Steve Higdon orients his life and career around his family, striving to be the best husband and father he can be.
Higdon was president and CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI) from 1997 – 2005, leading that organization to the number one ranking chamber of commerce in the United States. During Higdon’s tenure, GLI provided leadership on some of Louisville’s largest initiatives including the city/county merger, a $1.2 billion expansion of the UPS air hub, and Every 1 Reads which aimed to have every child read on grade level.
Higdon received his bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Kentucky with a specialization in marketing. He is currently executive vice president of Faulkner Real Estate specializing in the commercial market.
He serves on the boards of several community organizations including the Louisville Zoo, the Louisville Sports Commission, and Trinity Alumni Association.
Bill Weyland loves finding creative ways to solve big challenges.
A Louisville native, Weyland is an architect and developer and is managing director of City Properties. He is responsible for over $50 million in development projects in Louisville’s urban core. Notable projects include the Louisville Slugger Museum, Glassworks, and the YWCA/Henry Clay Hotel.
He studied urban planning in Rome, Italy and has a B.A. in architecture and urban planning from Notre Dame University. His philosophy is to approach each project as a blank slate that welcomes the perspectives of all stakeholders.
Weyland has won many awards including the ABS National Design Award, Preservation Alliance Award for Design Excellence, and Forbes National Innovation Award.
Bill Samuels, Jr., is wired to achieve and seeks opportunities that have a beginning, end, and outcome.
Samuels is the president and CEO of Maker’s Mark bourbon in Loretto, Ky. Samuels comes from a long line of whiskey makers tracing his distilling heritage to Robert Samuels who came to Kentucky in 1784.
Samuels never intended to work for the family business. After earning a law degree at Vanderbilt University, he agreed to spend a year helping out at the company and never left. Samuels began his career in 1967 and became president and CEO in 1975.
The Wall Street Journal profiled Maker’s Mark on its front page in 1980 which was a catalyst for growth that would make Maker’s Mark one of the most iconic bourbons in the world.
Samuels is active in his community lending his talents and expertise to various organizations. He is chairman of the board of trustees of Bellarmine University, chairman of the board of Greater Louisville, Inc., and was past chairman of the University of Louisville board of trustees.
Ed Manassah is motivated to succeed when he encounters a challenging issue.
Manassah is a retired publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal (1993 – 2006). He served in leadership positions from city editor to publisher at six Gannett Co. Inc. newspapers since 1972 and received honors as the top editor/publisher eight times.
He was the founding editor of USA Today in 1982.
Manassah has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Youngstown State University and a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and Communication from the University of Florida.
He has served on many civic and professional boards in Louisville and elsewhere, including the Regional Leadership Coalition, Leadership Louisville, the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts, the Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, the Lincoln Heritage Council, the Louisville Urban League, Leadership Kentucky, and Metro United Way.
Manassah is currently an executive in residence at Bellarmine University where he is developing a school of communications, media, and mass culture.
For Denny Crum, competition is a way of life that influences everything he does.
Crum was head basketball coach at the University of Louisville from 1971 – 2001 compiling a 675–295 record. He guided the Cardinals to two NCAA championships (1980, 1986) and six Final Fours. He is considered one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. In 1993, Crum became the second fastest coach to reach 500 wins and in 1994 he entered into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Crum played basketball at UCLA under legendary coach John Wooden from 1956-58. After graduation, Crum coached four years at Pierce College and was then hired by Wooden as a top assistant coach. As a coach at UCLA, he played a role in three NCAA titles. He remained at UCLA until his departure for Louisville in 1971.
Crum remains active after retirement serving in advisory roles at the University of Louisville and also co-hosts the “Joe B. and Denny Show” on local talk radio. Crum founded The Denny Crum Scholarship Foundation, Inc., which awards scholarships to individuals who have demonstrated leadership, community service, and academic achievement.
Allan Cowen takes the long view of life and believes that life is as great as you choose it to be.
Cowen is president and CEO of Fund for the Arts, the united art fund of Louisville, KY. He began his career with Fund for the Arts in 1976 as executive director, becoming president and CEO in 1982. Cowen spent time in arts management in Akron and Columbus and three years as associate director of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem. He is a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio and the Harvard University Summer Institute in Arts Administration.
Fund for the Arts has experienced tremendous growth under Cowen’s leadership. The donor base has expanded from 6,000 to 26,000 and giving has grown from $536 thousand to $8 million, a fifteen-fold increase. Total assets have grown from less than $50 thousand to over $20 million.
In 1992, Cowen received the highest award given by the National Coalition of United Arts Funds, the Michael Newton Award, for excellence in united arts fundraising.
Heather French Henry is inspired by hard work and dedication and believes that everyone can choose to make a difference with the time they have.
French Henry graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning with a master’s degree in design and illustration. She is the winner of the 2000 Miss America pageant and used her platform to advocate for homeless veterans. French Henry has traveled the country to raise awareness for veteran’s issues and received the Purple Heart recognition award in 2002 for her work.
In 2002 and 2003, French Henry was the co-host of Fox in the Morning on WDRB in Louisville, KY. She is also the author of the children’s book series “Claire’s Holiday Adventures” and “Claire’s Everyday Adventures.”
French Henry continues to work on the behalf of homeless and disabled veterans across the nation.
Paul Hornung is one of the greatest players to ever play the game of football. He played running back for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 to 1966, winning four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl.
Hornung graduated from Notre Dame in 1957 and was the winner of the 1956 Heisman Trophy. He was the number one selection in the 1957 NFL draft by Green Bay. Hornung was the league’s most valuable player in 1961 and was chosen as an All-Pro twice and named to the Pro Bowl twice. He is one of only five players to have won both the Heisman Trophy and the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Hornung was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
He is the author of three books including an autobiography, “Golden Boy,” published in 2004 and “Lombardi and Me: Players, Coaches, and Colleagues Talk About the Man and the Myth,” published in 2006.
Jim Host loves Kentucky and he believes it has more potential than any other state in the country.
Host is the founder and chairman of Host Communications, a sports marketing and production company specializing in collegiate athletics. He has an extensive background in public service. Host was the youngest member of Governor Louis Nunn’s administration as commissioner of the Department of Public Information. He also served as the commissioner of the Department of Parks where he helped launch the Kentucky Horse Park.
Host earned his degree in radio and television from the University of Kentucky and was a scholarship player on the baseball team. He later went on to play professionally for the Chicago White Sox.
Host is currently the chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority. He has participated and served on over 40 professional organizations and boards in his career.
Dr. Whitney Jones understands the preciousness of time and the need to take action on the things that are most important in life.
Dr. Jones is passionate about preventing colon cancer. After diagnosing several patients with colon cancer within one week and knowing the cancer is preventable with appropriate screening, he set out to make a change.
In 2004 Dr. Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable colon cancer death and suffering by making sure people get timely screenings. He also serves as assistant professor of gastroenterology at the University of Louisville.
Dr. Jones is a graduate of the University of Louisville. He graduated with honors in psychology in 1983 and from medical school in 1987.
He remains active in numerous local and national professional organizations.
Francene Cucinello loves to get people talking and challenge them to think.
She is the host of the popular “Francene Show” on Louisville’s WHAS radio station. Cucinello is one of only 25 women with a lead talk show program in the country.
Cucinello got her start after calling in to answer a trivia question in college at West Virginia University; she was offered a job on the spot. Along with her radio success, Cucinello has previously worked as a reporter at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an experienced voice-over artist and has recorded audio books for the Library of Congress and won an award for her work on a series for the Discovery Channel.
In 2002, Cucinello won an international journalism fellowship and studied in Berlin.
Growing up in Kansas, Steve Sexton learned a lot about the importance of a strong work ethic and goal setting.
Sexton is one of the thoroughbred industry’s most successful leaders. He began his career in 1983 at Santa Anita Park and has spent time at Golden Gate Fields and Lonestar Park.
Sexton joined Arlington Park in 2002 and led successful hosting of the 2002 Breeder’s Cup. With only nine months to prepare Sexton’s team was able to add an extra 40,000 seats and all the necessary support infrastructure leading to a Breeder’s Cup world wagering record of $116 million.
Sexton became president of Churchill Downs in 2003 becoming only its twelfth president since 1875. He oversees all Kentucky pari-mutuel operations as well as the company’s interest in Kentucky OTB, Inc.
He lives and leads by the maxim if you aren’t taking care of your customers, someone else will.
Here is Steve’s obituary:
Rowan Claypool is a social entrepreneur who believes that young knowledge economy workers are the future of prosperous communities.
He is the founder of two organizations that have had a transformative effect on the city of Louisville and Commonwealth of Kentucky.
In 1999, Claypool founded Bulldogs in the Bluegrass. a program that provides summer internships in Louisville, Kentucky for Yale undergraduates. Since it began, Bulldogs in the Bluegrass has brought over 570 Yalies to experience Louisville through a total immersion experience. Of those, many have returned to Louisville for full-time employment after graduation.
Claypool also launched Teach Kentucky in 2001 to recruit the brightest and most ambitious young teachers to work in local public education. Since inception, Teach Kentucky has recruited 232 teachers, 141 of whom are still residing in Kentucky with 86% of participants still in the education profession.
Billy Reed believes in the power of the written word and its ability to influence people and events.
Reed is a native of Mt. Sterling, Ky., a graduate of Transylvania University and a veteran of the US Army Reserves.
He is a nationally renowned sports writer and journalist and is the author of twelve books. He has worked for some of the top news organizations in the country. Reed was writer and sports editor for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1966-1986, sports columnist for the Lexington Herald Leader from 1987-2001, and senior writer for Sports Illustrated from 1988-1998.
In 1972 Reed won two national journalism awards for his investigative reporting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry. He has appeared on several national television networks including ESPN, ABC, CBS, and The History Channel.
Joe Regan is motivated by seeing lives changed through improved education and expanded employment opportunities.
Regan is president and CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI), the metro chamber of commerce. He began his tenure at GLI in 1998 as chief operating officer after a term as executive vice president with the Rockford, IL chamber of commerce.
Before his career in economic development, Regan owned a marketing and publishing company and spent twelve years in radio broadcasting management, sales, and programming.
Regan is a graduate of the University of Iowa. He is a big believer in the transformative power of education and is excited to see Louisville take its place in the knowledge economy with an increased focus on educational attainment.
Kimberly Bunton is a strategic thinker and planner driven by the pursuit of excellence and personal best.
She is the director of Louisville Metro Government’s Policy & Strategic Planning Department and also the interim director of Louisville Metro Government’s Community Action Partnership.
Previously Bunton was an attorney with Frost Brown Todd, LLC in their business litigation department. She received a B.A. in Journalism and English and J.D. both from the University of Kentucky.
In 2003, Louisville Magazine recognized Bunton as one of the most powerful people under age 45 and Louisville Business First named her to the 40 Under 40 list in 2002.
Bunton was a spokesperson for the 2000 Unity Campaign where she advocated for the benefits of city/county government merger. She has since spent her time in government planning and implementing a smooth transition of Louisville and Jefferson County merger.
Jonathan Blue loves finding new opportunities and growing them into successful enterprises.
Blue is chairman and managing director of Blue Equity, LLC. As chairman, he oversees the acquisition and management of all Blue Equity businesses and was responsible for the development and sale of the nation’s largest Spanish directory publications to Telmex International.
In 2005, Blue formed BEST (Blue Entertainment Sports Television), a full-service sports and entertainment marketing, management and production firm.
Before his involvement with private equity investments, Blue was vice president for Progress Rail Services Corporation, then a subsidiary of Progress Energy, Inc. (NYSE: PGN), now part of Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT).
Blue received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent public speaker, Blue has been profiled in many national and international publications.
When he is not searching out new opportunities you may find him on the North America triathlon circuit.
Joan Riehm has dedicated her life to making Louisville a better place to live and work.
She has spent most of her career in the public sector, first with the city of Louisville, then for the state of Kentucky and currently with Louisville Metro government as deputy mayor. Riehm is also vice chair of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship.
Riehm assisted in several of Louisville’s largest government transitions including the merger of city/county school systems and desegregation in 1975 and later as the lead for the Louisville/Jefferson County government merger in 2002.
She graduated from Bellarmine University and has master’s degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Louisville.
Riehm is passionate about women’s issues, education, the environment, and the beautification of Louisville. She helped launch Benchmark 2000, a project to document the status of women and girls in Jefferson County, which led to the creation of Women 4 Women.
Making a difference is what drives Jack Guthrie. He began his career with Phillip Morris in public relations and became director of communications in their New York City office.
Guthrie returned home to Louisville and served as president of Kentucky Derby Festival from 1971–1977. Under his leadership, the Kentucky Derby Festival grew ten-fold becoming the nation’s largest civic celebration.
Guthrie graduated from University of Kentucky in 1963 and has since held various leadership positions. He was president of the UK Alumni Association, president of UK School of Journalism Alumni Association, and in 1996 served on the UK Board of Trustees.
He founded Guthrie/Mayes Public Relations in 1977, one of the largest independent public relations firms in Kentucky and currently serves as chairman. Guthrie was named Man of the Year by the Louisville Advertising Club in 1995 and has received many other professionals and personal awards over the years.
Craig Greenberg has a passion for making Louisville a better community. He is an attorney with Frost Brown Todd, LLC and directs the firm’s ancillary business initiatives. He oversees tax credit investment programs that have invested over $100 million into low-income communities in Kentucky and across the country.
Greenberg graduated from University of Michigan in 1995 and received his J.D. from Harvard law school in 1998 with cum laude honors. In 2000, Greenburg co-founded and served as COO/counsel of venture capital fund and technology consulting firm, iVisionary.
Business First named Greenberg to its 40 Under 40 list in 2000 and he was a 2005 graduate of the Bingham Fellows. He volunteers in his community by serving on the board of directors of United Metro Way, Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, and Louisville Jewish Community Center.
Raoul Cunningham has always been passionate about equality and making our system work.
Cunningham is currently president of Louisville’s NAACP chapter, the same organization where he started his civil rights career at age 14 in the mid-1950s.
Cunningham went from helping with voter registration to taking part in the nonviolent direct action, picketing a Louisville theater on behalf of black students who wanted to see “Porgy & Bess.” He later recruited other young activists, and together they picketed local lunch counters where African-Americans weren’t served.
His civil rights work continued as a student at Howard University. Cunningham served on U.S. Senator Walter Huddleston’s staff, working on issues that included civil rights legislation and the Martin Luther King Holiday Bill. Returning home to Louisville, Cunningham served as manager for Georgia Davis Power’s successful Kentucky Senate campaign.
Cunningham is the winner of the 2006 Martin Luther King Freedom Award.
J. Bruce Miller pursues excellence in everything he does.
He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. and J.D. receiving cum laude honors. In 1965, Miller founded the J. Bruce Miller Law Group which specializes in corporate litigation. He has also served four terms as Jefferson County attorney with responsibility to represent the local government in all civil matters.
Miller is also known for his attempts to attract a professional basketball franchise to Louisville.
Miller wrote the 2004 book “Airball: The Complete and Unvarnished Account of Louisville’s 30-Year Odyssey to Acquire an NBA Franchise.” His own involvement dates back to the 1970s, when Louisville was home to the Kentucky Colonels, an American Basketball Association team. The team dissolved in 1976 when the ABA merged with the NBA.
Miller is still active in groups hoping to bring the NBA to Louisville, and he is senior attorney of the J. Bruce Miller Law Group.
Rebecca Jackson was the first woman ever elected Jefferson County, Ky. judge-executive, the county’s highest-ranking elected official.
Before that election, Jackson had been active in international relations. She served on a delegation fostering relationships with local governments in China and with the International Republican Institute, observing Russian parliamentary elections and the selection of a Bulgarian presidential candidate.
Jackson is a graduate of the University of Louisville where she received her B.S. and Masters in Education. She began her career as a special-needs teacher and from there launched an employment agency for persons with handicaps. She also was CEO of RJ Consulting where she taught internationally on leadership and management training.
She is currently CEO of the WHAS Crusade for Children, a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs.
From an early age, Trey Grayson has been motivated to serve his community.
Grayson is a northern Kentucky native. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1994 and his J.D./M.B.A. from the University of Kentucky in 1998.
Grayson was elected to the office of Kentucky secretary of state in 2003, which at age 31 made him the youngest secretary of state in the country. He later became known as an expert on innovation in politics, as well as the political views of the millennial generation.
Before serving as Kentucky secretary of state Grayson was an attorney with Greenebaum Doll & McDonald.
Barbara Sexton Smith’s personal mission is to leave the earth better than she found it.
Sexton Smith has a storied professional background that includes time in corporate America where she rose to become the second highest ranking woman at Wendy’s International. She also is a successful entrepreneur. She founded Quick Think, Inc., a leadership development company in 1996 and was nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
A champion of the arts and area nonprofits, Sexton Smith helped raise more than $200 million for Louisville-area organizations, including the Fund for the Arts, Metro United Way, Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the National Conference for Community and Justice and West Louisville Boys and Girls Choirs.
Today she helps teach others how to reach their goals, leading courses in negotiation.