2018 Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame Inductees
Doug Dean – Doug began his professional career with Coopers & Lybrand. In 1979, he formed the firm which became Dean, Dorton & Ford, PSC, now part of Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC. Doug has extensive experience in providing tax, estate planning, merger & acquisition and business valuation services to individuals and businesses. Through his career, Doug has provided services to many types of business, their owners and managers and other high income and high net worth individuals. He was the initial and long-term leader of the firm's Equine Industry Practice Group.
Doug's professional activities include the American Institute of CPA's, KY Society of CPA's, Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association and the American Horse Council. His community involvement includes: Bluegrass Conservancy – past board member, executive committee, chair of finance & investment committee and chair of easement committee; Bluegrass Community Foundation – past board member, Centenary United Methodist Church – member, past chair of church council and past finance committee chair; Commerce Lexington – past treasurer and board member; Lexington Hearing & Speech Center – Past Board Chair; Opera House Fund – Treasurer & Board Member; Saint Joseph Healthcare – Past Chair of Finance Committee & Board member; Tubby Smith Foundation – Treasurer & Board Member; Worldwide Hearts & Hands – Founder, Board Member & Chair of Executive Committee; Triangle Foundation – Board & Executive committee Member.
William R. Embry, Jr. (Posthumously) - Bill Embry, Jr. passed away January 7, 2016 at the age of 91. He served his community as President of Lexington's Chamber of Commerce and helped lead a successful effort to merge city and county school systems. He was Vice-Chairman of the Urban Renewal Commission, which was responsible for eliminating downtown railroad tracks and traffic congestion, helping to create space for Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center. Aside from his role as a leader and servant, Embry was also an accomplished businessman.
In 1944, Embry took over leadership of the family store from his father, who founded the women's apparel business, "Embry's," in 1904. During his career, Embry expanded the company throughout Kentucky and the surrounding United States. In 2003, he and his son "right-sized" the company to fur operations in Lexington, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. Combining his business acumen with his experience in community service, Embry was committed to low income housing and founded the non-profit, St. James Place, an organization providing a hundred transitional apartments for the working homeless. He later expanded St. James Place II, with thirty-eight apartments designated for homeless veterans.
Additionally, Embry founded Faith Community Housing, a non-profit organization noted for building thirty-four houses in one year, and was the chief advocate for the recently created Lexington Affordable Housing Trust Fund. He was also a board member of the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Kentucky. During his lifetime, Embry was fortunate enough to receive numerous recognitions for this service. He received the Best Housing Developer award from Kentucky Housing Corporation in 1995, the Humanitarian Award from the national Conference for Community and Justice in 2002, and in 2008, the Humanitarian Rotary Award, the Leadership Lexington award, and the Central Kentucky Homeless and Housing award.
Rounding out a life of service, Embry was also an active member of Central Christian Church and its ministries. He served as Chair of the Administrative Board, Chair of the Board of Trustees, was founder and Chair of the Central Christian Church Foundation, President of Central Church Apartments, Chair of Outreach Ministries, and was an Elder Emeritus.
Lillian Press - Her portrait hangs in the State Capitol along with other noteworthy women recognized for their impact on Kentucky and the lives of its people. She was recognized for her key role in establishing Kentucky's mental health system and as founding director of the Governor's Scholar's program.
Prior to the Presses move to Kentucky in 1952, Lillian worked as a newspaper reporter and as a public relations executive. Shortly after her move to Lexington, she joined the staff of the newly-arrived WVLK. She remained there until 1960, rising from commercial copywriter to program director.
In 1964, she directed a survey of mental health resources and needs in nine Central Kentucky counties. She then organized and developed KY's first regional mental health board which in turn launched KY's first two Comprehensive Care Centers with help from the KY Department of Mental Health. In 1982, she was recruited by Governor John T. Brown to organize and direct what became Kentucky's Governor's Scholars Program. She served as its Executive Director for its first 10 years. She then established and was first president of the National Conference of Governor Scholars Program.
During her retirement, she turned her attention to increasing the participation of citizens, particularly women, in the political process. In late 2002, she organized The Women's Network, Advocates for Democratic Principles. Under the banner of The Women's Network, she created a Commonwealth Institute for Policy Issues and Civic Engagement that, as its first initiative issued the report of a yearlong study on tax reform which resulted in Governor Beshear's creation of the Governor's Commission on Tax Reform led by Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson.
She received an honorary degree from Centre College in 1992 and has been a member of the Centre College Board of Trustees for 17 years. She also received an honorary degree from the University of Kentucky in 2016.
Austin J. Simms – He has served as Executive Director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority since 1977. He is responsible for the administration of over three thousand, six-hundred (3,600) units of low-income housing (1,097 public housing units and 2,555 Housing Choice Voucher units) in Lexington.
Under Mr. Simms direction, the Housing Authority has been the recipient of two HOPE VI grants from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) totaling more than $39 million for the revitalization of two of the cities oldest public housing sites. The first award received in 1998 for $19.3 million for the revitalization of the Charlotte Court public housing site is now complete. Also under Mr. Simms leadership, the Housing Authority received a $20 million HOPE VI grant in 2005 for the revitalization of Bluegrass-Aspendale, the city's oldest and largest public housing development and that project is ongoing.
With Mr. Simms direction, over $50 million in construction costs have been obligated and the $20 million 2005 HOPE VI grant has been leveraged to approximately $80 million in project costs. In July 2010, the final phase of construction of rental units were complete in the HOPEVI project.At present, Mr. Simms is working toward the completion of the 2005 HOPE VI grant with construction continuing on the $12 million homeownership phase of construction that will bring 102 houses to this East End neighborhood.
During 2010, Mr. Simms was recognized as the Community Achiever of the Year by the YMCA Black Achievers program and he was recognized by the Downtown Lexington Corporation with the 2010 Perfect Partner Award for his affordable housing efforts in Lexington. Mr. Simms is a past president of the Southeastern Regional Council (SERC) of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), a past president of the Kentucky Housing Association and a member of the NAHRO Board of Governors. He is also a licensed real estate agent and serves on a number of regional and national housing committees. In 2008, Mr. Simms received the NAHRO Fellowship designation.
Mr. Simms is one of eight individuals from around the country recognized in NAHRO's inaugural class of Fellows. NAHRO Fellows are honored because they have demonstrated, over a sustained period of time, their commitment to improve the housing conditions of their fellow citizens and/or the viability and sustainability of the communities in which they live and/or work.
Locally, former affiliations include membership on the St. Joseph Hospital Board, Fayette County Public School's Task Force on Excellence, Graduate of Leadership Lexington, Appalachia Educational Laboratory Board, Blue Grass Airport Board, Commerce Lexington Board and an elected Member of the Fayette County Public Schools Board.