Winner named in Fall 2022 Ignite Louisville Challenge

Winning team worked with nonprofit serving young girls

The 27th class of Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program graduated on October 12th following a day of presentations to a panel of esteemed judges. The six Community Acceleration Teams put their work for local nonprofits on display in hopes of winning the Ignite Louisville Challenge and earning additional funds for the agency they worked to assist.

The team working with The Earhart Club – an organization that inspires young girls to understand their values and connect to their voice, was selected as the winner of the challenge and will receive the $1,500 prize made possible by the Leadership Louisville Center. While one team was selected as the winner, all six nonprofit agencies received significant support, with the six teams contributing over 2,000 hours of service and providing over $110,000 in value to the nonprofit partners.

Presented by Norton Healthcare, Ignite Louisville is a six-month program that grows young professionals by developing the key components of leadership. The program has graduated over 1,000 up-and-coming leaders, preparing next-generation talent for expanded roles in their organizations and in the community. The Ignite 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 the first class graduated in 2005, Ignite Louisville Community Acceleration Teams have worked on over 160 projects for area nonprofits to plan, execute and sustain new strategies for success. Participating nonprofits benefit from the expertise and energy of these Community Acceleration Teams, which each invest hundreds of hours with their nonprofit agency as they compete for donations. Click to see team photos and results achieved by each team for their nonprofit partners.

Ignite Louisville Challenge winning team and agency:

The Earhart Club

Team: Sarah Abshear, Abshear PLLC; Isabel Corominas, Brown-Forman Corporation.; Shelby Fill, &well; Rochelle Heis; JRA Architects; Prasad Rane, Humana Inc.; Isaac Schuetz, BLUE Energy Group; Shelby Somervell, Greater Louisville Inc. | GLI

This Ignite Louisville team worked with The Earhart Club, positioning it to bring its after-school program for girls to the next level and expand to new schools. Over the course of six months, they finalized a full 8-week curriculum, created a training guide for volunteers, redesigned the girls’ program materials, conducted a legal review of the Club’s documents and procedures, and built its first ever operations manual. Their improvements to branding, marketing materials, and the website will help establish a unique, recognizable brand that is consistent across all platforms.

With these comprehensive materials, the program can easily be brought to schools throughout JCPS and beyond with speed and consistency. More importantly than addressing immediate program needs, the work provides the Club with a strong foundation for growth into new communities–so that girls across the state, country, and beyond can establish their values, bond with their peers, and find their voices.

Additional Ignite Louisville teams and agencies:

Bringing Justice Home

Team: Kayla Campbell, DBL Law; Heather Gregory, GE Appliances, a Haier company; Henry Lynch, Vsimple; Jonathan Meacham, LG&E and KU Energy; Kelsey Thomas, First Tee – Louisville; Stephanie Weidenborner, Humana Inc.

Over a period of seven months, this Ignite Challenge team worked closely with Bringing Justice Home (“BJH”) to better understand their mission and the important work that they do. The team found it very beneficial to become actively engaged in the organization to fully appreciate the mission of BJH and be able to see first-hand the positive impact they have on the community. By engaging with board members, going through the onboarding process, volunteering to bring groceries to neighbors and getting to know some of the neighbors themselves, the team gained a significant amount of insight into how the organization works and specific ways they can meet needs in our community.

This first-hand knowledge of how BJH operates combined with our professional experience in the areas of process improvement, organizational growth, non-profit program development and strategic marketing led to the development of several recommendations to help further the mission of BJH. These recommendations include adapting the volunteer onboarding process, identifying community network and engagement opportunities, and outlining strategic marketing initiatives. The team also created a promotional video to help BJH tell its story.

Exploited Children’s Help Organization

Team: Elizabeth Chandler, J.B. Speed Art Museum; Aaron Duvall, BKD CPAs & Advisors, LLP; Epiphany McGruder, The Housing Partnership Inc.; Nikki Patterson, P.E.P. Rally; Lisa Purdy, Maryhurst, Inc.; Emily Teaford, Humana Inc.; Megan Ueltschy Scheps, Independence Bank

Exploited Children’s Help Organization’s (ECHO) mission is to prevent and reduce the incidence and impact of child abuse by providing education, advocacy, and support services to the children and families of Metro Louisville.

This Ignite team was paired with ECHO to increase organizational capacity to educate adults through the Darkness to Light (D2L) Stewards of Children program. D2L provides adults with the tools to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The team supported Sonja Gray, Executive Director, in becoming a certified D2L Instructor, reducing ongoing costs for the organization. The team also created a lasting impact for ECHO by establishing a volunteer database as well as a volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition plan with events and materials laid out for the next 12 months.

Friends of Metro Animal Services

Team: Megan Tennison, Norton Healthcare; Saravanan Murugan, Humana Inc.; Haley Cawthon, Louisville Business First; Rachel McMahan, Cedar Lake Foundation, Inc.; Sophia Fischer, Northwestern Mutual; Jake Smith, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP; Tyler Smith, Messer Construction Co.

Friends of Metro Animal Services (FOMAS) is a nonprofit that supports Louisville Metro Animal Services, a state-of-the-art animal shelter serving our city’s lost and abandoned pets. This Ignite Challenge team set out on a mission to increase community awareness for the organization. They had four multi-faceted deliverables: 1. The “Friends of Friends” ambassador program, in which anyone who wants to support and advocate for FOMAS can learn about the mission and services provided. Once trained, they can share that knowledge of LMAS’s work and FOMAS’s efforts throughout the community. 2. The “Fur-Ever Family” group, in which past adopters and foster families can connect for support and community events. 3. Social media strategy, graphics and templates created used to increase FOMAS’s engagement and following on social platforms. 4. Business relationships, crafting a list of pet-friendly business, and a letter to introduce FOMAS to local businesses. We believe these connections can be used year-over-year to drive funding and engagement. Using the strengths of each team member, key takeaways from IGNITE program days and a shared passion for helping animals in need, we hope our contributions will leave a lasting and meaningful impact on FOMAS.

Louisville Nature Center

Team: Zak Cohen, St. Francis School; Eric Hall, Farm Credit Mid-America | Rural 1st; Kirstie Matzek, Baptist Health; Jennifer Miles, Transit Authority of River City | TARC; Lena Muldoon, You Decide, Kentucky!; Lauren Newcomb, Heaven Hill Brands; Courtney Weisshaupt, The Healing Place

This Ignite Challenge team partnered with the Louisville Nature Center to further their mission of building a thriving community resource that inspires stewardship of our urban forest through environmental education.

Through research, fresh marketing efforts, board training and organization, fundraising coaching, and new donor relationships, the team was able to set the runway for future growth and development for the Louisville Nature Center. As a destination for discovery only minutes from Downtown Louisville, the Louisville Nature Center is an urban forest ripe with opportunities for all. Part of the Beargrass Creek Nature Preserve and home to Louisville’s only nature-based preschool program, the 80-acre forest is critical to preserving Louisville’s environmental future.

Peterson-Dumesnil House Foundation

Team: Stephanie Garvey, Hosparus Health; Mandy Jackson, High10 Digital.; Carl Lammers, Frost Brown Todd LLC; Hannah Rahill, Stegner Investment Associates, Inc.; Olivia Sievert, Greater Louisville Inc.; Chip Thomas, Jefferson Community and Technical College; LaToya Whitlock, Decode Project

A historic home and local landmark in Crescent Hill, The Peterson-Dumesnil House turned to this Ignite team to research their holistic history. The board of directors wanted to provide more transparency to the community on their racial workforce history and uncover previous ties to slavery between the house, the family who built it, and the land itself.

The Ignite team spent six months diving into historical records, meeting with historians, collaborating with other historic homes who have done similar research, and collecting oral history from descendants. Through over a dozen sources, the team collected initial findings to draft new collateral, including a pamphlet, media strategy, and website content, and guided the process for implementing a DE&I statement.

As noted by other historic homes, full research takes years and even decades. The team created infrastructure for collecting new information and partnered with the University of Louisville to hire a part-time researcher.

About the Leadership Louisville Center:

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 15,000 through its 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), cohort programs for women and employee resource group leaders, leadership skills training courses presented through partner brand LeadingBetter™, and events designed to connect leaders and motivate positive change. Learn more at

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