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Louisville businesswoman Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne dies

Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne
Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Family and business associates of Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne announced that she died unexpectedly Thursday. Wayne was founder and CEO of three Louisville-based companies: TKT & Associates Inc., ASTUTE Sourcing and TKTKonnect.

Wayne was 45.

A native of Danville, Ky., Wayne was devoted to her family, including her husband Frederick Wayne; daughter Tristan Turner; stepdaughter Faryn Wayne; parents Chester and Sheila Kavanaugh; and brother Chester Kavanaugh II.

On Friday, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce leaders expressed their deep sadness over Wayne’s unexpected passing.

“I am devastated by the loss of my chamber teammate and my friend,” said Kentucky Chamber Board Chair and President of Kentucky American Water Nick Rowe. “She was a consummate professional and a self- made success story. She was an inspiration to so many with her positive energy, her beautiful smile, her mental toughness to succeed, and her love for family. God got an Angel and we lost a loved friend and peer. I am praying for her daughter, husband and her family.”

“My heart is broken hearing the news of our friend Tierra,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts. “Tierra was the perfect combination of intellect, hard work, grace, beauty and someone I deeply admired and feel fortunate to have known.  Our prayers go out to her family and especially her daughter, who anyone who knew her, knew was her whole world.”

Greater Louisville Inc. President and CEO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom issued the following statement Friday:

“We are saddened and heartbroken to hear about the loss of Tierra Kavanaugh Wayne. Her contributions to GLI and our community will stand the test of time. As a member of our executive committee, board of directors, and long-time chair of our Public Policy Council, Tierra worked endlessly to help businesses grow. Some individuals referred to her as tireless, an outspoken advocate for women and minority-owned business, and a prominent leader. I am personally grateful to have referred to her as a mentor and most of all, a friend. Our community has suffered a deep loss, and our condolences go out to Tierra’s family and friends.”

Over the course of her life, Wayne achieved numerous milestones in the world of business and government. After leaving the public sector in her official capacity, Wayne continued to tirelessly serve the community, volunteering on non-profit boards and councils. Wayne received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1997, going on to lead a distinguished career in government service, entrepreneurship and community leadership with highlights such as:

  • 2004 | Appointed to serve as the first executive director of the newly created Governor’s Office of Minority
  • 2006 | Founded TKT & Associates, Inc., which has become a leader in both supplier and workforce diversity
  • 2008 | Appointed as a member of the judicial nominating committee, 30th Judicial Circuit and
  • 2017 | TKT & Associates was recognized as No. 4 on the Fastest 50 Women Business Owners
  • 2019 | TKT & Associates was recognized as No. 2 on the Fastest 50 Women Business Owners

In founding TKT and Associates, Wayne built a respected organization of over 250 employees and has been recognized with several awards from business and community advocacy groups.

Wayne’s community service included executive committee membership of Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) and chair of GLI’s Public Policy Committee; executive committee and board member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and chair of their business education committee; executive committee board member of Leadership Kentucky; and member of the board for the Transit Authority of River City (TARC).

“Tierra was an exceptional woman and leader in the community, fiercely dedicated to her family and passionate about elevating the level of diversity and inclusion in the business world,” said Kimberly L. Bunton and Michael D. Rose, speaking on behalf of Wayne’s family and businesses. “Her dynamic leadership and ability to persevere, inspired many people from so many backgrounds – especially women of color – and the impact of her dedication to cultivating more diverse and inclusive social and workplace environments will be her legacy.”

Final arrangements for Wayne have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.