Alecia Webb-Edgington’s life in public service, which includes law enforcement, serving as the first woman to lead Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security and then four years in the Kentucky House of Representatives representing part of Kenton County, turned a new page in January when she became president of the Life Learning Center in Covington.
The nonprofit center, founded by Corporex Chairman Bill Butler, offers a unique holistic approach aimed at turning around the lives of clients that are at risk from poverty or crime. Since opening in 2006, it has graduated more than 1,200 clients back into the community.
Q What prompted you take this new role?
A It was a combination of things. I’ve known Bill Butler for a long time. We first met when I was on executive security for former Gov. Paul Patton, and knowing the mission of this organization was to create transformational change for at-risk individuals drew me here.
This is a holistic approach looking at long-term solutions. Once they have a job and stable housing they can contribute and really change their lives. When clients walk in we try to figure out what are the barriers causing them issues. Sometimes it is as simple as needing glasses to see, or finding transportation, or stable housing and child care.
Q How will your experience as a Kentucky State trooper and in Frankfort influence your job here?
A My main responsibility here is to raise awareness about the Life Learning Center and the fact that crime and poverty often go hand-in-hand. Having been in the law enforcement eco-system for 30 years and dealing with folks in poverty I think I bring a unique perspective. I have the responsibility to market the Life Learning Center and evangelize what we do. We need to build more partnerships to leverage with our colleagues in other nonprofits. We aren’t reinventing the wheel. We’re a one-stop shop where our partners come into our facility and use it to leverage their services to assist our clients. It’s been my good fortune to be in public service in Kentucky for many years and I hope to leverage those relationships. I’m not bashful. It doesn’t bother me to ask people to engage.
Q You’ve only been at the Life Learning Center a short time, but what has surprised you about it?
A I think it’s amazing the partners who come in and offer services, everything from the UK extension service to different counseling services and health care providers.
Our volunteers are just exceptional. They are people from different backgrounds, graduates from the program, from corporate settings and university professors. They bring their time, talent and treasure and teach part of our program. And we’re always looking for new volunteers.
Q You’ve had a long career in law enforcement including 15 years with the Kentucky state police. How did you get interested in police work?
A Several members of my family were in politics and I had cousins who were with the sheriff’s office in Edmonson County where I grew up. When I attended Western Kentucky University I had two incredible professors, who were both men, but who were thought provoking about women in non-traditional roles. At the time, the state police had a height requirement for women and I was five inches too short. But the law was changed in January 1990 and I applied and was accepted to the academy and up and away I went.