Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to speak at UK Women’s Forum

By Taylor Clements

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray will visit campus Tuesday at noon in the UK Athletics Auditorium of W.T. Young Library.

As a guest speaker of the UK Women’s Forum, Gray will discuss “Inspiring Women in Business and Public Service,” — a part of the forum’s professional development program.

Since taking office nearly two years ago, Gray, a Vanderbilt University graduate, has applied his business acumen to governing the city.

As the former CEO of Gray Construction, the mayor took his financial and business expertise into office and addressed Lexington’s budget deficits and invested in citywide initiatives.

Gray is, “doing a lot of great work, empowering women and minorities,” said Sarah Nikirk, chair of the UK Women’s Forum.

The mayor’s work throughout the city will help the forum “make connections,” Nikirk said.

She said through the forum’s professional development speakers, such as Gray, she hopes to involve the UK Women’s Forum in connecting “with the campus, the community and the city.”

The UK Women’s Forum organizers hope the mayor’s visit to campus will encourage members to become more ensconced in the business and public service sectors of the Lexington community.

“We feel very honored that the mayor found time in his schedule to come to campus and speak on such an important topic,” said Gail Hairston, co-chair of the Public Relations Committee at the UK Women’s Forum.

Though the organization primarily focuses on UK’s faculty and staff, Nikirk ensures that knowledge of UK Women’s Forum’s existence will empower “students that initiatives are thought about and the groundwork is being laid” for the future.

“I feel reassured knowing that there are organizations like (the UK Women’s Forum) paving the way for the future,” dietetic freshman Erin Smith said. “The mayor’s presence on campus shows his support of women’s rights, which is important in such a patriarchal society.”

Among the programs and initiatives the UK Women’s Forum coordinates is the annual Educational Assistance Award.

Given to a full-time UK employee and student, the award “helps with the cost of books and lab fees,” Hairston said.

No matter your gender, age, political affiliation or role on campus, Gray’s speech is expected to offer something for everyone.

The UK Women’s Forum extends an open invitation to the free campus event.

The forum is not only about women.

“We’re interested in empowering all people,” Nikirk said.