Insider Louisville: Former Louisville Times journalists share stories of covering world news for New York Times

By Sara Havens, October 20, 2015
Originally posted on Insider Louisville website

Kentucky to the World is a nonprofit that highlights the achievements of Kentuckians in order to educate and inspire, and its upcoming event on Wednesday will showcase journalists Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere, who first met while working at The Louisville Times decades ago and who have since moved on to work for The New York Times and other reputable national newspapers.

Titled “Breaking World News from The Louisville Times to The New York Times,” the lecture by the husband-and-wife duo will touch on the couple’s intersecting private and professional lives, including covering Russia’s invasion of Chechnya and the Iran Contra affair.

Wines grew up in Shively and actually started his own neighborhood newspaper at the age of 5. After working for now-defunct The Louisville Times, he moved on to jobs at the National Journal in D.C., the Los Angeles Times and finally The New York Times, where he served as a bureau chief in Moscow, Johannesburg and Beijing.

LaFraniere is currently a national investigative reporter for The New York Times and worked for The Washington Post for more than 20 years. She’s won numerous awards throughout her career, including the Gerald Loeb Award in 2013, the Michael Kelly Award in 2006 and the Overseas Press Club Award in 1999.

Wines and LaFraniere have three children.

“While Sharon and Michael built their early careers in Louisville, they went on to cover some of the most important global events for the world’s top media outlets,” says Kentucky to the World founder and president Shelly Zegart in a press release. “Theirs is a story many don’t know locally and just what Kentucky to the World wants to reveal with its programs.”

The event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. (with a reception starting at 5:30) at the Henry Clay Building. Tickets are $25 and include appetizers by Wiltshire Pantry. You must purchase tickets ahead of time, as none will be sold at the door.

Thank You, All Give Local Louisville Supporters!

Give Local Louisville 2015

Thanks to everybody for the generous support of KTW through the Community Foundation of Louisville’s Give Local Louisville campaign!

Kentucky to the World will certainly participate in GLL in 2016, and we give kudos to the Community Foundation of Louisville for all their staff efforts to put this campaign together and manage it to its conclusion.

It is an amazing community non profit fundraising effort and what a success it was!

A special thank you to The Sam Swope Family Foundation for their incredible generosity. A $1,000 dollars has been given to EACH of the 362 non-profits who participated in Give Local Louisville on October 1, 2015!







Bill Porter was a hit with the sold out crowd!

Bill Porter, Shelly Zegart, Kay Grubola at the Kentucky to the World event in July 2015

Bill Porter, Shelly Zegart, Kay Grubola

On July 22, 2015, Kentucky to the World welcomed Bill Porter, a legendary automobile designer at GM, who played a seminal role in the history of American muscle car design, having made his mark with the 1968 Pontiac GTO and 1970-73 Pontiac Firebird 400.  Bill’s impact on auto design continued into the 1990’s with the 1997 Buick Park Avenue and many others.

Bill took us on a grand tour – and what a joy ride it was! – of seven decades of history and culture, and how both have influenced the design of cars in the U.S.  An especially intriguing part of the presentation was when Bill drew connections between the elements drawn from the diversity of the world cultures. The mix of cars we see on the roads today range from the most classic looks to strong references to underwater sea world creatures.

Bill Porter and Scott Hatfield at the Kentucky to the World event on July 22, 2015, in Louisville, Kentucky

Scott Hadfield and Bill Porter hold a wheel signed by Bill Porter from Scott’s 1971 Trans Am

Among the crowd of 180, two men  stood out – a father and son, who drove from Brentwood, TN to attend the event and meet Bill. In June, Brian Hadfield was looking for a great Father’s Day gift for his Dad, who is a huge Bill Porter fan and has had one of Bill’s cars for 40 years that he lovingly cares for. While looking on Google for a Bill Porter poster to give his Dad as a gift, he came upon the Kentucky to the World Bill Porter event. Two tickets to the KTW event were the perfect gift for his Dad! To commemorate their meeting, they brought a wheel from Scott’s 1971 Trans Am for Bill to sign, which Bill was happy to do.

Enjoy more photos from the event on Kentucky to the World Facebook page where you can share them with friends and family!

Insider Louisville: A look back with legendary automotive designer and Louisville native Bill Porter

By Cameron Aubernon, July 21, 2015
Originally posted on Insider Louisville website

Louisville native Bill Porter — a designer behind the 1968 Pontiac GTO and other iconic American cars — will visit his hometown this week to give a presentation on the intersection of design and culture. The event on Wednesday is open to the public and is sponsored by Kentucky to the World Inc.

Prior to his visit, Porter spoke with Insider Louisville from his home in Detroit about growing up in Louisville, his decades-long career at General Motors, and helping young designers see the link between design and culture.

Our conversation began with Porter describing how Louisville played a role in developing the design skills he would take with him to Detroit years later: It all started when, as a child, Porter won an art contest, and the prize was free weekend classes at the Louisville Visual Arts Center.

Porter praised both his older classmates and the professors who taught at the center for mentoring him and helping him improve his burgeoning art skills.

After graduating from duPont Manual, Porter enrolled at the University of Louisville, during which time he made a living by “slinging baggage and selling tickets, sometimes answering the phones on the weekends” at the original Greyhound station on Fifth and Broadway, where his father worked as the station’s manager.

Despite having a tough time adjusting to college, Porter remained enrolled at U of L, ultimately graduating second in his class with a fine arts degree and a minor in personnel psychology.

Following a stint as a part-time neon sign designer, Porter was drafted near the end of the Korean War; his job was to interview new naval recruits for tugboat crews. It was during his two-year service when Porter took second place — which included a King Midget microcar — in an automobile design contest held by a national automotive publication, a sign of his future to come.

Upon completing his military duty in 1955, Porter returned to Louisville for a brief time before boarding a Greyhound bus to Detroit to start his automotive design career with help from connections his father had made with a few higher-ups at General Motors.

Porter managed to further his education — at the suggestion of one of the automaker’s chief designers — while juggling his new career, obtaining a master’s degree from Pratt Institute in New York.

During his graduate studies, Porter delved into the influence of early jets on the automobile.

“I wrote a thesis called ‘The Aircraft Image in American Automobiles.’ In the 1950s, the American automobile had lots of bombs and fins all over them; wings and all sorts of scoops and things, mostly sort of caricatured derivations from aircraft forms, in many cases jet fighters and WWII fighters,” he explains. “I wrote a thesis on that development, and how those forms found their way into the automobile industry.”

It was the first of many times Porter would analyze the influence culture has on design, and vice versa.

After grad school, Porter landed as a junior designer for the Pontiac division, quickly working his way up to senior designer before GM assigned him to recruit new designers at colleges around the United States; he returned to the design studio in the mid-1960s.

With market segmentation in full swing over the same period, Porter created a design proposal in 1964 that eventually led to the semi-fastback Pontiac GTO, Tempest and LeMans for the 1968 model year. The success of the design led to Porter’s promotion as chief designer at the division’s design studio through late 1972, when he was moved to advanced design work.

While working on new vehicles, he began teaching industrial design part-time at Wayne State University in Detroit. Eventually, he developed a new course to help aspiring designers.

“In the late ’70s, a friend of mine… and I got to talking about the fact that young designers didn’t seem to have any sense of their own history, of what the history of design was all about. We were all standing on the shoulders of giants, and a lot of these young people had no idea whose shoulders they were standing on,” he says.

With advisement from fellow educators throughout the country, Porter created a design history course that was “very broad in character” and focused on nearly every facet of design work.

In 1979, Porter moved into the Buick division’s studio. There, Porter finished out his career with GM, penning the 1985 Electra T-Type, 1995 Riviera, and 2000 LeSabre, the last car he designed before his retirement in 1996.

Porter’s presentation, “A Joy Ride Through Decades of American Culture & Automobile Design,” will be held at The Henry Clay on 604 S. Third St. on Wednesday, July 22. Presented by Kentucky to the World Inc., the event will have a reception — with appetizers from Wiltshire Pantry and an available cash bar — starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the presentation at 6:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets are still available, $25 per ticket; no tickets will be sold at the door.

In addition to his upcoming presentation at The Henry Clay, Porter will talk about his time as a designer for Pontiac at the Crowne Plaza on July 23 during the 2015 Pontiac Oakland Club International Convention, which is in town this week. The POCI Convention is in its 43rd year, with the 2015 edition marking the first time Louisville has hosted the affair.

WFPL: Louisville Native Bill Porter, Designer of Iconic GM Cars, Speaks in His Hometown

By Tara Anderson, July 21 2015
Originally posted on WFPL website

You don’t have to be a car geek to recognize the designs Bill Porter is responsible for.

Porter, a Louisville native, was a chief designer for General Motors for three decades. He is responsible for the look of some of General Motor’s most iconic vehicles, including the 1968 Pontiac GTO, the Trans Am, and the Pontiac Firebird 400.

He will speak about the history of American auto design on Wednesday evening in his hometown.

In an interview with WFPL News, Porter said the art classes he took as a child, at what was the precursor of the current Louisville Visual Art, helped him realize he had an aptitude for design. Beginning when he was maybe in the sixth grade, Porter’s father would drop him off at an old building on First Street.

He majored in fine art and art history at the University of Louisville, and he said Louisville’s vibrant art scene and his professors at U of L inspired him.

“Louisville was certainly not a cultural backwater in the ’40s and ’50s, so that pretty much affected my entire outlook on art and on life,” said Porter.

After completing graduate work at the Pratt Institute in New York City, he came on as a summer intern in what was then known as “General Motors Styling.” He was later hired as a full-time employee and spent the rest of his career there.

Porter’s talk is sponsored by Kentucky to the World, an organization that showcases talented and noteworthy Kentuckians.

Porter speaks Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Henry Clay Building, with a reception at 5:30. Tickets will be sold in advance only.

LEO: A Joy Ride through Decades of American Culture & Automobile Design

By Jo Anne Triplett
Originally published in LEO

While my taste for classic cars leans towards the boxy Nash Metropolitan, Mercedes 190 and Volvo 240, I can appreciate a streamlined automobile. Even owned a Camaro once, although its power was totally wasted on me. But as a lover of good design, it’s exciting to hear that automobile designer and former Louisvillian Bill Porter is coming to town.

Brought here by Kentucky to the World, Inc., he will discuss his decades at General Motors, designing some of their famous muscle cars, including 1968 Pontiac GTO and 1970-73 Pontiac Firebird 400. Porter will lead attendees through the era of tailfins to today’s preference for biomorphic car designs. No tickets will be sold at the door.

Business First: Louisville native talks about designing the Pontiac GTO

By David Mann, July 15 2015
Originally published in Business First

If someone asked you to describe the 1968 Pontiac GTO in one word, how would you do it?

Sporty? Slick, maybe?

After the conversation I had on Monday with Bill Porter, the artist who designed this iconic car, I suppose I would use the word “speedy” to describe it. Porter, 84, told me about how speedy things — jets and trains — inspired him as a child.

He grew up in Louisville and remembers watching stories about the air war that was part of World War II. A lot of kids at the time were fascinated by stories of pilots and airplanes, he told me.

“Pilots were neat,” he said. He decorated his childhood bedroom, which was located in the Highlands neighborhood, with black cutouts of airplanes. He also spent his leisure time building model airplanes in his youth — something that again reflected that speedy design he appreciated.

Later, he learned to appreciate streamlined design in buildings. In his younger years, he worked nights at the Greyhound Bus Station that used to stand at the southeast corner of Fifth Street and Broadway in Louisville. That building, like many other Greyhound structures at the time, had a very streamlined look to it with rounded edges, he said. This started feeding into his experience while he attended Manual High School and as an art student at the University of Louisville.

All of his appreciation of that style was reflected in the design work that he did as an adult — not only on the GTO but also on the 1970 through 1973 Pontiac Firebird 400.

Of course, I’m giving you just the highlights.
You can hear Porter’s story for yourself at an upcoming program called “A Joy Ride through Decades of American Culture & Automobile Design.” The program takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, at The Henry Clay, 604 S. Third Street in Louisville. There’s a reception at 5:30 p.m.

The program is part of a series presented by Kentucky to the World Inc., a nonprofit organization that showcases prominent achievers who claim strong Kentucky ties.

Porter led the design studios of Pontiac and Buick — both General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) brands — during his career. He started there in 1957 while working on an industrial design degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He retired in 1996. He spent the majority of his career designing the exterior of vehicles for GM.

He plans to speak about his influences as well as a brief history of automotive style during next week’s event. He’s made these sort of appearances before. The New York Times had an article about Porter in 2012. In that story, he spoke about how today’s designers take a lot of inspiration from nature, rather than from the aerodynamics that sparked his imagination years ago.

“The Mazda Taiki concept of 2008 resembles a cartilaginous fish, a ray, for instance,” he’s quoted as saying in that piece.

Tickets for the Louisville event are $25 and can be purchased on Kentucky to the World’s website. That price includes appetizers from Wiltshire Pantry, and a cash bar is available. No tickets will be sold at the door.

It’s probably safe to say Porter is the only designer of an iconic vehicle from Kentucky, but you never know. We do live in an automotive industry state. Kentucky boasts four assembly plants, including two Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) plants in Louisville, a Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) plant in Georgetown and GM’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green. According to Gov. Steve Beshear’s office, Kentucky has more than 400 automotive industry businesses.

Kentucky to the World Presents: Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere Coming to Louisville in October 2015

Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere:
“Breaking World News from The Louisville Times to The New York Times” – October 21, 2015

Michael Wines in Grozny

Michael Wines in Grozny, February 2002, after the Russian invasion of Chechnya a few months earlier. The Russian air force had effectively leveled the city, which once housed 400,000-plus people; there was hardly a house than had not suffered damage.

Louisville native and former New York Times Beijing Bureau Chief Michael Wines and award-winning New York Times journalist Sharon LaFraniere met when they both worked at The Louisville Times. They went on to live all over the world breaking major news stories, including Russia’s invasion of Chechnya to the Iran Contra affair.

Join Kentucky to the World on October 21 for this rare moment when they return to Louisville for the first time in 19 years and bring the public a glimpse into the fascinating world of their intersecting private and professional lives.

Michael Wines

After many decades of international assignments for The New York Times, including bureau chief in Moscow, Johannesburg, South Africa and Beijing, Michael Wines has been back in the US since 2012 as a national correspondent covering environmental and other issues.

Michael says
“I was predestined to be a journalist, which has been both a blessing and a curse.

I started my first newspaper at age five, in my native Shively — you go, south end! — with an ancient Underwood, typing paper and carbon sheets. I started a newspaper in my elementary school, edited my high-school and college newspapers, worked summers at newspapers in Louisville, Rochester and New York city. After a brief flirtation with law school, I worked at the Lexington Herald-Leader, then moved quickly to the late and much-lamented Louisville Times. I left Louisville in 1980 to go to Washington, where I managed to land a job with a policy magazine called National Journal, which led to a job in the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times, which led to a job in the Washington bureau of The New York Times in 1988.

I came to The New York Times’ attention because of my reporting on espionage issues in the dying days of the Cold War, and because of a scandal that most folks have forgotten, called Iran-Contra. I’d broken a number of stories in both areas. I think The Times may have thought I was deeply plugged into the American intelligence community. I wasn’t, but I managed to reinvent myself as a reporter on other topics, from presidential campaigns to Congress, and eventually was offered a chance to go to Moscow in 1998. From there I covered the demise of Boris Yeltsin and the rise of Vladimir Putin, then went to South Africa in 2003, and to China in 2008.”

Sharon LaFraniere

Sharon LaFraniere

Sharon and Nikolay Khalip, from The Times Moscow bureau staff.

Sharon LaFraniere is a national investigative reporter at The New York Times. Ms LaFraniere began writing for The Times in 2003, covering southern Africa.

She moved from Johannesburg to Beijing in early 2008 to report on China. For the past two years, she has been based in New York city.

Before joining The Times, Ms LaFraniere was a reporter and editor for The Washington Post for 20 years. Her last assignment was to the Moscow bureau, where from 1998 to 2003 she covered the Russian region, including war zones in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

Ms LaFraniere is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Gerald Loeb Award in 2013 for international reporting, The Michael Kelly Award in 2006 for her coverage of women in sub-Saharan Africa and The Overseas Press Club Award for business reporting in 1999.

Born in Detroit, she received a BA degree from Brown University and an MA degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Ms LaFraniere is married to Michael Wines and they have three children.


Event Details

The event will be held on Wednesday, October 21, on the Fourth Floor of the Henry Clay Building (604 S. 3rd Street).  Due to popular demand we are moving our events to a more spacious room at the Henry Clay.

Reception is at 5:30 PM followed by the program at 6:30 PM. Tickets are $25, and the price includes appetizers by Wiltshire Pantry. There is a cash bar.

No tickets will be sold at the door.


Introducing Our Moderator – Pam Platt

Pam PlattPam Platt has been a journalist for almost 38 years, working as a reporter, an editor, a columnist, an ombudsman and an editorial director (twice) – most recently at The Courier-Journal. She left her job there earlier this year. Her beloved career has allowed her to interview everyone from astronauts to the Village People, although not at the same time, and has nurtured her as a lifelong learner.

She also has served as president of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen and as a judge for the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism. Her favorite role is still that of mother to her daughter (who might not say the same thing!).



Stay tuned for more!  Sign up for the Kentucky to the World email updates to be the first to know the news.


Support the series – find out more.



Who Inspires Us –
For Good: Louisville’s Philanthropy Magazine

For Good - Louisville's Philanthropy Foundation

As a relatively new non-profit we were thrilled to catch the attention of the Community Foundation of Louisville, and honored to be included in their first issue of For Good: Louisville’s Philanthropy Magazine.  KTW is featured in the column “Who Inspires Us.”


You may have attended a Kentucky to the World (KTW) event or two, but take a moment to learn how KTW started and where we hope to go.  Click here to view the article.


If you like what you read, we’d love your support. Find out all the ways you can support us.








Photos from Kentucky to the World Presents – Dr Sandy Florman Event

Back to Albums

On March 12, 2015, Dr. Sander Florman was a guest speaker at the Kentucky to the World event.  Dr. Florman, a graduate of St. Francis School and the University of Louisville Medical School, is a transplant surgeon and Director of the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.  Find out more about this event.