Join us in celebrating our 50th Anniversary at six regional events.

Kentucky Humanities presents Astronaut Story Musgrave in conversation with Kris Kimel

Gatton Student Center at the University of Kentucky Worsham Theatre

160 Avenue of Champions, Lexington

About the event

To culminate its 50th anniversary celebration, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with The University of Kentucky's Cooperative for the Humanities and Social Sciences (A&S) and Space Tango, will host space pioneer Story Musgrave and Space Tango co-creator Kris Kimel. The duo will discuss Dr. Musgrave’s illustrious career and life experiences as well as the trajectory of the space program across the years, where it is now, and where it’s heading especially in light of Space Tango's Humanity in Deep Space initiatives.

About the presenters

Dr. Story Musgrave is an American physician, a retired NASA astronaut, an author, a public speaker and consultant to both Disney's Imagineering group and Applied Minds in California. In 1996, he became only the second astronaut to fly on six spaceflights (spending a total of 1,281 hours, 59 minutes, 22 seconds on space missions) and he is the most formally educated astronaut with six academic degrees. Often called the “Dean of NASA,” including earning his M.S. in physiology and biophysics from the University of Kentucky, Musgrave is the only astronaut to fly aboard all five space shuttles and he participated in the design and development of all space shuttle extra-vehicular activity equipment, including spacesuits, life support systems, airlocks, and Manned Maneuvering Units. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including induction into the International Space Hall of Fame.

Kris Kimel is the Founder of Humanity in Deep Space, a new initiative exploring the challenges and hard problems facing humans as we transition to deep spacefaring species. He is also the Co-founder of the growing commercial company Space Tango. Previously Kimel was President of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation and founded the IdeaFestival, an international event centering on innovation, discovery, and creative thinking across different disciplines. He holds bachelor and masters’ degrees from the University of Kentucky.

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities, Space Tango and the Planetary Society, and the A&S Cooperative for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Kentucky.


Kentucky Humanities and the University of Pikeville present David Brooks


About this event

As part of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Democracy and the Informed Citizen series and to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with the University of Pikeville, will host David Brooks who will discuss the role of the humanities and journalism in fostering an informed citizenry and how to unite during these turbulent times.

About the presenter

David Brooks is an opinion columnist for The New York Times, commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He is the author of several books including Animal Dreams and The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.

Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, currently serving as host of KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Connections, Election coverage, Legislative Update and KET Forums. Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.

Jennifer J. Dugan serves as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pikeville. She earned her doctorate in political science from the University of California, Riverside. During her 20 year career as a faculty member, Dr. Dugan taught courses in world politics, human rights, humanitarian intervention, and international law. A longtime participant in the National Model United Nations program, she helped train students in promoting the rule of law, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and global democracy.  

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and UPIKE’s Division of Humanities, Division of Social Sciences, and the Coleman College of Business.

Recording of this event



Kentucky Humanities and NKU present Poets Laureate Joy Harjo and Crystal Wilkinson

Northern Kentucky University Greaves Concert Hall

1 Louis B. Nunn Drive, Highland Heights

About the event

As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities A More Perfect Union initiative and to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with Northern Kentucky University, will host U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo and Kentucky Poet Laureate, Crystal Wilkinson who will discuss social justice, inclusion, and storytelling through poetry.

About the presenters

Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is the author of nine books including her most recent Poet Warrior: A Memoir and the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise, and has received numerous awards and accolades for poetry. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, has produced seven award-winning musical albums and her poetry will be included on a plaque on LUCY, a NASA spacecraft on reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojans.

Crystal Wilkinson, an African American feminist writer, is the Poet Laureate of Kentucky and proponent of the Affrilachian Poet movement. She is a 2020 USA Fellow of Creative Writing and a 2021 O. Henry Prize winner. She teaches at the University of Kentucky and is the acclaimed author of Perfect Black, The Birds of Opulence, Blackberries Blackberries, and Water Street.

Eric H. Kearney is the President/CEO of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce and President of the Northern Kentucky University Foundation. He has had a distinguished career in law, business, and politics. As a state senator, Eric served as Ohio Senate Minority Leader and championed a number of causes including creating Ohio’s Poet Laureate. He founded and built one of the largest African American owned publishing companies, Sesh Communications, which publishes The Cincinnati Herald, The Northern Kentucky Herald, The Dayton Defender, and other publications. Eric serves on many prestigious civic and community boards and has been recognized by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Joseph A. Hall Award for Promoting Diversity, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law. Eric earned a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law.

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Northern Kentucky University, and the NKU Department of English.




Kentucky Humanities presents Sam Bush in conversation with Michael Johnathon

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum Woodward Theatre

311 W. 2nd Street, Owensboro

About the event

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, will host the Father of New Grass, Sam Bush and Woodsong’s Old-Time Radio Hour host, Michael Johnathon who will discuss storytelling through song and the impact of music on a particular region, the Commonwealth, and the country at large.

About the presenters

Sam Bush, a native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an American mandolinist who is considered an originator of progressive bluegrass music, known as New Grass. In 2020, he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame as a member of New Grass Revival. He is a multi-award-winning musician including Hall of Fame inductions, Grammy Awards, and the moniker “King of Telluride” for his longstanding association with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Michael Johnathon, creator and host of the PBS syndicated Woodsong’s Old-Time Radio Hour since its inception in 1999, is an American folk singer-songwriter, producer, author, and playwright. He has released 17 albums, published four books, a play, composed an opera, and performs with symphony orchestras and in coffeehouses alike.

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities and the Blue Grass Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Kentucky Humanities presents Linkin' Bridge in conversation with Aminata Cairo

Louisville Free Public Library Downtown Branch

301 York Street, Louisville

About the event

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with the Louisville Free Public Library, will host Louisville’s own musical group, Linkin’ Bridge in conversation with inspirational speaker and humanities scholar, Aminata Cairo. The group will discuss storytelling through song and the lessons we learn from each other’s stories in a world that is often fraught with division.

About the presenters

Linkin’ Bridge, the popular Louisville quintet who found fame on the 11th season of NBC's Americas' Got Talent, are best known for their warm harmonies and emotional performances which are driven by their passion for music. The group is comprised of Montre Davis, Shon "China" Lacy, Ralph "Big Rome" Kimbrough, James Crawford III, and beatboxer, Raul Lopez. The group’s mission: to spread peace, love and joy to all who will receive it. Linkin' Bridge is the bridge that links people together through music.

Aminata Cairo is a storyteller, scholar, and sought-after speaker and consultant on diversity and inclusion issues. She holds many titles including mother, daughter, sister, and Lector of African descent in the Applied University sistem in the Netherlands. She engages people, communities, and organizations to implement positive change and communicate the message that every story has value.

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities and the Louisville Free Public Library. 


Kentucky Humanities presents Recipes from the River

Paducah Convention & Expo Center

415 Park Street, Paducah

About the event

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Kentucky Humanities, in partnership with American Queen Voyages, and Paducah Bank, will host four esteemed chefs who will not only demonstrate their favorite “river recipes” but relate the stories behind the food and how cuisine can be a unifying and defining aspect of any culture. Discussions amongst the chefs will be followed by access to a “tasting arena” where attendees will get to sample food items that were demonstrated as well as purchase culinary-related items from each Chef.

About the chefs

Regina Charboneau, known as the Queen of Biscuits, is the Culinary Ambassador for American Queen Voyages, a restaurateur who has authored several cookbooks, appeared on numerous broadcast outlets including the Travel Channel and most recently the Hallmark Channel, and has been featured in Southern Living, The New York Times, and various other culinary magazines. She mixes traditional French culinary training with tricks passed on through generations of Southern bakers. Regina is a Mississippi maven, born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi, where the River runs through her veins.

John Varanese is a restauranteur and Executive Chef in Louisville, Kentucky, settling there because of its successful independent dining scene and the fact that locals appreciate fresh ingredients prepared creatively and a culturally diverse menu. Dedicated to local farmers who provide the freshest local products as showcased in many of his signature dishes, he also serves on the Kentucky Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors, has received numerous culinary awards and recognition, and stars in and co-produces his own television show, Big World of Food, which educates viewers on the importance of local farms to the food on their tables.

Paul Signa, owner of Doe's Eat Place. The original Doe's Eat Place was established in 1941 in Greenville, Mississippi, by Signa's parents. Paul will share the story about how Doe's Eat Place moved from a grocery store to a famous restaurant and how he came to Paducah. He will also demonstrate one of his signature dishes from the Paducah restaurant.

Phillip Ashley Rix, is one of the world's preeminent chefs and designers of luxury chocolate. An award-winning chocolatier headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, he has curated dining experiences at the James Beard House in New York City, as well as creating tens of thousands of chocolates for Hollywood’s elite at the EMMYS®, GRAMMYS® and OSCARS®. He competed as a finalist on Food Network’s Chopped Sweets and Forbes Magazine has named him the “Real Life Willy Wonka.”

About the partners

This event is a collaboration between Kentucky Humanities, the American Queen Steamboat Company, the WKCTC Culinary Arts Program, and Paducah Bank.

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