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65 individuals named as West Louisville Connectors

A diverse group of 65 individuals, ranging in age from 27 to 84 and representing all walks of life, have been recognized as West Louisville Connectors for their success in working for the common good and having the knowledge, respect and connections to effect positive change.

Meet 65 West Louisville Connectors

About the West Louisville Connectors Project

The Leadership Louisville Center launched the West Louisville Connectors project in December 2014 to elevate some of West Louisville’s greatest assets – its people. Through the identification and recognition of West Louisville Connectors, the Leadership Louisville Center will celebrate this network of leaders committed to serving the common good and help to develop a higher level of connection and leadership in the city.

The project was inspired by and followed a similar process as the 2009 Leadership Louisville Connector project.  The focus on West Louisville came from the 2014 Bingham Fellows, who began a series of projects to invest in West Louisville’s path to prosperity.  This allowed the Center’s involvement in the area to continue through this project that recognizes the often un-sung leaders who live, work and care about West Louisville. The West Louisville Connectors will also have the opportunity to interact with the work of the 2014 Bingham Fellows and Leadership Louisville Center programs.  Learn more about work of 2014 Bingham Fellows.

Our goals with the West Louisville Connector project are simple.  We hope to elevate the individuals doing great work in West Louisville. We also hope to build bridges by fostering relationships with them and the original Connectors. We plan to invest in developing the leadership skills of these important Connectors and to listen and learn from their perspectives.

“The West Louisville Connectors Project is a continuation of the Leadership Louisville Connector Project, which took place in 2010 as an initiative to identify and recognize the often-unsung individuals in our community who make great ideas possible,” says Leadership Louisville Center president Cynthia Knapek. “Although not always in positions of authority, these leaders have a great ability to influence and shape others.  Based on our experience with the Connectors recognized in the last project, we see supreme value in having a strong network of connection and look forward to listening and learning from their perspectives.”

Who are the West Louisville Connectors?

The individuals named as West Louisville Connectors were nominated by others who see them working for the common good in West Louisville and believe they have the knowledge, respect and connections to effect positive change.  They live, work or care about West Louisville neighborhoods, including Chickasaw, Shawnee, Portland, Russell, California, Parkland, Park Hill, Park DuValle and Algonquin.

The 65 West Louisville Connectors include school principals, community organizers, pastors, social justice advocates, health care workers, elected officials, economic development investors, social workers, nonprofit directors, entrepreneurs and neighborhood volunteers.

They come from all generations – 4% are 20-29 years of age, 19% are 30-39, 28% are 40-49, 19% are 50-59 and 30% are 60 and over.  The majority of West Louisville Connectors are African American (76%), but they include other races and ethnicities.  Almost all of them have at least a 2-year Associate degree; half of them have a Graduate or Professional degree.  45% are Leadership Louisville Center graduates and 12 of the 65 were named as Leadership Louisville’s Connectors in 2010.

How were the West Louisville Connectors identified?

The Leadership Louisville Center received over 2,000 nominations for West Louisville Connectors in December and January. The community was asked to nominate people they know who live, work or care about West Louisville, have a strong interest in working for the common good and have the knowledge, respect and connections to effect positive change.  Numerous project partners helped publicize the call for nominations.

Over 600 individuals received a nomination, and following data analysis, the Center identified the list of West Louisville Connectors.  The Leadership Louisville Center used the same the process as the 2010 Leadership Louisville Connector Project, which was developed by a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Karen Stephenson of NetForm.

Definition of Connector

In his book The Tipping Point, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell called the people who make it possible to bring great ideas into fruition “Connectors,” for their ability to create and impact change in their communities by serving as a pocket of trust.  Connectors are not always in positions of authority but have a great ability to lead and influence others through their informal networks.

West Louisville Connectors Project Partners:

PNC Bank generously provided funding for the West Louisville Connectors project.  Additional community partners include:  the Department of Safe Neighborhoods, Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition – IMC, Louisville Central Community Centers, Inc., Louisville Defender, Louisville Urban League, Outfront Media, Renaissance Creative, TARC, Who’s Who Louisville, WLOU & Praise 104.9, African American Network Group – AANG, plus many other community partners in West Louisville.

What’s next for the West Louisville Connectors?

Our goals with the West Louisville Connector project are simple.  We hope to elevate the individuals doing great work in West Louisville. We also hope to build bridges by fostering relationships with them and the original Connectors. We plan to invest in developing the leadership skills of these important Connectors and to listen and learn from their perspectives.

About the 2009 Leadership Louisville Connector Project

The West Louisville Connectors project is modeled after the Leadership Louisville Connector Project.  This was launched as a signature initiative of the Leadership Louisville Center’s 30th anniversary in 2009. Beginning with community-wide participation, the goals were to generate a community conversation about leadership, recognize today’s leaders and mobilize the leaders of tomorrow.  From over 5,500 individuals, nominated by individuals from over 85 zip codes in the region, web-based survey techniques and sophisticated analysis by NetForm International, identified a dream team of 128 existing and emerging leaders.

Leadership Louisville’s Connectors were formally recognized in 2010 for their success at getting things done through their distinctive style of “trusted leadership.” The list of 128 Connectors includes elected officials from KY and IN, business leaders, pastors, directors of nonprofits, educators and many others. Numerous positive community outcomes have been attributed to the stronger network of connection that resulted from the 2009 Connector Project, including the creation of a cultural, artistic and cultural icon Happy Birthday Park.  Waterstep (formerly called EDGE Outreach) also attributes much of its growth to connections that began with the Connector Project. Multiple individuals recognized as Connectors have gone on to run and serve as political leaders, including Mayor Greg Fischer.

If you would like to learn more about the West Louisville Connectors project, contact Holly Prather, Vice President of the Leadership Louisville Center at connectors@leadershiplouisville.org.