Courier-Journal Online

Published 9:33 p.m. ET Oct. 18, 2018

Shelly Zegart, Opinion contributor

A  Courier Journal front-page article on Sunday detailed how Louisville is falling behind its peers in the race to attract young talent. It lists many reasons why. While most are related to jobs, there are other important factors that are rarely included in the equation.

Given the polarizing political climate, highlighting the deepening divide between geographies and perceptions of states like Kentucky, I believe it has never been so important for organizations such as Kentucky to the World to not only enhance our state’s image externally, but to also foster the intellectual/cultural basis from within.

Our state will never achieve the greatness that we all know that it can without drawing and maintaining young, highly educated, intelligent, creative and ambitious people. While quality of life and cost of living are great benefits, there will never be the needed retention of talent without developing a community that continues to engage thought leaders and innovators on a social level (as well as professional).

Related: The man behind Budweiser’s Clydesdale ads? Yeah, he’s from Louisville

One of the many reasons that Manhattan draws so many of this target demographic is not proximity to restaurants and bars — it’s the proximity and daily interaction with people who are at the top of their field and who contain a social mental curiosity to be challenged and educated on a daily basis. This is a culture that Kentucky to the World can help facilitate and grow through programming that inspires locally and informs globally.

Less well-known are the creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit here that spur greatness in science, business, the arts and more, and inspires extraordinary individuals with Kentucky ties to become global leaders in their fields.

Founded in 2013, Kentucky to the World (KTW), a Louisville-based non-profit, is unique in its singular focus: to enhance the intellectual reputation of the state, its people and its assets. We feature and promote extraordinary individuals who are passionate about their Kentucky ties.

KTW tells a new story of Kentucky’s intellectual and cultural accomplishments on the world stage through a live speaker series that also airs on Kentucky Educational Television, and with original multimedia presentations under the banner, “Kentucky: The New Narrative,” that are distributed on social media and through community partners including the Frazier Museum, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Omni Hotel, Louisville Tourism, Insider Louisville and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

When we get more of these amazing stories out into the state and beyond, we will increase by thousands the number of people who will value Kentucky as a rich source of intellectual vitality and creativity.

KTW wants our state’s reputation to be driven by the impact of the extraordinary people with ties to Kentucky, rather than by the old stereotypes.

Over the past five years, KTW has hosted 16 public programs that also provided free tickets for more than 700 students from more than 40 local schools and organizations, most from underserved areas. Three live programs a year are held in collaboration with The Kentucky Center with Republic Bank Foundation as the title sponsor.

Preceding each event, more than 50 local high school students attend an intimate briefing with presenters, thanks to sponsor Lifetime Wealth Strategies. KTW also hosts an annual Modern Thinkers Social Series program aimed at young adults.

KTW has featured fascinating conversations with Daniel Roth, executive editor of LinkedIn; Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet principal ballerina; Phillip A. Sharp, Nobel Laureate and Institute professor at MIT; Junior Bridgeman, franchise entrepreneur and former NBA star; and Tracy Drain, flight systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab; and others.

Visit us online at kentuckytotheworld.org, on Facebook and Instagram to learn how you can join us to help educate, excite and empower our young talent by shining a light on the state’s positive impact across Kentucky and beyond.

Shelly Zegart is president of Kentucky to the World.

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, meet the Kentucky man behind some of the most iconic ad slogans everyone knows. Chuck Brymer, Chair of DDB Worldwide, will reflect on how his Kentucky roots have been an advantage in his career and will expand on the impact of his work in our lives. Tickets at kentuckycenter.org.

 

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