ASHLAND Four in the area are among 48 in the state chosen to participate in the BRIGHT Kentucky Leadership Program.

They are:

• Aaron Montgomery, executive director RISEabove Group and chaplain coordinator addiction recovery care;

• Justin Pruitt, project manager for Boyd County Fiscal Court;

• Courtney Gillette, executive director, Boyd County Tourism and Convention Bureau; and

• Gavin Tussey, director of training and apprentice program of Plumbers and Steamfitters local union 248.

Participants have already attended the first session, which was last week in Somerset. Dr. Roby K. Payne, CEO of the Aha! Process spoke about bridging poverty and Scott Kiefer, who elaborated on the Predictive Index assessment Bright participants were required to take; PI is an assessment many future employers administer to potential employees to evaluate their cognitive abilities and personaly traits.

In addition to two day-long sessions, the 2020 class also heard from 2019 alumni and how the program has made a positive impact in both their personal and professional life.  

The next session, scheduled for Aug. 19-21, will be in Ashland and is titled “Understanding and Making a Case for the Region.”

Area representatives said they believe their participation will help bring about change.

“We think BRIGHT will help our area by creating collaborative relationships throughout the entire Appalachian region,” Montgomery said. “The program is not specific to one particular area of work, but the common theme is that the individuals in the program are passionate about making a positive impact in their community.”

Gillette said she is hopeful.

“It’s exciting to be in the same room as state representatives, lawyers, addictions program directors, athletic directors, project managers, engineers, conservation specialist and many more talking about how you can work together to create a better place for everyone in your community to live,” she said.

BRIGHT Kentucky is designed for future leaders, generally ages 21 to 40, in Appalachia, with the goal of offering ethical leadership training, expanding networking opportunities and introducing mentors to advance communities and spur economic development.

BRIGHT Kentucky is made possible by a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation and others.

The group will meet in Berea and Frankfort in September; Pikeville in October; and Hazard in November.

(606) 326-2661 |

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