In 1987 a new idea was formed in Paducah—an idea formed by the Chamber of Commerce to see to it that future businesses and future business professionals had all the leadership tools at their disposal in order to form a more perfect union of people and prosperity. The Leadership Paducah project was initiated and now, three decades later, the program has grown and flourished to its current energized status under the guidance of Chamber President Sandra Wilson and with the support of the Paducah Leadership Foundation and the many Leadership alumni.
“This program is an investment in the success of our business community and our community at large,” says Wilson. “Many of our past graduates serve in all kinds of leadership capacities, providing direction for companies, small businesses, charities, not-for-profits, civic projects, and local government. We take great pride in driving this program each year for the ultimate benefit of motivated individuals as well as for the growth of our community.”
During the year, the group seeks to enhance its knowledge and understanding of the community from city services and government, to education, healthcare, tourism, and arts and culture. The group meets once monthly from September through June to explore the many facets of the community at large and to become better prepared to lead the future of Paducah/McCracken County forward.
Several years ago Leadership Paducah decided to introduce an additional element to the group’s training and educational experiences by creating a fundraising event to benefit a chosen charity. Many worthy organizations have been selected to be the recipient of these driven and dedicated class members. In all of these years, classes have chosen groups devoted to providing services to at-risk segments of the community for individuals, families and/or youth. This year Leadership Paducah Class #31 has decided to provide its unique brand of leadership to a more “civic” project which will undergird the ultimate restoration of the historic Columbia Theatre on Broadway in downtown Paducah.
“Ever since our tour of the Columbia Theatre on History & Tourism Day, Leadership Paducah Class 31 has been absolutely ecstatic about the Columbia Theatre restoration project,” said Hillary Chambers, an attorney with McMurry & Livingston and a member of Class 31. “We chose the Columbia as our class project this year because it will be an economic driver for downtown Paducah and preserve a magnificent historic gem in our community by transforming the building into a cultural center for the arts serving people of all socioeconomic levels. We believe that this year our fundraising efforts will have an impact not only on our local economy but on our entire region for generations to come.”
“We are so thrilled to be this year’s recipient of this significant fundraiser,” said Darlene Mazzone, Chair of the Paducah Art House Alliance, the governing body and taskforce spearheading the restoration of the landmark Columbia Theatre. “We believe that the choice of a cultural project with such long-ranging impact as the Columbia is a bold and visionary decision on the part of this year’s class. People from all around western Kentucky, southern Illinois, and western Tennessee enjoyed the entertainment provided by the Columbia from its earliest operation in 1927 until its closing in 1987. With its restoration, we will once again be able to welcome people of all ages and interests to downtown Paducah.”
The Columbia Theatre opened in the spring of 1927 and was operated by the Keiler family until the doors were closed in 1987. “We are very excited about this next phase of our restoration,” adds Mazzone. “Phase I of the restoration project consists of a total weatherization of the exterior building envelope to structurally secure the building from further deterioration and to restore the theatre’s historic façade. That cost is expected to be approximately $1.5 million. We are so very grateful to the 2018 Leadership Paducah class for this incredible opportunity to help get that project underway. They are truly assisting us as we ‘open the doors’ to our beloved Columbia Theatre.”
Leadership Paducah Class #31 will hold its Saving the Silver Screen event on June 9 at the Julian Carroll Convention Center and will feature the Big Bang Dueling Pianos. For information about sponsorships and tickets, visit leadershippaducahproject.com.
Leadership Paducah Class #31
Back from left are Ryan Polczynski, Tim Thurman, Adam Ogle, Barrett Pazderka, Taylor Morsching, Patrick Brumley, Christopher Ewing, Quent Smith, Steven Elder, Joshua Morehead. Center from left are Rachel Dunsford, Mollie Bremer, Michael Hansen, Nathan Crawford, Stacy Irvin, Dr. Matthew Mangino, Michelle Campbell, Catherine DuPerrieu, Michele Luksic, David Homra. Front from left are Jesse Morrison, Tonya Goodale, Hillary Chambers, Ashlea McMillan, Chevene Duncan-Herring, Gretchen Morgan, Jessie Meiser, Jennifer Myers, Holly Jones, Arianne Dillon. Not pictured is Amanda Vinson.