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Friends of Covington to Honor Lisa and Norm Desmarais


The Friends of Covington will present its annual Covington Award on Thursday to Lisa and Norm Desmarais.

The couple moved to Northern Kentucky more than two decades ago from their native New England.

According to the Friends of Covington, the Desmaraises will be the 34th and 35th recipients of the annual honor, and the fourth couple.

“Selecting Lisa and Norm as the award winners for this year was an easy decision for our board,” said John Niland, president of Friends of Covington. “If you look at all that they have accomplishments in a relatively brief period of time, it’s fair to say that they are two of the most worthy people who have ever been recognized by the organization.

“They have made a difference as business people, as public servants, as residents and as volunteers."

The Friends of Covington was created in 1987 and has honored previous winners with its Covington Award such as Ralph V. Haile Jr., a banker who led an effort to revitalize the downtown business district; Bishop William A. Hughes; real estate developer Bill Butler; downtown business and real estate owners Jim and Donna Salyers; Jeanne Schroer, president and CEO of the Catalytic Development of Northern Kentucky; and Emily Wolff and Paul Weckman, real estate developers and restaurateurs in MainStrasse Village.

The Desmaraises moved to Northern Kentucky in 1993 when Lisa landed a job with Fidelity Investments.

After leaving Fidelity, Lisa worked in the non-profit sector for 12 years before taking a job with the City of Covington, where she was the finance and operations director until the latter part of 2016, when she left to take a job as the director of information technology for Kenton County.

She is a member of the board of Covington Partners, an organization that works with the public schools in Covington, and the board of regents of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which oversees 16 community colleges in the state.

Norm Desmarais is one of the three founders of TiER1 Performance Solutions, which is now headquartered in the RiverCenter office complex that overlooks the Ohio River.

The company had modest roots in 2002 in the Madison E-Zone, where high-tech startups got office space and a chance to network with other entrepreneurs in a tech incubator. TiER1 says its primary business is to create software that is designed to increase the efficiency of employees and the overall efficiency of the company.

Clients have included Wendy’s, FedEx, Fidelity Investments, Nationwide Insurance, Macy’s, and Kroger. The company has about 250 employees and offices in nine cities.

Besides his leadership role at the company, Desmarais chaired Cov 200 in 2015, a bicentennial celebration that included special events throughout the year. He is a member of the board of regents of Northern Kentucky University and the Gateway Community and Technical College Foundation board. He also chairs the Northern Kentucky Entrepreneurship Council.

Tickets for the annual dinner where the Covington Award will be presented are $60 per person and can be purchased at the door or online. It begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

-Staff report