Home » KY Chamber Foundation’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion turns one, expands staff to grow projects

KY Chamber Foundation’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion turns one, expands staff to grow projects

The Bottom Line: by Sawyer Coffey

In its first year, the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) have led robust efforts to build an inclusive and equitable Commonwealth.

In November 2021, the Foundation hired Joe Frazier as the executive director of the Center for DE&I to spearhead the Chamber’s efforts to engage and educate business leaders, transform workplaces across Kentucky, and create meaningful, long-term change.

The Center for DE&I began by establishing a task force of more than 25 business, education, and civic leaders that regularly convene, intending to launch and advance initiatives that will lead the business community to create a stronger future for all Kentuckians.

“I am so proud of the many accomplishments the Center for DE&I has had in its first year. The success we have already seen in this program is such a strong testament to the critical need for this work in Kentucky,” said Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Center for DE&I Interim Chair Kim Sweazy, Community Relations and External Affairs Analyst at Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America.

A major goal of the Center for DE&I has been to provide ways for businesses to diversify their supply chains and, at the same time, promote minority-owned businesses across the Commonwealth. This led the Center for DE&I to launch the Kentucky Minority-Owned Business Database—the first-ever centralized listing of all certified minority-owned businesses across the Commonwealth— in partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, and Louisville Metro Government.

This online database also includes resources to help businesses understand the importance of certification, decide which certification works best for them, and learn how to begin the process.

To engage the broad business community in the DE&I conversation, the Chamber hosted its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit in October with almost 500 attendees from a variety of industries to discuss the economic impact of diversity, diversifying supply chains, public policy solutions, transforming company culture, and much more.

Recently, the Center for DE&I expanded its staff to continue advancing its initiatives. In addition to Frazier, the Foundation has hired Nathan Bird and Darleen Horton as senior program managers for the Center for DE&I.

Bird previously taught Spanish at Saint Xavier High School, where he also played a key role in committees and initiatives related to DE&I. Additionally, he served as an independent consultant for Diversity & Inclusion Strategists.

Horton previously served in several roles at Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, most recently as the organization’s reentry services manager. She also founded a program to empower youth leaders in Louisville.

“Since joining the Chamber family, we’ve really hit the ground running,” said Joe Frazier, executive director of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Center for DE&I. “We’ve had some huge wins and I’m excited to continue this work and show what else we have in store for the Commonwealth.”

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