‘Chopped’ Viewing Party

On Jan. 15, Volare’s Executive Chef Josh Moore hosted a watch party for the Food Network show “Chopped.” Friends, family and fans of the restaurateur gathered at Volare to cheer him on as they watched the episode titled “Deadliest Catch.” Chef Moore won the competition over three nationally-renowned chefs and took home a prize of $10,000.

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

State of the Art

Memories, Materials and Mysteries


B. Deemer Gallery will display recent paintings from Carolyn Plochmann now through Feb. 5. Plochmann has worked as a fine artist since the 1950s and her works are owned by a number of impressive art collectors. Fans of hers have included R. Buckminster Fuller and Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Sheer Poetry” includes compositions that “evoke a feeling of mysterious memories of human relationships and everyday life.”



Sarah Crowner’s “Clay Bodies” is on display in the second-floor gallery of KMAC Museum now through April 7. With a mix of clay and ceramic samples, the exhibition gives the viewer a look into the mind of the painter and her relationship with the material.  


Now through Feb. 9, PYRO Gallery will present “Where We Are Now: Compositions by Jody Johnson with guest artists Virginia Speed and Rita Cameron.” Johnson’s featured works will include “a blend of abstract and representational drawings, creations based in mystery, nature and human expression.” Speed will showcase personal pieces drawing from experiences with death while Cameron showcases works inspired by music. Receptions will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 11 and from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 13.

Investiture of the Jefferson District Court Judges

On Jan. 6, 17 judges were sworn in by Chief Justice John Minton in a ceremony at the Mayor’s Gallery in Metro Hall. The West Louisville Boys & Girls Choir performed and the color guard was presented by Boy Scout Troop 212.

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

The Voice of Louisville Wedding Issue Launch Party

Readers, contributors and friends of The Voice gathered at 21c Museum Hotel on Jan. 3, for the launch of our Wedding Issue. Guests enjoyed appetizers and cocktails from Proof on Main and had the chance to chat with more than a dozen vendors, who were on hand to share their wedding expertise.

Photos by Kathryn Harrington and Andrea Hutchinson

What’s Cooking

Chefs Caitlin Steininger, Annie Petry and Sara Bradley.

Annie Pettry Hosts Dinner for Regional “Top Chef” Cheftestants at Decca Jan. 24

Chef and owner Annie Pettry will welcome Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 16 star chefs Sara Bradley and Caitlin Steininger to her kitchen at Decca on Jan. 24, for a celebration of regional female chefs making national headlines. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Kentucky chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s (LDEIKY) scholarship fund, which provides education and business support to women in the food, fine beverage and hospitality industries. A welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres and a signature Maker’s Mark cocktail will begin at 6 p.m. followed by dinner. Cost for the three-course dinner with paired wines from Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits is $90, including tax and gratuity. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.com.

Bradley, chef/owner of Freight House in Paducah, and Steininger, executive chef/owner of CWC, The Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, competed on season 16 of the award-winning hit show “Top Chef,” filmed in Kentucky this past summer and currently airing on Bravo. Pettry also competed on “Top Chef” season 14 in Charleston, South Carolina. The three esteemed female chefs will discuss their unique experiences on the show and answer questions about filming, food and everything in between. Guests are welcome to stay after dinner and watch the newest episode of “Top Chef” airing at 9 p.m. in Decca’s Cellar Lounge. A cash bar will be available.

Impellizzeri’s Improving Bardstown Road Location

Impellizzeri’s has been a Louisville institution for 40 years and has served Louisville’s best pizza on Bardstown Road for 13 years. Now, they are closing the Bardstown restaurant for two months to make updates and cosmetic improvements. “Our Bardstown Road location is a big part of the Impellizzeri’s success story,” noted Bruce Besten, Impellizzeri’s managing partner, “and we want to keep it fresh and up-to-date. We also don’t want to lose any of our terrific team during the two-month shutdown, so all of them will continued to be paid while helping us in other ways.”

Since 1979, Impellizzeri’s has made Louisville pizza fans fall in love with pizzas made with homemade dough, authentic Impellizzeri family sauce and then piled high with mounds of toppings.

Impellizzeri’s was voted Louisville’s Best Pizza in 2018 and has five area locations.

Highlands: 1381 Bardstown Road (closed until March)

Downtown: 110 West Main St.

Holiday Manor: 4933 Brownsboro Road

Middletown: 805 Blankenbaker Pkwy .

Elizabethtown: 14 Public Square

For more information, contact Greg Powell at 502.296.1396

Cheers to Brandy with Two January ‘Holidays’


Copper & Kings encourages everyone to raise a glass to America’s original spirit this month and celebrate national Hot Toddy Day (Jan. 11) and Brandy Alexander Day (Jan. 31). Check out these cocktail recipes that are sure to delight and warm you up during this cold month.

Apple Toddy

  • 2 oz Copper & Kings American Apple Brandy
  • .5 oz honey syrup
  • Hot water
  • Apple

Combine ingredients in a coffee mug. Add a quarter of a peeled apple. Pour hot water into the mug. Grate nutmeg on top.

Keeping Warm

  • 1 oz Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy
  • 1 oz Jamaican rum
  • .5 oz orange curaçao
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .25 oz apple juice
  • .5 oz agave syrup

Combine ingredients in an Irish coffee glass. Top with hot water. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Brandy Alexander 

  • 1.5 oz Ballotin Original Chocolate Whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Copper & Kings Craft Brandy
  • 1 oz cream

Shake in mixing tin with ice. Strain into a Manhattan glass. Garnish with fresh nutmeg.

New Year’s Eve 2019

Eventris and J Wagner Group welcomed the new year with a sold-out crowd at their annual bash at Mellwood Art and Entertainment Center on Dec. 31. Those in attendance were treated to entertainment from DJ K-Dogg and Tony and the Tan Lines, and The Voice of Louisville proudly served as the exclusive media sponsor.

Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

March of Dimes NICU Luncheon

On Dec. 20, March of Dimes Kentuckiana hosted a holiday luncheon for families with babies in the NICU at Baptist Health. The day’s meal was generously provided by Texas Roadhouse.

Photos by Andrea Hutchinson

Enter, Stage Right

Managing Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville Kevin E. Moore. Photo by Justin Philalack.

Actors Theatre looks ahead to a bright 2019

By Laura Ross

There’s a modesty about Louisville,” said Actors Theatre of Louisville Managing Director Kevin E. Moore, “and I said when I arrived two years ago that we’re not going to be modest anymore.”

Moore arrived at Actors Theatre two years ago from New York, where he was the managing director of the Theatre Communications Group, managing the business functions of the national organization for nonprofit theaters in America. His nationally respected business acumen was a perfect fit for Louisville’s most notable theater. Coming to Louisville gave Moore the inspiration and motivation to grow the legendary and world-renowned Actors Theatre to an even higher worldwide reputation in the arts.

“We have something special here,” he said.
“We must keep telling that story over and over to the world. I want people to know how lucky we are to have such an arts community in Louisville.”

Wrapping Up 2018

Actors Theatre, now in its 53rd season, presents almost 350 performances to an annual audience of nearly 140,000. It is recognized worldwide as one of America’s most innovative professional theater companies.

 Moore noted the success of the current season, which is well underway. “‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ was a huge hit for us,” he said. “And people really responded to ‘A Doll’s House Part 2’ as well. More people came to ‘Dracula’ than ever before, and this year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ was so joyous and inventive. ‘Santaland Diaries’ sold well, too. For every play we do, we want people to talk about it – we want to start conversations, and with these productions we hit a homerun.”

Moore and the Actors company of performers continually tweak the plays to create more awareness of issues, contemporary conversations and entertainment value for audiences.

As 2018 closed, Actors was not resting on its holiday celebrations. As soon as Tiny Tim said goodnight, actors began arriving in early January to start rehearsals for “Pipeline” and “Hershey Felder As Irving Berlin.”

“And then, the train starts running for the Humana Festival,” Moore laughed.

2019 Humana Festival

The Humana Festival of New American Plays, now in its 43rd year, runs March 1 through April 7 at Actors Theatre. The Humana Festival draws an international audience and has introduced more than 450 plays into the American and international theater repertoire. The festival draws artists, drama lovers, journalists and producers from around the country and is seen as the premier event of its kind in the nation. About 38,000 theatergoers attend the six weeks of plays and associated events, and that attendance number includes students from more than 50 colleges and universities.

“It’s a really exciting crop of plays this year, and they are bolder than in the past by design,” said Moore. “Our team reads more than 500 plays a year  trying to decide what we are going to present, and we landed on five plays this year. We do our best effort to produce plays that are timely, and all speak to issues going on today through both comedy and drama.” “Playwrights are – and have always been – sharply perceptive observers of the cultural moment they’re bearing witness to,” said Actors Theatre Literary Director Amy Wegener. “We see that reflected in the script submissions we read and in the new plays chosen for the Humana Festival every year. One of the exhilarating things about programming a festival of world premieres is seeing how writers are channeling the zeitgeist, reframing recent history and deepening vital conversations that are in the air.”

In addition to the plays, the Humana Festival is packed with activities, including weekend enrichment events for college students and discussions, network opportunities and parties for patrons and theatergoers.

“Humana’s participation and support of Actors Theatre is extraordinary,” said Moore. “Humana sees this support as not just a gift to Actors Theatre but a gift to the entire community.

“It has put Actors on the map,” he added, noting that the partnership with Humana is the largest and longest-running relationship between a corporation and a theater in the United States. Additional support for the Humana Festival is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

For Wegener, the Humana Festival offers audiences the opportunity to experience stories that imaginatively challenge and expand the understanding of the time we’re living through. “Part of the fun of attending the festival is taking in such different stories and artistic sensibilities in juxtaposition and enjoying the lively conversations they provoke, not to mention the thrill of discovery that comes from being an original witness to a play’s first production,” she said.

“Louisville has three things that garner international press – bourbon, the Kentucky Derby and the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre,” added Moore. “It helps build the global brand of Louisville to a tremendous degree.”

A Pivotal Point

Moore wants to build that global brand even further. He has a bit of a fresh slate currently as he settles in to his leadership role and looks to fill Actors’ missing artistic director position, which was vacated with Les Waters’ departure earlier in 2018.

Before plunging into a search for a new artistic director, Moore took a step back and strategically positioned Actors Theatre to reflect first on exactly what – and who – is needed. “We were very introspective for a period of time before we started the search,” he said, “We asked, ‘Who do we want to be, (and) what do we want to be for this community as we move forward?’ We are committed to embedding ourselves into the community better through more partnerships, more collaboration, more conversations and more opportunities to work with groups we might normally never touch.”

Actors Theatre wants to broaden its circle and not “just” be a signature theater and beacon in Louisville. The theater is looking for someone to lead with their own vision combined with the collective vision of the core of Actors Theatre’s staff, board and patrons. “We all agreed we need to get back to the community and reach out by having meaningful partnerships with others,” said Moore. “I’m anxious to see who that director is going to be and how he or she will manifest that goal.”

“Let’s do something exciting,” he added. “Actors Theatre is not just a community resource but a cultural disseminator. I want city leaders to think of (us) as a partner to help problems the city is addressing. Theater can do a lot of things by facilitating conversations around the issues of the day. Our new artistic director will need experience in partnering with the community because we want to be a part of the solution.”

While some may fret that the search is ongoing, others have lauded Actors Theatre for its diligence in taking the time to find the correct fit for an artistic director. Moore said he and the board of directors wanted to veer away from a traditional search process. “We wanted to be more inclusive,” he explained, saying that the search process included input from the board, staff, donors, community members and Actors’ teacher council.

“It’s fantastic because you get so many different viewpoints,” he added. “It is a lot more work, but this is the most important decision a theater can make. It’s game changing for the staff and board, and I’m very proud of that.”

Whoever the new artistic director is, he or she will dive into the fire immediately. While the 2019 season is already planned, the new director will begin work on the season from day one and will be integral in planning the 2020 Humana Festival. Moore anticipates one of the artistic director’s first tasks will include a listening tour of the community. “I want the person to meet the community, listen to their impressions of Actors and determine how we as a theater can be of use in this community,” Moore said.

At Actors, we might not be the largest theater in America, but are most certainly the most impactful theater in the country.”

Moore is quiet on the timeline for announcing the new addition, but said the pool of candidates is now small after initially receiving 67 applications. He hopes to make an announcement in early 2019. As for the 2019-2020 season, Moore is tight lipped, saying it will be announced in February. “We are looking at a mix of lighthearted shows and serious topics,” he said. “We’ve done a great job appealing to our audiences who want a range of experiences through the season. They’ll get ‘Dracula’ and ‘A Christmas Carol,’ of course, but the rest will be announced soon.”

Until then, Moore and his company happily continue the conversations generated in the 2018-2019 season. “That’s the point of what we’re doing,” he said earnestly. “We bring the experience of someone else’s story to you. Theater is the best teacher of empathy that we have. You listen to the joy, pain, love, tears and even hate of someone else’s story and you understand something that is not about yourself. Only live theater can bring that home so well. At Actors, we might not be the largest theater in America, but (we) are most certainly the most impactful theater in the country.” V

The Humana Festival will feature five world premieres:

We’ve Come to Believe

by Kara Lee Corthron, Emily Feldman and Matthew Paul Olmos

Feb. 24-April 7

“We’ve Come to Believe” features the actors of the 2018-19 Professional Training Company and looks at the bizarre world of collective delusion and groupthink. What is real and what is fake?

The Corpse Washer

adapted by Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace, from the novel of the same name by Sinan Antoon

March 1-April 7

A haunting portrait of a young man’s coming of age and survival in war-torn Iraq, where life and death are intertwined.

The Thin Place

by Tony Award-nominated Lucas Hnath

March 5-April 7

Former artistic director Les Waters returns to Actors to direct “The Thin Place,” an eerie play that explores the line between this world and another, where those who’ve died live on.

How to Defend Yourself

by Lily Padilla, co-world premiere with Victory Gardens Theatre

March 13-April 7

Visceral and provocative, “How to Defend Yourself” examines the impact of rape culture, on campus and beyond.

Everybody Black

by Dave Harris

March 19-April 7

A blisteringly funny satire that explores how we chronicle and make sense of Black History.

For tickets and show schedules for Actors Theatre, visit actorstheatre.org

State of the Art

Exploring History, Education and Equality


Kaviar Forge and Gallery is hosting the Kentucky Foundation for Women’s newest exhibit, “Feminist Expressions.” The gallery highlights feminist artists from all over Kentucky who created pieces that aim to spark social change and promote equality through a variety of mediums. “Feminist Expressions” runs through Jan. 19.


Garner Narrative is hosting award-winning artist Laurie Fader’s first solo show at the art gallery titled “Odysseys.” Each piece symbolizes Fader’s own political and personal beliefs, all inspired by her educational journey in Rome that connected her to the history of Pre-Christian Vestal Virgins. Fader’s art will be on display at Garner Narrative through Jan. 4.


Bellarmine University’s McGrath Gallery is hosting “Searching for Thomas Merton: An Artistic Tribute,” in honor of the monk and writer on the 50th anniversary of his death. This event is part of a larger celebration of Merton’s life at Bellarmine University and will close on Jan. 12.


Actors Theatre of Louisville is hosting the work of 13 local and regional artists that celebrates African American history, culture and art. This juror of this year’s iteration is Kevin Cole, an award-winning artist, consultant and teacher. The exhibit will run at Actors Theatre Gallery from Jan. 8 through Feb. 17.


Now through Jan. 19, Jane Morgan Gallery is presenting “Seeing Through the Artists’ Eyes.” This collection of landscapes includes work from the arts of the Plein Air group, who have created visual representations from their travels throughout and beyond the state.

Want to be included in State of The Art? Send your upcoming art exhibition details to circulation@redpinmedia.com.

Wilson & Muir Bank Has Your Back

Story from

Since 2001, Facilities Management Services (FMS) has grown from a small janitorial company with a handful of employees, to one of the largest locally owned janitorial companies in Kentucky with a turnover rate that is a fraction of the industry average.

What’s even more impressive is FMS is the state’s second Certified B Corporation (second by only two weeks). Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

“It’s been very rewarding working with Scott and FMS over the years and sharing in their many successes,” said Mark Hardin, Vice President at Wilson & Muir Bank’s St. Matthews location.

When Scott Koloms, President of FMS, approached Hardin about helping FMS finance the renovation of their headquarters utilizing the historical tax credit program, Koloms posed the question, “Is this something you guys can do?”  Hardin replied, “Well, we may not have a whole department dedicated to financing historical tax credit projects, but we can absolutely get this done!” 

WMB’s commercial banking team in St. Matthews quickly rolled up their sleeves and managed the nuances of the historical tax credit financing with great efficiency, delivering as promised. The renovation project turned out magnificently and FMS now has a beautifully restored 150-year-old building to call home. 

“We’ve always been made to feel that our needs are a high priority— even when we were a really small and fragile janitorial service,” Koloms said. “They’ve also handled more complex transactions, like our recent historical tax credit financing at our home base in the Portland neighborhood with ease,” added Koloms.

“Our clients are confident in WMB, knowing we can handle all of their banking needs regardless of complexity,” Hardin said.

“Wilson and Muir Bank is everything you’d hope for from a locally owned financial institution. I’ve developed meaningful relationships with the folks at WMB and I feel confident they have our back at FMS,” concluded Koloms.

When you need a bank to have your back, contact Wilson & Muir Bank.

Business Briefs

Rob Samuels, Mayor Greg Fischer and Eric Gregory.

Kentucky Distillers’ Association Honors Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with “100 Proof” Award

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association recently honored Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with its prestigious 100 Proof Award for his leadership in championing the state’s signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Mayor Fischer is the first local official to ever receive the award, which is the highest honor that the KDA bestows to elected officials. KDA members presented him with a commemorative 100 Proof Award barrel head at KDA’s Annual Meeting in Louisville.

“At a time when Louisville’s Whiskey Row and Urban Bourbon Trail was beginning to experience tremendous growth, Mayor Fischer stepped up and provided real leadership as our industry elevated tourism and expanded into the local food scene,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “He coined the phrase ‘bourbonism,’ convened bourbon-related work groups and collaborated with the KDA to develop partnerships with Louisville’s culinary and cosmopolitan endeavors, as well as other tourism related opportunities.”

Rob Samuels, chairman of KDA’s board of directors and chief distillery officer at Maker’s Mark, said, “The city of Louisville and Mayor Fischer are partners in the truest sense of the word, and he knows that bourbon is more than just a drink. It’s jobs and investment and economic impact.”

The KDA and its 39 members thanked Mayor Fischer for his leadership role in making Louisville an official gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour and for hosting the annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair, a bourbon “fantasy camp” for thousands of visitors from around the world.

“I would like to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for honoring me with its 100 Proof Award,” Mayor Fischer said. “Beyond the real economic impact of the industry on our city, bourbonism adds to the ‘cool’ factor we need to attract bright, new talent and makes us a place where people want to live and work.

“And there’s still much room for growth,” Fischer said. “We are only in the first few innings of this amazing capital investment in Louisville. Bourbon is fueling our food renaissance, hotel growth and revitalization of Main Street.”

In presenting the award, Gregory noted Mayor Fischer’s leadership in creating a collaborative working relationship with the tourism, convention and hospitality industry in Louisville. “The results of the community uniting behind the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience has been a win-win for the city and state,” Gregory said.

“The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a brand that is driving huge tourism dollars into local communities,” he said, noting that the River City has more KBT experiences than anywhere else in the Commonwealth. “Mayor Fischer recognizes that and wants to capitalize on it to the community’s benefit.”

Mayor Fischer is only the 10th person to ever receive the award, which the KDA created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s timeless bourbon industry.

Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the KDA’s governmental affairs advisory group and the KDA board of directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic bourbon industry gives to elected officials.

Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands, Named Industry Titan by Women’s Foodservice Forum

Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) announces Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands, as an Industry Titan for his leadership and commitment to driving gender equity, investment in the future of women leaders and notable impact on the food industry.

An Industry Titan is an executive who is creating change that will increase opportunities for women and drive business growth. In celebration of WFF’s 30th Anniversary, 24 of the industry’s most iconic leaders will be recognized as Industry Titans on-site at the WFF 2019 Annual Leadership Development Conference (ALDC) March 10-13, in Dallas.

“Greg Creed was one of the first CEOs to make a public commitment to help solve one of our industry’s toughest challenges,” said Hattie Hill, WFF CEO and president. “His leadership will, undoubtedly, inspire others to support and cultivate opportunities for women in leadership for stronger companies. We are pleased to recognize Greg Creed as an Industry Titan during the landmark 30th anniversary of WFF.”

“It’s an honor to be named by WFF as an Industry Titan. I’m very proud of Yum!’s initiatives around a diverse and inclusive work environment, which is imperative in today’s world,” said Creed. “We believe strongly that our employees must reflect the global marketplace where we operate, and we’re on a journey to ensure inclusion and diversity, including gender equity, are integrated into all aspects of our business.”

Earlier this year, Yum! made a commitment, in alignment with the Paradigm for Parity coalition, to advance more women into leadership roles and achieve greater gender parity in senior leadership globally by 2030. Yum! has also signed onto the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

Creed also established a U.S. diversity and inclusion council called Leading Inclusion for Today and Tomorrow (LIFT2), which includes leaders and franchisees across Yum!, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. In addition, Yum! offers unconscious bias training to corporate employees around the world to increase multicultural competency and build strong leaders who are skilled at leading diverse teams. The company also recently became one of more than 100 companies from 10 sectors named to the inaugural 2018 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI).

ALDC is an immersive leadership development experience where women connect with and learn from industry influencers, experts and each other. Most notably, the conference is a unique experience where companies collaborate to accelerate gender equity.

With the annual conference as a touch point, WFF convenes the industry year-round through Lead the Way, the Food Industry’s gender equity movement, launched and championed by WFF.

The food industry is the second largest employer of women, yet women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. Lead the Way offers a data-driven roadmap with trackable metrics and tools, from best-practices to talent sourcing and leadership development, aimed to help companies shift toward more equitable work environments and strengthening the food industry. WFF believes in limitless possibilities for women and is also the industry’s premier leadership development organization for women.

When women do better, we all do better. For more information, visit ALDC.WFF.org.

Trilogy Healthcare Recognized in Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards as One of the Best Places to Work in 2019

Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, has announced the winners of its 11th annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the best places to work in 2019 across North America and parts of Europe. Unlike other workplace awards, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer over the past year.

Trilogy Health Services, located at 303 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy., is the only Louisville-based company to make the top 100 of the Employees’ Choice Awards. Trilogy ranks number 35 overall, has an average rating of 4.3 and currently has 1,500 open jobs. This is Trilogy Health Services’ first time winning a Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work award.

Founded in December 1997, Trilogy Health Services, LLC is a customer service focused provider of senior living and long-term healthcare services including independent and assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitative services. These services are delivered by staff specially trained to honor and enhance the lives of their residents through compassion and a commitment to exceeding customer expectations.

Working In Tandem

Tandem Public Relations COO Michael Tierney talks work, fun and ‘No comment’

Q&A with Angie Fenton

Photography by Andrea Hutchinson

Michael Tierney isn’t just a public relations guru. The chief operating officer at Tandem Public Relations is a passionate powerhouse in the industry, where he’s worked for decades with clients including KFC, MCI, Vanity Fair, the Conference of Mayors, SC Johnson Wax and Kraft.

Michael took the time to talk with The Voice of Louisville’s Editor in Chief Angie Fenton and got candid about his profession, passions and the people – and pet – who are most important in his life.

Angie: How did you land in Louisville?

Michael: I’m going on 12 years here. I was recruited by Laura Melillo to run the [public relations] office at KFC for Yum! Brands. … Having grown up in the Washington D.C. area, it was a big change, but I could tell when I first moved here that it’s a unique place. And Laura is a special person.

What motivates you?

I love solving problems, and I love telling stories. Because I’ve worked on the agency side and the nonprofit side and the corporate side, I understand precisely the lens that they [clients] are viewing their situation through. Walking in their shoes, I can help them problem solve in a way that sometimes they don’t have permission to.

For many of us, the perception of public relations is that your role is only to tout the great aspects of your clients and their businesses. What’s the reality?

People generally don’t call us because they’re having the best day of their lives. We sometimes get to know people on a very close basis because they are in some of their most trying times. A lot of the business is fun; we certainly try to inject fun into all of our relationships. What separates the really good communicators are those who can step back and really look at the strategic opportunity. Public relations is also a lot of grunt work. It’s a lot of researching, it’s a lot of writing, it’s why the program I went into is in the journalism department.

What is it like working for Sandra Frazier, CEO/managing member of Tandem Public Relations?

I have to say it is a hilarious pop culture-laden, irreverent, wonderful challenge every day. Nobody has that rare combination of intellect and humor like [Sandra] does. She is also the ultimate truth-teller. I think this is why we get on so well.

Tell me about your family.

I have three kids who are in college, all of whom are pursuing very different things. [Emma] is interning at Edelman, a [public relations] company I used to work at. I suspect she will be taking up the mantle. She really loves it. My middle daughter, Lily, has traveled the world. Her real passion is feminism. She focuses on equality, particularly in the Middle East where she studied Arabic language and culture. … And my son Jack studies music production. He’s a self-taught musician. From the time he could make decisions for himself, he has been fascinated with  music. From the deep catalogues of the ’70s to today, he’s just so passionate about it. He started playing in a band with his schoolmates in the third grade at Kentucky Country Day, but as the years progressed, they found out how talented they are. He uses his talents as a musician for production.

Are you musical?

[Laughs.] I played piano, bassoon, clarinet proficiently. [Jack] can listen to a song, pick up a guitar and blow you away. My kids all live in Florida now. … And then there’s my partner Lee [Buckholz], who is the artistic director at Derby Dinner Playhouse and produces amazing shows. We have so much fun! We get to go on all these wonderful adventures in New York when he goes up for auditions for upcoming shows. … We met through mutual friends. He came down here as an actor 30 years ago. … And then there’s Miss Buggy, a rescue, who I think is 7, thanks to pet psychic Latifa Meena. Buggy is a one-dog girl and she’s blind. She sleeps anywhere she wants. She is the only creature at 18 pounds that can make a king-sized bed feel like a twin.

What do you and Lee do for fun?

We travel back and forth to our place in Michigan. We have a place in Saugatuck. When my father passed, he left just enough to get something we always wanted. So now we grab the dog, hop in the car and go stare at the water and hide from the world. It’s southwestern Michigan just outside of DeVos country. It’s technically a village. Part of its charm is it has a tiny little Cape Cod vibe to it. We can get on our bikes and ride west and in a half mile we’re on Lake Michigan. We can literally take bike rides to the beach. It is so darling. Our time there largely consists of lots of dog walks, collecting stuff on the beach and lots of PJ time. It’s amazing. It’s like a Hallmark movie. I need to recharge my batteries. I like people and the excitement of banter and interaction, but I really like my me time. I think it’s crucial.

When you are alone what are you doing?

Spending quality time with my television friends.

Who are they?

I’m not one to kiss and tell.

What has been your method for success?

From the time I declared my major, journalism, I always knew what I wanted to do. I’m one of those lucky people who has been able to work in their chosen field since day one.

When did you know you were good at what you do?

I always loved English, literature, writing and I took a journalism and communications class on a whim, and one day after a presentation, a professor took me aside after class. He had come out of corporate public relations and was teaching at the university and said, “If you haven’t declared a major, I have a recommendation for you,” and we had a long conversation and I just knew afterwards that it was what I wanted to do.

Everybody likes people who like them, so when someone singles you out and tells you you would be good at something, you believe them. I have been lucky. I have had a great combination of great training, great mentors. … Mentors are super important. Everybody’s not good at everything, and they told me where my blind spot was. They told me where I was naturally talented and where I needed to dig in. I remember those conversations every day, and I am still friends with all of these people. I check in with all of them. Sometimes it’s as simple as bouncing off an idea: Am I crazy? Am I getting the full story? Most importantly, it is just to check up with them because they are such wonderful people.

Where do you stand on the decision to tell the press “No comment”?

I don’t like “no comment.” I don’t advocate for it. I always encourage my clients to participate in an appropriate way. Sometimes we’re overruled by lawyers, which is OK because you want to protect a legal position, but I always believe that you deserve a voice in the story. I am always an advocate of ensuring that your point of view is represented.

How do you envision Louisville in 10 years?

You can always sort of project the future by looking at the immediate past. In all the years I have been here, there has been such tremendous growth in all aspects – from construction to the arts and culture to culinary. We are a really vibrant and growing place even though it has been a place that has been historically slow to change, which has come to its benefit adopting smart change. Evolution versus revolution. I am fortunate to work with organizations that are putting amazing energy and amazing work into business sectors that put us in a position where entrepreneurs and others want to take advantage of what this city has to offer.

What do you loathe the most?

I’m trying to narrow it down. [Laughs] Bad shoes.

What are the best shoes?

It depends, but generally they’re the ones that are on sale that you otherwise couldn’t afford.

PC or Mac?

Yes! I’m a PC guy at work and a Mac guy at home. It’s like a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back.

 Did you ever have a mullet?

Of course! But I had a Flock of Seagulls mullet, not a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet.

What’s the last book you read?

David Sedaris’ “Calypso.” I’m reading “Boy Erased” now. It’s a biography about a kid whose parents have him kidnapped into gay conversion camp. A bunch of us are reading it right now before we go see the movie in the theaters.

Who’s your favorite actor?

Have you ever seen a Bette Davis movie where she wasn’t amazing?

Who plays you in a movie about your life?

I don’t know, but I hope they make a shit ton of money.

What is in your last meal?

Tater tots. That’s my birthday meal every year. Sloppy joes and tater tots.

Who are you listening to?

Right now, I am listening to Adrian Matthew, that kid who sings “She Used to be Mine” from “Waitress.” I want to say he’s 10 or 11. It’s all over the internet. He kills it.

When’s the last time you cried?

Probably yesterday when I watched that video.

When you eventually retire some day, what do you see yourself doing?

I’ve always said I want to chill with my partner and my dog, have time for friends and family, but cover the city council for my local paper. I started my career in Washington so I love the machinations of policy. Just the wonky, slow moving political and interpersonal dance that happens to get things done. It would be a great way to continue to exercise that storytelling muscle and to stay updated in my community. It’s a super hard beat but one that I just find so fascinating.

What is one thing you do everyday that has directly affected your professional life?

One of the things I try to instill in everybody here is exercise your intellectual curiosity. If you’re hired for a client for a particular opportunity, go deeper. Every day, rather than collecting Facebook likes or scrolling through Instagram, use that time to expand your understanding in the climate in which your client lives. You will find opportunities that they probably can’t see because they are right in the middle of it. It’s not about churning out press releases, and it’s not about coming up with gimmicks in the press. It’s about creating relationships and telling their stories.

The word “tandem” is significant to you.

The best relationships are when both parties are working in sync. The clients that have been with us for as long as I’ve been here [at Tandem Public Relations] are the clients that understand and respond to that challenge that it’s not about us having a basic understanding. It’s about them engaging in the process with us because that’s when the best work happens. V