Member Login

State School Board Honors Covington Businessman

The Kentucky Board of Education presented its 16th annual Joseph W. Kelly Award to two business leaders active in making a difference in local schools. One recipient was Brent Cooper, the Ft. Thomas resident who is the president of Covington-based C-Forward.

Audwin Helton, president and chief executive officer of Spatial Data Integrations in Louisville, also received the award.

“Kentucky is fortunate to have the involvement of the business community in P-12 public education,” Kentucky Board of Education Chair Bill Twyman said. “The support provided, as evidenced by these two individuals, is invaluable in helping Kentucky reach its educational goals.”

The Kelly award is given to businesspeople who offer outstanding leadership and service toward promoting school improvement and equitable educational opportunities for all Kentucky children. In a letter nominating Cooper, Boone County Superintendent Randy Poe noted Cooper’s commitment to education as a driver of economic development.

“Brent believes an education system that prepares the next generation to become its workforce is the single biggest economic development tool a region can have,” Poe wrote.

Northern Kentucky Education Council (NKYEC) Executive Director Polly Page stated, “Brent understands the interplay between business and education. From the very beginning, he has served as a liaison between the business community and education and understands how that relates to policy and funding.”

Cooper has been an NKYEC board member since the inception of the council. As a member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Cooper chairs the Education and Workforce Committee. He also serves as co-chair of the Greater Cincinnati Read On! campaign and as a math tutor for the Fort Thomas Independent schools. His company has a business engagement partnership with the Covington Independent schools’ James E. Biggs Early Childhood Education Center and participates in an Adopt-A-Class Foundation mentoring program with John G. Carlisle Elementary School. He also helps organize business engagement tours conducted in Boone County schools and other northern Kentucky schools. 

The Kelly Award is given in honor of Joseph W. Kelly, a respected businessman and chair of the Kentucky Board of Education from 1991 to 1998. Kelly’s efforts and expertise were crucial to the implementation and nurturing of Kentucky’s school improvement efforts. Board members Nawanna Privett, Mary Gwen Wheeler and Grayson Boyd served as the selection committee for the award this year. 

-Staff report

Photo: Brent Cooper receives his award (provided)