An outgrowth of a past Commerce Lexington Inc. Leadership visit, the fourth annual EMERGE Conference presented by Forcht Bank engaged the next generation leaders of central Kentucky, connecting emerging leaders to each other and to the community. The conference was held on Tuesday, March 28, at Lexington Center.

By unifying Kentucky’s emerging leaders, organizers hope to empower the future leaders to participate through networking, collaboration, and opportunities to plug into the community, and a chance for their voice to be heard.  The communities stand to benefit through better opportunities, more diverse and engaged professionals, and ultimately a stronger economy.

This full-day conference offered networking, as well as education through breakout sessions in a variety of tracks, such as professional, personal, and community.

EMERGE Luncheon speakers included Rebecca Darwin, founder and CEO of Garden & Gun, and Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller for Castle & Key Distillery.

Barnes and Darwin talked about where they get their inspiration. Seth Thompson of The Bourbon Review moderated the discussion.

This year’s EMERGE event featured:


• When Will You Retire?

• To Serve & Direct

• Tough Talk


• Manager on Duty

• The Business of Your Career

• Own the Room


• Make Sh*t Happen

• The Creatives

• Injecting Hope: A Community Response to the Opioid Epidemic

Planning for the 2018 EMERGE Conference has already began.