The James Welch Sr. Arts Leadership Award, presented by Stoll Keenon Ogden and Fund for the Arts, honors an individual who, through volunteer commitment and ongoing leadership, has made a substantial impact to the arts community in Louisville and throughout the Kentuckiana region. The award, first presented in 2010, is also a tribute to the late James Welch Sr., one of the founding members of Stoll Keenon Ogden’s legacy firm, who quietly provided strong guidance and support to the Louisville arts community for decades.
In its inaugural year, the award was presented to Thomas T. Noland who served on the boards of Fund for the Arts, Louisville Orchestra and Kentucky Opera, as well as the Partnership for Creative Economies.
In 2011, the award was presented to Morton Boyd, chairman emeritus of The Gheens Foundation, Inc., who served on the board of directors for Fund for the Arts, Actors Theatre and the Speed Museum.
In 2012, the award was presented to Todd Lowe, founder of Parthenon International, who served on the board of directors for Fund for the Arts, Actors Theatre and for the sustainable impact his leadership has made on the arts.
In 2013, the award was presented to Nana Lampton, Chief Executive Officer at Hardscuffle, Inc., and its subsidiary, American Life & Accident Insurance Company of Kentucky. Lampton has served on the boards of Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville Visual Art Association, Louisville Theatrical Association and Fund for the Arts.
In 2014, the award was presented to Carl M. Thomas, Stage One Family Theatre Board Chair, for his life-long commitment to service with a particular passion for helping our youngest citizens, Thomas’s extensive community efforts have included work with organizations such as Home of the Innocents, Spalding University, Boy Scouts of America, The Housing Partnership, Inc., Norton Hospital Foundation, Wednesday’s Child, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, and Fund for the Arts to name a few. In his spare time, he tutored children at Engelhard Elementary School in the Every 1 Reads program.
In 2015, the award was presented to Marlene Grissom, director of special projects for the Waterfront Development Corporation. Grissom led a successful $40 million fundraising campaign for the Waterfront Park, curated the park’s public art and administered the LED lighting system on the Big Four Bridge. A tireless community volunteer, Grissom’s board service includes the KMAC Museum (chair), Louisville Ballet, Louisville Science Center, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Metro Committee on Public Art, Fund for the Arts, Scenic Kentucky (chair), Art Center Association, Gallopalooza, Channel 15 and KET (chair). She chaired the Louisville Ballet’s capital fund drive and the capital campaign for KMAC Museum.
In 2016, the award was presented to Mr. William A. Blodgett, Jr. who currently serves as the Kentucky Opera board president and previously served as board president of both Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Kentucky College of Art and Design; he led both organizations through significant growth and development. Following the tragic passing of Kentucky Opera General Director David Roth, Mr. Blodgett stepped in to serve as Acting General Director of the Kentucky Opera, providing effective and inspiring leadership for the organization and a steadying presence for the arts community.
Fund for the Arts and Stoll Keenon Ogden seek to recognize someone who, like Welch and previous honorees, has made significant contributions and a lasting impact on the Louisville arts community in a quiet, often unrecognized manner.