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Kentucky Humanities add board member

Lois Mateus

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lois Mateus, community activist, avid preservationist and humanities advocate, has been elected to serve on the Kentucky Humanities board of directors.

During her term on the 23-person volunteer board, Mateus will help set policies, award project grants to community organizations, and participate in fundraising to help meet the growing demand for Kentucky Humanities’ programs. Based in Lexington, Humanities and its community partners across the commonwealth invest more than $1 million annually in support of public humanities programs throughout Kentucky.

Lois Mateus is a retired Brown-Forman senior executive. For 26 years she oversaw the company’s public relations, corporate communications, community relations and contributions activities, while also managing real estate and office facilities worldwide and developing brand home places. She was one of three major shareholders in the development of Woodford Reserve bourbon and creation of the brand’s distillery and visitors center in Woodford County.

Representing Brown-Forman, she became the first woman to serve on the board of the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA). In 2013, KDA created the annual Lois Mateus Mentoring Award in her honor.

Mateus is past chairman of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. In 2005, UK awarded her its Lifetime Achievement Award in Communications and Public Relations.

A native of Mercer County, since her retirement Mateus has been a contributing writer and food columnist to the Harrodsburg Herald and Mercer Magazine. She also writes for Edible Louisville/Bluegrass, a regional food publication, and contributes to Kentucky Monthly magazine.

Mateus is a founder and past president of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (formerly the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation) and served as founder and co-chair of the Slow Food Bluegrass Chapter. She has served on the executive committees of Leadership Kentucky, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Kentucky Educational Television Foundation. She was a charter member of the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

Prior to joining Brown-Forman as a corporate vice president in 1982, Mateus served in the economic development arm of the administration of Gov. John Y. Brown as state commissioner of the departments of Public Information, Tourism, and the Arts.

She began her career working in the Kentucky department of public information and later became statewide public relations director for the Democrat party of Kentucky. She served as executive director of the Kentucky Historical Events Celebration Committee during the commonwealth’s observance of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, and was recently named co-chairman of Harrodsburg’s upcoming 250th anniversary celebration (in 2024 ).

Mateus is married to Louisville contractor and developer Tim Peters. Since 1994, they have operated Tallgrass Farm (near her childhood home) where they raise warm native season grasses and garden extensively. Their Tallgrass Farm Foundation regularly brings inter-city children to the country for farm field-day experiences.

Since her retirement, the couple has restored eight historic buildings in downtown Harrodsburg, including the Kentucky Fudge Company and the Next Door restaurant and the 1822 McBride House. For these restorations, Gov. Steve Beshear recognized them with the 2012 Ida Lee Willis Community Development Preservation Award. In 2016, they received Preservation Kentucky’s Linda Bruckheimer award for the conservation and preservation of rural landscape. This fall, Preservation Kentucky is launching the Lois Mateus and Tim Peters “Making a Difference on Main Street” award.