3 from Owensboro selected to KY RUX leadership cohort

May 20, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated May 19, 2024 | 5:18 pm

Photos from KY RUX

Three people from Owensboro have been selected for the 2024 leadership cohort of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX), a statewide creative leadership program with a goal of enabling proactive conversations about the state’s most complex challenges.

Since 2014, Kentucky RUX has developed and supported Kentucky’s leadership. RUX has earned national acclaim in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor, and at national conferences such as the Rural Women’s Summit and the Kennedy Center Arts Summit. 

“Now in its 10th year, the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange program is known for facilitating conversations about Kentucky’s biggest challenges and uplifting a Kentucky narrative that is as exciting, diverse, and complex as Kentuckians themselves,” a release from KY RUX says. “Each summer, RUX is hosted in two regions of the state to help participants understand and value the culture, landscape, context, and people of each place.”

Cohort members from Owensboro are Dan Heckel, Steve Johnson, and Cheryl Burks-McCarthy.

RUX bio on Heckel: After a 21-year newspaper career, he is serving in his 17th year as the Director of Mission Advancement and Communications for the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in Maple Mount. … He is active with Theatre Workshop of Owensboro, where he has served as an actor, director, playwright, and host of the podcast “Take TWO.” He is a trained spiritual director and serves as chairman of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church parish council. 

RUX bio on Johnson: Currently serving as the President of RepresentGPA Governmental and Public Affairs, he navigates legislative complexities and fosters community relations in alignment with organizational goals. Johnson’s entrepreneurial drive is evident in his founding roles at RepresentGPA and Heaven by Health, where he promotes personal health initiatives through workshops and outreach programs. Previously, as Vice President at Owensboro Health for over 15 years, he secured funding and facilitated cross-team alignment. 

RUX bio on Burks-McCarthy: (She) is an Extension Assistant for All Programs for The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service), She also serves on numerous boards centered on families and children, agriculture, and commerce. Cheryl looks forward to meeting new people, building relationships, helping solve problems, visiting new places, having fun, and making memories across the great state of Kentucky.

This year’s 48-member cohort members will attend Community Intensive conferences in Campbellsville from May 17-19 and Owensboro from June 14-16. They will also join alumni at a third conference at Carter Caves State Park in August. 

During these Community Intensives, members will join community leaders for discussions and experiences that explore the culture, food, natural environments, economies, and regional identity of each community. 

In Campbellsville, the cohort will learn about ecotourism, recreation, and conservation along Green River; the culture of local agriculture and land stewardship; the relationship of the college and local community; and efforts to uplift local music, literature, and African American history, including the Enslaved Persons of Clay Hill (EPoCH) Legacy Project, which was funded by a RUX Intercultural Microgrant last year. 

During their visit to Owensboro, the cohort will learn about the role of faith in local identity from an interfaith perspective; explore the arts community and their relationship to community health; celebrate Juneteenth at the Owensboro Black Expo; and learn about the farm-to-fork traditions of the region. 

“Alongside this place-based learning, members will engage with the RUX curriculum, which is proven to strengthen intercultural leadership, build skills in cross-sector collaboration, develop networks, and incubate new projects across the Commonwealth,” according to the release.

The 2024 program is planned in partnership with Art of the Rural, Appalshop, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky Folklife Program, and regional host partnerships with Campbellsville University, Best Donut, Bourbon Boutique, Campbellsville Mainstreet, Citizens Bank, Druthers Restaurant, East First Brewery, Harden Coffee, Homeplace at Green River, Messy Bun, Renee Dobson Realty, Taylor County Public Library, Taylor County Tourist Commission, and Tebb’s Bend Battlefield, the Marilyn and William Young Foundation, the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro, and Owensboro Health. 

In addition to the partners listed above, funding for the program is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the W.L. Lyons Brown Foundation, the Greater Clark Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Women, and many regional and local foundations, businesses, and individual Kentuckians. 

To learn more about the RUX and the 2024 cohort, visit kyrux.org/blog

May 20, 2024 | 12:09 am

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