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Kentuckians Honored With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards

On Thursday, Gov. Matt Bevin presented five Kentuckians with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2017 Leadership Award in Frankfort. The event, hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission, recognizes individuals who embody Dr. King’s life and work, and who have made an exemplary contribution toward his legacy of service.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. peacefully and passionately pursued his dream of a world where men and women would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said Gov. Bevin. “Those we honor with this award continue Dr. King’s admirable work by ensuring that every citizen of our great nation has the option of pursuing the American dream.”

Nominations for the award were solicited across the Commonwealth from the general public. The MLK Jr. State Commission received a total of twenty nominations. The following individuals were awarded the 2017 MLK Leadership award:

Youth Leadership Award Winners   

Maegan Helm, Louisville, KY

  • She is the founder of Ballard High School’s Black Student Union and has totaled over 75 hours of community service.
  • This winner tutors students and works with the Metro Louisville Brightside Hallmark Neighborhood Cleanup.
  • She has a 4.0 GPA and has won numerous awards for her academic achievements all while working part-time.

Ahmaad Edmund, Fairdale, KY

  • This Male High School student has been elected president of his class for six straight years.
  • He has been a member of the Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students.
  • He is on the Mayor of Louisville’s One Love Louisville Youth Implementation team and the Police Chief’s Youth Advisory Council.
  • He founded two black student unions focused on promoting educational and enrichment activities for African American students.

Madison Roy, Louisville, KY 

  • Since age seven, she has been actively engaged in giving back to her community. After learning one of her classmates had leukemia, she raised money for research of the disease.
  • She has organized presentations to help young children learn about Dr. King and gain an understanding of his tremendous sacrifices.
  • She is the founder of Youth in Action Network of Louisville, an organization that provides students with “giving back” and “self-help” opportunities that can be used when they apply for scholarships and college admission applications.

Adult Leadership Award Winners

Mitchell Payne, Louisville, KY 

  • Helping others, especially those that are marginalized, has been a tenet by way of his past involvement with the Louisville Black Achievers program, a program he founded in Shelby County.
  • He has also helped others by serving in the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Lincoln Foundation, Leadership Louisville, Leadership Kentucky, Urban League and N.A.A.C.P voter registration drive.
  • As the Director of U of L Office of Black Affairs, he led a staff that designed one of the country’s premier models for recruitment, retention, graduation and job placement for black students at the undergraduate and graduate level.
  • Also, after inheriting a 50 member university police department with only one African American male and one white female officer, he increased diversity by 40 percent within five years, without using goals or quotas, by working hard and developing strong community partnerships.

Edward L. Palmer Sr., Radcliff, KY 

  • In 18 years of ministry, he has brought to his community social programs such as a visitation center, community food pantry, foster care transitional living program for young adults, male/female transitional housing and mentoring for children.
  • He was appointed to the State Interagency Council and National Coalition for Juvenile Justice Executive Board.
  • He has worked with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to build community-based opportunities for families in need.
  • He is serving his fourth term as Radcliff City Councilman.
  • He also makes time to provide leadership and religious training locally as well as abroad.

The official award ceremony took place Thurs., Jan. 12, 2017, at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, 100 West Broadway St., Frankfort, Ky. Brigadier General Barbara Lynne Owens, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, was the keynote speaker.

Additional information can be found at, or by contacting the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment at 502.564.2611 or

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