the U.K., negotiating a historic agreement with the British Royal Armouries to form a long-term collections loan agreement with the Frasier. This was the first international collection of its kind outside of the United Kingdom.
Webb enjoys running, reading and travel. He and his wife, Jill, have three grown children.
Marty Storch’s competitive nature and commitment to continual improvement shape his contributions at the Louisville Metro Parks department.
As department director of Louisville Metro Parks, Storch oversees 120 parks in the greater Louisville area. These parks include 14 miles of parkways, 12 community centers, two amphitheaters, nine golf courses, 135 athletic fields, and 179 playgrounds. He also oversees a huge staff and a $24 million annual budget.
Storch serves in numerous activities throughout the community and on several boards of leadership. In 2013, Storch received the Jude Clark Memorial Trophy for serving on the Host and Championship Committee for the Cyclo-cross World Championships.
Storch serves on the Kentucky Derby Festival Board, the Louisville Sports Commission Board of Directors and the Kentucky Junior Golf Foundation Board, among others. He also volunteers for Bellarmine University’s scores table for men’s and women’s basketball.
Storch graduated from the University of Louisville as a student-athlete. He started all four years on the University of Louisville Cardinals golf team and served as team captain for two years. Storch won numerous awards for his contributions to the game of golf and also for cycling.
Jennifer Adrio desires to do meaningful work and make a positive impact on her community.
Adrio began her non-profit career at the American Red Cross and then moved over to Metro United Way as United Way’s executive vice president. During her tenure at United Way, the organization received several national awards for initiatives in increasing revenues in planned giving and major gift programs.
In 2013, Adrio rejoined the American Red Cross of Louisville after working with Metro United Way for over 23 years. Having worked closely with the Red Cross during her tenure at United Way, she has long held an appreciation for the importance of Red Cross services. She oversees 55 counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana.
Adrio is an experienced leader and well regarded throughout the Louisville area for her fundraising ability. She has two sons and resides in Louisville.
Saul Garcia followed his dream of seeing people enjoying themselves while sharing a meal at his own restaurant.
Garcia is the co-founder of Los Aztecas and Sol Aztecas restaurants in Louisville, Ky. Originally from Mexico, Garcia spent his early years without most modern amenities and began working at an early age to help his family. At age 11, he learned he had Leukemia, began chemotherapy, and pulled through with a new motivation in life.
As a teen, he worked in a restaurant and became fascinated with the restaurant experience. He especially enjoyed seeing how customers left so happy after sharing a meal together.
Garcia began studies at a local university, earning a law degree. At one point, the university shut down from a student strike, and he made plans to come to America with intentions to earn enough money to complete his education. He walked, alone, six days across the desert to get work in Fresno, Calif. as a migrant farm worker.
Garcia fell in love with the country and decided to stay. In 1997, with his brother and two friends, he opened the first Los Aztecas in Louisville. Since then, Garcia has opened 14 more locations of Los Aztecas and Sol Aztecas restaurants.
Chef Edward Lee wakes every morning with a passion for his work, and for learning and discovering new things.
Lee is a Korean-American chef from Brooklyn, trained in the kitchens of New York. He is the owner of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood restaurants.
In 2001, a Kentucky Derby road trip brought him to discover 610 Magnolia, where he fell in love with his surroundings. Within a year, Lee relocated to Louisville and the growing new southern food scene.
Lee’s culinary style draws from his Asian heritage, his New York training, and his embracing of the American south, combined with the best ingredients from local farms. He has been featured in many publications, was the winner on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” and was a season favorite on the Cooking Channel’s “Top Chef.”
He has twice been named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award, Best Chef Southeast. Lee has been on major news shows and has had several articles published in various journals. Lee’s cookbook, “Smoke and Pickles,” shares recipes and stories of his life.
In addition to 610 Magnolia, Lee operates The Wine Studio, a special event dining room, and Milkwood, a downtown restaurant serving southern bar food with an Asian pantry. He also collaborates on new product developments, including a luxury bourbon.
Vincenzo Gabriele and his brothers grew up with a love for fine dining, inspired by their father, a captain in the Merchant Marine.
In 1969, Gabriele came from Italy to work with his brother Giovanni in St. Louis. In 1975, Don and Michael Grisanti approached Gabriele to come to Louisville as maître d’ of their family restaurant. With his great people skills and an incredible knowledge of the art of hospitality, Gabriele eventually became the restaurant’s co-owner. In 1981, Gabriele was awarded the Ivy Award, an award given by his peers.
In 1986, Humana approached Gabriele to take over its downtown dining facilities. With the help of his brother, world-renowned chef Agostino Gabriele, Vincenzo’s Italian Restaurant was born. Vincenzo’s is an upscale, fine-dining establishment that has been honored with numerous industry awards and is a favorite stop for famous guests to Louisville.
The Gabriele brothers have donated financial support and food to a wide variety of charitable organizations and Vincenzo has received much recognition for his dedication to community service.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz experienced the calling and desire to serve others through the clergy while in high school.
Kurtz is the 4th archbishop, the 9th bishop of the Archdiocese of Louisville, and Benedict XVI appointed him Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D. He served from 1972 – 1999 in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., receiving the distinguished title of monsignor in 1986. He moved on to be the bishop of Knoxville, Tenn. until 2007.
The Archdiocese of Louisville is the oldest Roman Catholic Archdiocese west of the Appalachians, covering 24 counties and hosting a Catholic population of greater than 200,000 individuals. In 2010, Kurtz was elected to a 3-year term as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, serving on the executive and administrative committees.
Among his numerous roles and titles, Kurtz is the vice chancellor of the Board of the Catholic Extension Society and the Episcopal advisor to the Catholic Social Workers National Association.
Theatre director Les Waters’ interest in contemporary art and new plays drives him in his career.
Born to a working class family in rural England, Waters is an award-winning, British theatre director. He has numerous theatre credits in New York and around the U.S., including winning an Obie for the premier of “Big Love” at the Humana Festival.
Waters headed the M.F.A. directing program at UC San Diego from 1995 to 2003. He also served as the associate artistic director with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre from 2003 to 2011.
In 2000, and again in 2004, Waters came to Louisville to direct shows for the Humana Festival. In 2012, he was hired as artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL) and took charge of the Humana Festival, succeeding Mark Masterson.
In its previous 50 years, ATL only had three artistic directors. ATL is considered one of the most prestigious professional theatre companies in the United States. It has introduced over 400 plays and earned many awards, including a Tony award.
Waters is married to set designer, Annie Smart; They have two daughters and one son.
Mark Hogg seeks to end the global water crisis.
Seeing people using poor quality water while on a college trip to West Africa and how water borne diseases affected their health, then seeing how a chlorinator could help, served as the genesis for Mark Hogg’s passion for making clean water accessible throughout the world.
In 1995, Hogg launched the non-profit organization Edge Outreach, recently renamed WaterStep. He works every day to put an end to the global water crisis by bringing clean drinking water to developing communities and disaster environments.
Hogg, along with WaterStep, trains and empowers ordinary people to provide safe and sustainable water, sanitation, health and hygiene solutions in their own communities. In 2012, WaterStep began manufacturing its own chlorine generator, a simple water purification system. WaterStep has impacted the quality of life for people all over the world.
WaterStep also added beehives to the rooftop of their building as a way to support the local urban gardening movement. Hogg established a profitable shoe export business to help fund his non-profit initiative.
Hogg has received a Social Entrepreneur award and was among 128 people chosen for Leadership Louisville’s Connector Project.
The mantra “You are pure potential,” from his improv mentor, Dr. Martin de Maat, motivates Chris Hartman in his work against discrimination.
Hartman’s work as an activist in the LGBT community has helped stop anti-fairness legislation, and change the conversation.
Hartman served as the Philadelphia director of the Democratic National Committee’s open-air grassroots fundraising effort for the 2004 Presidential Election. In 2008, he served as campaign press secretary to Congressman John Yarmuth. Hartman also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.
Hartman is the first director of Louisville’s 20-year-old Fairness Campaign and a steering committee member of the Kentucky statewide Fairness Coalition. He also founded and produced Project Improv, improvisational theatre troupes located in both St. Louis and Louisville.
Gill Holland’s curiosity has led to careers as an independent film producer, building developer, and former lawyer.
Holland is changing the landscape of Louisville’s East Market District. He coined the term New Lou for the formerly economically depressed area, turning it into a thriving and sustainable arts district. This is where he opened the Green Building, certified LEED Platinum, which is recognized as the greenest commercial building in Kentucky.
Holland is also the founder of the group Entertainment LLC, which includes a film production company, talent management division, music company, and art gallery. He has produced more than 70 feature films, including “Hurricane Streets,” the first film to win three Sundance Film Festival awards.
Holland founded sonaBLAST! Records featuring CDs made from recycled plastics with cardboard cases. He has also authored two fundraising books for children and serves on many local cultural boards. Louisville magazine named Gill Holland the 2009 Person of the Year.