Posted on Aug 10, 2017

Together Lexington issues reports on Courageous Conversations
Nearly 450 people attended 12 forums

LEXINGTON – Together Lexington today issued two reports based on findings from its 12 Courageous Conversations held earlier this year.

Nearly 450 people participated in Together Lexington’s 12 community conversations to encourage courageous, meaningful discussion and awareness among all members of the Lexington community surrounding affordable housing and homelessness; drugs and heroin; gentrification; LGBTQ+ inclusion; police and community relations; and race relations.

“We wanted to bring people together to tackle the tough issues facing Lexington and turn those into opportunities for finding common ground and solutions,” said Rufus M. Friday, president and publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader and “It’s only by coming together that we can understand one another and work together to continue to improve our community.”

The facilitators have created executive summaries and topical summaries, which can be viewed on our website:

Among the findings:

  • Attendees gleaned more knowledge and understanding on gentrification, affordable housing, and homelessness and a greater appreciation for the complexities involved.
  • Greater education, awareness, and involvement are needed regarding drugs and heroin in Lexington.
  • Specific LGBTQ+ inclusion issues emerged, such as the aging LGBTQ+ community and increased concern for safety and proper health care for this part of the population.
  • A deeper understanding of the relationship between the police and community emerged, some of which included changes in perspectives.
  • Lexington needs less conversation and more united action to improve race relations.
  • An underlying theme of mental health ran through many of the sessions – homelessness, drugs, policing/crime and LGBTQ+.
  • Youth involvement also was a theme across multiple topics.

“These conversations have been invaluable to help community members better understand each other and identify the work that needs to be done to keep Lexington moving forward,” said Sheri Evans Depp, director of HR and global talent management for Lexmark International.  “In addition to issuing these reports, Together Lexington will present the findings to civic, business and government groups throughout the community. The insights of the participants have also guided our other investments and will continue to do so.”

To date, other Together Lexington outreach includes:

  • Investing $55,000 to create interpretive signage to create a walking tour of local African-American history with significant sites from times of slavery, reconstruction and segregation, and civil rights.
  • Contributing the final $22,000 to complete the 16-foot Isaac Murphy sculpture, a signature piece of art in the first park in the United States to honor the earliest African-American professional athletes – the Thoroughbred jockey.
  • Partnering with other organizations, including the Lexington Police Department, Urban League of Lexington, Commerce Lexington and others, to organize two felony expungement workshops to help people navigate a new law that allows expungement of certain low-level felonies.
  • Serving as a gold sponsor for the Picnic with the Police at Douglass Park. The picnic, organized by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, brought together the community and police for fun and fellowship.
  • Working with United Way of the Bluegrass to identify grant opportunities that align with Courageous Conversation suggestions.

Together Lexington will continue to draw upon the Courageous Conversation insights as Together Lexington 2017 identifies new funding opportunities. Please email with any additional ideas or to request a presentation for a community group.

Here are 2016 and 2017 Together Lexington project partners:

  • Ann Bakhaus, president of Kentucky Eagle, Inc.
  • Lisa Ball, vice president of Ball Homes
  • Barry Bishop, regional vice president/operations of Windstream Communications
  • Sheri Evans Depp, director, HR and global talent management for Lexmark International
  • Bill Farmer, president & CEO of United Way of the Bluegrass
  • Rufus Friday, president and publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader
  • Lee Greer, president of Greer Companies
  • Larry Hall, president of Hall Media, Inc.
  • Larry Jones, central region president of Community Trust Bank
  • Dr. Augusta Julian, president of Bluegrass Community and Technical College
  • Brian McCarty and Bruce Drake, partners in Bluegrass Hospitality Group
  • Bret Melrose, owner of Fayette Heating & Air
  • Sam Mitchell, CEO of Valvoline
  • Jeff Murphy, vice president of marketing and communications for KentuckyOne Health
  • Rhonda Petr, director of marketing, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid
  • Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLEX
  • Andy Shea, president and CEO of Lexington Legends Baseball
  • Bill Thomason, president and CEO of Keeneland

To learn more, visit, and follow on Twitter @2getherLex and Facebook at Together Lexington.


Together Lexington 2016, a group of 17 business and community leaders, is an initiative to energize the community by creating a positive marketing campaign and funding projects that will improve quality of life.