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Council Members

The Council is composed of 13 citizen members, a faculty member, and a student member, all appointed by the Governor. The Commissioner of Education serves as a nonvoting ex-officio member.

If you would like to be considered for a seat on the board, please contact Kentucky's Boards and Commissions at (502) 564-2611 or by visiting their website at: https://governor.ky.gov/services/application-for-boards-and-commissions

Muhammad Babar

Muhammad Babar

Muhammad Babar of Louisville is an attending physician at St. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital and the medical director at six other health care and rehab centers.  He is a M.D. graduate of Allama Iqbal Medical College in Pakistan and also has Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Science degree from the University of Louisville.  He currently serves on numerous boards including Fund for the Arts, Metro United Way and the Speed Art Museum. 

Appointed:  Sept 15, 2020 (EO 2020-764)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2024

Committee Membership:  Academic and Strategic Initiatives Committee

Ron C. Beal

Ronald (Ron) Beal of Bowling Green is president of Luvata’s Tubes Division, a global leader in the manufacture of copper tubes for the air conditioning and refrigeration industry, located in Franklin. Beal’s more than 28 years in the industry has given him hands-on experience in sales, marketing, engineering and manufacturing in countries around the world including China, Thailand and Mexico. Beal is a graduate of the College of Wooster with a bachelor’s degree in geology and holds a master’s degree in business from Ashland University.

Appointed:  July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499); Apr 17, 2018 (2018-255)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2023

Committee Membership:  Executive Committee

Colby Birkes

Colby Birkes

Colby Birkes, of Winchester, is a first-year law student at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and legal studies from Morehead State University, where he also served as the Student Government Association president. Birkes also participated in the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program, where he wrote speeches and performed other tasks for the Honorable Judy Sgro. Birkes began working with CPE in 2019 when he chaired the Board of Student Body Presidents. His focus as the student representative is education as a right for all students of the Commonwealth and ensuring higher education is attainable for all those that wish to pursue it.

Appointment Date:  July 2, 2020 (EO 2020-568)
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2021

Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee, Committee on Equal Opportunities

Eric Farris

Eric G. Farris

Eric Farris of Shepherdsville is a senior partner and attorney at Buckman Farris and Mills. He’s a graduate of the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in police administration and a Juris Doctorate from the UK College of Law.  He was a member of Governor Beshear’s transition team for economic development and currently serves on the Kentucky Governors Scholars Board and the Bullitt County Foundation for Excellence in Public Education.

Appointed:  Sept 15, 2020 (EO 2020-764)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2025

Committee Membership:  Finance Committee

Karyn Hoover

Karyn Hoover

Karyn Hoover of Jamestown recently retired after serving 35 years as an elementary education teacher in the Russell County school district. With experience teaching grade levels preschool through second grade, she focused her efforts on closing achievement gaps and building relationships with students and their families. She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University and completed a fifth-year degree at Western Kentucky University.  Hoover is an active member of the Kentucky Education Association and the Russell Springs Baptist Church, and also has served as Encourager Team Leader for Celebrate Recovery, a program that supports adults in finding a purpose and overcoming ongoing challenges.

Appointed:  April 9, 2021 (EO 2021-220)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2025

Laura Harper

Lori Harper

Laura Harper (Lori) is the Western Kentucky Vice President for Rogers Group, Inc., a nine-state company specializing in crushed stone, asphalt paving, sand, gravel and road construction. From Cadiz, she is a graduate from Transylvania University.  In addition to her role on the Council, Harper is also a member of the executive committee at the Kentucky Commission of Military Affairs, the chair of the Pennyrile Area Development District and a trustee of Transylvania University’s board. 

Appointed: April 17, 2018 (EO 2018-255)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022

Committee Membership:  Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee (chair)

Lucas Mentzer

Lucas Mentzer of Lexington is an enterprise program manager for acquisitions and mergers with Kofax, Inc. He has more than 16 years of experience in information technology at the state, national and global level. Mentzer holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Centre College. He has been actively involved in the Lexmark mentoring program for high school students across Kentucky who are interested in STEM fields. In addition, he serves as the technical adviser for the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, a charity organization focused on providing early education to developmentally delayed children.

Appointed:  July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499); Mar 28, 2017 (EO 2017-200)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022

Committee Membership: Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee, Kentucky Authority for Educational Television Board (representing state universities)

Kristi Nelson

Kristi P. Nelson

Kristi P. Nelson of Union is vice president of Global Human Resources for Multi-Color Corporation (“MCC”), a Cincinnati, Ohio based leader in global label solutions.  She is responsible for overall human capital management for the company’s global workforce, which is comprised of approximately 10,000 employees across 86 plants in 26 countries. She has undergraduate degree from Arizona State University, a juris doctorate from Salmon P. Chase College of Law and is admitted to the Kentucky and Ohio bars.  She currently serves on the board of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center Corporation and the Northern Kentucky University Foundation.  Prior to her appointment to CPE, Nelson served two consecutive four-year terms on the board for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation.

Appointed:  July 27, 2017 (EO 2017-502); Apr 23, 2019 (EO 2019-292)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2024

Committee Membership: Executive Committee, Nominating Committee

Kristi Nelson

Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson of Cadiz is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. He has a bachelor of science with triple majors of biology, wildlife management and resource management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Master of Arts in public policy from Regent University. He is certified by the Wildlife Society as a wildlife biologist and certified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a secondary education teacher in environmental science.  He currently serves on the Pennyrile Christian Community Board and Hopkinsville Community College Board. He previously served on the Trigg County Hospital Corporation Board and also the Trigg County Fiscal Court as magistrate.

Appointed:  Aug 16, 2019 (EO 2019-637)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2022 

Committee Membership:  Finance Committee


Vidya Ravichandran

Vidya Ravichandran of Louisville is a technology entrepreneur and owner of GlowTouch Technologies in Louisville. She serves on many boards, including the KentuckianaWorks Board of Trustees; Kentucky One Hospital Foundation Board, Mission and Stewardship Committee; Speed Art Museum, Board of Governors; Fund for the Arts Board of Trustees; Walden School Board of Trustees, Diversity Committee; and DuPont Manual High School Executive Committee. She serves as president of DuPont Manual Regional Science Fair, and is passionate about increasing student involvement in STEM fields and is an advocate for women in STEM. Ravichandran is a graduate of University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India and holds a master’s degree in molecular biology in horticulture from Virginia Tech.

Appointed: July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2021

Committee Membership: Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee

Madison Silvert

Madison Silvert

Madison Silvert of Owensboro is the president of The Malcolm Bryant Corporation, a community-oriented and full-service real estate development firm. Prior to this, he served as president and executive vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.  Silvert earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Centre College and a juris doctorate from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law.  He is currently a member of the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and has served on numerous boards over the years, including SACS Committee on Colleges, the Kentucky Association for Economic Development and the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board.

Appointed:  April 9, 2021 (EO 2021-220)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2025


Doris Thomas

Doris Carson Thomas

Doris Thomas of Smiths Grove recently retired from her position as Vice President of Development and Community Outreach for Med Center Health, a six-hospital healthcare system with approximately 40 other health-related entities. She received a bachelor's degree in speech communication and a master’s degree in corporate communication, both from Western Kentucky University. Thomas is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, has served on a number of WKU committees in the past 20 years, served as a KCTCS regent from 2009-15, and was inducted into the Warren County Public Schools Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2016. She recently received recognition as the "Hometown Hero" for her years of community service.

Appointed:  April 9, 2021 (EO 2021-220)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2026

Robert H. Staat

Robert Staat, Ph.D., of Goshen, is the faculty representative to the Council. He joined the University of Louisville in 1976 as a professor of microbiology. In addition to his teaching duties and research on infectious dental diseases, he serves as a faculty senator and is the immediate past chair of the University of Louisville Faculty Senate. Currently, he is a member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association Board and the Coalition of Senate and Faculty Leaders. Staat's education includes a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of New Mexico and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. In addition to his work in academia, Staat is a hobbyist, woodworker and president of a model railroad manufacturing business.  

Appointed: July 31, 2013 (EO 2013-562); Jan 5, 2018 (EO 2018-021)
Term Expires: June 30, 2021

Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee, Committee on Equal Opportunities (chair)

Sherrill Zimmerman

Kevin Weaver

Kevin Weaver of Lexington is an attorney at Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Moloney, PLLC. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, he has a bachelor's degree in political science and juris doctorate from the College of Law. Weaver has served on countless boards in the last 20 years, the most recent being four years on the Kentucky Public Employees Deferred Compensation Authority. 

Appointed:  Sept 15, 2020 (EO 2020-764)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2023

Committee Membership:  Academic & Strategic Initiatives  Committee

Carol Wright

Carol Wright of Tyner is president and CEO of Jackson Energy Cooperative, a non-profit electric cooperative headquartered in McKee that serves more than 52,000 members in 15 southeastern Kentucky counties. She has more than 26 years of experience in the electric utility industry.  Wright is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration from Sullivan University. Wright served on the committee to establish the Lineman’s Training Center at Somerset Community College in 2004, and served as chairman of the Advisory Committee for more than 10 years. Wright is actively involved in multiple community and civic clubs in Jackson Energy’s service territory. 

Appointed: July 5, 2016 (EO 2016-499)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2021

Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Nominating Committee

Kevin Brown

Jason Glass (ex-officio)

Jason Glass, a third-generation Kentucky educator, is a native of Brandenburg and serves as the Kentucky Commissioner of Education.  He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, a master’s degree in political science, and a master’s degree in education. He received a doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University, and holds a certificate in advanced education leadership from Harvard University.  Visit the Kentucky Department of Education's website for more about Glass.

 

Last Updated 4/13/2021