Bob Mitchell will be honored Monday as Leadership Tri-County’s Leader of the Year during a banquet in Corbin.
One of the most influential political operatives in Kentucky has been selected as the 2013 Leader of the Year in Knox, Laurel and Whitley counties by a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering leadership in the area.
Bob Mitchell, retired long-time District Director for Kentucky Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, was announced as the Leader of the Year for 2013 by Leadership Tri-County this week. A special banquet honoring him will be held Monday at the Corbin Center for Technology and Community Activities.
Mitchell first teamed up with Rogers in 1970 when Rogers ran for Lt. Governor of Kentucky. In 1980, he was instrumental in the 1980 congressional campaign that propelled Rogers to federal office.
From then, until his retirement in 2012, Mitchell was the point man for the Congressman in the Fifth Congressional District. Behind the scenes, he became known, and later revered, as a quiet and effective advocate for development and improvement of the Appalachian counties Rogers represented.
“He has worked to provide things for people across the region, especially when it comes to jobs and infrastructure,” said Miles Estes, Chairman of Leadership Tri-County’s Board of Directors.
“I think his body of work speaks for itself. He was the go-to person in this area for local leaders. They knew if they called on him he could get things done.”
Mitchell was instrumental in the creation of all Rogers’ signature achievements in office, including the creation of the environmental initiative PRIDE, Operation UNITE, an effort to stem the tide of illegal drug use in eastern Kentucky, Forward in the Fifth, centered on improving education, Tour SEKY, created to foster tourism in the Fifth Congressional District, and the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation. He also had a large role in the planning and construction of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset.
"As a native of Knox County, Bob Mitchell has dedicated more than 30 years and countless resources to the betterment of his home region. Bob has been a steadfast advocate for the people of the Tri-County area, and all of the Fifth Congressional District, plowing new ground for jobs, flood protection, educational opportunities, tourism, and the war on drugs,” Rogers said Tuesday. “Bob’s shear tenacity and courage of conviction have certainly helped transform our region over the last three decades."
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell gave similar praise.
“He was Hal’s eyes and ears throughout southern and eastern Kentucky,” McConnell said. “He oversaw three field offices, provided constituent services, and was Hal’s liaison to State and local government. It is thanks to him that many people in Kentucky now enjoy the benefits of a multitude of infrastructure, economic development, and tourism projects.”
Mitchell has been employed in the public sector as well. He’s worked for L&N Railroad, United Parcel Service and as owner and operator of a grocery story. He’s been a member of the Corbin Rotary Club and the Lynn Camp Optimist Club.
Mitchell has also been honored by the Mountain Laurel Boy Scouts of America District with its first ever Daniel Boone Visionary Award.
Estes said awarding Mitchell with the Leader of the Year Award now seems appropriate shortly after his retirement because many of Bob’s accomplishments came under the radar. He also noted Mitchell’s aversion to taking credit for his work.
“The timing on this worked out real well,” Estes said. “He’s the type of person that when you consider and reflect back on everything he’s done, you realize how important he’s been. This is a way of recognizing people who have made a real contribution to the area.”
Leadership Tri-County is a non-profit organization established in 1987 as an educational program designed to identify potential, emerging, and current leaders from Knox, Laurel, and Whitley counties and to nurture their continued development into the leaders our area needs now and in the future.
In 1985, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce sponsored their first statewide leadership network called Leadership Kentucky. Dr. William Hacker, Tom Handy, and Jim Oaks from the tri-counties were chosen to participate. From that experience they recognized the need for a similar program in the tri-counties.
They began the process of developing a structure for the local organization in 1986 and by the fall of 1987, the charter class of Leadership Tri-County was selected. Today, Leadership Tri-County continues to serve the mission of the organization by advancing its leadership and networking task. Class members are brought together to build vibrant relationships and deepen their knowledge of the area’s challenges and opportunities and to inspire them to commit quality leadership skills either individually or collectively to further Southeastern Kentucky’s future.
Monday’s Leader of the Year Banquet in honor of Mitchell will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception. Dinner will be served at 6:00 p.m.
Congressman Rogers will be the keynote speaker at the event.
Individual tickets are $20 each. Gold level sponsorships can be purchased for $1,000 and include eight dinner tickets and a full-page program ad. Silver level costs $500 and includes four tickets and a half-page program ad.
For ticket and event information, call Miles Estes at 606-627-4933.