KFW Staff and Board Members

Members of KFW


Sallie Bingham
Santa Fe, NM

Judy Nichols
Louisville, KY

Jacquelyn Carruthers
Nurse and Artist
Paducah, KY

Ciera Shields
KY Center for African American Heritage
Louisville, KY

Rebecca Amsler
Lancaster, KY

Nisha Gupta
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

Shayla D. Johnson
Lexington Fair Housing Council
Lexington, KY

Nancy C. Jones
University of Kentucky
Midway, KY

Lee Alcott
Glasgow, KY

Advocacy in Action: Meet the KFW Board

Ellen Birkett Morris has been interviewing KFW Board members and will profile a different Board member each month.


Photo credit: Brian Judd

Serving Her Community—Empowering Women

Shayla Johnson was introduced to the Kentucky Foundation for Women by a friend and prior board member, who felt that she would make a great fit for the board.  When she looked into KFW, Shayla “fell in love” with its purpose and mission.

She was introduced to feminism by her mother at a young age.  “I was so young, I didn’t know the word “feminism.” I just knew that one of my mother’s expectations for me was to live a life of empowerment–empowerment of self and all women.  She taught me that my voice was valuable and I should never seal my lips to please others.  I stand strong because I’m standing on her shoulders,” said Shayla.

As the Assistant Director of the Lexington Fair Housing Council in Lexington, Shayla assists victims of housing discrimination, analyzes Fair Housing related issues, and initiates complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or litigation when appropriate.  She is active in various non-profit and community service organizations around the state. Shayla tutors and mentors young girls in the Lexington community and also teaches them about the beauty of dance as an art form with the goal of shaping and preparing young women for their future.

Shayla is a creative problem solver and views creativity as a centerpiece of her life. Helping support the creativity of others is an important part of her work as a KFW board member.

“I see my role on the board as a connector.  I want to connect KFW to populations whom have never heard of our phenomenal Foundation so that our reach can be long-lasting throughout the state,” said Shayla.

She recently graduated from the Emerge Kentucky program, which trains women to run for public office. “One of my goals is to better the lives of women and girls in Kentucky and to do so by holding public office. My hopes are that we can obtain equality in all aspects of our lives while feeling safe to express ourselves as individuals.”

A lover of the written word, Shayla vividly remembers a poem once learned years ago that still impacts her life today. “My sixth grade language arts teach made us memorize and recite this poem.  I still remember it very clearly. I didn’t realize its significance until I was much older.”
“Myself” by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know that
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and so,
whatever happens I want to be
self-respecting and conscience free.

CIERA L. SHIELDS, Board Member since December 2013

If you need evidence of the power of grassroots connections to build communities look no further than KFW board member Ciera Shields.  It was 2013 and Ciera was working as the first female exhibition coordinator for the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage when Elmer Lucille Allen, who runs the Wayside Christian Mission Art Gallery and volunteers for KCAAH, told her KFW was looking for board members.

“I knew I was a feminist from a very young age. I was kind of raised as a feminist as I was primarily raised by my father. He always encouraged me to get things accomplished on my own and demand my respect from men who try to disregard my talents because I am female,” said Shields.

She sees her unique background as a source of strength and inspiration.

“Both of my parents inspire me. I was raised unconventionally, there were not many single fathers around in the 80’s and 90’s, and I would see the struggles both of my parents endured to make sure me and my brother were okay. They both had to deal with stereotypes of what a mother should be and what a father should be, so they definitely inspire me to work as hard as I do and to help others,” said Shields.

In her role as exhibitions coordinator at KCAAH, Shields would occasionally do talks and walk-throughs of exhibits on display and would encourage young girls to network with the talented women in the arts and theater in Louisville who could help them further their dreams.

“Every chance I get, I try to point female artists and young girls in the direction of KFW. I ask them what their hopes are, who their audience is, and if they have ever considered applying for funding through KFW,” said Shields.  “KFW is about feminism and social change in a positive manner, and if their artwork or production encompasses those traits I encourage them to apply.”

“I want women and girls to be empowered more than ever and to use KFW as their platform to build a stronger connection between women and young girls in our community. I believe it’s important for young girls to know that voices should be heard and that they aren’t alone in the struggles they have faced or are facing. Madeleine Albright said it best—“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

KFW Board Members Showcase “This I Believe”

The KFW board is thankful to be able serve a dynamic community of artists and social change makers. We see our role as “ambassadors”, who can take an active role in the feminist art for social change movement by reaching out and engaging those who are currently under represented among our community. Each member looks forward to creating connections with past, present, and future grantees/residents, and our allies of the KFW community.

At a recent retreat our wise and wonderful KFW Board spent time contemplating their role in sustaining the mission and values of KFW. Board members participated in a “This I Believe” exercise to reflect each person’s personal vision for KFW and how she could create connections with our community. No two statements were identical, but our word cloud pictured below provides an indication that our board shares one omnipresent goal.


Meet The


Sharon LaRue
Sharon LaRueExecutive Director
Jenrose Fitzgerald
Jenrose FitzgeraldGrant Program Manager
Rae Strobel
Rae StrobelOrganizational Development Associate
Kim Wilhoit
Kim WilhoitFinance Manager