The Kentucky Board of Education presented Louisville businessman Jim Allen with the 13th annual Joseph W. Kelly Award at its meeting this week.
The award is given to businesspeople who offer outstanding leadership and service toward promoting school improvement and equitable educational opportunities for all Kentucky children.
Allen is the chairman and CEO of Hilliard Lyons, a regional investment firm based in Louisville with more than 70 offices in 12 states.
“In addition to his professional activities with Hilliard Lyons, Jim is extensively involved in civic affairs not only in the Greater Louisville area, but also on a statewide basis,” said Kentucky Board of Education Chair David Karem. “He has been a tireless supporter of education in Kentucky and we hope he will continue to be for many years to come.”
Allen serves as chairman of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation. In a letter nominating him for the award, Jefferson Co. Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens wrote, “Since assuming this role three years ago, Mr. Allen has worked to ensure that all Foundation initiatives align with the JCPS (Jefferson County Public Schools) goal of becoming the country’s best urban school district and that they offer clear and measurable benefits to our students.”
Among the programs developed under Allen’s direction are:
- ACT Now – a program focused on helping high school juniors and seniors attending targeted schools to increase their ACT scores
- Ford Fund’s Next Generation Learning — an initiative focused on increasing community involvement opportunities to strengthen academic offerings at the middle and high school levels
- Every 1 Reads — a program focused on mobilizing community volunteers who work with students who are not reading at grade level
In addition, Allen has rallied other business leaders behind the district and helped schools establish partnerships that provided students with real world experience and helped them better understand how the information they learn in the classroom will benefit them after graduation, Hargens said.
Allen also chairs the statewide Business Leader Champions for Education, formed by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence as Kentucky led the way in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Blake Haselton, Interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, who also nominated Allen, wrote “Jim very quickly organized an extensive group of business people representing the entire Commonwealth to ensure that the message that all children must have the opportunity to receive an outstanding education was delivered.”
“He was ‘front and center,’ ensuring that the entire community understood the importance and necessity for embracing these more rigorous standards for all students,” Hargens said.
In addition to support for education, Allen is engaged in a number of other civic affairs. He serves as the chairman-elect of the Louisville Fund for the Arts, immediate past chairman of the YMCA of Greater Louisville and chairman of the Louisville Downtown Development Corporation.
The Joseph W. Kelly Award was created in honor of Joseph W. Kelly, a respected businessman and chair of the Kentucky Board of Education from 1991 to 1998. Kelly’s efforts and expertise were crucial to the implementation and nurturing of Kentucky’s school improvement efforts.
Board members Roger Marcum, Mary Gwen Wheeler and Nawanna Privett served as the selection committee for the award this year.
Previous Winners of the Joseph W. Kelly Award
2011 Henry Hunt, chief operating officer for Dataseam
2010 Helen M. Carroll, manager of Community Relations for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, North America, Inc.
2009 Bob Hudson, CEO of the Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center in Richmond
2008 Al Rider, president and CEO of the North Central Education Foundation in Elizabethtown
2007 Ben Cundiff, owner/operator of Cundiff Farms in Cadiz
2006 Henry Vogt Heuser, Jr., CEO and president of UniStar/Vogt in Louisville
2005 Wynn Long Radford III, president and co-owner of Higgins Insurance Agency in Hopkinsville
2004 Ann Yager Hamlin, director at Stith Funeral Home in Danville
2003 State Senator Jimmy Higdon, owner of Higdon’s Foodtown in Lebanon
2002 Frank and Mattie Justice, founders of the Frank and Mattie Justice Charitable Foundation
2001 Billy Harper, president of Harper Industries, Inc., in Paducah
2000 Vince and Valorie Tanner, owners of the Beaver Dam McDonald’s restaurant