Two employees at University of the Cumberlands have been chosen as members of the BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2020.

Summer Jackson and Sarah Adkins are two of 41 participants representing 30 different ARC counties this year, the second year of the BRIGHT Kentucky program. Jackson is the Executive Program Director at Cumberlands and an assistant professor, and Adkins is a Department Chair and associate professor at the University. Both have earned their Ph.D. and have for years been vital assets on staff at the University as well as valued members of the Cumberlands family.

According to Leadership Kentucky’s website, BRIGHT Kentucky engages bright, entrepreneurial minds from various occupational sectors to offer non-partisan, ethical leadership training, expanded networks, and mentors designed especially for residents of the 54 Kentucky counties of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The program is made possible by a $500,000 ARC grant and private funding from the Whitaker Foundation, SOAR, and others.

“When they say the BRIGHT curriculum is meant to ‘inspire and energize participants who live and work in Eastern Kentucky to stay in Eastern Kentucky and make a difference in their home communities,’ they aren’t kidding!” said Jackson. “Our first session was insightful, encouraging, and even a bit overwhelming. After the session, I knew I had joined a special group and was excited about Eastern Kentucky’s future.”

Adkins said, “Leadership Kentucky is an organization like few others. I feel so blessed and honored to be a part of such an amazing cohort of individuals, all with the common goal of improving our communities through comprehensive leadership. The training we received in Somerset expanded my knowledge of leadership and communication within communities on both a personal and professional level.  I am excited for our upcoming sessions, the knowledge, and partnerships we will gain as a result of our experiences, and the potential positive impact our involvement will bring to our area.”

BRIGHT Kentucky consists of five, three-day sessions where the major focal point is to help participants fully understand the local economic context and to build robust skill sets in communication, collaboration, consensus building, visioning, and community engagement. The program runs from July through November and will take participants across Eastern Kentucky: Somerset in July, Ashland in August, Berea/Frankfort in September, Pikeville in October (the session includes a SOAR conference), and Hazard in November. At these program sessions, participants have the chance to hear from business leaders in the area and network with other BRIGHT Kentucky participants.