Keynote Speaker – September 4, 2014


We are pleased to meet on campus with Dean Nancy Cox and the students, faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. This represents the 25th year that the Rotary Club of Lexington has joined the College as part of their AG ROUNDUP WEEK activities. In addition to observing the excellent exhibits and displays relating to educational and service activities in the College, our program today, as has become custom, includes an update of agricultural programs by Dean Cox and observations and projections from one of the College’s outstanding students. A special welcome is extended to the many guests from the community, the agriculture industry and from all sectors of the University.

Dr. Cox was appointed to the position of Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment January 1, 2014. She brings to this position a distinguished career in research and teaching at Mississippi State University and a tremendous record of leadership in the positions of Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Kentucky. She is widely regarded as a visionary among farm, industry and civic leaders serving on several state and national commodity, educational and agricultural policy boards and councils.

Representing the student body as our guest speaker is Benjamin Michael Conner. He is the son of Steve and Beth Sterchi of Smiths Grove, KY and Kenley and Dawn Conner of Hodgenville, KY. He is a junior majoring in Career and Technical Education with a minor in Animal Sciences. He is a 2014 recipient of a ROTARY CLUB OF LEXINGTON SCHOLARSHIP as well as other scholarships recognizing outstanding students. In addition to an excellent “Dean’s List” academic record, Benjamin’s active participant and leadership roles include College ambassador, Student Council representative, Ag Education Society, Block & Bridle Club, Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Ag Teachers of America ambassador and The Kentucky Junior Angus Association. He is considering many career possibilities with a very positive approach when he states, “It is my goal that whoever I come in contact with will in some way be more educated about agriculture and the importance of this industry.”

Coba Cocina Rotary Night – Thursday, August 28th!

Please attend and encourage family and friends to Cobar, located on the second floor of Coba Cocina, between 4:30 and 10:00 for dinner.

Appetizers will be served at 5:30 and President Dean will speak briefly between 6-6:30.
10% of all proceeds will be donated back to our club! Coba Cocina is located on Richmond Road in the Idle Hour Shopping Center.

It should be a great evening!

Keynote Speaker – August 21st

As the former CEO of Gray Construction, Jim Gray has been using his business approach to the Lexington’s Mayor’s office since his inauguration in 2011. Mayor Gray is getting things done.

In three short years Mayor Gray and the city council have worked hard to turn deficits into surpluses, create jobs, and invest heavily in public safety. The city has already saved $24 million on health insurance, reduced pension liabilities by $100 million through a nationally recognized reform, and saved more than $40 million on budgeted costs for the EPA water quality consent decree program. With Gray’s focused effort on economic development, Lexington is attracting new jobs and employers. Today more people are employed in Lexington than ever before.

Mayor Gray came to public service after spending 36 years creating jobs and economic growth in the private sector. Jim literally grew up in his family’s business, Gray Construction, working after school in the firm’s small office in Glasgow. Tragedy struck the family in 1972, when Jim’s father passed away at the age of 54, leaving a small business, a wife and six children. At the time, Jim was 19 and a freshman at college. He left school and returned home to help run the family business, while completing his degree closer to home.

By the early 80s, Jim was heavily involved in recruiting new business to Kentucky. Gray Construction reached a milestone moment in 1985 when the firm was selected as one of the primary contractors for the Toyota plant in Georgetown. The relationship with Toyota led to many others and today Gray is a leading design-build contractor offering architecture, engineering and construction services to domestic and international customers in automotive, manufacturing, distribution and retail construction.

Now based in Lexington, Gray is today a nationally recognized engineering, design and construction company, employing many Lexingtonians. While Gray Construction maintains offices and builds projects coast to coast, it remains a family-owned and operated business. Gray has always been dedicated to its employees, and was recently named one of Kentucky’s “Top 20 Places” to work.

Beyond his business role, Jim has been a civic leader for many years. In 1993-94 Jim chaired the Governor’s Commission on Quality and Efficiency, which conducted a management audit of Kentucky’s executive branch and identified nearly $1 billion in budget cutting recommendations. Jim also chaired the funding campaign to build the $22 million Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, and has supported, along with the family business, a multitude of local community organizations including Fayette County Public Schools, United Way, LexArts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Junior Achievement and others … all working to make Lexington a better place.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Jim has also served as a trustee on the Board of Berea College and the KET Fund for Excellence. And in 1997 he was appointed a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University to study urban planning.In 2006, Gray was elected by an overwhelming majority as Vice-Mayor. He then went on to win his first term as Mayor of Lexington in 2010.