YP UNITE SUMMIT, presented by Owensboro Health
2019 SUMMIT SPEAKERS
As president and chief executive officer of Logitech (that mouse you’re using right now… he probably invented it), Bracken P. Darrell is responsible for Logitech’s strategy for growth and profitability, for the vision for the brand as well as for the company’s operations. Mr. Darrell joined Logitech as president in April 2012, and assumed the role of chief executive officer in January 2013.
Mr. Darrell brings to Logitech more than twenty years of experience in business management and brand management in successful global consumer companies, including Whirlpool, Procter & Gamble and General Electric. His broad executive management experience has spanned manufacturing, supply chain, product innovation, consumer services and marketing – targeting customers in mature and emerging markets. He has led growth and reinvention for iconic brands such as Old Spice, Gillette, Braun, KitchenAid and Whirlpool.
Prior to joining Logitech, Mr. Darrell was executive vice president of Whirlpool Corporation and president of Whirlpool EMEA, where he guided the company through the economic downturn of 2008. Previously, Mr. Darrell was with Procter & Gamble, most recently as the president of Braun, the home appliance business. In addition to a total of twelve years with Procter & Gamble – in executive management positions as well as earlier years in brand management – Mr. Darrell served with General Electric Company for five years, most recently as the general manager of Consumer Home Service. Mr. Darrell began his career with Arthur Anderson and then PepsiCo.
Bracken Darrell holds an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School and a B.A. degree in English from Hendrix College in Arkansas.
Oh yeah, and he grew up in Owensboro!
Craig Yeast was named the Head Football Coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College on December 3rd, 2018. Yeast, a former National Football League (NFL) player and All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) wide receiver at the University of Kentucky, serves as the program’s 17th head coach in 58 seasons of program history (1907-30/1983-present).
Yeast comes to Wesleyan after three years at Franklin College in Indiana where he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Grizzlies produced the most prolific offense in NCAA Division III over the past three seasons. Yeast balanced the offense in 2018 as the Grizzlies averaged 225 rushing and 333 passing yards per game.
Yeast spent three years (2012-2014) as wide receivers coach at NCAA Division II Tiffin University (Ohio). Under Yeast’s guidan ce, the Dragons receiving corps finished the season with three receivers named to the 2012 All-GLIAC Team, four receivers with at least 40 receptions for the season, and amassed over 2,700 yards in a single season as a group. From 2014-2016, Yeast served as the Head Football Coach at Fremont Ross High School outside of Toledo, Ohio. In addition to his coaching duties, Yeast was also the school’s Special Education teacher.
Yeast was a wide receiver with the New York Jets in the NFL after being drafted in the fourth round of by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999. Yeast also played four professional seasons with the Hamilton Tiger Cats (2003-2006) of the Canadian Football League
He concluded his collegiate career with the most receptions (208) in SEC history and still ranks inside the conference’s all-time leaders in receiving yards (9th), catches (5th), and touchdowns (8th). Yeast still ranks as Kentucky’s all-time receiver with 208 catches, 2,899 receiving yards, and 28 touchdowns in a career.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sport management from Midway College (2011) and a Masters degree in education from Tiffin (2013). Yeast and his wife Tori have been married for 19 years with two children, 19-year-old Craig II “Russ”, and 16-year-old Kiyah.
Fuji Avdic | Founder, Stryker Logistics
Fuji Avdic migrated to the U.S at the age of seven from the war-torn country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fuji Avdic grew up in Bowling Green, Kentucky where he attended Warren Central High School and Western Kentucky University. Fuji quickly realized the opportunities to be successful in America and at the age of 22 started his first business. In less than 3 years Fuji’s business grossed $20 million in sales and was sold in 2015. That business still continues to be successful in Southern Kentucky. In 2015 Fuji started Stryker Logistics which is a third party logistics company based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Stryker Logistics was honored in Entrepreneur Magazine in 2018 and 2019 as one of the Most Entrepreneurial Companies in America and Fuji Avdic was one of first Kentuckians ever to make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019.
Dr. Nick Brake | Superintendent, Owensboro Public Schools
Dr. Nick Brake, a native of the Cincinnati area, is the Superintendent of the Owensboro Public Schools. The district is the largest independent district in the state with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 students in preschool through 12th grade at 10 school sites employing a staff of 850 and an annual budget of $60 million. Dr. Brake is a graduate of the Superintendent Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Public Policy from the University of Louisville. His bachelors and masters degrees are both in history. He serves as a graduate lecturer in education administration, policy, and public administration at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Brake’s 24-year career has been dedicated to educational leadership and community development. He taught history and government at the high school and college levels and held administrative leadership positions at the high school, community college, and school district levels. Additionally, he spent seven years in community leadership as President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.
Mayor Brandi Harless | City of Paducah, CEO and Co-Founder, PreventScripts
In addition to becoming Paducah’s Mayor in 2017, Brandi Harless is the CEO and Co-Founder of PreventScripts, a software business that helps primary care providers increase their revenue by helping keep patients healthy. Mayor Harless is an avid volunteer and has served several agencies as a member of their board of directors. She is a co-organizer of the group Progress Paducah and was involved in the Impact Poverty Task Force. She was also a nominee for the Regional Women of Achievement Award. Mayor Harless graduated in 2016 from the Delta Regional Authority Executive Leadership Academy and served as the President of Rotaract in 2013. Mayor Harless graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2005 with a degree in the newly created Communication of Science and Technology program which was founded by a former NASA astronaut. She later went on to get a Master’s in Public Health at Boston University. While in Boston, she learned to sail and enjoyed watching the Red Sox play the Yankees from the Green Monster at Fenway. Mayor Harless enjoys family time, hiking, and a good cup of coffee. She appreciates honest conversations, hard work, and is very comfortable with change.
Julie Johnson | LPCC, LPAT, Compass Counseling, LLC
Learn from the past, live for today, and hope for tomorrow! I am passionate about helping people and would love to help you in your journey! Trust is the key ingredient to counseling and I know that often the hardest part is asking for help. My goal is to empower people, focusing on strengths to achieve full potential and wellness. I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Licensed Professional Art Therapist, earning my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2002 and my Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Louisville in 2005. I have over ten years of experience counseling, with areas of specialty in suicide prevention, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, post-partum issues, trauma and/or dissociative disorders, grief and loss, and guidance with common life stressors. I welcome children, adolescents, and adults to counseling and will be offering art therapy as indicated or desired. Clients will process and explore emotions through non-verbal expression in combination with traditional methods, to maximize healing and improve self-esteem.
Aaron Kizer | Artist, Kizer Construction + Design
Aaron Kizer is an artist born and raised with roots deep in the bluegrass of Owensboro Kentucky. His paint brush captures the pulse of contemporary culture —celebrating the people and places that his friends, family, and community hold dear. He uses his paintings to give back to the community that cultivated him. Kizer’s client list includes: Aria (Las Vegas), Maker’s Mark, N.A.S.A., Jim Beam, University of Kentucky, British Petroleum (B.P. North America), The Mid (Chicago), Wright State University, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Ritz Carlton, Grand Ole Opry.
Kelly May | Senior Extension Associate for Family Finance and Resource Management, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
Kelly May is the Senior Extension Associate for Family Finance and Resource Management at the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. In this role, she provides financial tools and resources to Kentucky consumers. She formerly served 12 years as public information officer for the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions, where she coordinated public relations and educational outreach. She is a member and past president of both the Kentucky Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy® and the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators. Kelly May also served as vice-chair of the Senior Outreach Project Group in Investor Education of the North American Securities Administrators Association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Northern Kentucky University and lives in Versailles, KY, with her husband and daughter.
Hubert Mussat & Dr. Katy Groves-Mussat | Owners, Farmer & Frenchman Winery
Farmer & Frenchman Winery, a family business owned by Hubert Mussat and Katy Groves-Mussat, opened June 2016. The idyllic setting is easy to find but hard to leave, located just off the I69 on Highway 41 South. Our philosophy is to make wine with the classic, old-style principles of Viticulture and Vinification, at the same time using state of the art technology to capture varietal and regional character. To honor our agricultural heritage, we are committed to supporting local producers and products, and source as many local ingredients as we can. We believe that supporting farmers markets, family farms and local food projects help create jobs for future generations, giving talented and ambitious individuals a chance to work where they grew up. Plus, local and fresh tastes better!
Brad Niemeier | Founder & Co-CEO, Azzip Pizza
Brad Niemeier, 30, is the founder and Co-CEO of Azzip Pizza. Brad graduated from Purdue University in 2012. He won the $20,000 Grand Prize of the Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition with the idea for Azzip Pizza. While at Purdue, he was also a walk-on defensive linemen on the football team. In 2014, Brad, along with business partner and Chef Blake Kollker, started the first location in Evansville. Today, Azzip has 8 locations with stores in Indiana and Kentucky.
Azzip has a strong connection within the local communities. Since opening in 2014, Azzip has donated over $150,000 to local organizations. Azzip is also proud to have starting wages of $11 per hour and employs over 200 company-wide.
Amanda Owen | Founder/Executive Director, Puzzle Pieces, Inc.
Amanda Owen is an educator, leader, mother, sister, and the Founder/Executive Director of Puzzle Pieces, Inc. Amanda and her husband Justin have two children, Landon (8) and Layne (5). Amanda has dedicated her life to learning best strategies, customizing support services, and creating a person-centered approach to helping those with disabilities become successful in the ways they desire. Over the last 7 years, Amanda has made a significant impact under her
leadership at Puzzle Pieces. Puzzle Pieces was named the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce 2019 Non-Profit of the Year. Amanda is a graduate of Leadership Owensboro Class 2018, serves on the Kentucky ASPE Board of Directors, and also holds the recognition as a Kentucky Colonel. Amanda has been able to change lives, change perspectives and her dream is to impact a community in becoming inclusive for those with disabilities. Although Amanda’s passion is derived from her brother, who has a disability, she can now say she has many individuals in the community who continue to drive her to reach for more. Amanda’s dream became her career at a young age, and she is passionate about inspiring others to do the same through recognizing opportunity, having the courage to get out of comfort zone, understanding the importance of growing daily, and having the ability to believe in yourself.
Dr. Fred Reeves | Co-Founder, A+ Leadership LLC
Fred Reeves retired as Executive Director for Downtown Development from the Owensboro-Daviess County Industrial Development Authority in February, 2011. In that position Dr. Reeves led the planning efforts to develop the master plan that would lead to the transformation of downtown Owensboro. Prior to that Dr. Reeves served as Vice-President for Field Services with the Modern Red School House Institute, Nashville, TN. In that capacity Dr. Reeves recruited consultants and provided training services to over 100 schools across the nation. Dr. Reeves also served as the Executive Vice-President of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce from 1996-2002. During his tenure the membership of the Chamber grew from 800 to over 1500. Dr. Reeves was the founding Executive Director of Skills, Inc., a regional workforce development organization that worked with regional employers to match job applicants with job requirements. During his 5 years of leadership with Skills, Inc. over 10,000 regional job seekers were assessed and placed in a job-seekers database. In addition, Dr. Reeves served 19 years as a principal of a variety of secondary schools in the Owensboro, Kentucky Public Schools. In 2016 Dr. Reeves was inducted into the Owensboro High School Hall of Achievement. Dr. Reeves has a long record of civic involvement having served on numerous community boards and chairing the Owensboro Riverport Authority and Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission. He has served on the adjunct faculties of Murray State University and Western Kentucky University. He earned his B.S. degree from Murray State University, an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Western Kentucky University and a Doctorate of Education from Vanderbilt University.
Jackie Smith | Owner, Jackie Blue Handmade
Jackie Smith, owner of Jackie Blue Handmade, is a one-woman, full-time working show specializing in custom order jewelry. Smith has been making jewelry for about ten years and currently sells to boutiques across the United States. What originally started out as just a fun hobby took on a whole new purpose for Jackie. When she and her husband Zach learned they would not be able to have biological children, they realized there were other avenues they could take to build a family, but each of them would place a heavy financial burden on the couple. Jackie decided to start selling her jewelry on Etsy and through social media platforms in hopes of saving money towards the expenses of building their family in a non-traditional way. It was a devastating diagnosis, but they were at peace with the path God placed in front of them. Each sale put them one step closer to making their hearts whole and they joyfully welcomed their miracle baby girl in September of 2017. As a bonus, her business has exploded.
Ashli Watts | President & CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Ashli Watts was named the President and CEO for the Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association, in November 2019. Ashli joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in November of 2012 and during her tenure a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the Chamber led efforts in passing significant pieces of legislation such as felony expungement in 2016, right to work legislative in 2017, workers’ compensation reform in 2018 and reinstating arbitration agreements in 2019. As part of the Chamber’s leadership team, the Kentucky Chamber was named National State Chamber of the Year in 2017. Prior to joining the Chamber, she worked at the Kentucky Bar Association and the Legislative Research Commission.
Ashli graduated from Campbellsville University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History in 2004 and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Louisville. She served as the commencement speaker for Campbellsville University’s graduation in 2019 and was also awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award. Ashli is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Kentucky and currently serves on the boards for Campbellsville University and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. She currently resides in Frankfort with her husband Ryan and two children, Emma and Carter.
Matt Weafer | Chef, Niko’s Bakery & Cafe
Matt Weafer, an Owensboro native, is the chef at Niko’s Bakery & Cafe. Weafer graduated from Brescia University with a Bachelor’s in English. During his pursuit of a professional writing career, he realized his moonlighting gigs in local restaurants were his true passion. He left professional writing to focus on the culinary arts. Weafer sources local ingredients to develop flavors from a wide range of cuisines. He eventually landed an opportunity as Executive Chef of the Campbell Club from 2012 to 2017. Since then he helped develop and run Niko’s Bakery & Cafe in Wesleyan Plaza, a fast casual, European-influenced bakery that features artisan, breads, pastries, house-roasted meats, desserts, and much much more.