Jul. 12—Their names are familiar to many within Pulaski County. Now, they have the chance to make the county more known throughout the commonwealth.
Pulaski County professional leaders Rikiyah Pryor and Alison Pyles have been selected for the Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Kentucky Class of 2022.
The program began in 2019 and aims to "engage bright, entrepreneurial minds from various occupational sectors [by offering] non-partisan, ethical leadership training, expanded networks, and mentors designed especially for residents of the 54 Kentucky counties of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)," according to a statement from the program.
"The program is made possible by a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant and private funding from Whitaker Bank Foundation, AEP Foundation/Kentucky Power, and other generous donors."
Pyles and Pryor will participate in five three-day sessions in various areas throughout Kentucky: Ashland, Cumberland County, Pineville/Bell County, Pikeville and Berea.
They make up two of the 43 members of this year's class.
Both women said they were excited to be a part of the program, especially since they both know how selective the process can be.
It's remarkable, then, that both were selected on their first application.
The application process is strict, and the program gets a lot of candidates to choose from, Pyles said.
But she had heard a lot of positive things from others in this area who had gone through the same program, so she said she applied "on a whim."
Pryor, too, had heard great things from previous class members.
She said they told her how they had benefited from it both by learning about other areas in Kentucky and by learning about personalities and relationships with others, which helped them inside and outside the workplace.
"I just wanted to be a part of it and see how I could grow myself," Pryor said.
Pyles added, "I know [previous program members] made really great connections and have really been able to further their knowledge of our whole region, which will hopefully translate into advancement for our community."
As the new executive director of tourism for the City of Burnside, Pyles said she is looking at the program from a tourism standpoint — to learn about other tourist destinations and how to collaborate with them.
"I'm excited to learn about our Appalachian region and try to offer a regional destination," Pyles said. That way, when a visitor wants to come stay in Burnside, she can not only tell them what Lake Cumberland has to offer, she can now point them to other locations within a short drive to give them more ideas on what they can do in this area, "and give them something to do for an extended weekend, or even a whole week," she said.
When Pryor was asked about her motivation to be a part of BRIGHT, she said, "I think it will be very beneficial for my professional growth, to help me to do my job better here at Citizens Bank but also wherever I decided to get involved here in Somerset."
Although Pryor was born and raised in the Chicagoland suburbs, she has made her home well here in Somerset. She is the current marketing and public relations director for Citizens Bank, and she serves as secretary on the board of directors of the Young Professionals of Lake Cumberland.
She holds a degree in Mass Communication.
Pyles, a native of Union, Ky., stepped in as the new tourism director for Burnside in March. She has something in common with Pryor in that she spend 15 years in the banking industry before taking on her new role.
Pyles holds a degree in Organizational Leadership from Northern Kentucky University. She serves as the treasurer for the Leadership Lake Cumberland board and serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity-Pulaski County.
Both women said they are looking forward to the start of the BRIGHT program, which kicks off this week.
And even before starting the first session, Pryor said it was a program she recommended to others.
"I would highly encourage anyone who's interested in applying for the BRIGHT program to just go ahead and do it. If you don't get in the first time, you can always try again. But if you do get in, it's an experience of a lifetime, and it's something that stays with you past the program."