Making a Difference:
Friends of KET

KET is an ongoing, quality of life kind of thing—and it has been for me since I was a young adult and became aware of KET.

Cheryl Lawson

President, Friends of KET Board of Directors

You don't have to spend much time with Cheryl Lawson before you realize that she knows people. A lot of people. And she knows them well.

Cheryl Lawson

Lawson, the public relations director for McCracken County Schools, greets people as she makes her way along the streets of Paducah like they're old friends. And many are—the cook in the local restaurant she first met when she was a teacher; a colleague she taught alongside throughout her nearly 27 years in education in two Western Kentucky counties.

Knowing people, says Lawson, is integral to another job she's held for the last year: president of the Friends of KET Board of Directors. And in this volunteer position, she says, you're the eyes and ears for KET in communities throughout the state.

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"I have a lot of enthusiasm, and I'm enthusiastic about KET," said Lawson from her Paducah office, located in an historic home overlooking the picturesque Ohio River city.

"KET is an ongoing, quality of life kind of thing—and it has been for me since I was a young adult and became aware of KET."

As president of the Friends Board, she's in a fairly visible position, but it's one that Lawson—who still has some persuasive writing tricks in her bag from her years of teaching English composition—accepts with relish.

"I feel very strongly about public schools," she said, "My passion, besides family, is public schools, and if something furthers or promotes or can help public schools, that's what I want to do."

In addition to teaching and working in McCracken and Livingston counties, Lawson also has roots in Marshall County, where her husband, Bill, is pastor of two Methodist churches. Such wide-reaching contacts—in fact, other Friends Board members used to call her "Miss Western Kentucky"—allow her to be a valuable KET resource for many different groups throughout her region.

"Because of my job, I get to work with a lot of different organizations and do presentations," she said. "If I'm talking about education, or something civic, a new business coming to Paducah, there's usually programming or resources I can mention. I say, 'Hey, you can find this on KET!'"

Often, Lawson says, she'll let townspeople know that a particular legislative issue might be addressed by the commentators on Comment on Kentucky. Sometimes her resourcefulness helps a fellow churchgoer find a copy of a fishing program, for example, broadcast on KET.

"Of course, it always comes up when I'm in the schools," she continued. "I'll ask teachers if they know about this training or that KET is having that workshop, so I can enrich them. I can provide awareness of KET as a resource that's available to everyone to use."

As a member of the Friends Board, Lawson attends periodic meetings at KET's Network Center in Lexington, where staff members keep the Friends up to date on KET programming, initiatives, and other new resources. While Lawson draws upon these sessions extensively as she goes about helping her fellow Western Kentuckians, she often finds that in attending them, she finds camaraderie among like-minded KET supporters.

"It is such a pleasure to be around other KET volunteers who have the same values I do: we value education, we value the right of others to have a different opinion. We value the arts, we value being informed about government. That's one of the things I have gotten out of the KET Friends Board—the camaraderie, the networking, working with people who share my core values. We want to be around people who think big thoughts, big thinkers. And that's what KET does."