Karen Hough, ImprovEdge
Founder & CEO
Barbara Sexton Smith, Compassionate Schools Project
She also founded a company to teach the highly sought after Street-Smart Principled Negotiation program which focuses on teaching you how to get others to do what you want. Her clients have included Norton Healthcare, Humana, Nissan, General Electric, Brown-Forman, D.D. Williamson, Alcoa, Old National Bank, and Yum! Brands. Barbara was nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award!
Prior to embarking on a long, successful career as a fundraiser, Barbara worked as the National Franchise Director for the Fresher Cooker restaurant chain and was quickly promoted into the upper management ranks of Wendy’s International. Co-Founder of two successful personnel agencies in Louisville in the early eighties.
Selected from a nationwide search to be featured in three books:
- Speaking of Success 2007
- Remarkable Women of Faith 2007
- Roadmap to Success 2016
She spent her childhood dreaming of becoming the manager at Walgreens. After graduating from the University of Louisville’s College of Business in 1979 Barbara says she learned everything she needed to know about management and leadership at Wendy’s. Thank you Dave Thomas!
Along the way she hosted a weekly radio show, ArtBEAT!, and posted more than 100 CEO video blogs as the Fund for the Arts’ avatar! She managed to make sure 400,000 arts experiences are provided for schoolchildren in our region every year! Barbara has one daughter and six stepchildren.
Elizabeth Bierbower, Humana
President, Group Segment
Beth has published a book titled Engage! A Guide to Involving Your Consumers in their Health, is a frequent speaker and has served as chair of a number of industry conferences. Beth contributes to LinkedIn and Twitter and maintains a blog on Tumblr – A Seat at the Table.
She earned a master’s in public management, graduating with highest honors, from Carnegie Mellon University.
Master of Ceremony
Dawne Gee, WAVE 3 News
What Gee has enjoyed most throughout her broadcasting career is her connection to the community. Her goal is to deliver the news accurately, quickly and objectively each day while also stepping out of that role of newscaster to be a leader and a part of the community. She donates her time and efforts to organizations all over Kentucky and Indiana almost every day of the week. It is with pride that Gee recites the words of Louisville’s native son and Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, “My service to others is the rent I pay to stay on this earth”. Gee has recently founded two non-profits. “A Recipe to End Hunger” published its first cook book in December of 2014. 100% of the proceeds of every book sold will go to feed children in food insecure homes. Gee also stepped up with the help of friends from University of Louisville Dental School and The Kentucky Lions Eye to give free dental care and eye exams to any elementary age child for free.
Gee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Louisville. Her faith and family keep her grounded. She has two sons, Eric and Alexander, and a daughter, Brittney. Her Mother, Father, Sister, Nieces and Nephews spend time with her daily.
Conversation Corner and Panel Speakers
Ruth Brinkley, KentuckyOne Health
President & CEO
A native of Georgia, Brinkley has 40 years of health care experience working in private public, academic, community–based, and healthcare organizations including academic, community-based and national hospitals and health systems. Prior to joining KentuckyOne Health, Brinkley served as president and chief executive officer of Southern Arizona’s largest health system, Carondelet Health Network, part of Ascension Health. She was also responsible for overseeing Ascension’s operations in Idaho and Washington. Prior to joining Carondelet, Brinkley held several executive roles with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), including president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, TN, senior vice president for performance management for CHI nationally where she led system-wide operations improvements, and group vice president in Louisville, KY.
Ms. Brinkley’s academic experience includes serving as associate executive director, chief nurse, and associate dean of clinical practice at the University of Alabama (UAB) Hospitals in Birmingham. As an operations consultant with CSC Healthcare, she worked with many of the most complex academic health science centers and community hospitals in the US and Canada where she led large scale organizational transformation projects. Prior to her consulting experience she held executive roles at health care organizations in St. Louis and Chicago.
Brinkley holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in nursing from De Paul University and is a registered nurse. A Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, she is a founding member of the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation and is a frequent speaker on both health care delivery and leadership. She has shown her involvement in the health care industry and broader community by serving on the boards of health care, manufacturing, financial services, and community services organizations across the country. She serves as a member of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange Advisory Board and is on the boards of DePaul University, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and Greater Louisville, Inc. She is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives and the American College of Health Care Executives.
Often recognized for her accomplishments, she has been frequently cited by Becker’s Hospital Review as a female health system leader to know, being most recently listed in 2014 as one of “10 Most Admired CEOs in Healthcare”. In 2010 and 2014 she was recognized as one of Modern Healthcare Magazine’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare.
Brinkley considers the launch of KentuckyOne Health her most memorable leadership experience “because of the tremendous potential it has to improve the health of Kentuckians and expand health services across the state.” In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, writing and travel and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Laura Douglas, LG&E and KU Energy
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs
Douglas’s professional background includes service as general counsel for a water district as well as a sewer works, which operated the largest industrial pre-treatment program in the EPA’s Region IV. She also served for four years as the Secretary of Kentucky’s Public Protection and Regulation Cabinet, which regulated, among other industries, mining, banking, insurance, electricity, telephone, and water throughout the Commonwealth.
Douglas’s educational background includes numerous honors and achievements. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville where she was a member of CWENS, Mortar Board, and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies. She also earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law where she was a member of the law school’s National Moot Court Team. In 2004, Douglas was designated a law school Alumni Fellow. In June 2007, Douglas attended E.ON AG’s International Senior Manager’s Program in Lausanne, Switzerland.
She is an active member of numerous professional organizations and civic boards. Douglas currently serves as Vice Chair of the Committee on Water for the American Bar Association’s Section of Public Utility, Communications, and Transportation Law, a Fellow of the American Bar Association, a member of the Kentucky Bar Association, a volunteer Trial Commissioner for the Kentucky Bar Association, a member of the Kentucky Women’s Forum, and chair of the Housing Partnership’s board of directors. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of Republic Bank, board member for the Kentucky Governors Scholars Program, board member for the Muhammad Ali Center, member of the Actors Theatre of Louisville board of directors, member of the Law Club, and member of Women Influencing Louisville. As the result of a mayoral appointment, Douglas has served as Chair of the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability since its inception.
Douglas also is a former Bingham Fellow, graduate of Leadership Louisville, and a former board chair of the Leadership Louisville Board of Directors. She is also the former Board Chair of Women for Women. Having been appointed by two governors, Douglas served on the Kentucky State University Board of Regents for twelve years. She served as chair of the Board of Regents for six years.
Bob Smith, Papa John’s
Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources
Prior to joining Papa John’s in 2003, Bob spent more than 20 years in restaurant operations with KFC in the Northeast Region. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, specializing in Human Resources from the University of Baltimore and a Professional in Human Resources Certification from the Society of Human Resources Management.
Bob was awarded an Evanta 2014 Top 10 Breakaway Leader Award for senior HR executives, has been featured in Profile Magazine and was a member of Consero’s 2014 Chief HR Officer Forum. Bob and his family reside in Louisville, Kentucky where he serves as a Board Member for the Salvation Army, St John’s Center for Homeless Men, the Louisville Zoo Foundation Board and the Louisville Youth Training Center. Whether he is training for a marathon or volunteering his time, Bob knows that preparation and accountability are essential to his personal success.
A.J. Hubbard, Humana
Director, Office of Inclusion & Diversity
Under his leadership:
- DAP finished third in the 2014 and 2015 Com Leadership Excellence 500 Awards.
- Humana made the 2014 and 2015 Diversity Inc list of Noteworthy Companies .
- Humana achieved a 100 on the Human Resource Council’s Corporate Equality Index for three consecutive years.
A.J. was quoted in Harvard Business Review (July 24, 2012) in the article ‘If You Can’t Find the Right Hire, Create Her’.
He has over 23 years of management experience in employee relations, coaching, mentoring, recruiting, facilitation, and compensation. He has worked at 3M Company, Louisville Gas & Electric, and First Residential Mortgage, where he was instrumental in leading the company to being the #1 ranked “Best Place to Work in Kentucky in 2005.”
AJ serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisville Habitat for Humanity and is an advisor to the Louisville Urban League’s African American Men’s Leadership Development Program.
He is a graduate of Minnesota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Physical Education and a Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. He graduated from Humana’s prestigious ‘Healthcare Leaders 2020: Executive Intensive’ program in November of 2014.
A.J. is married and has two beautiful young daughters.
Dr. Kristen Lucas, University of Louisville
Associate Professor, Department of Management
On the teaching front, Prof. Lucas teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in gender in organizations, organizational behavior, crisis management, and business communication. She also facilitates management workshops, provides communication consulting, and delivers keynote addresses to industry groups on how to handle difficult workplace encounters with more dignity.
Prof. Lucas earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Northern Michigan University and her Ph.D. in organizational communication from Purdue University.
Ryan Parker, KentuckyOne Health
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Division Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion
Ryan P. Parker is vice president for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity and inclusion officer for KentuckyOne Health—the largest healthcare system in Kentucky consisting of more than 200 care sites. In this capacity, Ryan is responsible for building a strategy that enhances KentuckyOne Health’s vision to be a nationally distinguished health system and benchmark healthcare system for diversity, inclusion, and health equity.
Parker has led national award-winning diversity and inclusion programs for organizations in both the healthcare and academic sectors. His credible reputation has led him to distinctive roles at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Most recently, he served as assistant vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Health System (RWJ) in central New Jersey—2015 winner of the American Hospital Association’s Equity of Care Award.
In 2014, Parker was acknowledged by The Network Journal and Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the nation’s leading healthcare leaders under the age of forty—and, in 2015, he was named among Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 Executive Leaders Under 50. Parker received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Jacksonville State University and attended George Washington University where he participated in their Healthcare MBA program.
Cynthia Williams, Brown-Forman
Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion
Cynthia A. Williams is Vice President Diversity and Inclusion of Brown-Forman Corporation. Initially Cynthia joined Brown-Forman in 2004 as Vice President Director of Human Resources Global Production and Supply Chain. In 2007, Cynthia was promoted to Vice President, Director Corporate Human Resources and Services. In 2012, she was promoted to Vice President, Global Talent Management and Services and moved into her current role in March 2015. Prior to Brown-Forman, she was with Pepperidge Farms, Inc. where she served as Director Human Resources for their operations since 1997. She has also worked in other human resource positions with the prominent companies GE, Pepsi, and Abbott Laboratories.
Brown-Forman is a diversified producer and marketer of fine quality consumer products, including Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey, Finlandia Vodka, Southern Comfort, Fetzer Vineyard California Wines, Korbel California Champagnes, Tuaca, Chambord, and, Herradura and el Jimador Tequila.
Cara Silletto, Crescendo Strategies
Founder & President
Dr. Hope Zoeller, HOPE (Helping Other People Excel), LLC
Founder & President
Dr. Zoeller lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband Dr. Joe DeSensi. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel and yoga.
Jeff Nally, Nally Group
He has 24 years of professional experience in human resources, executive coaching, and leadership development. Jeff led the Executive Coaching Practice at Humana and created the Humana Women in Leadership group coaching program for the top 130 women executives in the company.
Jeff has been an executive leader in manufacturing and healthcare corporations. He held leadership positions at Commonwealth Aluminum, Commonwealth Industries, CLARCOR Air Filtration Products, and Humana. Jeff led not-for-profit organizations focused on population health and education attainment. He was the executive director of Community Health Trust in Louisville and The Citizens Committee on Education in Owensboro.
Jeff is a nationally-recognized speaker who applies neuroscience and coaching to help people interact with the brain in mind. He is a frequent speaker at The Executive Coaching Conference, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce programs, at corporate leadership events, and at business & human resource conferences across the US.
Jeff earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, and a Masters in Business Administration from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
He is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, a Results Professional Certified Coach through The Neuroleadership Group, and a certified StrengthsFinder Performance Coach through The Gallup Organization. He graduated with distinction with a Certificate in the Foundations of Neuroleadership from The Neuroleadership Institute.
He is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resources Certification Institute and a Senior Certified Professional from the Society for Human Resource Management.
Jeff volunteers his time advancing business, leadership, HR and coaching professions. He is a past chair of the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management State Council and a past president of Louisville SHRM.
Jeff is a board member of the Ohio Valley Charter Chapter of the International Coach Federation and is Chair of Spalding University’s School of Business Advisory Board. He is a member of Metro United Way’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and HR Advisory Committee. Jeff was named one of the top Twenty People to Know in Human Resources by Business First of Louisville.
Jeff is a Louisville native who enjoys the city’s foodie scene. He and his husband, Bob, enjoy exploring sushi restaurants around town with friends most Friday nights. Their teenage son, Adam, is not a fan of sushi and prefers to play video games instead.
Cynthia Knapek, Leadership Louisville Center
In 2012, she was named President of the Leadership Louisville Center. Cynthia oversees all Leadership Louisville Center programs: Leadership Louisville, the signature program for experienced leaders; Focus Louisville, a 2 1/2-day community orientation with an emphasis on volunteer service; The Bingham Fellows, that provides an advanced leadership experience on a specific community issue; Ignite Louisville, a skill building leadership course for young professionals.
Before joining Leadership Louisville, Cynthia worked for Mayor Jerry Abramson as Executive Director of Brightside. Brightside is an innovative public private partnership that works to build civic pride in the community and keep Louisville clean and green. As Director Cynthia launched the highly successful Gallopalooza fundraiser which helped double Brightside’s private revenue. Under Cynthia’s leadership Brightside won two Center for Nonprofit Excellence Pyramid Awards and was a National President’s Circle Award winner with Keep America Beautiful.
Cynthia was named to Business First’s Top 40 Leaders Under 40 in 2001 and received the Citizen Laureate award in 2013 from the Younger Women’s Club. In 2014 she was included in Louisville Magazine’s ‘Power 50’ list of influential leaders. Cynthia was a founding member and the first President of the Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL). She is a graduate of the Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellows Class of 2009.
Cynthia is active in several community organizations and serves on the boards of Greater Louisville Inc., Metro Parks Foundation, and Catholic Education Foundation. She is a member of the Family Scholar House Board of Trustees and also serves on the national board for the Association of Leadership Programs. Past service includes the board of the University of Louisville Alumni Association and the Mayor’s Commission on Public Art.
She has a Master’s degree from the University of Louisville as well as several certifications in leadership training and organizational development. Cynthia married her college sweetheart Mark, and they have two boys.
Kirsten Hawley, Brown-Forman
Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer
Prior to this position, Hawley served as the director of Human Resources Business Partnerships and as the Director of Leadership Development. This marked a return to the HR function after Hawley left the profession for a seven-year stint in the marketing organization, serving as a national, and then global, marketing manager.
Before joining Brown-Forman, Hawley worked in the financial services industry as a management development trainer and as a research assistant for the Max Planck Institute for Psychology and Human Development in Berlin, Germany.
She serves on three community boards: the Leadership Louisville Center, a nonprofit dedicated to developing community leaders, as the Board President for Virginia Chance School, an independent, private school serving children from age two through fifth grade, and as an advisory member to the Young Professionals Association of Louisville.
Hawley graduated from Boston University with an M. Ed. in Counseling Psychology and magna cum laude from James Madison University with a B.A. in Political Science and Communications.
She currently lives in Louisville with her husband, Scott, and two sons, Jackson and Cameron.
Michael Moll, PNC Financial Services Group
Director of Client and Community Relations, Kentucky/Tennessee
In his current role, the 30-year PNC veteran acts as a collaborative “chief of staff,” bringing together people inside and outside the bank to solve problems, build business and pursue mutually beneficial opportunities. As a nexus between PNC’s business lines, staff areas and the bank’s philanthropic and community outreach, Mike connects people and opportunities that benefit the bank and the greater good.
Mike directs marketing, community relations, internal communications and employee engagement activities which have an impact on the bank’s local brand and image. Beyond local market responsibilities, Mike has long been engaged in PNC’s regional and national initiatives, from helping streamline retail product offerings to his involvement in National City Bank’s integration into PNC.
A Louisville native, Mike graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bellarmine College and earned his Masters degree in clinical psychology from the University of Louisville. He joined Citizens Fidelity Bank in 1986 as market research director and was named marketing director in 1991. He has since advanced through the organization with increasing responsibilities in marketing, public relations and communications, while expanding his involvement and leadership in the community.
Moll is a 1996 Leadership Louisville graduate and was named a Top 40 Under 40 Achiever by Louisville’s Business First newspaper in that year. He has served on numerous boards and committees for such organizations as Leadership Louisville, Metro United Way, Brightside, the Ad Federation, the PNC Broadway in Louisville, the Greater Louisville Sports Commission and Bellarmine University.
Mike’s personal passions include fitness and health and environmental sustainability.
Jennifer Mackin, The Oliver Group
President & CEO
The Oliver Group has an experienced team of consultants advising more than 300 businesses nationwide. The Oliver Group’s client impact has grown tremendously over the last 27 years, assisting private equity investors, CEOs, entrepreneurs and other senior leaders in healthcare, hospitality, distribution, government, manufacturing, higher education, banking, financial services and social services.
Jennifer is a leadership thought leader and speaks to various audiences about developing future leadership talent and preparing organizations for future change. She has consulted with companies in this arena since 1994. Her current leadership role requires strategic direction of The Oliver Group while supporting her management team and also consulting directly with select clients. Growth and change have been substantial for The Oliver Group with double-digit average growth for more than eight consecutive years. Jennifer is currently a board member and executive committee member of Greater Louisville, Inc., the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the boards of Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP and the University of Louisville Family Business Center.
Jennifer earned her B.S. in Marketing from Indiana University in Bloomington and her MBA from Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University. She and her husband have three sons and live in Louisville, Kentucky.
Kim Tharp-Barrie, Norton Healthcare
System Vice President, Institute for Nursing and Workforce Outreach
Theresa Reno-Weber, Louisville Metro Government
Chief of Performance & Technology
She has spoken both internationally and nationally on the subjects of performance management, data-driven decision making, and culture change and co-authored a chapter in the book Beyond Transparency. In 2015, Government Technology named her one of the Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers.
A graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and former Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, Theresa earned a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and previously worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company. She is a current Moneyball for Government Fellow, is part of Living Cities’ City Accelerator and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities inaugural cohorts and serves on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana and the International Association of Internal Management Consultants (AIMC).
Theresa lives in the Highlands of Louisville, Kentucky with her husband and three children.
Jaleigh White, Hilliard Lyons
Executive Vice President
Jaleigh White is Executive Vice President of Hilliard Lyons. She joined the firm in 2011 to lead the transformation of the firm’s brand and service model from its historical roots as a broker/dealer to a full service wealth management firm. Her direct reporting responsibilities include Hilliard Lyons Trust Company, Wealth and Family Office, Wealth Planning, Brand Strategy and Marketing.
In her prior role at Fifth Third Bank headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jaleigh was Managing Director of the Private Bank. In addition to her national P&L and sales responsibilities, she was tasked with migrating its 19 decentralized Private Bank service models into one common brand and service model through a collaborative and intensive two year process. Her last initiative at the bank was to build the first separately branded entity of the bank to serve the bank’s ultra-high net worth clients. In 2009, she launched Mirador Family Wealth Advisors, serving as its inaugural CEO. Jaleigh also served on the leadership team that acquired numerous and varied financial service companies during the expansion of the bank.
Prior to joining the banking industry in the 1990s, Jaleigh spent over a decade in public accounting. She began her career at Arthur Andersen and later joined Kemper CPA Group where she served as Managing Partner for the Tax Department that served
the firm’s 26 offices in Indiana, Illinois, California and Florida. In that role, she was responsible for all ERISA issues, mergers and acquisitions work for the firm’s clients, estate and financial planning as well as general tax research and strategy.
Corporate board experience includes her current role on the advisory board of The Oliver Group in Louisville, Kentucky and previous role on the board of Deaconess Health Systems in Evansville, Indiana. She chaired the compensation committee for Deaconess and continues to serve on that committee.
Volunteer experience includes the Welborn Foundation in Evansville, Indiana. This $120 million foundation was formed from the sale of a hospital over a decade ago.
In her 11 years on the board, Jaleigh helped with setting the strategy for this new organization and chaired the investment committee for the past eight years. In Louisville, she serves as a board member for Actor’s Theatre and The Center for Women and Families. In her past she has also served as president of her Chamber of Commerce and on the board for Tales & Scales, and D.A.R.E.
Jaleigh has also been actively involved in the AICPA on a national level for over 20 years. Most recently, she has served on the 21-member task force “Horizons 2025” that set the future strategy for the AICPA and on the governing council. She also served two terms as chair of the investment committee, and was on the nominations committee, employee benefits task force and was a trustee for the Life Insurance Trust.
Jaleigh is a frequent speaker and author on topics involving executive compensation, wealth management needs of business owners, investing for women and generational wealth transfer.
Ann Marie Kelly, Young Professionals Association of Louisville
Ann Marie currently serves on the Bellarmine Alumni Board and is a member of the University’s Alumni Mentorship Program. She is also a “Friend of the Board” for The Backside Learning Center and a 2015 graduate of the Ignite Louisville Program.
Diane Bailey-Boulet, Humana
Program Manager, Inclusion & Diversity
Raylene Browne, Certified Professional Coach