Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

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.

 

Lucas Mentzer
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Lucas Mentzer, chair

Lucas Mentzer of Lexington is the Director of Software Engineering Strategy at PuttShack, an upscale, tech-infused mini golf experience based in the UK. He has nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, program management, and customer operations at the state, national and global level. Mentzer was actively involved in the Lexmark mentoring program for high school students across Kentucky who are interested in STEM fields, and he has also served as the technical adviser for the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, a charity organization focused on providing early education to developmentally delayed children, and enjoys. He is a proud Centre College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and his top three areas of focus for Kentucky’s postsecondary students are financial literacy, affordability and equity.

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

Leadership: Council Chair (May 2021-current)
Committee Membership: Executive Committee (chair), Finance Committee (chair), Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee, Commonwealth Education Continuum

Eric Farris

Eric G. Farris, vice chair

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

Leadership: Council Vice Chair (May 2021-current)
Committee Membership: Executive Committee, Finance Committee

 

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 Beal

Ron C. Beal

Ronald Beal (Ron) 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

 

 

Colby Birkes

Colby Birkes

Colby Birkes of Winchester serves as the student representative of the Council and 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); July 30, 2021 (EO 2021-545)
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2022

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

Kellie Ellis

Kellie C. Ellis

Kellie C. Ellis, Ph.D. of Richmond, is the faculty representative to the Council. She is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Clinical Therapeutic Programs at Eastern Kentucky University; and teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in child language disorders, speech sound disorders, and research methods.  Dr. Ellis is a former Chair of the Kentucky Board of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, former President of the Kentucky Speech Language Hearing Association, and former Chair of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s Governmental Relations and Public Policy Board. She currently serves as the Governmental Relations Chair of the Kentucky Speech Language Hearing Association.

Appointment Date:  Sept. 17, 2021(EO 2021-702)
Current Term Expires: June 30, 2025
Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee, Committee on Equal Opportunities

Karyn Hoover

Karyn Hoover

Karyn Hoover of Jamestown recently retired after 27 years as an elementary education teacher in the Russell County school district. Among teaching grade levels preschool through second grade, she focused her efforts on closing achievement gaps, mentoring new teachers and building relationships with students and their families. She received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University and completed a 5th year degree at Western Kentucky University. Mrs. Hoover is an active member of the Kentucky Education Association and she serves as Encourager Team Leader for Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program that supports adults in finding a purpose in life and overcoming ongoing challenges.

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

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

 

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: Executive Committee, Academic & Strategic Initiatives Committee (chair)

 

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, Academic and Strategic Initiatives Committee

 

V  Ravichandran

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: Executive Committee, 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

Committee Membership: Finance Committee

Elaine Walker

Elaine N. Walker

Elaine Walker of Bowling Green is a former Kentucky Secretary of State, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Parks, and served as the 29th mayor of Bowling Green. Mrs. Walker attended the University of Maryland and majored in Speech Pathology. She is co-owner with her husband, Dorian Walker, of Peridot Pictures Corporation, a motion picture and television production company, and serves on numerous boards including Emerge Kentucky, Lost River Cave, and the College Hill Historic Neighborhood Board.

Appointed: July 30, 2021 (EO 2021-534)
Term Expires: Dec 31, 2026
Committee Membership: Finance Committee, Committee on Equal Opportunities (chair)

 

Kevin Weaver

Kevin W. Weaver

Kevin W. 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, Kentucky Authority for Educational Television Board (representing state universities)

 

Carol Wright

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

 

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: 11/16/2021