During the fall 2020 semester, Jennifer (Jenn) Hall, Director of Marketing and Communications at Alice Lloyd College and 2014 alumna, participated in the second BRIGHT Kentucky leadership program. The program focuses on building up the next generation of Kentucky Appalachian leaders to help innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development in the region. An extensive application process narrows down a group of participants who possess the qualities and skills necessary to build upon their communities’ strengths and lead them into a better, brighter future.
Jenn began the program excited to join but also a little nervous, saying, “I started this journey as a quiet, reserved lady who was stepping way out of her comfort zone and was struggling to find her voice. Today, because of BRIGHT, I am a confident woman who has found her voice and a new comfort zone.”
She slowly discovered her new comfort zone over the five-month program where members and leaders met in various Eastern Kentucky locations. One of her favorite sessions came in Ashland, Kentucky, where the focus was on the drug epidemic in Appalachia. Participants heard stories of individuals in recovery, which Jenn says provides hope for the region. BRIGHT gave the members new experiences to carry with them into their professions, such as meeting legislators in Frankfort. When the group visited downtown Hazard, Jenn was named a Duchess of Hazard by Mayor Happy Mobellini!
During the program, Jenn often reflected on the similarities between the BRIGHT experience and her time as a student at Alice Lloyd College. She states, “ALC encourages students to graduate and return to their region to improve on it, and that’s also something BRIGHT has encouraged us to do as well. My time at the College has instilled in me the qualities of servant leadership and allowed me to develop the traits that I need to be a servant to my community. The BRIGHT program has given me a deeper love and appreciation for these mountains we call home while helping me build upon my leadership skills to be an advocate for Appalachia.”
Jenn would like to thank all who advocated for her, such as Allison Southard and Mindy Beth Miller, who recommended her for the program. In addition, she would also like to thank Elmer Whitaker, Janice Way, Karen Butcher, and Madeline Flynn for “seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself.” Jenn would also recommend others to participate in the program as it was a life-changing experience for herself, and she believes it will be for others. She says, “Being a part of this program provided a little bit of normalcy during a time of uncertainty and was really a bright spot in 2020. I’m excited to bring everything I learned back to the region and help it grow into something amazing.”
Photo Credits to Suzanne Deaton Photography