KLC is happy to announce the winners of the 2021 Leadership Enrichment and Development (LEAD) Award. The annual recognition highlights Kentucky mayors who are passionate about local public service and committed to lifelong learning. This year’s recipients are Benton Mayor Rita Dotson, Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson, and Sparta Mayor Sidney Gullion.
The LEAD Award is named in honor and memory of Ann Cline Deatherage, a career public servant who served as a council member and mayor of the City of Carrollton. The Deatherage family endowed the award, which is sponsored by Enterprise Fleet Management, a KLC Cornerstone Partner. Winners are provided financial assistance to KLC training and conferences, including the 2022 KLC Conference & Expo in Owensboro.
Jerry Deatherage said the family is thankful for the ability to honor his mother through the award. “We knew how much the League and community service meant to her,” he remarked. “We wanted to be able to create a legacy that would support small city mayors.” Deatherage added that it is important for local leaders to know their commitment to the city they serve does not go unrecognized. “Knowing that they’re out there doing the community’s work can sometimes feel thankless, but it is appreciated by people in the community and throughout the state.”
In addition to serving in leadership at KLC on the Board of Directors and Executive Board, Mayor Deatherage had more continuing education hours than any city official. As a result, she inspired a KLC Master’s Level training program to recognize city officials whose commitment to learning reaches an exceptional level.
“The LEAD Award is a wonderful way to honor Mayor Deatherage,” said KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney. “We are grateful that the family asked KLC to take part in the program. The three mayors receiving the award this year are a great example of the type of dedicated public servants that Mayor Deatherage was so committed to supporting. We appreciate their commitment to the cities they serve and KLC training.”
Mayor Dotson thanked the Deatherage family and KLC. “I think it’s awesome to be able to carry on that legacy,” she said. “I like to get as much education as I can. I think that every mayor and every commissioner or council person should get in as much as they can because when you go to these classes that the League holds you come back with a better understanding of what you are trying to do in your city.”
“Mayor Dotson is always eager to embrace new ideas, and she understands the value of training,” added Chaney. “We are proud to recognize her with this award. I know she will embrace the opportunity.”
For Mayor Gullion, the recognition is personal. “The award is extra special when it is named after someone you knew, who was very passionate about what she did,” he said. “I always keep looking ahead in the future for opportunities to grow our community and offer resources to bridge gaps for our families and businesses.”
Chaney spoke on the mayor’s dedication to the city. “Mayor Gullion is an outstanding city official, and his desire to continue to learn and advance his city is a testament to his commitment to the community he serves.”
Mayor Nelson also shared words of gratitude. “I’m very honored to receive this prestigious award from KLC,” he said. “I would like to thank all the Middlesboro city employees and members of the council who actually make all the good things we’re doing here in the city happen every day.”
“Mayor Nelson is focused on improving the quality of life in his community and understands the need to stay connected and informed,” Chaney stated. “We are proud to recognize him as a 2021 LEAD Award winner.”
Learn more about the 2021 LEAD Award winners here.
Mayors may apply or be nominated now for the 2022 LEAD Award.