A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NewsMakers 2021: Leo Calderon, Carri Chandler, Joseph Chillo, Lee Crume, Shannon Starkey-Taylor

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

The NKyTribune’s NewsMakers 2021 are an impressive, accomplished group of high-achieving community servants who have played significant roles in the region — and deserve all the accolades they can get. That includes our thanks for making our community better — and improving it every day.

Next week, you will see a story each day featuring one of these terrific “NewsMakers” since our in-person event isn’t happening again this year. We keep waiting for a real return to “normal” but for this year we’ll have to settle for having you celebrate our NewsMakers the best we can while keeping everyone safe and healthy. These honorees, though, are anything but “normal” — they are extraordinary in so many ways. Most importantly in these sometimes troubling times, they are really decent, caring people. That is really something to celebrate.

Drum roll, please, as we celebrate 2021’s NewsMakers of the year:

• Leo Calderon

Leo Calderon

Leo Calderon has more than 35 years experience at Northern Kentucky University where he serves today — and until his retirement at the end of the year — as Director of Latino Programs and Services. There he provides academic guidance to students (and plenty of personal attention too) and is an advocate across the region to promote Latino student success. He knows what a kind word or generous gesture can do since he was once a scared nine-year-old brought from Mexico to Chicago where he lived in a diverse immigrant neighborhood and counted a Polish immigrant as his best friend. A high school teacher made a difference in his life, turned him onto education, and helped him find a scholarship to then-Thomas More College. Magic happened, as he got his undergraduate degree in criminal justice and psychology and then a Masters in Public Administration from NKU. He has never forgotten what a difference a caring teacher can make — so he’s at-the-ready with lunch money and gas money for students, with a connection to legal advice or a lift when stranded with a broken-down car. He touches lives the high-touch way. He helped found the Esperanza Center in Covington, a place where the Latino/Hispanic community can find barriers come down on their way to integrating into their new life in the community. There’s much more to know about this NewsMaker and hero — so watch for his story next week here at the NKyTribune.

• Carri Chandler

Carri Chandler

Carri Chandler joined St. Elizabeth Healthcare as head of the St. Elizabeth Foundation in November, 2016, after serving more than 18 years in community relations with Toyota. Toyota was pulling out of Northern Kentucky — and deep roots in the community, thankfully, kept her at home. St. Elizabeth and CEO Garren Colvin — to put it in words Colvin will appreciate — hit it out of the ballpark on this one. And Carri has returned the favor with an all-star, NewsMaker performance. She was already a Leadership Northern Kentucky and Leadership Kentucky alum, a Leader of Distinction and Outstanding Woman of NKY, Forty Under 40, a chair of United Way, a Kids Voting advocate and a Chamber Pieschel awardee — and more. As leader of the Foundation, she had a big challenge — advancing St. Elizabeth’s commitment to make NKY one of the healthiest communities in America. This is a challenge she has embraced with enthusiasm and her constant, amazing resilience and good nature. She is forever the “Energizer bunny” who inspires with her own good humor and dedication, racking up success-after-success with her team at the Foundation — and setting new standards for philanthropic investment and quality programming. You’ll learn more about this positive influence on your quality of life in her story next week here at the NKyTribune. Don’t miss a word.

• Joseph Chillo

Joseph Chillo

Joseph Chillo became the 15th president of Thomas More University in June 2019, taking the reins of leadership as the Catholic liberal arts institution was testing its new “university” status and looking forward to its 100th anniversary — and would be dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. Chillo didn’t miss a beat in keeping TMU moving forward — and “becoming more.” He brought his impressive educational background with him — a graduate of State University of New York with a B.A. in political science and history, a masters of public administration from Long Island University, credentials from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a doctor of law and policy from Northeastern University. He had also been a volunteer coach for youth sports and he was a first-generation college student. All these things are qualities that prepared him to lead TMU into its Second Century. That, and the fact that he’s an extremely nice guy who is student-focused on outcomes. His star shone brighest at the recent launch of the University’s Second Century campaign (a $30 million campaign — with $15.7 million already committed) and his announcement of the goals of TMU’s bold new Lighting the Way strategic plan. The campaign is the institution’s largest ever. Chillo says the plan’s goals are “aspirational but attainable.” Somehow, he makes that both sincere and believable. Already, the board has extended Chillo’s contract through May 2026, so the community will have the advantage of his visionary leadership for some time to come. More coming next week at the NKyTribune.

• Lee Crume

Lee Crume

Lee Crume came to Tri-Ed as president & CEO in April 2019, bringing extensive private sector business expertise to his role as head of the economic development organization that works to attract, retain and grow businesses in NKY. Under his leadership, he has developed a deep bench, building a coalition of professionals around four key strategies that include data-informed decision-making, workforce solutions, targeted business growth and activating the Northern Kentucky Port Authority. He aims to lead and create opportunity and prosperity for all Northern Kentuckians. In 2020, in the throes of a pandemic, Lee and his team accounted for 1,500 jobs and $268 million in capital investment — and that just keeps growing. He also brings to the job a master of arts degree in communication and a bachelor of arts degree in corporate and organizational communication from Western Kentucky University and leadership experience with UPS, Pitney Bowes, IKON and DMA. His business development experience includes leading domestic and global business pursuits and developing the marketing for and rolling out new products and services. A dynamic leader, he created and implemented JobsOhio’s global business development operations and strategy and brought new capital investment to Ohio. He leads with competence and savvy and has led Tri-Ed through a major transformation and shift in approach to economic development and entrepreneurship. Mostly, he has significantly changed the way NKY thinks about development — and opportunity. He speaks about Tri-ED as a “company” and has instilled in his team — and the community — a pride in attracting the kinds of jobs that translate into “opportunity and prosperity” for all Northern Kentuckians. Stay tuned for Lee Crume’s story next week at the NKyTribune.

• Shannon Starkey-Taylor

Shannon Starkey-Taylor

Shannon Starkey-Taylor is chief executive officer for one of the region’s major non-profits — and one with a special mission she embraces with her whole being, providing high-quality early childhood education and care to the leaders of tomorrow. She runs what is now Learning Grove, and was orginally Children Inc., until it grew into a regional organization with a terrifically expanded reach. It also takes a multi-generational approach to the well-being of the whole family. Her love and caring for children is apparent in her work. She is a forward-thinking and accomplished leader with extensive experience in business development, fundraising, public/community relations, partnership development and organizational effectiveness. She is a visionary who doesn’t take her eyes off the prize — the well-being of children. She and her husband Jeff are the parents of four young adopted daughters and a son. She embraces her own children in the loving way she embraces all children — and with pride and enthusiasm. Shannon got her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Heidelberg College and master’s degrees in education administration from Xavier University and social work from the University of Cincinnati. She is an effective and strong advocate for high-quality childcare and has led numerous programs that advance the best future for the region’s children and families. She gives a powerful voice to those who often can’t speak for themselves. Stay tuned to learn more about this accomplished, indefatigable woman when we feature her story next week at the NKyTribune.

Our Sponsors — and your support

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to our NewsMakers sponsors, engaged and caring community servants who step up to support good works in our community. Please support these great corporate citizens. Northern Kentucky is lucky to have them.

If you want to support the nonprofit NKyTribune, with tax-deductible donations during our NewsMakers event and through the end of the year to help us earn matching donations from our NewsMatch donors, we will be grateful to you too. Every penny is put to work to help us provide your free public service newspaper 24/7. Click here to donate online or send your check to the NKyTribune, 644 Braddock Court, Edgewood, KY. 41017. Thank you.

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