Chairman Bill Weinberg said he has been a part of the awards and the foundation since it began a quarter century ago. Weinberg said he has been the chairman all but two years of that time and he could not be more proud of what it has become.
Weinberg said the goal of the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation has stayed the same for 25 years.
“The goal was that we wanted to have a regional approach and get beyond county boundaries,” said Weinberg.
“Another goal was to have a day when people were networking, work together and put criticism behind them.”
Many gathered together at the East Kentucky Leadership Awards Ceremony to celebrate regional leaders and their contributions to the area.
“The goal is to not look out for your own self interest, but look out for the interest of others,” said Weinberg.
Some who have attended conferences in the past said they appreciate what it is about.
“The leadership from this place, recognizing other leaders is something phenomenal in my opinion for them to do. it goes above and beyond their responsibilities,” said Gwenda Huff Johnson, an agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension in Elliott County.
Huff Johnson, one of this year's winners, said it is a great feeling to be on the receiving end of the awards.
“It was such a rush of emotions, I didn't know what to say, I didn't know how to accept it because eastern Kentucky is such a special place and to be recognized as a leader in a place that you love is hard to explain the emotions that come from within,” said Huff.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, the keynote speaker again this year, had some uplifting words to the crowd.
"You should take pride in the fact, not only in what has happened, but in the leadership that has been brought out and pulled together," said Beshear.
"This group has been so effective in making good things happen and in improving the quality of life for folks in eastern Kentucky."
Beshear credited the organization with changing the region for the better over the past quarter century.