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Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass proudly announces the following professionals as 2019 inductees into the Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame: 

Rufus Friday
Ouita Michael
Ray Rector (posthumously)
Craig and Madonna Turner

The 2019 class of Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame Laureates will be officially inducted during a banquet and ceremony to be held on Thursday evening, May 23rd at Keeneland. 

These Laureates are leaders who have exemplified the American Dream.  Their labor and vision have benefited their own businesses, while also improving the quality of life for the entire Bluegrass area.  These business leaders are being honored for achievement in their careers, service to the community and for serving as role models for our youth. 

Since 1989, Junior Achievement’s Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame has annually recognized esteemed leaders of the Central Kentucky business community.  To be considered as a Hall of Fame member, an individual's record of business achievement must demonstrate:  1) courageous thinking and actions, 2) vision and innovation, 3) business excellence, 4) inspiring leadership, and 5) community mindedness.

Rufus Friday – Rufus M. Friday joined the Lexington Herald-Leader & Kentucky.com media company in June 2011 as the seventh president and publisher in its history, after serving six and a half years as president and publisher at the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington.  Rufus stepped down from his post in mid-September of 2018.  

Friday led the Herald-Leader through a time of challenges and digital transformation in the nation’s news media. In his time as publisher, the Herald-Leader expanded its digital footprint, and its journalists won numerous awards for excellence, including winning first place for General Excellence among large newspapers in the Kentucky Press Association’s Excellence in Kentucky Newspaper’s awards this year. The newspaper also won several McClatchy President’s Awards, the company’s top honor for journalism excellence.

He has been active in the community and spearheaded the Together Lexington project, an initiative to create a positive community marketing campaign and secure funding for legacy projects from a group of business and community leaders.  In addition, he served on the board of directors for the United Way of the Bluegrass, the American Heart Association-Central Kentucky, the Bluegrass Community Foundation, the Lexington Industrial Foundation and the Hope Center. 

Ouita Michael - She and her husband, Chris, bought the Holly Hill Inn in 2000 and opened the Bluegrass family farms and provides her customers only the freshest, best-tasting fine cuisine. The devotion to local foods is evident also at Wallace Station Deli just outside Midway; Windy Corner Market and Restaurant, Lexington; The Midway School Bakery, Midway; Woodford Reserve Distillery outside Versailles, Ky., where Ouita is chef-in-residence. Her restaurants have purchased more than $1 million of Kentucky-grown meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables over the last 11 years. Chef Ouita’s work earns accolades from local and national fans of her cuisine to wine and bourbon aficionados with her popular Wine Guild and new 1785 Bourbon Society events. She has been a James Beard Foundation Award nominee as Best Chef in the Southeast, competing against chefs in major metropolitan areas.

Active in her community, Ouita is a member of Slow Food USA, congregational coordinator of Kids in the Kitchen and free community supper programs for Midway Christian Church; board member of FoodChain, a new non-profit food incubator in Lexington, KY; and is a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a statewide citizens group working to improve education for Kentuckians.

Ray Rector (posthumously) - In 1963, Ray started his own company, Ray Rector Realtor.  Pat Hayden became a co-owner in 1980 and the company name was changed to Rector Hayden realtors.  The company expanded to cover Central Kentucky with more than 430 agents and offices in Lexington, Georgetown, Paris, Nicholasville, Versailles, Winchester and Richmond.  The company was sold in 2003 to an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway.  He continued as President until his retirement in 2009.  He was named Realtor of the Year in 1976 and again in 1999.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Lexington Bluegrass Association of Realtors and was elected President in 1978.  He also served on the Board of the KY Association of Realtors and was an Advisory Board Member of the Real Estate Leaders of America.   

Ray was active in the community. One of his finest achievements was his support of the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging serving on the Center’s Foundation Board as chairman and also chairing the annual dinner committee.  Ray was also the founding President of the Lexington/Bluegrass Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association.  Ray’s additional work with charitable and community organizations included:  the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Bluegrass Kiwanis Club President, United Way Campaign Chair, Lexington Philharmonic Board, Lexington Arts Council Board, UK Alumni Club President and the Central KY Youth Music Society.

Craig and Madonna Turner – Craig Turner launched CRM Companies in the mid 1990’s, a commercial real estate development company that manages more than 3.5 million square feet throughout the US.  The company gives over $150,000 annually to local causes such as Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, the Lexington Humane Society and many others. 

He is currently Chairman of the Board of Regents for EKU and was inducted into the EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2016.  In 2017, he and his wife Madonna made a substantial gift commitment for a variety of academic, athletic and facility initiatives.  He also serves as Chairman of the Lexington Center Corporation Board and is co-founder of the Lexington Police Foundation whose mission is to act as a philanthropic partner to the Lexington Police Department by raising charitable dollars focused on making Lexington a safer place to live, work and play.  Craig and Madonna Turner served as 2018 honorary chairs for the LexArts Capital Campaign.  They were honored in 2017 at Lexington’s National Philanthropy Day for the sponsorship of the annual Baptist Health Celebration of Care that raises money for specialty equipment in Baptist Health Hospital.  Craig spent several years on the Board of the Child Development Center of the Bluegrass and served as a Deacon at Southland Christian Church.  They support the BG Community Foundation, Hope Lodge, One Parent Scholar House, the American Heart Association, Arboretum and Baby Health. 

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