President and CEO Lonnie Lawson of The Center for Rural Development announces that effective Feb. 1, Les Fugate has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at The Center.
Fugate, originally from Prestonsburg and most recently of Louisville, comes to The Center after spending seven years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the office of former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson recently resigned the post to take a position with the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
“The Center is pleased to bring Les Fugate onboard as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer,” Lawson said. “I’m confident that Les is capable of increasing efficiency at our great organization. He is a highly accomplished individual, and I’m certain his work will positively affect the growth of all of The Center’s programs and services that are changing the lives of the citizens we serve.”
As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Fugate oversaw the office’s communications efforts including serving as the office spokesperson and webmaster for its internationally acclaimed website. He also worked extensively on the office’s legislative initiatives, in which he partnered with other staff to pass and implement the Secretary’s expansive legislative agenda.
Fugate is a graduate of Focus Louisville, Ignite Louisville, and the Leadership East Kentucky program. He also participated in Leadership Louisville’s Bingham Fellow’s Program, and is a former member of the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Working Group on Media and Public Relations for the EAC’s Election Management Guidelines.
Additionally, he has been profiled in Velocity Weekly as one of fourteen next generation leaders in Louisville, as well as by Business First as a 40 under 40 leader for Louisville, and was honored as the recipient of the 2007 Jennifer Schaaf Memorial Award for excellence in government communications from the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Fugate earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Centre College and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Vanderbilt University.
“I am extremely honored by the opportunity to join the already accomplished team at The Center,” Fugate said. “It has always been a goal of mine to give back to my native region of Eastern Kentucky, and I can think of no better way of doing that than through the excellent programs that The Center provides. This is really a dream opportunity to work with the talented people of Southern and Eastern Kentucky to move our local communities forward.”
Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 42-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.