Kentucky Women Worthy of Note

By Lorie Hailey

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 those who have achieved “household name” status, but those in key roles whose work ethic and body of work are making important contributions to commerce in the commonwealth.

The seven women featured 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].

Carolyn W. Mounce

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Carolyn Mounce is a Kentucky native who currently lives in Nancy, Ky.

Title/Company: Executive director, Somerset-Pulaski County Convention & Visitors Bureau

How long at company/position: 10.5 years

Previous jobs/positions: Manager of Todd Development Co., West Chester, Ohio; branch manager of Key Bank, West Chester, Ohio; branch administrator of Chase Bank of Ohio

Top accomplishment: My daughter, Ann Michele Duggan

Education: Some college; banking college; Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My parents, Cecil and Martha Wiles

What inspires/drives me: The opportunity to promote and live in the beautiful Lake Cumberland area

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Reading; flower gardens; hummingbirds; local nonprofit boards and tourism boards

Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: Currently reading “The Guardian” by Dee Henderson; attended the 24th year of the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, Ky.

My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: Surviving breast cancer by the grace of God, awesome family, siblings, friends and doctors. I am an 11-year survivor.

My advice to younger women in business: Listen. Respect your peers and bosses. Don’t expect a handout. Learn the business from the ground up, and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Love what you do!

Melinda Sunderland

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Mindy Sunderland is a native of Ashland, Ky., who currently lives in Louisville.

Title/Company: Shareholder and attorney at Morgan & Pottinger PSC

How long at company/position: 13 years

Top accomplishment: Becoming the youngest female shareholder at my law firm.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and History from Transylvania University (2000) and Juris Doctor from University of Kentucky College of Law (2003)

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: John McGarvey, chairperson of Morgan & Pottinger PSC, has had the greatest influence on my career. I was hired by M&P right out of law school and have spent the whole of my legal career there. John has taught me, encouraged me and supported me throughout my years of practice. I have served alongside him on the firm’s management committee since 2014.

What inspires/drives me: My son is my greatest inspiration. He makes me want to be the best mother/person/citizen/attorney I can be.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I serve on the board of directors and as chair of the development committee for Family Scholar House, a Louisville non-profit. Its mission is to end the cycle of poverty by assisting single parents to obtain a college degree. I also chair the board of trustees for the Eastwood Fire Protection District and am treasurer of the IOLTA Board of Trustees. I love traveling and recently visited Iceland.

Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I saw singer Ray LaMontagne at the Louisville Palace. So amazing!

My advice to younger women in business: I always advise women starting out in the legal profession to find a mentor, within their own firm or not.  The benefits of having someone to talk to and to bounce ideas off of cannot be overstated.

Becky Naugle

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Becky Naugle is a native of Salem, Ind., who currently lives in Richmond, Ky.

Title/Company: State Director, Kentucky Small Business Development Center

How long at company/position: 18 years at KSBDC (17 years as director)

Previous jobs/positions: Owner of Cornucopia Caterers; treasurer of Salem Community Schools; performance designer for Charter Performance

Top accomplishment: Hall of Fame, Lexington Chapter National Association Women Business Owners

Education: Ph. D. and M.S. in instructional systems technology and business, bachelors in accounting, Indiana University

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: Zella Cauble and Sharon Elliott Fox, owners of Cauble’s Florist, two of the smartest and hardest working business owners I have ever met; Kim Naugle, my husband, who helps me see the gifts everyone has to offer; and Richard Moser, my first boss out of college, who gave me a chance to learn from him and see how difficult – and rewarding – being a small-business owner could be.

What inspires/drives me: Seeing the people I work with succeed, and watching the businesses we work with grow and succeed.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: I love the Humane Society and would like to do more for them. I love plants and have two orchids blooming in my office.

Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I am reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63” and it’s a great book. I saw Jerry Seinfeld live recently. I love comedies, so I don’t know how I got involved with the “Game Of Thrones,” but I love it.

My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: There have been lots of challenges; many seem much less important now. Many things you can overcome by remembering to just breathe.

My advice to younger women in business: Find a strong support network and use it. It can feel very lonely if you don’t have friends and peers who get you.  Learn how to be strong without being hard and how to be soft without being weak … and it isn’t easy, so laugh at yourself, a lot.

Kelly King Bakehorn

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Kelly Bakehorn is a native of Danville, Ky., who currently lives in Lexington.

Title/Company: Co-owner of Barrel House Events Center, The Barrel House Gardens, The Grand Reserve Events Center, The Speakeasy, Cocktails and Wedding Bells, The Distillery Market, Dipsie’s Sweet Treats and, in spring 2017, Circa 1865. 

How long at company/position: 6 years

Previous jobs/positions: Managed family nightclub business for eight years and my own for 15 years.

Top accomplishment: Receiving The Rising Star award from National Association of Women Business Owners in 2015. The award recognizes emerging entrepreneurial women who demonstrate strong growth and are expected to sustain long-term success.

Education: Bachelor of Science in comprehensive business, Eastern Kentucky University.

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My entrepreneurial parents raised me with a strong work ethic that shaped my ambition for success.

What inspires/drives me: I love working with people. I love to see an event come together. I strive to make my product and my service better with every event.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Woodworking; Lexington Rotarian; fundraising chair for The Trees of Life, which benefits the Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky; I am a visionary corporate partner of National Association of Women Business Owners.

My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: The biggest challenge was the initial purchase of a Manchester Street warehouse space located in downtown Lexington’s historic distillery district. My family, although supportive, thought I had lost my mind. They questioned the location and the type of business: An upscale special events venue on a street that industrial trucks call home and once had junkyards as neighbors. If you can dream it, you can do it!

My advice to younger women in business: Make choices that magnify your possibilities, not restrict them.

Judith A. Phillips

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Judith Phillips is a native of Greenup County, Ky., who now resides in Villa Hills, Ky.

Title/Company: President of Stand Energy Corp.

How long at company/position: 32 years. I am one of two remaining original founders. President since 1998.

Previous jobs/positions: There were only two viable career paths open to me in the Greenup County, Ky./Portsmouth, Ohio area: become a teacher like my mother or a secretary. I became a secretary at the Portsmouth (Ohio) Gaseous Diffusion Plant owned by the federal Department of Energy. I spent the next 22 years with the Columbia Gas System in a number of administrative positions. My determination to be successful was nurtured as I persevered in administrative positions to rise to the trusted, high level position of secretary to the president of three distinct Columbia Gas companies. I kept my ears open and learned the gas industry, which was extremely male-dominated during the ’70s. 

Top accomplishment: I was the first woman at the Columbia companies to be promoted to a management position, propane coordinator at Columbia Hydrocarbon. My sales territory included a six-state Appalachian region. In 1983, I was one of two statewide point persons for gubernatorial candidate Dr. Grady Stumbo. I supported and promoted “Propane for Fuel” as an alternative to diesel, one of Kentucky’s first “green” initiatives.

Education: I graduated from public high school in rural Kentucky and married at 17 in 1954. My training was all “on-the-job” in the executive suites of the Columbia companies described above. 

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My mother instilled in me that I could accomplish and excel at anything with hard work.

What inspires/drives me: Helping to level the playing field for women and minorities.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Real estate development and investment; I am developing a Sonoma County, Calif., vineyard.

My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: Succeeding in a male-dominated industry, which I achieved with perseverance.

My advice to younger women in business: Move heaven and earth to get your message out there; build relationships; change with the industry; and never give up.

Karen Finan

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Karen Finan is a native of Covington, Ky., who currently resides in Ft. Mitchell, Ky.

Title/Company: Partner, Gilman Partners

How long at company/position: 3 years

Previous jobs/positions: Senior vice president of the Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Tri-ED); senior vice president of Duke Realty Corp.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Northern Kentucky University; Industrial Asset Management Council Leadership fellow; economic development and CRE courses

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: Family, coaches, teammates, friends, business associates … It continues to take a village with me!

What inspires/drives me: I am inspired by people who make things happen for the right reasons without fanfare or bureaucracy. I am driven by the opportunity to work on issues and projects that open doors for others by offering alternative and sometimes disruptive solutions.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Chair of Bad Girl Ventures, an organization that helps educate female entrepreneurs; chair of the Northern Kentucky Education Council; past chair of Redwood, which guides children and adults with severe and multiple disabilities to achieve independence; board member of the Notre Dame Academy; member of: Industrial Asset Management Council, Commercial Real Estate Women, University of Cincinnati Real Estate Roundtable.

Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: “The Boys in the Boat,” the story of nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown; and “Sum It Up,” the story of University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt.

My advice to younger women in business: My advice is to younger women and men in business. Curiosity is one of the most important attributes you can have: It drives interest and opportunities within your career and life. Explore new roles, subjects and people. It will open up worlds unknown and through that a satisfying and challenging career, and a life well lived.

Blanca Ramirez Gutierrez

Bianca Ramirez is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who resides in Richmond, Ky.
Blanca Ramirez is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who resides in Richmond, Ky.

Title/Company: Chief marketing officer of Lectrodryer

How long at company/position: 12 years with Lectrodryer, seven years in current position

Previous jobs/positions: International sales manager

Top accomplishment: One of my top accomplishments is the strong international sales growth of Lectrodryer during my tenure. Lectrodryer received the President’s “E” Award, which recognizes organizations that contribute significantly in the effort to increase U.S. exports. However, I think my biggest challenge is also my top accomplishment: I believe in being the best I can be. I am constantly trying to beat my last best.

Education: International business degree and an MBA, Monterrey (Mexico) Institute of Technology and Higher Education; Wharton School executive development program

Person(s) who most influenced or mentored me: My parents and John McPhearson, Lectrodryer’s CEO. I look up to former Gov. Martha Layne Collins.

What inspires/drives me: I have a passion for improving every situation that I am involved with. It is my way of being grateful for all the blessings I have received.

Hobby/interests/volunteer work: Travel, travel, travel. I also love to mentor other young women.

Currently reading and/or recent movie/play/concert attended: I’m reading “Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe” by George Friedman. I saw Miguel Bosé in concert at the wine country in Ensenada, Mexico.

My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: One of my biggest challenges was to build a reputation for technical knowledge without a technical background because Lectrodryer specializes in highly specific process equipment applications. I always had interest in technical/scientific topics, but I had to work hard on learning the technical side of our products. I studied, attended all the conferences related to the industry I could, and spent a lot of after-office hours with experts in the field.

My advice to younger women in business: Focus on your strengths, manage your weaknesses. Be nice but bold.

Lorie Hailey is a correspondent for The Lane Report. She can be reached at [email protected]

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