After one year of deep exploration and creative problem-solving, influenced by the momentous events of the last year, the Bingham Fellows Class of 2020 revealed initiatives focused on the topic, “Making Louisville a Top-Tier City,” at a virtual event on Thursday, February 25.

The 42 community leaders who make up the class presented four projects that evolved from ideas that would push the community forward to tools that would help the entire community rise together – stronger, and more equitable.

The projects include a focus on connecting all individuals in the digital realm and ensuring equitable resources for small businesses and neighborhoods. To make this possible, one of the projects is focused on expanding resources by giving citizens the opportunity to decide how to invest in the community.


Here is more about the 2020 Bingham Fellows, focused on Making Louisville a Top-Tier City (download class report at this link):


The Class of 2020 has had a year like no other in Bingham Fellows’ history. Forty-seven leaders had just started their research on how to propel Louisville toward becoming a top-tier city when COVID-19 brought our city’s momentum to a screeching halt. When summer 2020 brought cries for justice, the class came to an undeniable realization:

To be a top-tier city, we must engage our whole community.

With that guiding premise, the class developed four initiatives designed to lift up those previously left behind so the city can move forward together. Here are the projects:

DIGITAL INC(LOU)SION – Digital Access for All

Digital Inc(LOU)sion seeks to coordinate and expand the many existing digital inclusion initiatives into one highly functional, solution-oriented digital inclusion coalition. The events of 2020 brought two important truths into stark reality: broadband access is as essential as running water and electricity and many in Louisville lack the broadband access needed to participate fully in society. Several groups in Louisville are attempting to bridge this digital divide as it relates to their own mission. For instance, Jefferson County Public Schools has distributed laptops and set up Wi-Fi hotspots, and private companies have invested in equipment and training for their employees. But these efforts are patchwork at best and, in some cases, serve to highlight the disparate access that many in Louisville have to broadband. Digital Inc(LOU)sion will bring together organizations across the city to attract the financial and other resources needed to implement scalable solutions. The coalition will act as a chorus instead of merely a group of voices, making each group’s efforts more impactful for the city as a whole.


2 TO 22 – Empowering Black Businesses

While Louisville’s demographic consists of an African American population of approximately 22%, our makeup of Black business owners is closer to 2%. 2 to 22 was formed to address this key disparity and create a business community that is truly reflective of our city. Through gathering insights from business owners in the community, 2 to 22 identified that there is no lack of great ideas in our city. Roadblocks arise when it comes to “where to go” during critical junctions of business growth. Whether legal support, bookkeeping, or financing, navigating the waters of business development takes resources and connections. There are many people in the Louisville community with both knowledge of the building blocks to success and willingness to help. The key is making the right connections at the right time. Through partnerships with the Black Business Association, Amplify, and many others, 2 to 22 will be a navigator and connector to close our city’s business gap.


THRIVE IN LOU – Strong Neighborhoods

A top tier city must have a variety of neighborhoods that support community and provide great places where neighbors can live, work, play, and thrive.  Louisville is a quilt of great neighborhoods with unique stories and assets; however, they are not all equally positioned for success.  To be a top-tier city Louisville must become a thriving and equitable community, one neighborhood at a time.

To achieve this goal, Thrive in Lou partnered with Center for Neighborhoods to enhance and develop a neighborhood engagement tool based on the neighborhood L.O.V.E. principles of Livability, Opportunity, Vitality and Education.  This tool allows neighbors to understand and define their unique story; recognize their assets, and then leverage them to create a strategic path toward being a unique place where everyone can thrive.


YOU DECIDE, KENTUCKY! – Resources in the Hands of Citizens

You Decide, Kentucky! is a statewide initiative focused on engaging, educating, and galvanizing people and organizations across the Commonwealth to achieve a shared goal: Empowering local governments and citizens to decide what revenue streams will improve the quality of life in their communities.

Doing that requires modernizing the outdated and complex tax code of the Kentucky Constitution, giving authority to the General Assembly to enable revenue-raising options at the county and municipal level. Learning from and building upon previous efforts, You Decide, Kentucky! places a significant focus on creating a strong, multi-partisan coalition of citizens — rural and urban, progressive and conservative, voters and public officials — needed to influence change in Frankfort and positively impact communities around the state.

Our team has formed a 501(c)3 organization, assembled an executive committee, and launched a multi-year campaign to help unlock the capital needed to fund more community-centered, local initiatives across the Commonwealth.



Members of the Bingham Fellows Class of 2020 are (link to photo roster):

Ashish Agarwal, Humana Inc.; Cliff Ashburner, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP; Cleo Battle, Louisville Tourism; Heather Weston Bell, Kentucky Performing Arts; Brian Bennett, Stites & Harbison PLLC; Eric Bickel, Papa John’s International; Neville Blakemore, A|R Strategic Partners, LLC; Bryce Butler, Access Ventures; Billie Castle, Ph.D., Louisville Metro Government; Wayne Davis, GE Appliances, a Haier company; Mayor Bill Dieruf, City of Jeffersontown; Ashley Duncan, Republic Bank; Jeana Dunlap, Louisville Coordinated Community Investment Project; Randy Frantz, Transit Authority of River City (TARC); Steven Heilman, M.D., Norton Healthcare; Tim Holz, Brown-Forman Corporation; Sean Horton, UPS; Gretchen Hunt, Emerge Kentucky; James Irving, Bingham Greenebaum Doll; Scott Koloms, Canopy Certified Inc.; Amy Lingo, Ph.D., University of Louisville; Todd Lowe, Parthenon LLC; Melanie McCoy, Frost Brown Todd LLC; Scott Nardi, Republic Bank; Chris Nolan, MML&K Government Solutions; Kent Oyler, UofL College of Business; Moira Payne, KYCAD; Jennifer Recktenwald, Appriss Inc.; Ben Reno-Weber, Microsoft Future of Work Initiative; Theresa Reno-Weber, Metro United Way; Scott Schaftlein, EY; Chuck Schram, LG&E and KU Energy LLC; Fr. Jeff Shooner, Archdiocese of Louisville, St. Patrick, St. Boniface; Andrew Slater, Beam Suntory; Brad Smith, MCM CPAs & Advisors LLP; Min Son, Refinery Consulting; Eric Stout, United States Department of Agriculture; Wes Sydnor, Louisville MSD; Michael Taday, Humana Inc.; Daniel Tafel, Hornbeam Insurance; Bill Weyland, Weyland Ventures; and Mary Ellen Wiederwohl.

2020 Steering Committee

Matthew Barzun (BF ‘05, LL ‘05), Louisville Magazine; Christen Boone (BF ‘17, LL ‘10, IL ‘05, FL ‘03), Fund for the Arts; Paul Costel (LLC BOD ‘09-14, LL ‘94), JPMorgan Chase; Trisha Finnegan, Community Foundation Of Louisville; David Hardy (LLC BOD ‘15-20, BF ‘07, LL ‘06), CBRE; Kathy Knotts (BF ‘19, LL ‘18), The Gheens Foundation; and Terra Leavell (BF ‘18, LL ‘14, FL ‘04), Black Community Development Corporation.

About the Bingham Fellows program:

The Bingham Fellows program is the advanced leadership program of the Leadership Louisville Center. Created in 1988 through a $500,000 endowment from the Mary and Barry Bingham Sr. Fund, the Fellows are social entrepreneurs who have the imagination and talent needed to gather critical resources and create social change. Side by side with peers, participants work to develop dynamic and innovative solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges. The 2020 cohort is the 28th class, joining a long history of Bingham Fellows classes who have had an impressive track record of providing community issues with visibility and momentum.

The Fellows don’t ponder what might be. They roll up their sleeves, shine a spotlight on an issue, and put new ideas to work. Their recent impact includes projects such as the West Louisville community development organization OneWest, regular Café Louie conversations with elected officials at Louisville Free Public Library locations, a sustainable model for neighborhood ‘Little Free Libraries,’ and City Champs, a talent attraction and retention program now managed by Greater Louisville Inc. The impact of the Fellows goes back to the 1990s with the creation of The Housing Partnership, construction of the Presbyterian Community Center, growth of local farmers’ markets, and numerous other positive outcomes.


The Leadership Louisville Center is the region’s most valuable resource for leadership development and civic engagement. With a purpose to inspire and equip leaders to be better and do better, it has graduated over 10,000 through its civic programs since 1979. The Center is recognized as a national best practice and is known for its dynamic programming and strong community connections. Programming includes five social impact leadership programs (Leadership Louisville, Focus Louisville, Ignite Louisville, Bingham Fellows and Encore Louisville), leadership skills training courses presented through the Leadership Green Room, and events designed to connect leaders and motivate positive change. Learn more at www.leadershiplouisville.org.


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