Our occasional feature, Top Women in Business, highlights some of the women around Kentucky who are making an impact in business, the professions, politics and economic development. The intent is to recognize not the household names, but those in key roles whose work ethic and body of work are making important contributions to commerce in the commonwealth.
The six women in this issue are among the many such women The Lane Report editorial board has identified. We welcome your suggestions for others around Kentucky who also are deserving of recognition for their efforts to boost Kentucky’s economy. Send your recommendations to [email protected].
Audrey Tayse Haynes
Title/Company: Secretary, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
How long at company/position: Since April 16, 2012
Previous jobs/positions: Senior vice president and chief government affairs officer, YMCA of the USA, Washington, D.C.; executive director, Kentucky Literacy Commission; member, Kentucky Board for Elementary and Secondary Education; deputy secretary, Cabinet for Health Services.
Top accomplishment: I have worked for four Kentucky governors (Wilkinson, Jones, Patton and Beshear); a U.S. president (Clinton); and a U.S. vice president and his wife (Al and Tipper Gore). Witnessing the transformation of healthcare for Kentuckians and implementation of the Affordable Care Act is another big moment.
Education: Master’s degree in social work, University of Kentucky; bachelor’s degree in social work, Spalding University.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: The person most influential in shaping my work ethic and core values was my grandmother, my dad’s mom, who lived her entire life on my family’s farm in middle Tennessee. She was the person I never wanted to disappoint and the person I could always count on.
What inspires/drives me: I love politics, policy and the intersection of the two. I like seeing that my work can make a difference in the lives of others. I love building a management team that can drive change. Public policy is made at the local, state and federal levels through the lens of politics, so it is important to respect the politics of policymaking.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. My husband is my best friend and partner. We have owned a lot of homes and condos in our 24 years of marriage and I have enjoyed completely remodeling all of them.
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: We still have Kennedy Center season tickets so we try to fly in for six to eight performances each year and visit friends in D.C. I’m anxious to read Mark Halperin’s “Double Down,” and I enjoy a good action thriller by David Balducci.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: My greatest challenge was accepting my first position in Washington, D.C., in 1993 as interim CEO of Business and Professional Women USA, the BPW Foundation and the BPW PAC. The largest place I had lived was Lexington, so D.C. was a bit overwhelming. But with the support of my husband and a couple of great mentors, the experience was challenging and rewarding. I overcame fears of a large job in a large city, grew exponentially, and the position led to my White House appointment! Since then, I have always been more confident about new and challenging situations.
Title/company: Vice president, community relations and economic development, Duke Energy Ohio and Duke Energy Kentucky
How long: 4 years
Previous jobs/positions: Senior manager, corporate communications, Duke Energy; national manager, labor communications, Kroger Co.; vice president, communications and public relations, Citi Corp.; manager, government affairs, United Way Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Top accomplishment: On the Kentucky Community and Technical College Board of Regents from 2005 to 2011, I assisted in the passage of HB160 in 2010 allowing easy transfer of credits from KCTCS colleges to four-year public universities. This will enable long-term change in the cycle of poverty for families and workforce development for our state.
Education: Master’s degree in business administration, Thomas More College; bachelor’s degree in communications, University of Memphis.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: Gregg Morton of Citi taught me about servant leadership. Margaret Hulbert of United Way taught giving back to one’s community. Julie Janson of Duke Energy taught patience and timing. John Williams, former CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber, taught me real leaders have to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. My dad emphasized the importance of one’s reputation and the power of never giving up.
What inspires/drives me: Being told “we tried that before” or “that will never work” … I like being a game-changer and part of a dynamic team. People with passion for a project who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get things done energize me.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I started a “bucket list” this year. Losing my dad to cancer and celebrating a milestone birthday while maintaining a demanding workload and chairing the Brent Spence Bridge Coalition working group taught me to stop and enjoy life rather than postponing fun until “one day.” I skydived, performed in front of an audience, did meditation, hiked a mountain and tried to paint. The joy is in the journey.
Currently reading and recent play attended: I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and attended “Fly,” a play about the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Both were inspirational.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: About five years ago, I became a stepparent. I am now more understanding if a parent is occasionally late to an 8 a.m. meeting or needs to leave for a football game. A woman can have it all, but not all at the same time. Being a parent added stress and compromise but taught me lessons I wouldn’t trade. There is nothing like getting your first homemade jewelry box – at least I think that’s what it was.
Tierra Kavanaugh Turner
Title/company: CEO/founder of TKT & Associates Inc.
Previous jobs/positions: Management in corporations such as BellSouth Mobility, now known as AT&T, and American Express; executive director, Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment.
Top accomplishment: Raising and nurturing of my daughter Tristan. In business, I’ve grown and adapted through good times and bad, remaining mindful of my responsibility to staff, clients and the community.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, University of Louisville. Currently pursuing an MBA at McKendree University.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My parents, Chester and Sheila Kavanaugh.
What inspires/drives me: My parents were entrepreneurs and always encouraged me to be all I can, face every challenge with faith and fortitude, and maintain my values in everything I do. I’m driven to show my daughter and other girls they can overcome failures and accomplish their dreams.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Volunteer at Bates Memorial Baptist Church, my daughter’s school and several youth-focused organizations.
Currently reading and recent movie attended: I watched “12 Years a Slave” and I’m recently read “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: With TKT, my challenge has been how to grow and diversify our services, for sustainability, without losing our core focus. After lengthy prayers and research, we expanded our talent acquisition services by acquiring Nectir and creating the TKT-nectir Global Staffing full-service agency.
My advice to younger women in business: Keep pushing forward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice or business.
Title/Company: President of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, and Paducah city commissioner.
How long at company/position: Began at the chamber on June 1, 2013, elected to city commission November 2012.
Previous jobs/positions: Public affairs manager, NewPage (formerly Westvaco, MeadWestvaco). Employed at the manufacturing facility from December 1986 through May 2013.
Top accomplishment: I served as the first woman chair of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce board in 1996. I served as the first woman chair of Paducah Economic Development board in 2009-10. I served as board chair of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers.
Education: Bachelor of Science, Murray State University
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My dad inspired me to have a very competitive spirit. On our family dairy farm, we raised Registered Holstein dairy cattle. We shared a lot of wonderful time showing cattle at competitions in Kentucky and Tennessee and judging 4-H competitions. My mother is my No. 1 cheerleader. She balanced the “drive for winning” with grace and humbleness.
What inspires/drives me: Rather than being satisfied with “the ways things have always been done,” I find ways to improve and bring new ideas to whatever I am involved in. Change brings challenges and sometimes struggles, but to be better you must look for ways to improve.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I serve on the boards of the Market House Theatre and Carson Center. In 2011, I auditioned and was selected for the part of Lexie in the “Dixie Swim Club” at our community theater. It was some of the most fun I have ever had.
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: A few years ago some friends and I formed a book club. We range in age from early 50s to mid-80s. We have so much fun that sometimes we almost forget to discuss the book at our monthly meeting. Our last book was “Orphan Train,” and I highly recommend it.
My advice to younger women: Work hard and find a balance with your home and professional life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you are going to need it! It’s important to have a strong network of women to support you and offer advice.
Title/company: President/CEO of Planters Bank
How long at company/position: 13 years
Previous jobs/positions: Regional president, Western Kentucky and Northern Tennessee, Star Bank/Firstar/US Bank; senior vice president, commercial lending officer, Bank One; Thurman, Campbell & Co. CPAs.
Top accomplishment: Current chair of Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board of directors; Kentucky Bankers Association board; Hopkinsville Industrial Foundation board; Hopkinsville/Christian County Economic Development Council board; Gatton College Business Partnership Foundation board; Murray State board of regents.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, University of Kentucky (1981); Master of Business Administration (1983).
Person who most influenced or mentored me: My father, who passed away a year ago, influenced me in indescribable ways. He assured me I could accomplish anything with hard work and said “take all the luck you can get.”
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I love to travel and recently returned from Dubai with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. I love to cook and shop.
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I travel often to New York City, and theater is a passion. I’ve recently seen Wynton Marsalis’ “After Midnight” and “Betrayal” with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, among others.
Elizabeth Grugin Burton
Title/Company: Director of business development and public relations,
The Center for Rural Development, Somerset.
How long at company/position: 4 months
Previous jobs/positions: CEO, PrimePoint LLC, an organizational development consulting and training company; director of sales administration, U.S., Polycom Inc.; national director of grant and e-rate assistance program, Polycom Inc.; associate, University of Missouri-Columbia; community development program coordinator, State of Missouri.
Top accomplishment: I created the first trademarked grant assistance program in the telecommunications industry for a global manufacturing company. It helps government, education and healthcare organizations find funding to purchase equipment and technologies for projects incorporating distance and interactive learning for schools, telemedicine for rural clinics, and video arraignment in corrections.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Transylvania University (1992); master’s degree in business administration from University of Missouri-Columbia (2002); certified by the National Development Council as an economic development finance professional; certified trainer, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment; certified trainer, LeadershipPlenty, Pew Partnership for Civic Change.
Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My grandfather Charlie Hughes taught important values, including honesty, respect, integrity and humility. Dr. Don Thomas Dugi at Transylvania helped me develop the ability to think critically. Dr. Michael Diamond, Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri, taught classes on organizational analysis and change that form the basis for how I consult with organizations today on change issues.
What inspires/drives me: Nothing causes me to dig my heels in more than someone telling me “it can’t be done.” My son Eli has instilled in me a drive to teach and help others, and to leave people and things better than I found them.
Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I volunteer with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services to review grant applications that focus on technology. I enjoy traveling, music and the arts, snow skiing, snorkeling, attending UK basketball games, Cincinnati Bengals football games and Cincinnati Reds baseball games.
Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I am reading “The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations” by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: I managed a team that was completely home-based and communicated with each other using telepresence solutions. Although we had high-quality video-conferencing, it was difficult to create the camaraderie that comes in an on-site office setting. I tried to ensure that we had periodic on-site meetings that allowed staff to talk with each other in person and create a rapport that underscored that we were all in it together.
My advice to younger women in business: Take every opportunity to learn. Create a culture of inquiry for yourself and others. Encourage those that you work with to share information, ask questions and promote diversity of ideas. Develop professional relationships with those who will actively work with you to break down barriers to advancement. Collaborate across industries to create powerful support networks where you are constantly adding value. Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid of failure. In today’s rapidly changing environment, ideas and career paths are constantly changing – and your first idea or your first job may not always work for you. Learn from itRep and move on to bigger and better things. n