Women's Summit - Speakers

Jennifer Barber, Office Member-in-Charge, Frost Brown Todd LLC
Jennifer focuses her practice in the areas of state and local tax, economic incentives and government affairs. Her comprehensive practice includes advising national and local clients on tax planning to serving as counsel in litigation in administrative and judicial disputes. She has represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on numerous constitutional tax issues. Jennifer is a Louisville Business First “Enterprising Woman to Watch” and “Forty Under 40” honoree. She is the recipient of both the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating and Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers and has been listed in Kentucky Super Lawyers® and The Best Lawyers in America©. Jennifer was appointed by Kentucky’s Governor to serve on the University of Kentucky’s Board of Trustees and reappointed to the Kentucky State Fair Board, which has over $450 million in economic impact to Kentucky. She also serves on the local advisory board for U.S. Bank, the nation’s fifth largest commercial bank. Jennifer serves on the American Bar Association’s State and Local Tax Executive Committee and Transparency Tax Force. Jennifer has written extensively on the subject of state and local taxation, with articles appearing in numerous publications, including State Tax Notes and Bloomberg BNA. She is a frequent speaker on state and local taxes, speaking at the Southeastern Association of Tax Administrators conference, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, and the Kentucky Society of CPAs annual conference, among others.

Elaine Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Elaine Chao is the first American woman of Asian heritage to be appointed to a President’s cabinet.  She has held two cabinet positions: U. S. Secretary of Labor and U. S. Secretary of Transportation. An immigrant to this country at the age of 8 not speaking any English, she received her citizenship at the age of 19. Her experience transitioning to a new country motivated her to ensure that everyone has access to opportunities. Secretary Chao was also President & CEO of United Way of America; Director of the Peace Corps; Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Transportation; Chairman of Federal Maritime Commission. She was also a banker in the private sector. The recipient of 37 honorary degrees, Secretary Chao earned her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  A proud Kentuckian, she lives in Jefferson County.  

The Honorable Kelly Craft, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Kelly Craft was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to the position of Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations on February 22, 2019 and was confirmed to that position by the United States Senate on July 31, 2019.  She was formally sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on September 10, 2019 and served through 2021.

Craft served as the United States Ambassador to Canada from October 2017 until assumption of her USUN role in 2019.  During her time as Ambassador, she worked through the complex revisiting of the NAFTA treaty, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.

Kelly Craft is a leader, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has made community service and improving education the cornerstone of her career.

As a third-generation Kentuckian, Craft served her community by assuming several leadership roles with the Salvation Army of Lexington and the Center for Rural Development, a non-profit dedicated to the economic development of rural Kentucky.  She also served in similar roles in the cultural leadership of her state, working with the Kentucky Arts Council and the United Way of the Bluegrass.

With a deep commitment to education, Craft has served on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and co-founded the Morehead State University Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics.
In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Craft as an alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

In the private sector, Craft founded a successful marketing and business advisory firm providing leadership advice to businesses across the country.

Craft is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Morehead State University. 

She and her husband, Joe Craft, who is also native Kentuckian, share six children and eleven grandchildren.

Felicia Cummings Smith, Ed.D, President, National Center for Family Literacy
A lifelong educator and national thought leader for teaching and learning, Dr. Felicia C. Smith brings decades of valuable experience to advance NCFL’s mission of working to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. Having served in a variety of leadership roles in P-12, higher education, nonprofit, and philanthropy, her career has allowed her to experience leading systems and develop a unique vantage point of a learner’s educational trajectory from preschool to adulthood.

Colene Elridge, CEO, Be More Consulting
Colene Elridge, aka Coach Colene’s decade-plus of HR experience, led to her being known as “the fixer”- she’s called to help organizations and leaders create better workplaces, productive teams, and aligned results. Her career in government focused on Affirmative Action, EEO, and Diversity. She was a successful investigator of harassment and discrimination complaints and implemented strategies that resulted in more diverse and inclusive workplaces. She is the CEO of Be More Consulting, a boutique agency designed to support organizations in creating cultures of inclusion, and developing women leaders. Her first book, Monday Morning Pep Talks, was named by Success Magazine as a top book for professional women. Colene is the founder of EmpowHer Conference, a women's leadership event that focuses on building women into leaders both at work and in their lives. Colene has a bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from Transylvania University, where she currently serves on the Board of Regents, and an MBA from Sullivan University. She loves yoga, her family, movies, and laughing!

Kim Halbauer, Kentucky Regional President, Fifth Third Bank
Kimberly Halbauer serves as regional president of Fifth Third Bank, N.A. (Kentucky), which covers Kentucky and Southern Indiana and has more than $2.5 billion in assets. She is responsible for the growth and strategic direction of the Bank’s Commercial, Wealth & Asset Management and Consumer businesses to deliver distinctive value to our customers and community impact throughout the region. Kim has more than 30 years of experience with Fifth Third, most recently as managing director of Fifth Third Private Bank in Cincinnati. She was responsible for Wealth & Asset Management businesses, including the customer experience for more than 3,000 clients with $12 billion in assets and 100 wealth professionals. Kim began at Fifth Third Bank as a customer service representative. After working through college, she rose to leadership in the Consumer and then the Commercial divisions, where she worked with government, not-for-profit, small and midsized businesses as well as publicly traded companies, focused on customer and employee development, strategy and growth. Kim earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in finance and business from Thomas More College and completed an Executive Leadership program at Yale University. Kim serves on the boards of the Kentucky Chamber, Kentucky Chamber Foundation, One West, One Southern Indiana, Greater Louisville Inc., Leadership Louisville Center and Fund for the Arts. She has served as chairman of the board for American Heart Association and United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Tocqueville Society. She was vice chair for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and on the boards of United Way Greater Cincinnati, Kentucky Educational Television, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Thomas More College Leadership Council. Kim is a Northern Kentucky native. She and her husband, an entrepreneur, have four daughters and live in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rep. Samara Heavrin, State Representative, Commonwealth of Kentucky
Samara Heavrin, 18th District State Representative for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, was elected in November 2019 in a special election. When sworn into office, she became the youngest female ever elected to the Kentucky State House of Representatives. In the Kentucky State House of Representatives, Samara serves on the House Committee’s on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs, Judiciary, Transportation, and State Government. In 2021, she was announced as the Co-Chair of the Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity. In 2020, she was chosen in the inaugural class of 20 Under 40 by The Council of State Governments and was named as a Greater Louisville Inc. Most Valuable Policy Maker. Upon Samara’s graduation from Western Kentucky University in 2014, she moved to Washington D.C. There she interned for U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie before joining U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s staff as staff assistant and then scheduler. After three years in Washington, Samara returned home to join Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball’s staff as Director of Initiatives. In her position at the State Treasury, Samara oversaw the STABLE Kentucky program, financial literacy, unclaimed property and transparency initiatives. Samara lives in Leitchfield, Kentucky with her golden retriever, Rosie, and is actively involved in her home community. She serves as a board member on the Owensboro Health Foundation Board.

The Honorable Crit Luallen, Former Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky
After serving with seven Kentucky Governors and being elected twice to statewide office, former Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen is known as one of Kentucky’s most experienced and respected public leaders.

Appointed by Governor Steve Beshear in 2014 as Kentucky’s 56th Lt. Governor, Luallen partnered with the Governor in his efforts to build a stronger Kentucky through job creation and expanded access to health care. As Lt. Governor, she chaired kyhealthnow, an initiative to develop strategies and track progress toward a healthier Kentucky.

Luallen was elected the state’s Auditor of Public Accounts in 2003 and reelected in 2007. During her tenure, she led her team to aggressively tackle fraud and abuse, leading to dozens of prosecutions. Her work also brought a new accountability to board-governed organizations across Kentucky after a series of high-profile audits exposing mismanagement.

Prior to serving as state Auditor, she served nearly seven years as Secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, the highest appointed position in Kentucky state government. Previous appointments included State Budget Director, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Tourism and Commissioner of the Ky. Department of the Arts.

Luallen also served as President of the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership, a regional economic development agency.  In 2009, she was named Public Official of the Year by the Washington, D.C. based magazine Governing, for her positive impact on government in Kentucky.

Luallen is a native of Frankfort, a graduate of Centre College, where she serves on the Board of Trustees, and is married to Lynn Luallen.

Amanda Mays Bledsoe, Council Member, Lexington-Fayette Urban Co. Goverment
Amanda Mays Bledsoe is in her fourth term on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and is running for the Kentucky State Senate’s 12th district.  She graduated from Hillsdale College and the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy, where she studied during 9/11.  Amanda began her public service career working at the nonpartisan Council of State Governments where she worked on environmental and international relations policy.  She later was an adjunct faculty member for homeland security at Midway College and the BCTC.  In 2014, Amanda won her first election after challenging an incumbent of the Lexington City Council and has been unopposed in her three reelection campaigns.  She is the first woman elected by colleagues to chair the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee, overseeing a $400 million general fund.  Amanda remains involved with several nonprofit organizations serving women and children.  She and her husband have two children.

Candace McGraw, CEO, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Candace McGraw is an aviation professional with more than 30 years of operational and legal expertise who has led the transformation of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) into a thriving enterprise, which has been recognized by Skytrax in 2021 as the second-best airport in the world serving between five and 10 million passengers and the “Best Regional Airport in North America” for eight of the last 10 years.

Kate Shanks, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Kate Shanks is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association. She oversees the Chamber’s advocacy work, including developing and advocating for the business community’s state and federal legislative agendas, policy research and design, and member engagement. In her current role, she led the Chamber’s advocacy efforts to modernize the tax code for growth, reform the unemployment insurance system to support re-employment, ensure unemployment insurance tax relief for employers, and address child care cost challenges. Kate is a lifelong resident of Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s in Natural Resource Conservation and Management and a Master of Public Administration from the Martin School for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky, where she serves on the Board of Visitors. Before joining the Chamber, Kate spent over a decade working for state agencies in communications, policy analysis, and legislative affairs, predominately in the energy and environment field. She lives in Frankfort with her husband and two sons.

Renee Shaw, Director of Public Affairs & Moderator, Kentucky Educational Television (KET)
Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator for Kentucky Educational Television, currently serving as moderator of KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Connections, Election coverage, Legislative Update and KET Forums. Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

As an award-winning journalist, Renee has earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, earning two regional Emmy awards, and the Kentucky Associated Press. She was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2017. She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; earned the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the KY Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform in 2014; in 2015, she received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault & human trafficking.  

In 2018, KET earned a national media award from Mental Health America for its multi-dimensional content on the opioid epidemic shepherded by Shaw. That same year, she co-produced and moderated a 6-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. 

In 2019, Shaw was recognized by The Kentucky Gazette as one of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government. In addition, Renee was awarded the Charles W. Anderson Laureate Award by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet that recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues.  

A former adjunct media writing professor at Georgetown College, Renee traveled to Cambodia in 2003 to help train emerging journalists on reporting on critical health issues as part of an exchange program at Western Kentucky University. And, she has enterprised stories for national media outlets, the PBS NewsHour and Public News Service.  

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Kentucky, and a longtime member of the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit organization of women of color committed to volunteer service. She has served on the boards of the Kentucky Historical Society, Lexington Minority Business Expo, and the Board of Governors for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Renee is a sought-after speaker on media, diversity/inclusion, public policy, and political issues. She travels the state moderating and emceeing community events.

Amy Spiller, President, Ohio & Kentucky, Duke Energy
Amy Spiller is president of Duke Energy's utility operations in Ohio and Kentucky, which serves approximately 850,000 electric customers and 533,000 natural gas customers. She is accountable for advancing the company's rate and regulatory initiatives, and managing the government relations, economic development and community affairs functions throughout the region.

Kathy Stewart O'Nan, Mayor, City of Mayfield, Kentucky
Kathy Stewart O’Nan currently serves as the Mayor of the City of Mayfield, Kentucky.  She is retired from the Mayfield Independent School System where she taught US History at Mayfield High School.  She is a graduate of Lambuth University in Jackson Tennessee and is the past president of the Lambuth University Alumni Association.  Ms. O’Nan is also the past president of the Graves County Library Board of Trustees. Kathy is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Mayfield where she served as the Children’s Choir Director for forty-two years.  She served on the Mayfield City Council for sixteen years prior to becoming mayor in 2018, and she currently serves as a member of the Kentucky League of Cities Board of Directors. Kathy O’Nan, an avid card player, is a widow and has two daughters and two grandsons.

Ashli Watts, President & CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Ashli Watts was named the President and CEO for the Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association, in November 2019. Ashli joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in November of 2012, and during her tenure as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the Chamber, she has led efforts in passing significant pieces of legislation such as felony expungement in 2016, right to work legislation in 2017, workers’ compensation reform in 2018 and reinstating arbitration agreements in 2019. As part of the Chamber’s leadership team, the Kentucky Chamber was named National State Chamber of the Year in 2017. Prior to joining the Chamber, she worked at the Kentucky Bar Association and the Legislative Research Commission.

 

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