Oldham County’s Fletcher to be ‘Celebration of Women’ honoree
She has given a lifetime of service in many capacities
LA GRANGE, Ky. (March 2017) – When Joyce Fletcher received the news that she would be the 2017 Tony Cotten Woman of Distinction award recipient in March, her first thought was, “There are so many strong, hard working, creative and dedicated women in this community. I don’t need or deserve this recognition.”
Her humble attitude is just one reason she was chosen by the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development, which presents the award.
Combined with her many years of service on the Oldham County Board of Education, Fletcher, 62, seemed to be the perfect candidate. “This is the 16th year of my Board of Education service, and my current term will run for four more years. When I started down this path, never did I imagine that I would still be serving all these many years later,” she said.
Her family originally moved to Oldham County in 1993 from Houston. At the time, “we had four little boys who were going to go to new schools.” Fletcher decided to become a stay-at-home mom “to support them and jumped into volunteering at their school and at our church.”
• Tickets for the Celebration of Women event are $30 each or $50 for two to the event. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce at (502) 222-1635.
For the next several years, she served in many different volunteer positions: PTA president, site-based council member, founding member of Mothers of Preschoolers at St. John United Methodist Church, and taught Sunday School, just to name a few. She even took a yearlong break to “move the whole family to Berlin, Germany, for my husband’s second sabbatical in academic medicine. At the same time I was doing all this, I fell in love with life in Oldham County, and our roots run deep here now.”
In 2003 when the Division I seat for the Board of Education became available, midway thru the election cycle, Fletcher applied and was appointed. She served as vice chair for a couple of years and has been chairwoman since 2007.
As to why she wanted to serve on the board, she said, “At the time, it seemed like a logical progression, following all the other volunteerism I had done in our schools.” She has stuck with it for so long because “I love it! I am passionate about quality public education. I love children and Oldham County, and really, Kentucky has been a wonderful, exciting place to be involved in education.”
Fletcher is scheduled to receive the Woman of Distinction award at this year’s Celebration of Women event, set to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at CityPlace Pavilion 2, 112 S. First Ave. in La Grange.
Last year’s event drew the largest crowd the Chamber of Commerce’s host for Celebration of Women has ever seen for this event, officials said. PNC Bank is the presenting sponsor of this event.
Every year, “Celebration of Women continues to grow,” said Kenisha Kelsey, Programs and Events Manager for Oldham County Chamber and Economic Development. She attributes this to several factors.
Kelsey said she sees recognition as a major reason for this growth. “Celebration of Women is relatively new. This will be the eighth year for the event. As the event becomes instilled within the community, it will continue to grow in numbers.”
Another component has to do with having regional appeal: “One thing we have focused on (and that was utilized for last year’s Celebration of Women) is to invite guest speakers and panelists who have a regional reach,” said Kelsey.
“Having dynamic speakers who cast a net farther than Oldham County allows us to market events regionally instead of simply staying local and ultimately creates higher quality networking opportunities for our members.”
This year’s panelists include Mahak Kalra, Policy Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates; Lauren Montgomery and Tera Davis, co-owners of Couture Closet Boutique; and Ashley Stone, National Vice President of Arbonne International.
Kelsey said she believes the event “offers a unique experience to attendees.” She said it showcases local businesses and organizations through the tablescape decorations, highlights unique women in Oldham County and Kentucky through the panel discussion, and celebrates a woman who has made significant contributions to the betterment of Oldham County through the Tony Cotten Woman of Distinction Award.
Several nominations were received for this year’s award, she said.
The original idea for tablescapes came from the late Cotten, who was “incredibly involved with our business community and for whom the Woman of Distinction Award is named,” said Kelsey. At the time, “the chamber looked for an event to incorporate the tablescape idea and realized we did not have a women’s event. Out of all of that, Celebration of Women emerged.”
Cotten, a former publisher at the Oldham Era newspaper, died May 9, 2013, at age 47 after a bout with cancer.
The tablescape portion of the event is “such an exceptional aspect,” she said. It allows individuals to showcase their businesses and organizations in a way that they normally would not have the opportunity to do.
New to this year’s event is the introduction of a theme, “Hidden Figures: Inspirational Women in Your Industry.” The idea is to pick an exceptional woman either in your business or industry that goes unrecognized and give her the credit she is due.
“It seems as if every success story has a woman behind the scenes that made everything happen and this is an opportunity to showcase the contributions that women have made in all industries,” she said, such as Fletcher.
In addition to her work for the Board of Education and her many volunteering positions, Fletcher is a Clinical Nurse Specialist. She has worked in lots of different areas, but for the last several years Fletcher has worked part-time conducting clinical trials on new pulmonary medications. “I loved that work too, our children were growing up and leaving home and it was a great balance to my Oldham County Board of Education responsibilities. I retired my stethoscope about seven years ago.”
She stays busy at her church co-facilitating an adult Sunday School class, performing in the bell choir, chairing the Staff Parish Relations Committee, and serving as an ad hoc member of several other committees at St. John’s. She is a member of the Oldham County Community Foundation and also served as president of the North Oldham Lions Club for seven years.
In her spare time, Fletcher loves to participate in outdoor sports with her four grown sons, their wives and families, and husband, Eugene ‘Rick’ Fletcher, to whom she has been married for 36 years. She enjoys skiing, whitewater rafting and has earned her private pilot’s license.
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