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Laura Boison | Senior VP | BB&T

Laura Boison is the Senior Vice President, Commercial Group for BB&T in Lexington. Laura formerly held leadership positions at USBank, ES Barr and Company and JP Morgan Chase.

Laura is a founding member and past chair of the Board of Directors of Women Leading Kentucky, she currently serves on the Advisory Council to the organization. Her community involvement includes serving on the boards of Transylvania University, Commerce Lexington, Bluegrass Care Navigators/Hospice of the Bluegrass and the Chrysalis House among others. In the past she has served on the boards of the Wilderness Road Girl Scouts, The YMCA of Central Kentucky, Junior Achievement, United Way of the Bluegrass, the March of Dimes and others. Laura also participates in the UK Alumni Band. Laura has been recognized as Outstanding Woman of the Year and among the Top Women in Business in Lexington. In 2012 Commerce Lexington recognized her as the Volunteer of the Year

Laura holds a B.A. in Accounting and an MBA in Business Administration from UK’s Gatton College of Business & Economics. She also participated in the Executive Training Program at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Augusta Julian | President & CEO |BCTC

Dr. Augusta Julian, President/CEO, Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Dr. Julian started her career teaching adult education in her native North Carolina.  She was named president of Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) in December of 2007.  Before coming to BCTC, Dr. Julian served as president of Maysville Community and Technical College in Kentucky and held leadership positions in community colleges in North Carolina and Wisconsin.  She is known for expertise in strategic planning and organizational, workforce, and community development.  Dr. Julian earned a Doctorate in Adult and Community College Education from NC State University. 

A first-generation college student herself, Dr. Julian understands the critical role higher education plays in the lives of people seeking a fulfilled life.  She credits her 40-year career in community colleges to women role models who helped her set and achieve her educational goals.

BCTC has seven campuses that are within a 30-minute drive of 95% of Central Kentuckians.  The college annually enrolls some 16,000 students and provides training on-site or on-campus for 2,000 employees of businesses in the region.  BCTC accomplishes its mission through many collaborations with business, education, and community partners across Central Kentucky.

Valerie Schirmer | Senior Director of Communications | Valvoline, Inc

With nearly four decades of experience in communications and marketing, Val Schirmer currently serves as the senior director of communications at Valvoline. Based at Valvoline World Headquarters in Lexington, she leads the company’s global corporate communications team, which handles public relations, media relations, crisis communications, financial communications, employee communications, community relations and charitable giving.

This is actually Schirmer’s second stint at Valvoline and its former parent company, Ashland Inc. She returned to the organization last year after retiring in 2012 to focus on Three Toads Farm, the specialty cut flowers and floral design business in Winchester she owns with two partners. The award-winning “farm-to-vase” business is nationally known and has been featured in Marth Stewart Weddings.

Before retiring from (and returning to) her corporate career, Schirmer served as chief internal communications strategist at Ashland during a major stage in the company’s transformation from a regional refiner and petroleum marketer to a leading global specialty chemical company. She became the company’s global director of employee communications in December 2007, and in 2011, she was named to the new role of director of executive communications.

In previous roles, Schirmer led a variety of marketing, organizational development and communications teams at Valvoline Instant Oil Change and was responsible for internal and external communications for SuperAmerica, Ashland’s convenience store chain. She has also led public relations for Valvoline’s motorsports teams.

A native of Colorado, Schirmer holds a bachelor of science degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University and is a graduate of Ashland’s Executive Development Program at Indiana University. She lives in Winchester with her husband, Darrell, who retired as a partner at Cross Gate Gallery in Lexington.

MODERATOR:  Marian Guinn, President, MG Coaching & Consulting

Marian Guinn has a passion for leadership and believes that concentrated effort to improve the capacity of leaders is critical to future success. She works with leaders as an executive coach or thought partner helping them move through transitions or achieve desired competencies. As a consultant, she has and become comfortable in closing major asks. Prior to establishing MG Coaching & Consulting, Marian gained real-world experience with leadership and management roles first at the University of Kentucky Hospital and more recently as CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank.