Lisa Adkins - President & CEO of Blue Grass Community Foundation


Over the course of 2021, we will feature 100 Heroes who have been instrumental in our fight for the basic needs, education and financial stability of our neighbors for the past century. To learn more about how we are continuing to serve the Bluegrass in 2021, click here.


In honor of Women’s History Month, we are excited to feature some women who have played an important role in UWBG. Today we are interviewing Lisa Adkins, who is the President and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF), one of our valued partners. We partnered with BGCF in early 2020 to create the Coronavirus Response Fund, which has raised nearly 1.2 million dollars to help people in the central Kentucky area who have been impacted by the virus. Lisa is also a member of our Community Impact Task Force.


What is your role with UWBG?

I’m the President and CEO of BGCF, and we’ve been collaborative partners with UWBG for a while. I was also a Loaned Executive with the United Way in Kansas City back in 1987. BGCF collaborated with United Way recently for the Coronavirus Response Fund, where we raised close to 1.2 million dollars.


What did this role include? What would a normal day look like for you?

I’m a firm believer that we’re stronger together and that collaboration can be an incredibly powerful strategy. We came together with UWBG to collaborate on the Coronavirus Response Fund, where we raised nearly 1.2 million dollars and collaborated on the grant distribution. I think it was just so effective, efficient and powerful how we came together and combined our expertise. We serve many of the same communities and counties but also have some that are distinct. I think coming together to serve our combined service area made a more powerful impact than what either one of the organizations could have done alone in this instance.


Can you tell me more about the partnership between BGCF and UWBG?

I think we will have been official partners for twelve years this October, but our actual partnership dates back decades. Before I got here, Kathy Plomin, who was a former CEO of UWBG, served on the Community Foundation’s board. There has been a history of coming together to make the biggest impact possible across the Bluegrass.


What do you think is the most special thing about UWBG?

There are so many great attributes, but I think some of the most special things are their responsiveness to the community, the spirit of collaboration and its ability to evolve and change. I think the new direction around their Collective Impact model is also really great. With their new WayPoint Centers, I believe the United Way has evolved to be as relevant to our community as it can be. I think this next iteration of UWBG is going to be really exciting and meaningful to the communities it serves.


In your opinion, what positive change has UWBG made in the Bluegrass over the past 100 years?

It has made our nonprofit sector stronger and has improved the lives of families across the region.

Fun questions:

What’s your favorite place in the Bluegrass?

I have two favorite places - Snug Hollow Farm and Windy Corner Cafe. Snug Hollow is a beautiful bed & breakfast in Estill county where you can stay in little cabins and all the food is vegetarian. That’s really special to me. I also love Windy Corner market. There’s nothing like taking a mid-morning meeting and sitting next to the window in such an incredibly beautiful spot with the hospitality of Ouita Michel.


What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bluegrass?

This might sound kind of boring but I really like spending time walking on the paths at Ashland - The Henry Clay Estate.


“It’s so exciting for UWBG to be celebrating a Centennial and I wish them the very best over the next 100 years.” - Lisa Adkins

Thank you for being such a strong part of UWBG, Lisa! We appreciate you and all that you do.


Do you know someone who has worked alongside United Way of the Bluegrass in the past century who should be considered for our 100 Heroes series? Please email us at liveunited@uwbg.org to share your nomination!

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