Winner named in Fall 2017 Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge

The 18th class of the Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program graduated on October 4, 2017 following a day of presentations to a panel of esteemed judges. The six teams put their work for local nonprofits on display in hopes of winning the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge and earning additional funds for the agency they worked to assist.  The team working with Dogs Helping Heroes was selected as winner of the challenge and will receive the $1,500 prize made possible by the YUM! Brands Foundation.  

While one team was selected as the winner, all six nonprofit agencies received significant support, with the six teams contributing over 2,150 hours of service and providing over $115,000 in value to the nonprofit agencies.

“At Yum!, we believe our unrivaled culture and talent fuel results, and the Ignite Louisville program shows how extraordinary talent can have an incredible impact,” said Matt Zeiger, YUM! VP Finance.  “Yum! is a proud partner with Leadership Louisville Center for the Ignite Louisville program to build leadership skills and make our community better.”

Presented by Norton Healthcare, Ignite Louisville is a seven-month program that grows young professionals by developing the key components of leadership. The Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge is an opportunity for teams from the Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program to undertake a project for a local nonprofit, gaining experience in community leadership, board involvement and teamwork.  Since its inception in 2004, Ignite Louisville participants have worked on over 100 projects for area nonprofits to plan, execute and sustain new strategies for success. Participating nonprofits benefit from the expertise and energy of the teams, which each invest hundreds of hours with their nonprofit agency as they compete for donations made possible by the YUM! Brands Foundation.

Click to see team photos and results achieved by each team for their nonprofit partners.


Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge winning team and agency:


Dogs Helping Heroes

Lauren Colberg, LG&E and KU Energy LLC; Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal; Keith Joy, BAE Systems; Alan Oca, Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, LLC; Angie Stokes, Harshaw Trane; Lara Thompson, Crowe Horwath; Cassandra Webb, Louisville Urban League; and Lindsay Wehr, University of Louisville.

Dogs Helping Heroes (DHH) is a nonprofit organization that provides trained service dogs to wounded warriors and first responders to help mitigate their disabilities. The team helped the young nonprofit lay a solid foundation for continued and future success.  They helped the organization build its first-ever comprehensive three-year strategic plan.  The nonprofit hoped the team would be able to help them gain Assistance Dog International Certification to make funding available for veterans to have their animal expenses covered through VA benefits.  Despite a long delay in the availability of gaining this certification, the team worked to secure funds to meet the animal expenses in other ways.   Grants and contributions from TEGNA, Brown-Forman, BAE Systems and others raised over $10,000 to help cover these costs.  In addition, the team generated media contacts and coverage, submitted a Gold Star Rating non-profit application, created a social media strategy, began a marketing plan, and provided new outreach contacts to connect DHH with key community members.

“From the time we applied for an Ignite team there was a spark in our organization that grew when we met them and went into a full blaze when they presented to us our new strategic plan for the next three years! The Ignite team has a synergy that worked very well in their planning and execution of their processes to help us look at all parts of our nonprofit. The creativity and communication the Ignite team had with our board and volunteers was phenomenal!”  

David Benson, Dogs Helping Heroes


Additional Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge teams and outcomes:

Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana

Marcus Bickwermert, MCM CPAs & Advisors; Mandie Creed-Clark, Communications Electronic Design; Jennifer Green, Yum! Brands, Inc.; Gigi Govindarajalu, Humana Inc.; Lucy Hagan, Brown-Forman Corporation; Andrew Palmer, Frost Brown Todd LLC; Chase Porter, BB&T Wealth; and Sarah Wunderlin, Archdiocese of Louisville.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana (EFKY) serves the more than 153,000 children, adults, and veterans living with epilepsy in Kentuckiana. It provides an array of vital programs and services designed to improve quality of life for those affected by this neurological disease.  The team’s mission was to modernize the way EFKY reaches the public, its donors, and the people it serves. Specifically, they redesigned the EFKY’s website and replaced the customer relationship management (CRM) program. The new website allows the Epilepsy Foundation to more effectively convey its message and inform the public of the services available.  Additionally, it provides a more convenient platform for donors to provide financial assistance which is crucial to the organization.  The CRM allows the EFKY to stay connected with its donors, volunteers, and those receiving services in a more efficient and effective manner. Together, these projects allow EFKY to work smarter and more efficiently to allocate greater time and resources to its core missions.

“It has been an incredibly rewarding experience working with our Ignite Louisville team, the Great 8! Their dedication and professionalism over the past 6 months has resulted in invaluable support to the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana and, in turn, will benefit children, adults, and veterans living with and affected by epilepsy for many years to come!  Thank you for this amazing opportunity to greatly improve the operations of the Foundation!”  

Debbie McGrath, Epilepsy Foundation


Maryhurst, Inc.

Tonya Appleby, Passport Health Plan; Robert Croft Jr., Dinsmore & Shohl LLP; Natalie Henderson, M.D., University of Louisville; Lauren Martin, Zelkova Strategic Partners, LLC; Corey Ogburn, Strothman+Co; Ashley Parrott, Louisville Metro Government, Office of the Mayor; and Ben Whatton, Brown-Forman Corporation.

Maryhurst is a 175-year-old nonprofit whose mission is to work with children and young adults who have endured significant trauma.  The Ignite Louisville team was tasked with increasing exposure and name recognition of Maryhurst to the millennial generation.  In 522 hours, they completed a two-part project to engage millennials in the Maryhurst mission: formation of an Associate Board and a fall fundraiser.  They formed an Associate Board of 27 young professionals.  This included working with Maryhurst to alter their bylaws to include the Associate Board, hosting a recruitment event at Dinsmore and Shohl, and voting in the final board.  The second part of millennial engagement was achieved by planning the forthcoming fall fundraiser Boos and Brews at Copper and Kings on October 27th that will include a costume contest, food and drinks, and a distillery tour.  The team’s efforts have thus far added $5400 over two years in board contributions, over $5500 in fundraiser sponsorships, and a projected $7000 in 2017 event ticket sales.

“The Ignite Louisville program has become one of the most exciting business development opportunities in the city, and the World Domination Maryhurst project team is proof positive of that. The team consistently impressed me with the originality and quality of their ideas – as well as their knack for self-starting. Their communications and goals have been timely and actionable, and the standard of their work has been outstanding. Congratulations on a job well done.”

Katie Kern, Maryhurst



Aaron Butler, Horseshoe Southern Indiana; Michael Buckman, Nazareth Home, Inc.; Cassie Chambers, Louisville Legal Aid Society; Angie Corbett, GE Appliances, a Haier Company; Becca Cotto, Texas Roadhouse; Bonnie Laughlin, Crowe Horwath LLP; and Hank Wall, Louisville Capital Advisors of Raymond James.

OneWest is a community development corporation, whose goal is to serve as a catalyst for an economically vibrant West Louisville. To better understand how OneWest could effectively engage the community, the team conducted a community survey. The team developed a structured interview process, and then interviewed community leaders and community organizations. From these interviews, the team gathered valuable information about the work of existing organizations, their awareness of OneWest, and how they envisioned OneWest’s role in the community moving forward.

One of the key takeaways from the interview process was that OneWest needs to increase community awareness of its mission. Another was that many of the organizations in West Louisville, including OneWest, should work together and leverage each other’s strengths in order to increase their collective impact.  To address these observations, OneWest discussed creating a West Louisville publication.  The team will support this project going forward if OneWest decides to pursue this further.

“All of us at OneWest are incredibly grateful to our Ignite Team. From the start of this partnership, it was clear that these seven professionals were fully committed to supporting OneWest’s evolving community engagement strategy. This project has been challenging; we’ve thrown curve balls at them along the way, even redefining the goals and outcomes. Their research will help us refine our outreach strategy as we work to increase commercial development in West Louisville.”  Jenny Recktenwald, OneWest


Summit Academy

Brittany Allison, Willett Distillery; Rhodes Bratcher, PNC Bank; Jennifer England, Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, LLC; Jimmy Henderson, University of Louisville; Caroline South, Kindred Healthcare; Carrie Syberg, Actors Theatre of Louisville; and Colin Triplett, Catholic Charities of Louisville.

Summit Academy’s mission is to provide a nurturing environment for children with learning differences where each child’s learning challenges are understood and met. The team partnered with the school in Middletown to create a sustainable marketing campaign designed to build awareness about the school and its mission in the community. The team identified target audiences and developed a structured outreach program complete with a marketing calendar. They also formalized an ambassador manual for current and former students and parents in order to promote Summit Academy. With awareness growth, Summit will be able to accommodate an influx of referrals by utilizing the new referral database. The database was created to manage historical and prospective resources.  It will allow Summit to efficiently track each referral’s progress. Additionally, the team worked with branding consultants Peggy Noe Stevens and Mary Stone to streamline the school tour process, granting Summit the flexibility to have several people deliver a consistent message.

“Summit Academy is incredibly grateful for all the time and hard work that our Ignite team has put in these last six-plus months. They have been thorough, engaged and open throughout this entire process. Our team has not only focused on developing and implementing the project laid out in our original proposal, they’ve also brought up new ideas and opportunities – and they even re-painted our cafeteria! We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with them in the months and years ahead.”  

Kelly Jarboe, Summit Academy


Wilderness Louisville

Tony Aloise, GE Appliances, a Haier Company; Lauren Beckley, Greater Louisville Inc.; Jeb Duke II, Humana Inc.; Meagen Hogancamp, Hilliard Lyons; Chelsea Nichols, Kroger Corporation; Dan Tepe, KentuckyOne Health; and Leslie Conner Warren, Teach for America – Appalachia.

Wilderness Louisville, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 with a mission to be champions for Louisville’s natural areas, from Jefferson Memorial Forest, the nation’s largest municipally-owned urban forest, to the ones in your neighborhood.  The team developed several sustainable solutions to create long-term positive impact for the nonprofit agency. These include increased social media and digital awareness, which were leveraged for success in Give For Good Day, raising over $4,000 in their first year of participation. Additionally, the group designed the framework and plan for a membership campaign, supported through implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, to be launched in early 2018. In all, these outcomes are tools the growing organization can implement in accordance with their pace of growth over the next year.

“Wilderness Louisville received a tremendous boost in its capacity thanks to our partnership with our Ignite team. As a result of our Team’s efforts, we are preparing to launch a major membership campaign, a project we have long discussed but lacked the capacity to implement on our own. Our Ignite team members were exceptionally eager, focused and productive. They were great listeners and understood and were committed to our mission, but brought new and innovative ideas to the table. The team’s expertise and creative approach were extremely valuable to this project, and will have long-lasting impact on Wilderness Louisville. On behalf of my board, I want to thank every member of our team for all the hard work, thoughtfulness, dedication, and focus they gave us. We couldn’t have done it without you!”  

Theresa Zawacki, Wilderness Louisville


About Ignite Louisville:

Presented by Norton Healthcare, Ignite Louisville is a seven-month program that grows rising community leaders by developing the key components of leadership. In addition to the core curriculum, the class participates in the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge and takes on a project proposed by a local nonprofit to gain hands-on experience performing on a team and serving the community.  The 2017 class learned cutting-edge leadership concepts from program partners including Norton Healthcare, Yum! Brands, Inc., Brown-Forman Corporation, BB&T and the U.S. Army.  Ignite Louisville was founded by the Leadership Louisville Center in 2003 in partnership with the Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL) and the Louisville Urban League Young Professionals (LULYP).

About the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge

The Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge is the service learning component of the Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program. Each year, about 12 nonprofits are selected to work with an Ignite Louisville team. At the end of each program, a winning team (or teams) receives funds for their partner organization.

Since its inception in 2004, Ignite Louisville participants have worked on over 100 projects for area nonprofits to plan, execute and sustain new strategies for success.  The Ignite Louisville teams invest an average of over 500 in each of their partner organizations. In a recent survey, partner organizations stated that Ignite Louisville teams remarkably improved the productivity of operations, increased the organization’s outreach in the community and improved the strategic focus of the organization. The average value of each team’s work in the most recent class is over $35,000 and many Ignite Louisville graduates have joined the boards of directors of their adopted nonprofit, helping to accelerate a generational change in leadership. In 2013, Ignite Louisville’s challenge received a national award for “Excellence in Innovation” from the Association of Leadership Programs. In 2009, it was awarded the Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s Pyramid Award for the Art of Collaboration.

About the Leadership Louisville Center:

Created in 1979, the Leadership Louisville Center is the region’s most valuable resource for leadership development and civic engagement.  Its mission is to grow and connect a diverse network of leaders who serve as catalysts for a world-class community through dynamic programming and strong community connections.  Over 7,000 community leaders have graduated from the Center’s programs that include Leadership Louisville, Focus Louisville, Ignite Louisville, Bingham Fellows, and Encore Louisville.  The Leadership Green Room was launched in 2015 and serves as the training and talent development arm of the Center, expanding the resources available to the region’s business community and employee base.  In 2011, the Leadership Louisville Center was recognized as one of the top seven community leadership programs in the U.S. in a benchmark study by the Center for Creative Leadership, the “gold standard” global provider of executive leadership education and research.  Learn more at

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