Growing up with limited resources in a home of domestic violence, Karina Barillas decided she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others like her. She’s doing just that as Executive Director of La Casita Center, which serves the daily needs of the Latino community in Louisville. As an immigrant from Guatemala, Karina has the unique ability to see the vital needs of her community and use the resources of the La Casita Center to meet them. Though she originally aspired to become an OB/GYN, she often found herself wanting to provide hope to other families — something she didn’t always have. After meeting with other women who passionately wanted to spread hope in their communities, La Casita Center was born. The Center provides hospitality, safety, accompaniment to families with special care needs children, legal services and much more. As a result, they no longer have to live in fear, poverty, hunger or despair like Karina’s family once did. La Casita Center directly impacts Latino families, offering them a renewed sense of hope and joy, and ultimately enhancing their quality of life. Karina believes that when people join forces to help their community, every person becomes stronger.
Kim & Raymond Burse
Partners in life and philanthropy, Raymond and Kim Burse are dedicated to serving others. Driven to support education and life-skills programs, their efforts have influenced and inspired many lives. When serving as the Interim President for Kentucky State University, Raymond Burse took a pay cut of $90,000 to help increase the minimum wage for 24 campus workers who made less than $10.25 an hour. He received words of encouragement and praise from all over the world, but the attention isn’t what mattered most to him – it was the opportunity to set an example for others. Kim, alongside Raymond, also supports educational programs and organizations, specifically those that focus on disadvantaged youth or struggling neighborhoods where the support will provide a lasting impact. Proud of the tradition of philanthropic giving in the African American community, Raymond helped establish the Psi Boulé Fund and the African American Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville to encourage other African Americans to be a force for good and share their time, talent and resources.
Jocelyn Church & Corey Nelson
Greeted most days by warm hugs, Corey Nelson and Jocelyn Church lead Grace Kids! A Church for Children, where they are devoted to the support, advocacy and leadership development of youth in the Louisville community. But not all days are easy. In fact, Corey and Jocelyn can recall a time when two brothers first came to the program, all they got were vulgar hand gestures, violence and disrespect. Serving youth who come from broken homes and high-risk situations, Corey and Jocelyn often see first-hand how worthless and unwanted these children feel. Grace Kids exists to helps these kids see their true value and talent. Corey and Jocelyn work to help each child realize their potential as leaders and members of the broader community by offering them a warm meal and a safe place to play, study and learn about God. “We live in a world where something as simple as a kind word or an act of support can have far-reaching, world-changing impact,” Corey says. Through Grace Kids, those once “desperate and broken” brothers now greet Jocelyn and Corey with hugs and “I love you.” Corey and Jocelyn's commitment to building up Louisville youth by providing them help and hope is not just changing individual lives, but changing family trees and investing in the future of our community.
Arthur C. Cox
Over the past 14 years, Arthur Cox has transformed a recreational hangout into the premier educational after-school and summer program in West Louisville. Despite a challenging journey, Arthur uncovered miracles along the way that helped St. George’s Scholar Institute not only survive, but continue to do its important work of saving the lives of at-risk youth. Many of the young people who come to St. George’s have given up on education and the possibility of success, and lost faith in their ability to dream. Through the organization’s programming, their perspectives shift, and they start to believe in themselves again. Arthur is inspired every time he witnesses the “lightbulb moment” when a kid realizes his or her potential and gets set on a path to success. Each success embeds our community in a cycle of hope that will flourish over time. “People were put here to do great things and should use their gifts to help those who need them most,” he says. “The legacy left by each person is determined by the good they do for others.” Arthur not only lives that mantra, he inspires it in others. Armed with a smile and steady determination, he encourages others to join the effort to impact lives and slay the dragons that impede the positive growth of our children, their families and our communities.
Bert & Jane Emke
Passionate and driven, Bert and Jane Emke work together as a powerful unit to make Louisville a better city. By supporting each other and listening to community and individual needs, they create deep personal connections that drive forward life-changing ideas. Their teamwork has supported numerous organizations around the community and has led them to their current passion project with the Community Foundation of Louisville and the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) Light the Way Fund. Because Bert and Jane have seen how the NCJW has helped strengthen the Jefferson County judicial system, they recently committed their support to the Family Drug Treatment Court. The new court will offer rehabilitation, counseling, parenting classes and other services to drug-dependent parents of children who would otherwise be placed in the foster care system. Spearheading this three-year demonstration project for Jefferson County, the Emkes have helped raise over half a million in private dollars, while simultaneously working to help influence state elected officials to fund this court after the demonstration period ends. Married for over 50 years, Jane and Bert have had a fortunate life, which has allowed them to focus on giving back to the community that has enriched their own lives. They feel that “giving to others is just a way of life in Louisville” and know that their dollars can help others’ dreams come true.
Jackie Floyd’s parents taught her the importance of standing up for what you believe in and helping others in whatever way you can. Inspired by their words and actions, Jackie raised her own children with the same philosophy. But she didn’t stop there. She now embodies that same spirit as a volunteer and advocate for change in West Louisville, connecting with her neighbors in the Russell Neighborhood. In addition to advocating for change on her own time, Jackie also works as a Neighborhood Liaison for Center For Neighborhoods. As a Neighborhood Liaison, Jackie leads community outreach with the Russell Outreach Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant. Her goal is to create a safe place for residents to voice their community concerns. Listening to her peers, Jackie often rubs the cross around her neck and looks to God for guidance. Whether it be organizing a march, walking alongside her peers, attending meetings to share neighborhood revitalization ideas or other efforts, Jackie is helping to create safe, healthy and thriving communities for all families, transforming lives in the process.
Mahogany Mayfield’s bubbly and delightful personality spreads light into any room she enters. Shaped by her Pan African and Women & Gender studies at the University of Louisville and her own black girlhood surrounded by strong women who supported her with love, opportunities and compassion, Mahogany is paying it forward through GLOW, Girls League of the West. What began as a conversation at her kitchen table with her best friend, GLOW is now a program operating at capacity through the Louisville Urban League that does for others what her mother, grandmother, aunts and a host of other incredible women in community did for her. “To be able to do the same for my lil’ sistas in GLOW – it’s purpose-driven,” she says. Mahogany has created a curriculum around the celebration, liberation and motivation of middle school-aged black girls. Each week, GLOW features an “auntie,” or a black woman who has historically transformed society, and provides a space to authentically celebrate the joy and complexity of black girlhood. “Compassion for humanity is no longer a choice,” says Mahogany. “It's the only way we can ALL survive and THRIVE in this society.”
When Andrew Noland walked through the doors of the Community Foundation in summer 2008, he held a fistful of cash he earned from various summer jobs. Andrew was just 20 years old, but he was raised to believe in the importance of giving back, no matter your age or the amount you have to give. He decided to open a personal charitable fund with his summer money. Fast-forward to 2018 and Andrew, now a practicing attorney and newlywed, realizes how fortunate he was to have ample resources to get a great education. He knows that others in the community who want to take a similar path often face barriers such as a lack of resources, family obligations and few role models or support systems. “I feel a responsibility to try to help people overcome those barriers, since it was by pure luck that I didn't face those same obstacles growing up,” he says. Andrew uses philanthropy to help support initiatives that reduce these barriers, such as Family Scholar House, the West End School and Teach Kentucky. He believes that education is the key to social progress, and eliminating poverty creates more opportunity, a greater sense of purpose and an improved local community for all.
Sarah Nuñez is committed to making higher education a more inclusive environment where students can celebrate their unique identities. After returning from a trip to her city of birth, Bogota, Colombia, when she was 20 years old, Sarah was set on working with others to improve the conditions with which we live, and that inspiration has never left her. In her dream job as Assistant Director at the University of Louisville Cultural Center, she works to support the needs of Latino students at UofL by managing scholarship funds and committees, providing culturally relevant programming, coaching and mentoring Latino students and by communicating regularly with community partners. “I remain inspired daily to work with students and their families, to help make our systems more equitable, our people heard, and our needs met,” she say. Sarah also helps foster community engagement through the Louisville Latino Education Outreach Project, a team serving the education needs of Latino students. A vocal advocate for the Latino community and all people of color, she co-directs the Louisville Latino Oral History Project, and is a member of Mijente. Sarah believes all of us are needed to do the hard work of providing equal access to education and to seek justice within our communities. “We need everyone to be a part of the change, as we ask the important questions: what does each person want to do, how will they do it and who will be walking beside them in their work?”
Moshe Ohayon, founder of Educational Justice, is shaking up the traditional honors society model by recruiting the best and brightest high school students to join the movement to end educational inequity. When Moshe was working as a tutor while also volunteering at a local community center, he quickly realized the gap between his clients and the center’s participants. “I found myself experiencing pedagogical whiplash, toggling between students on opposite extremes of the socioeconomic spectrum, often on the same day,” Moshe says. “At the tutoring company, I’d work with students on Euclidean proofs or guide them to near perfect standardized test scores… I’d then travel to the community center for several hours of what I would describe as tutoring triage: scrambling to help third and fourth graders who were somehow already several grade levels behind with basic reading and math.” Driven to do something about this inequity, Moshe has grown Educational Justice under his leadership to serve over 350 students. The initiative pairs Activists representing 32 Louisville area high schools with Achievers from over 80 local elementary and middle schools. Moshe's goal is to refine and then replicate the model nationally, creating a platform that captivates students’ hearts and minds in an effort to advance, cherish, and defend equity in education for our most vulnerable students.
In 2000, Mona Page stepped out on faith and a loan from her 401(k) to start a nonprofit agency in memory of her sister, Rhonda Mason-Brown, who lost her battle with alcoholism in 1992. As executive director of Rhonda’s Another Chance — while also balancing another full-time job — Mona is fulfilling her calling to serve women who are hurting in our community and want to change their lives for the better. Rhonda’s Another Chance helps homeless women work toward permanent employment, housing and self-reliance through its transitional house in West Louisville. “I am a dream builder,” Mona says. “To see a woman who has dreams overcome major challenges, get healthy, become gainfully employed, focused and able to obtain affordable housing for herself and her children – this is my life’s passion and inspires me to continue down a path despite the challenges.” A beautiful and humble spirit, Mona exudes grace as she welcomes women from many challenging situations. Whether recovering from drug or alcohol addictions, unemployment, divorce or painful everyday experiences, she warmly accepts them and offers them another chance.
When Angela Renfro was just nine years old, she was trafficked by a family member. After 20 years as a victim of human trafficking, and surviving the abuse of several johns, including the one who gave her the moniker Kristy Love, Angela had enough. She wanted to change her life. Being homeless so young, Angela did not complete middle or high school. She finally got her diploma at the age of 40 and started to explore higher education, but was called by something greater. She decided to put all of her money forward and begin her mission to save the lives of as many young girls and women as possible. Through the Kristy Love Foundation, a 501c(3) organization, she helps victims of prostitution and human trafficking by providing shelter, case management and services that lead women to better healthcare, education and employment. Through a “listening ear to a silent heart,” she strives to support victims and build the kind of compassionate community that will end human trafficking. “We have to believe in the inherent goodness in others, and we can build on that to do incredible work,” Angela says.
Dr. Georgia Turner
Fueled by her own experience of growing up without a father, Dr. Georgia Turner directs 2NOT1: Fatherhood & Families Inc. The organization brings families together and establishes real relationships between fathers and children where there has been a harsh separation. Though she had little to no resources growing up, Dr. Turner was blessed to engage with loving community role models who taught her to work hard, continue her education and be kind to others. They invested in her future and, in return, she now dedicates much of her life to improving communities – one family at a time. Her commitment to transforming barriers into opportunities for youth, families and individuals has catapulted 2NOT1 into an oasis for fathers who are struggling to have a place in their children’s lives. 2NOT1’s hope is to prompt conversation between fathers and CPS workers that will allow for longer supervised visits, continuing to prepare them to be reunited one day – turning barriers into opportunities and building supportive resources for success. Every day, Dr. Turner uses her past as a catapult to help plant seeds of hope, changing the lives of hopeless fathers and their children forever.