Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson was recently presented with the Friend of Education by the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA).
Adkisson has headed the Kentucky Chamber since 2005, leading the organization to make improving education in the state its No. 1 priority and to become more proactive in shaping education policy.
Among those efforts were the chamber’s adoption that same year of many legislative goals set by the Business Forum for Education and its partnering with Amazon.com on a drive that resulted in the awarding of more than 2,000 GEDs to Kentuckians.
Adkisson also actively supported legislation in 2006 that required greater accountability in the ACT and WorkKeys exams, two additional school days and preschool expansion. He advocated creation of the Index of Educational Progress, which combines multiple educational attainment and achievement factors into a single index, administered through the Long-Term Policy Research Center.
Because of the chamber’s more prominent education profile, Kentucky’s university presidents asked the group in 2007 to conduct an independent study of higher education in the state. In 2009, under Adkisson’s leadership, the chamber issued its Leaky Bucket report, highlighting to Kentucky lawmakers that unsustainable growth in pensions, corrections and Medicaid was robbing education of much-needed funds. A follow-up report in 2011 continued the focus on education funding.
Adkisson was the driving force behind creation of the Leadership Institute for School Principals, which accepted its first class of 48 principals in 2011. The institute provides participants with free, year-long, personal, executive leadership training. The program, which has invested $1.5 million and benefited more than 150 principals, is supported financially by the business community.
When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Kentucky Chamber a $500,000 grant in 2012 to bolster business support for the Common Core State Standards, Adkisson joined Holliday on a statewide tour to explain the standards. During their travels, they distributed 10,000 business education kits, which later became a model for similar campaigns in other states. As part of that effort, the chamber also recruited 85 business leaders to join Business Advocates for Education, which supported more rigorous standards.
Adkisson was nominated for the Friend of Education Award by the Owensboro Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake. That area of the state benefited from Adkisson’s education efforts when he served as CEO of the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce in the early 1980s. During that time he led a Chamber effort to establish Owensboro Community and Technical College.
Adkisson serves as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Education, Employment and Training Policy Committee, is a founding board member of the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky, a former chairman of the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education, a trustee if Georgetown College and serves on the Dean’s Leadership Council at Harvard University. An Owensboro native, he is a Georgetown College alumnus and holds a master’s degree from Harvard.