: To lift and sustain Black people within middle-class America.

Kerner Commission 2.0 will develop a long- overdue path of opportunity for economic freedom and prosperity by demolishing the concerted efforts of exclusion, discrimination, systematic racism, and overt suppression. We will pick up the mantel of the original eleven Kerner Commissioners of 1968, and carry on our shoulders hope, opportunity, and promise for a future of true equality.

Through key partnerships with Simmons College of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, and other relevant stakeholders, we implore Louisville to adopt a 25-year- commitment to:

Prepare, train, and employ Black educators, annually, for teaching career tracks across public and private K-12 school systems.

Increase the type and number of scholarships available for Black students to attend (and maintain enrollment at) Kentucky’s HBCUs.

Develop and sustain career pathways to promote a thriving middle class in Louisville.

Utilize the soon-to-be developed Black Asset Map as a means to advance economic equity for Black Louisvillians; integrate the same in the execution of Louisville’s future economic and community development strategic priorities.

Establish a deeper relationship with, and support of, Kentucky’s two HBCUs.

Nikki R. Lanier, Chair

Nikki Lanier is senior vice president and regional executive of the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Lanier's experience includes serving as personnel cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, chief human resources officer for Charter Schools USA, vice-chancellor of human resources for Maricopa Community Colleges, and other positions in both the health care and legal fields. In her positions, Lanier's roles focused on strategic planning, community partnerships, succession planning, recruitment and retention, and labor negotiations. Lanier earned a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Hampton University in Virginia.

Barry Allen, Commissioner

Barry G. Allen joined the Gheens Foundation on March 1, 2015, after serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation since 1996. For the previous 25 years, he served in the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Business Division, nineteen of which as its Director and Business Manager. He earned a B.B.A. degree from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Cumberland College, now the University of the Cumberlands, conferred upon him the honorary Doctor of Administration degree in 1998.

Rev. Cynthia Campbell, Commissioner

Rev. Cynthia Campbell is the President Emerita at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and retired Pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church, Louisville, KY. A native of Pasadena, California, she was ordained in 1974, and served congregations in Texas and Salina, Kansas, before becoming the first woman to serve as president of a Presbyterian theological seminary from 1995-2011. Rev. Campell earned a B.A. from Occidental College, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University.

Russell F. Cox, Commissioner

Russell F. Cox assumed his current position as President and Chief Executive Officer at Norton Healthcare on Jan. 1, 2017. Cox has more than 38 years of executive experience in health care. Cox, a lifelong resident of Louisville, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. He also attended the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management in Nashville, Tennessee, and completed the requirements for certification from its Executive Development Institute.

Jerilan D. Greene, Commissioner

Jerilan D. Greene is the Global Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc. and Chairman and CEO of the Yum! Foundation. Greene leads the company’s global reputation-building and oversees global communications, government affairs, and the company’s citizenship and sustainability strategies. Greene is a two-time graduate of Northwestern University with a Master’s in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a Bachelor of Science from the School of Communication.

Robert W. Rounsavall, III, Commissioner

Robert W, Rounsavall, III is the Manager of Dixie Real Properties, LLC. Rounsavall has more than 50 years of experience as a corporate executive and is dedicated to community involvement under various positions such as Chairman, Trustee, and Director for non-profit organizations such as the Regional Cancer Center Corporation, the Brown Cancer Center, the University of Louisville, and KentuckyOne Health. Rounsavall is a graduate of St. Paul's School and Yale University.

Jim Spradlin, Commissioner

Jim Spradlin has been with Park Community Credit Union since 1995. He began his career with the credit union as the Loan Department Manager. From 2005 through 2008, Spradlin oversaw the mortgage department as the Vice President of Mortgage Lending before joining the Executive Team as a Senior Vice President in 2009. In 2010, Spradlin was promoted to Executive Vice President and was named President and CEO the following year. Spradlin is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where he earned both a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management and a Masters of Business Administration.

Steve Trager, Commissioner

After completion of undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his B.A. degree in finance, Trager went on to receive his J.D. degree from the University of Louisville School of Law. Trager has been with Republic Bank since 1987 and now serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer where he remains actively involved in the operation and retail management of Republic’s forty-two full-service banking centers throughout five states: Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee with assets of approximately $6 billion.

Ashli Watts, Commissioner

Ashli Watts was named the President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber, the state’s largest business association, in November 2019. Ashli joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in November of 2012 and during her tenure, a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the Chamber led efforts in passing significant pieces of legislation. Ashli graduated from Campbellsville University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History in 2004 and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Louisville.

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Commissioner

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl is a born advocate and initiator with more than two decades of experience in business, civic leadership, and public affairs. Wiederwohl is the founding leader of Louisville Forward, a post she left at the end of 2020. Under her leadership from 2014-2020, Louisville Forward was named a Top Economic Development Organization six times by Site Selection Magazine, the leading trade publication for economic development. During the totality of her more than eight years of service in the Louisville Metro Government, Wiederwohl provided leadership for several major initiatives, including the city’s strategic plan.

Walter D. Woods, Commissioner

Walter D. Woods is CEO of the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc., where he is focused on helping eight targeted communities in the southeast- and through their example, communities nationwide - become exemplars of health equity where leadership, culture, and systems work to improve and sustain positive health outcomes for their residents. Walter has an MBA from Northwestern University – J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Evanston, IL, 1989; BBA, cum laude, from Howard University, Washington, DC, 1987; and completed the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Palo Alto, California, 2013.

KC2 is for you, too! To volunteer or otherwise get involved, please sign up here

To join these Commissioners in affirming the Five Commitments above, please add your name and contact information here

Sign-up for progress reports for Kerner Commission 2.0 & updates from Simmons College of Kentucky!


News Coverage

Video from first Press Conference

Video from second Press Conference

News Coverage

Media Request

For additional information or media request, please contact

Chris Sanders, Esq. at

1018 South 7th Street

Louisville, Kentucky 40203

(502) 776-1443

© 2024 Simmons College of Kentucky.

All Rights Reserved

Simmons College of KY has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

None of the Simmons College of KY programs lead to licensure.

Simmons College of Kentucky is nationally accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education