inSpire Black Louisville - Fall 2021

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Contributors:

Cleveland Moore III

Robbie Dobbs

T.A. Yero

Andrew Kung Group

RDobbs Photography

Two Hearts Photography

Aprile Hearn

John Shaw-Woo

Nikki O.

The Angel Affect

Noir Black Chamber of Commerce

Fashion, Modeling

Produced by: TOP Marketing Group, LLC. | Louisville & Lexington (502) 780-7825 | TOPSLOUISVILLE.COM | GETMORE@TOPSLOUISVILLE.COM

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notes TOP

WAVE3 News anchor, reporter, and host Dawne Gee founded A Recipe to End Hunger in 2015 to raise money for Blessings in a Backpack, Kans for Kids, and other local nonprofits “that work so hard to end food insecurity” for children and families. A Recipe to End Hunger is “Solving Childhood Suffering One Meal at a Time” by teaming up with Dare to Care Food Bank’s Backpack Buddy program.

is the Annual Big Green EGGFest hosted by Jim Lehrer of Brownsboro Hardware & Paint. “Families come together during EGGFest to enjoy the talents of amateur and professional chefs showing off their skills on the beautiful ceramic grill known as the Big Green Egg.”

Children’s participation in the program is based on recommendations from their teachers. On Fridays, 36 partner schools receive packs of easy-to-prepare foods selected by a staff dietician. The schools discreetly distribute the packs to participating students, ensuring nutritious food to see them through the weekend. The program has resulted in increased attendance, alertness, responsibility, and confidence.

Dawne Gee and her organization published the cookbook A Recipe to End Hunger, which became a #1 Amazon Bestseller. The cookbook features 55 area restaurants and businesses and 66 local and national recipes from celebrities such as Dolly Parton, Al Roker, Jennifer Lawrence, and many more. They also partner with Local UAW 862 for “Boxes of Love” each box is a full Christmas dinner! According to Dawne, “For many problems in our community, there are no easy answers. Fighting hunger is one battle we can certainly win if we all pitch in what we can.” • photos courtesy of A Recipe to End Hunger

“A Recipe to End Hunger has no paid staff, just dedicated volunteers from the public and lots of fun, creative events that raise funds to end hunger while also fueling community spirit and pride,” says Dawne. The organization arranges karaoke events, puts on community concerts like Jazz on the River, and sells local goods and wares “all with the idea of ending food insecurity right in our own backyard.” Their largest fundraiser

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For more information visit, arecipetoendhunger.com. Follow @RecipetoEndHunger on Facebook and @arecipetoendhunger on Instagram.



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Brittany Penny Founder/CEO of The IX Bourbon Whiskey™

Bourbon appreciation ran in Brittany’s family. “I had always been around bourbon lovers. My dad is an Old Forester® fan. So when I came of age, I didn’t drink cocktails. I drank bourbon, neat.” So bourbon seemed a natural fit. “But, when I started my business, I didn’t have a rich history of hundreds of years or grandpappy’s recipe to pull from,” laughs Brittany. The IX Bourbon Whiskey™ is a very small-batch blended bourbon carefully selected from nine barrels; all possessing unique characteristics blended to perfection. The name has special significance for Brittany and James Penny as their firstborn daughter was born in their ninth year of marriage. While Brittany has not experienced overt racial discrimination or racist attitudes in the industry, “It is interesting walking into rooms where no one else looks like me.” She has noticed

a difference as a CEO who happens to be a woman. “The CEO suite is male-driven and male-dominated. I like to think I bring fresh new eyes and a new perspective.” Her husband, James Penny, is Vice President of the company, but people assume he is the CEO. According to Brittany, James is a “smooth talker” who turns their focus to Brittany without making anyone feel awkward about it. “First, they have to get comfortable with me being Black and then with me as a woman. It’s so competitive. But true bourbon lovers are always trying new and different brands. There’s room on the bar for all of us.” Brittany’s advice for entrepreneurial Black women is to jump in. “Even though it’s scary, even though it’s intimidating, go for it and keep going. Be comfortable with not knowing everything and with things going wrong. You can’t get discouraged.” After the conclusion of the presales, The IX Bourbon Whiskey™ is now available at Westport Whiskey & Wine on Herr Lane. The Pennys have plans to expand retail market sales, move the bourbon sales offline, and launch a merchandise store on their website. On Friday, October 15th, they will hold a tasting and bottle signing at Westport Whiskey & Wine. Visit theixbourbon.com and follow @theixbourbon on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

Brittany Penny, Founder & CEO of The IX Bourbon Whiskey™, has blazed her own trail in the highly competitive bourbon industry as the first Black woman bourbon CEO in Kentucky. But for most of her life, Brittany wasn’t interested in being a business owner. She imagined herself working for someone else in the 9-5 business world. Brittany studied digital and social media marketing and earned an MBA. When everything went virtual due to COVID, Brittany was well-positioned to launch a new business online. With so many other industries suffering, “the bourbon industry was thriving.”

First, they have to get comfortable with me being Black and then with me as a woman. It’s so competitive. But true bourbon lovers are always trying new and different brands. There’s room on the bar for all of us.

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Aprile Hearn

Preacher, Author and Owner of The Angel Affect

“Lights, Camera, ACTION!” has always seemed to be the story of Aprile Hearn’s life, driven by the need to produce. As a preacher, author, and business owner, she lives in the space of continuous preparation. While that may sound glamorous, her life hasn’t always been this way. Aprile grew up in a traumatic environment in her neighborhood and family home. Her mother did the best she could but struggled with drug addiction and an abusive husband. These circumstances impacted Aprile’s childhood tremendously. “I can vividly remember so many days of coming home from elementary school to find my mother beaten, bloody, and severely injured. I always wanted to help her, but there was really nothing I could do. Often they would fight right in front of me, and I would try to defend my mother, but I was just too little.” Aprile’s mother tried to encourage her by telling her how beautiful she was, how much courage she had, and how strong she was. “I never understood what she meant as a child, but I held on to her words through my teenage and young adult years.” When Aprile became a mother at the tender age of eighteen, she quickly realized she wanted more for her daughter. But it wasn’t easy. Aprile dropped out of school to work and support her child. After having two more children, she realized she wouldn’t make enough money to provide for the three of them as a high school dropout, so she went back to complete her GED. “I did it and felt that the world was mine and my possibilities were endless. That feeling lasted for a while as I pursued my degree in psychology. I felt this was the degree for me because I always wanted to help others.” Unfortunately, she and her children’s father separated. With the lack of support, she could not complete that degree. Aprile became deeply engaged in her Christian beliefs and heavily involved in church. “I began applying the scriptures I learned to my life and was pleased with the results. As I began to share my story of growing up in a violent, drug-infested home, it sparked a fire in me. I also shared about all the fighting I did throughout my young adult years as I unknowingly carried within me all the anger that my home environment was feeding me.”

Aprile came to realize she was fighting because she secretly struggled with a low self-image, feelings of unworthiness, and feeling as if her life didn’t matter. Those thoughts caused deep depression, but the journey of fighting through that led to writing her first book, Live Positive on Purpose. She wrote about the intentional transformation of her negative thought patterns into positive ones. “Writing the book was therapeutic. I mentored youth on making better life decisions and facilitated several women’s empowerment conferences, leading many women to a place of healing.” She became a recognizable community leader, but Aprile still felt unaccomplished and that there was so much more she had to give. Through the process of healing her low self-esteem and poor self-image, she developed a love of fashion and helping others feel confident in how they dress. “Not only had I developed this love, but I was doing it without even realizing it with my friends and family, and I was really good at it! It was then that through much time spent in prayer, I had the idea of starting a business called The Angel Affect.” The Angel Affect offers cosmetics, apparel, accessories, and personal development through one-on-one confidence coaching sessions and empowerment events for both women and men. After a year in business, The Angel Affect launched “The Angel Academy,” serving as a mentorship program for youth and young adults interested in entrepreneurship and providing attire for those exiting incarceration and addiction recovery programs and entering the workforce. Finding her purpose through The Angel Affect has given Aprile the feelings of accomplishment she desired. “Being able to mentor youth, help others to heal, and build their confidence while providing them with sophisticated style from our apparel is satisfaction enough for me. Having a successful business is good, but it’s better to stay true to yourself and do what makes you happy. If you can find a way to do both, I encourage you to do just that.” Shop The Angel Affect at theangelaffect.faith and follow @theangelaffect.usa on Facebook and Instagram for more information. photo courtesy of Aprile Hearn

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Noir Black Chamber of Commerce Helping Businesses and Community Move Forward by John Shaw-Woo

In January 2019, John Shaw-Woo, a Louisville implant from Houston, TX, launched Noir Black Social Club to provide black entrepreneurs and small black business owners an educational platform to help them grow and succeed. As the social club grew in popularity, Shaw-Woo decided the organization should establish itself as a larger platform. In August 2019, Noir Black Chamber of Commerce Inc. was launched and became Kentucky’s only Black chamber of commerce. Because of the chamber’s focus on business education, it was designated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which allows its donors a tax deduction. However, the organization cannot lobby, unlike other chambers of commerce. Since the organization’s launch, the chamber has made significant gains in the number of Black Members, non-Black Friends of the Chamber, and Corporate Sponsor members it has assisted. The chamber’s membership has grown from ten members to over 200, extending across fifteen states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. In addition to the chamber’s focus on business education, it is also a certified Community Development Entity (CDE) under The U.S. Department of Treasury, which allows it to identify and work with large economic development projects planned for low-income census tract areas. The federal New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program was created to attract investment through capital gains investment into a 7-10-year project, which in turn would lower the investor’s tax rate on the amount invested into the project. Its aim was to attract investment into low-income communities that would help rebuild the community and create jobs. Many of these projects were not yielding the results the federal program intended, spurring the chamber’s interest in becoming a certified CDE. Many NMTC

projects turned out to be gentrification and beautification efforts instead of projects that create jobs and uplift residents living in those low-income neighborhoods. The chamber has partnered with Community Ventures Inc., a Lexington, Kentucky-based Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), in launching The Kentucky CDE CDFI Partnership, a collaborative of Kentucky CDE and CDFIs working together to support large projects across the state. The chamber was also elected into Chase Bank’s Advancing Black Pathways Program, and has formed partnerships with Louisville SCORE, which offers free mentoring service to all chamber members; Louisville Better Business Bureau; The U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce Inc. (USBC); and other corporations and government entities. Because of the social unrest in Louisville and across America in 2020 due to the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the chamber was compelled to identify a pathway forward for Black Americans that would truly create economic and social change. In doing so, it identified ten pillars specific to black communities that it would focus on to create such change. The first four pillars are centered around BUSINESS education to assist Black Entrepreneurs: START; Small Businesses GROW; Midsize Businesses - SUSTAIN; and Corporate Black Professionals - RISE. The second set of pillars is centered around COMMUNITY programming created around Black Community Trauma; Black Teen Higher Professional Career Attainment; Apprenticeship and Job Training for Non-CollegeBound Teens; Welfare Reform; Homeownership; and Noir Black Business Clubs on Universities and Black Talent Placement. “As you can see, Noir Black Chamber of Commerce Inc. is focused on ‘Moving Black America Forward’ through its focus on our next generation,” said John Shaw-Woo.

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Monica Cauley, Branch Manager and Sheldon Burton-Tomes, Assistant Branch Manager

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Returning Value Liberty Financial Offers Value Only Found in Credit Unions Liberty Financial as the Best Credit Union for Checking on its list of America’s Best Credit Unions.

What’s the difference between a bank and a credit union? Both generally offer the same basic services, but the largest difference is ownership. Banks are owned by stockholders, and credit unions are owned by their members. So, whereas a bank exists to generate profits, credit unions exist to return value.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has listed Vertical Checking as the highest paying option on its monthly list of Top Checking Accounts in each issue since July 2020.

Today, one Louisville credit union is returning value at a remarkable rate—and receiving national acclaim.

In late September, Newsweek named Vertical Checking America’s Best High-Yield Checking Account.

Vertical Checking is a free, high-interest checking account available only at Liberty Financial, one of Louisville’s fastestgrowing financial institutions. Vertical Checking offers members 3.30% APY on balance up to $20,000 when users meet basic usage requirements, including accepting e-statements instead of paper statements, as well as using a debit card to pay for purchases.

How much value is Liberty Financial returning through its checking accounts? In 2019, the credit union returned more than $5.5 million. That total increased to $8.2 million in 2020. In 2021, Liberty Financial will return more than $13 million to its members through checking account alone.

Within the past year, the account has drawn rave reviews throughout the industry, including: •

Investopedia named Vertical Checking the Nation’s Best Checking Account for Debit Users in January. It later named

Liberty Financial opened its first full-service credit union offices in Louisville in November 2018. In November 2021, the rapidly growing credit union will open its sixth Louisville-area branch. For more information about the Liberty Financial Vertical Checking, please go to Liberty.Financial/vertical •

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A Labor of Love

A New Doula Program at Norton Women’s Care Addresses Maternal and Infant Health Disparities Made possible in part thanks to a $250,000 gift from Aetna® Better Health of Kentucky to Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, Norton Women’s Care will be offering a new doula program. While doulas have long been welcome in the hospital birth setting, this program is the first of its kind in Kentucky to employ doulas on staff and expand their role to improve the health of new mothers and babies in high-risk areas. “We were looking at data to see where we could be most impactful to maternal and infant health. Evidence suggests that doulas improve maternal and infant outcomes. It was the right thing to do,” says Lecresha Sewell, APRN - Norton Women’s Health, who helped design the program. Sewell received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Louisville, a Master of Science in Women’s Health from the University of Cincinnati, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Chatham University. Her research for the doula program included analyzing the social determinants of health, the latest national and local statistics, and how those play out for women living in the city’s at-risk neighborhoods. “We know that the health of a mother has an effect on the health of the baby, so this will also help improve infant health. And by following the patient after childbirth, a doula can help detect many complications that may occur in what we refer to as ‘the fourth trimester.’ Early detection is essential to improve health outcomes.” As part of its Healthy People 2030 initiative, the US Department of Health and Human Services named Social Determinants of Health one of five main categories of “datadriven national objectives to improve health and well-being over the next decade.” Social determinants of health are environmental conditions that jeopardize health and quality of life. Black women are two and a half times more likely to die

from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, according to a 2021 CDC report. They also have disproportionate risks of hypertension and diabetes, which can lead to pregnancy and childbirth complications (such as blood clots and swelling of the heart) and pregnancy loss. To address Louisville’s maternal and infant health disparities, the new doula program will begin by focusing efforts on women who reside in the California, Portland, and Russell neighborhoods. Local health care providers will make referrals for the program, which will employ three doulas to start. These doulas will provide physical and mental support with several home visits and connect patients with resources for assistance with healthy food, transportation, and housing and legal issues. Patients will receive prenatal care through Norton OB/GYN Associates and Norton Women’s Specialists downtown, with babies delivered at Norton Hospital. According to Sewell, the goal is to reach as many patients as possible in their first trimester of pregnancy. Doula care continues through at least six weeks postpartum. By providing evidence to support the need, the goal is to make the program completely sustainable within the next three years. The program will track women’s interest in other parts of the community for possible future expansion of its services. “In the event that the program is unable to take on more new patients, we will work with community partners and refer them to other doulas,” says Sewell. “We are so excited and thrilled to bring this labor of love to our community. Health inequity is a significant issue. We want to make a difference.”

Lecresha Sewell, APRN

For more information, visit www.nortonbaby.com and www.dona.org. Follow @NortonHealthcare on Facebook, @nortonhealth on Instagram, and @Norton_Health on Twitter.

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UNITING AND EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES. ADVANCING EQUITY. SHARING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL. At Metro United Way, we passionately believe in the humanity and potential of all and have a fundamental belief that all people belong. We strive to unite our community behind that belief to address systemic community challenges and ensure positive, sustainable change. Because we know that the measure of a community’s success doesn’t lie in those who already have opportunities to thrive but in those still fighting for them.

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JOIN US.

To live better, we must LIVE UNITED. metrounitedway.org/equity Racial Wealth Gap Simulations Beyond Buzzwords Speaker Series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion • Black L.O.V.E. Public Policy and Advocacy for Equitable Community DEI Trainings and Resources


We are stitching students into their dream and vision or purpose for being here.

- Deborah Thomas, LEC-Assistant Director at Campbellsville University Louisville-South

Education for All

How Campbellsville University’s Services Help Students Achieve Campbellsville University is a nonprofit Kentucky-based Christian university located in Campbellsville, Kentucky, with “a full complement of online programs” and off-campus centers and instructional sites in the Kentucky cities of Harrodsburg, Hodgenville, Liberty, Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Summersville, and Louisville, and one in Costa Mesa, California. The 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings released on September 13 recognized Campbellsville University in the Top 100 of the Regional University - South category. “We are stitching students into their dream and vision or purpose for being here,” says Louisville Education Center (LEC) Assistant Director Deborah Thomas. LEC is “the fastest growing education center at Campbellsville University.” Thomas outlined the following programs and services available through LEC: •

Student Services - The Student Services department assists in providing a tailor-made success plan while supporting the student for success with workshops, resources, and one-on-one tutoring.

Retention Efforts - Preventive measures are in place to assure that students with attendance concerns and academic

deficiency are supported in time to make a difference in their academic success. •

Counseling Services - The CU Well Counseling Center consists of a team of professional therapists “to assist students dealing with emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual needs.”

Disability Services - “Campbellsville University is committed to providing equal educational opportunities and full participation for persons with disabilities.”

According to Thomas, “Many of the students we serve at the LEC are first-generation college students. We offer certificate programs in Allied Health (such as medical billing and coding) and Cosmetology, as well as various programs and degrees. The certificate programs result in more current income for the student and are often a pathway to a degree program. No matter what their prior experiences were, there is a pathway through CU Louisville to success.” For more information, visit culouisville.edu. Follow @campbellsvillelouisville on Facebook and @culouisville on Instagram. photo courtesy Campellsville University

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TASSY ALEXANDER

Academic Support Specialist at Campbellsville University in Louisville “Students come to the table with different perspectives,” says Tassy Alexander, an Academic Support Specialist at Campbellsville University in Louisville. She assists students with efficient notetaking, sharpens their study skills, and helps them to develop strong time management – the kinds of abilities and skills that people transfer into their lives and careers. She tutors students in person and via Zoom, and is working on conducting student success workshops.

A warm and open people person, Tassy’s ebullient personality make her a perfect fit for tutoring. “I’ve found in working with students that it’s best to focus on progression. It’s really more important to be effective than efficient, because we learn in many different ways,” she says. “I’m patient, always open to talk to you, and I’m here to help and be your cheerleader during your academic experience.”

culouisville.com lcpayne@campbellsville.edu


DEBORAH THOMAS LEC-Assistant Director at Campbellsville University Louisville-South “Wherever you are in your educational or career journey, we will meet you there and help you find your calling,” says Deborah Thomas, LEC-Assistant Director at Campbellsville University Louisville-South. “We have short-term certificate programs, degrees in associates, bachelors and masters, along with PhD programs. We have concentration in various areas such as business, education, Christian studies, human services, allied health, and we offer dual credit classes for high school students.” Deborah, who makes it a practice to pray before each meeting and class, has cultivated the ability to discern the true concerns of students and she and her team of students services specialists care enough about the success of each student to assure a positive outcome. “Campbellsville University is affordable, we are convenient, and we understand the life and schedule of a working student with a family and other obligations,” she says. “We provide life-changing opportunities that develop and sharpen God given gifts and abilities that exist in every human life.”

culouisville.com dethomas@campbellsville.edu


Dress: Haus of Belle Boutique Faux Leather Chocolate Dress Top: H&M White Men’s Knit Sweater Shoes: YSL Natural Ivory Calfskin Leather Knee High Boots Model: Nikki O. Photography: Cleveland Moore III and Andrew Kung / Andrew Kung Group

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Dress: Topshop Kelly Green Satin Vest Dress Shirt: Zara Knit Black Ribbed Sweater Tights: Amina Muaddi x Wolford: Black Split Lace Tights Shoes: YSL Black Patent Opyum Croc Ankle Boots Brooch: Chanel Brooch Bag: Pink Balenciaga Bag Hat: Zara Black Wool Beret Blazer: ASOS Men’s Grey Plaid Blazer Top: Skims Black Mock Neck Sleeveless Bodysuit Pants: Topshop Black Skinny Denim Shoes: Missguided Ankle Combat Lace Boots Bag: Lilac Target Bag


Top: Missguided Satin Pink Draped Blouse Skirt: Zara Houndstooth Mini Skirt Tights: Amina Muaddi x Wolford: Thong Tights Shoes: Tom Ford Black Suede Padlock Ankle Strap Pumps Bag: Kelly Green Suede Larvin Clutch

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ON the COVER

Model: Nikki O. Photography: TA Yero 25


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BREAD hair care | breadbeautysupply.com

THE LIP BAR vegan makeup | thelipbar.com

Local! THE ANGEL AFFECT makeup & boutique style theangelaffect.faith

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Portland Museum Art. Heritage. Community.

These three words communicate volumes about Portland Museum, an Italianate brick building from the late 1800s located on Portland Street.

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“We’re the repository for the history of the neighborhood,” said Katy Delahanty, co-executive director of the museum.

murals will be seen around the city soon. A choreography showcase with the Louisville Ballet is planned for January.

Portland is older than Louisville. It was its own city before merging with Louisville in the mid-1800s. “There’s this independent spirit still here,” Katy said.

Look for the children’s museum to open soon. AHOY, Adventure House of You, will be in a Victorian house adjacent to the museum property. “We are transforming it into an immersive children’s play center,” Katy said. The grounds will be doubled with the house and additional backyard. While the past is and will always be important to Portland, the future is joining in the fun with this initiative. Danny Seim is heading up the AHOY project, as co-executive director of Portland Museum. “There’s a lot of reciprocity in helping with each other’s project,” Katy said.

Four years ago as a board member, Katy and a handful of other members took on the challenge of ushering the museum into its new era, taking care of the property and ensuring its financial stability and transparency as a nonprofit. As of the Oct. 2 unveiling at the Art and Heritage Fair on the grounds, Portland Museum has a 9 feet by 16 feet stainedglass installation in the façade, crafted by prominent Louisville artist Bob Makert. A special exhibit showcasing the solo photography and social justice work of Jon Cherry is going on now during the 2021 Louisville Photo Biennial. Portland

To contribute to the Portland Museum and the capital campaign for AHOY, visit www.portlandky.org. photos courtesy of Portland Museum


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First Tee -Louisville

Founded in 1997 by professional golfers, First Tee is a youth development program across the United States that makes golf accessible for kids. First Tee - Louisville began in 2005.

“We teach kids in a setting outside, to make sure they have a balance of golf skills and life skills—and we teach a healthy habits curriculum—in a fun, activity-based setting,” said D’Shawn Johnson, executive director of the Louisville nonprofit. First Tee instills nine core values throughout the program: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment (decision-making). “Kids retain more and learn more when they are enjoying themselves and having fun,” D’Shawn said. First Tee - Louisville serves 1,000 youth each year with programming in spring, summer and fall, for girls and boys ages 6 to 17. One is an all-girls program with female coaches. First Tee Español launches in October for Latinx and Hispanic youth in the city.

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Each session is once a week for six to eight weeks at one of six locations throughout Louisville: Bobby Nichols Golf Course, Long Run Golf Course, Quail Chase Golf Club, Shawnee Golf Course, Seneca Golf Course and Sun Valley Golf Course. First Tee – Louisville built youth courses at Shawnee, Seneca and Long Run for kids to have a space to practice and learn at no cost. Tuition for each program is $50, which is waived for kids who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program at school. “We also give them free clubs, bags and balls, because we understand that we have to overcome a lot of golf stereotypes,” D’Shawn said, “that it’s expensive, it’s boring and that nobody does it but old white men.” Golf is for everybody. To become a volunteer and/or make donations, visit www.firstteelouisville.org. photos courtesy First Tee - Louisville


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Many Spirits, One Brown‑Forman Meet Ralph de Chabert, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Community Relations Officer for Brown‑Forman by Rocko Jerome | photos by Clinton Bennett “I’ve found that it’s true from the classroom to any kind of business imaginable that almost every single individual can make major contributions if they feel valued. I enjoy helping people find and achieve their potential by working to create environments where everyone can grow,” says Ralph de Chabert. Ralph is the Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Community Relations Officer for Brown‑Forman, where he’s served on the Executive Leadership Team since 2015. “I hold the belief that people can always develop and be their best selves in every way when they feel supported. I’m committed to the work of inclusion, I believe that it’s very important. I’m also committed to diversity management, and I continually see how much one leads and supports the other.”

Across the last three decades, Ralph has humbly worked on the vanguard of diversity, finding ways to put concepts of inclusion into actual practice for a number of companies of every size and scope, making big impacts on lives along the way. “I firmly believe that this work is important and requires a real emotional commitment,” he says. “It’s through shared experiences that we grow and evolve. I give great credit to the supportive leadership team and others here at Brown-Forman. The fact of the matter is that any success I have had here with our strategic diversity management process can be correlated to three facts: the amount of sustained senior leadership support, the overwhelming amount of employee engagement in the work, and a tireless team all of whom are emotionally committed to the work.”

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“It’s through shared experiences that we grow and evolve.”

Ralph’s firsthand experiences have brought him to where he is today. “Throughout my life, I’ve often been the ‘first and only’,” he says, recollecting the many times he’s been the one person of color in an organization, establishment, or a literal place. “That was the case at my grade school, then when I went to Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury, Connecticut, and so many times throughout my life, in numerous situations. I know what it is to live a life encountering exclusion. I know first hand how that affects a person’s psyche, not to mention their job performance. It’s hard to get over this feeling when it becomes constant and then

internalized. It puts a person in a position wherein they are constantly under pressure to prove themselves.” As he entered into his calling as a vocation, Ralph researched diversity, connected with organizations of specialists, and developed his strong acumen towards helping people to overcome and achieve. “It’s about developing the capability to cope, manage, and build a sense of resiliency, all while also deprogramming outside bias,” he says. “We can build strength from trauma. We’ve made progress in encouraging ways, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

To learn more about Brown-Forman’s Commitments, visit BROWN-FORMAN.COM Sponsored Content


TOParazzi

Healing Walls Project team: Michelle Johnson, Ashley Cathay, Keeley Falion and Chip Calloway

George Scott and Matt Schutz

NOIR White Party

The Plan Room celebrates its first cohort graduation

Bushra Ali at UPlift event for women and children

The MaShallah African Restaurant team at the Kentuckiana Stroke Association Tasting Extravaganza

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For care that cares for the whole community For moms and daughters, athletes and teachers. For free classes and free screenings. For always-expanding access to specialists, Immediate Care Centers and eCare. At Norton Healthcare, we know that life is all about the moments when you don’t need us. That’s why we’re here for all the moments when you do. For information about upcoming classes and health events, visit NortonHealthcare.com.