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Tom Shelton - Henry Clay Center

Tom Shelton - Henry Clay Center

Renee Shaw talks with Tom Shelton, executive director of the Henry Clay Center, about how the center educates current and future leaders on the value of civil discourse and compromise when engaging in public policy matters.
Season 17 Episode 16 Length 27:33 Premiere: 1.23.22

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Executive Director of the Clay Center Discusses the Nonprofit's Mission and Goals

In the wake of racial justice protests and removals of Confederate statues in recent years, the board of Lexington’s Henry Clay Center found themselves faced with a difficult decision: Should the non-profit, non-partisan organization that brings students together to explore public policy issues in a spirit of honesty, civility, and courage keep the name of a man who enslaved Black Americans and disparaged Native Americans as a lower form of life?

“It was a difficult conversation,” says Tom Shelton, who struggled with his own misgivings about Clay’s mixed legacy before joining the organization as executive director in August 2020.

Ultimately the choice of whether to retain the name of the Kentuckian known as the Great Compromiser came down to a compromise. The board and alumni decided to keep Clay’s name, but revamped the center’s mission and principals. Shelton says they also committed to further diversifying the organization’s board.

“We came to the decision that we had to be very clear that we did not support his views towards Native Americans, African Americans, or any other peoples that have been marginalized,” says Shelton. “But we did want to foster the good side of his legacy about what government should look like, about how we should work together.”

Now in its 14th year, the Henry Clay Center hosts annual gatherings of college and high school students from across the range of social, ethnic, and political backgrounds who come to Lexington to explore important policy issues, to listen to and debate one another, and then arrive at some resolution through compromise.

“It doesn’t mean compromising your values or beliefs. It means being willing to sit down and honestly and civilly engage in a conversation that leads to compromise that moves us forward,” says Shelton. “If you’re not honest, if you’re not courageous, you don’t have the conversations, you can’t get to that compromise.”

Exploring Policy Issues from a Different Perspective

The center’s annual college congress features one student from every state plus the District of Columbia. They usually gather in person for a week in Lexington and then a second week in Washington. The high school student congress is held in Lexington and Frankfort, and includes 50 students, most of whom come from Kentucky or nearby states. All students who are selected by an application process pay nothing to participate in the programs.

Although the COVID pandemic forced some changes to the 2021 gatherings, Shelton says the students still got to tackle some heady topics. The college congress explored the urban-rural divide in policy issues, and the high school students looked at access to health care. As they explore the issues, Shelton says students are often asked to argue policy points from a viewpoint different than their own.

“There’s no better way to understand someone else’s perspective than if you have to state it yourself,” says Shelton. “That requires them to have to listen… it’s listening to hear and to understand.”

Along the way, students are divided into teams that work on specific policy proposals. Part of their presentations includes showing how the members compromised to arrive at their proposal. Sessions are conducted by professors from the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, as well as representatives from entities like the U.S. State Department, the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, the Council of State Governments, the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, and the Institute for Civility in Government in Houston.

Students also spend time with current and retired policymakers. In 2021, participants heard from Kentucky Congressmen John Yarmuth and Andy Barr and from former U.S. Senators Trent Lott and Tom Daschle as they talked about how lawmakers do find bipartisan compromise on many issues, despite what is often portrayed in the media.

“We want them to understand that you don’t have to follow a label of a party, you follow what makes the most sense from a policy perspective, and there’s good and bad on each side,” says Shelton. “Government would totally stall and nothing would be happening if we don’t have some level of compromise,” says Shelton.

The center is reviewing applications for its 2022 congress sessions, which Shelton hopes will be all in person. He says students who participate in the organization’s programs on civility and compromise go on to work in a wide range of fields, from politics and public policy, to business and non-profits

“That’s the thing about civil discourse and compromise,” says Shelton. “It doesn’t only work in government; it works in any type of conversation in any environment.”

Continuing a Career in Education

Shelton is no stranger to policy debates. Earlier in his career he served as superintendent in Daviess County Public Schools and in Fayette County Public Schools. As executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, Shelton worked the halls of the state capitol, lobbying for and against education-related bills with lawmakers of both parties. Before joining the Henry Clay Center, he was the director of external relations and partnerships at the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington.

Given his roots in public education, Shelton says he is troubled by the incivility on display in local boards of education meetings across the nation, where unpaid school board members hear from speakers from the community who engage in sometimes aggressive and even threatening behavior during debates over curricula content, COVID protocols, and other policies.

“Being a school board member is the epitome of public service,” Shelton says. “To see them have to deal with some of the things that are happening in school board meetings not only here in Kentucky but across the country is very difficult to watch.”

A black-and-white photo of a young Muhammad Ali with fist held aloft in a t-shirt with Cassius Clay on the front.A black-and-white photo of a young Muhammad Ali with fist held aloft in a t-shirt with Cassius Clay on the front.

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Each week, host Renee Shaw and a variety of interesting and engaging people - including business leaders, entertainers, authors, celebrities, and more - explore a broad array of topics impacting Kentucky and the world.

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The Forgotten Minority

Premiered On: November 22, 2013

Renee talks with advocates for Kentuckians with disabilities about the challenges facing those with mental and physical limitations and illnesses, the resources available, and the policy changes needed to better serve this population.

  • Friday January 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Tom Shelton - Henry Clay Center

Renee Shaw talks with Tom Shelton, executive director of the Henry Clay Center, about how the center educates current and future leaders on the value of civil discourse and compromise when engaging in public policy matters.

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Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson

Premiered On: November 14, 2021

Renee Shaw talks with Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky's poet laureate 2021-2022, about her recent and upcoming projects. Wilkinson is the award-winning author of Perfect Black, a collection of poems, and three works of fiction - The Birds of Opulence, Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries.

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Middle Class Struggles and Poverty

Premiered On: December 13, 2013

Renee's guests are Ron Crouch, demographer and director of research and statistics in the Office of Employment and Training for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and Myrdin Thompson of Louisville, an activist with RESULTS, a nonprofit whose mission is to fight hunger and poverty.

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History Maker; Tuskegee Airmen History

Premiered On: December 20, 2013

Renee interviews three men who are either making history or working to preserve it: Reginald "Reggie" Thomas is the third African American in Kentucky history to be elected to the Kentucky Senate; Ron Spriggs, historian, and Bobby Scroggins, a University of Kentucky art professor and sculptor, talk about the Tuskegee Airmen and new artwork created to honor them.

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Sabrina Butler and Kate Miller

Premiered On: January 31, 2014

Renee talks with Mississippian Sabrina Butler, the only female death row exoneree, about her wrongful conviction and her quest to end capital punishment, and with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky spokesperson Kate Miller.

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Vershawn A. Young

Premiered On: February 7, 2014

Renee talks with University of Kentucky professor Dr. Vershawn A. Young (aka Dr. Vay), an expert of the contemporary African American experience, about his latest published work, Other People's English: Code-Meshing, Code-Switching, and African American Literacy.

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Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker

Premiered On: February 14, 2014

Frank X Walker, named Kentucky's 2013-14 poet laureate, talks about his latest collection, "Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers", and other works and projects.

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50th Anniversary of the March on Frankfort

Premiered On: February 21, 2014

Renee discusses the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1964 March on Frankfort with historians and participants including: NAACP Louisville leader Raoul Cunningham and former state Senator Georgia Davis Powers.

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Aaron Thompson

Premiered On: April 11, 2014

Aaron Thompson, executive vice president and chief academic officer of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, discusses the state budget for higher education and the impact on student tuition.

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MaryLee Underwoood and Chastity Ross - CCDD

Premiered On: April 18, 2014

MaryLee Underwoood and Chastity Ross with the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities (CCDD) discuss recent legislation to protect vulnerable adults against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

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Renee speaks with Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, certified life coach, and national commentator on work-life balance and mental health issues.

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Djuan Trent

Premiered On: May 9, 2014

Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent talks about her decision come out as a gay woman, reaction from family and friends, her activism in advancing gay rights and marriage, and more.

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Hasan Davis

Premiered On: May 16, 2014

Renee speaks with former Kentucky Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Hasan Davis, about recent juvenile justice reform. Davis was featured in the recent PBS "Frontline" program "Prison State," about Kentucky's correction system, and interviewed for KET's follow-up program, "Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation".

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Prison Reform In Kentucky

Premiered On: May 23, 2014

Renee continues the discussion about Kentucky prison reform recently highlighted on the PBS "Frontline" program "Prison State." Her guests are: Mark Bolton, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections; Sheila Schuster, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and mental health advocate; and Ray Larson, Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney.

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Ted Strader - COPES

Premiered On: May 30, 2014

Ted Strader, the director of the Council on Prevention and Education: Substances, Inc. (COPES) in Louisville, discusses how partnering agencies with the corrections system can help former inmates with successful re-entry into society.

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Colene Elridge

Premiered On: June 6, 2014

Renee speaks with human resources professional and life coach Colene Elridge, better known as Coach Colene, owner of Be More Consulting.

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Rape Culture

Premiered On: June 13, 2014

Renee's guests are Mae Suramek, executive director of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and Rus Funk, executive director of MensWork- Eliminating Violence Against Women.

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Mental Health Courts

Premiered On: June 20, 2014

Kelly Gunning, director of advocacy and public policy, NAMI Lexington (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and Public Defender Jon Landon, discuss mental health laws in Kentucky.

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Dr. Timothy M. Houchin

Premiered On: June 27, 2014

Renee speaks with Lexington psychiatrist Dr. Timothy M. Houchin about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Houchin is a board-certified adult, child/adolescent, and forensic psychiatrist, and the founder and president of 360 Mental Health Services in Lexington.

  • Tuesday February 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Charisse Gillett - Lexington Theological Seminary

Premiered On: July 4, 2014

Renee speaks with Dr. Charisse Gillett, president of the Lexington Theological Seminary. Dr. Gillett is the first woman and first African-American selected to lead the seminary.

  • Wednesday February 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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African Americans and Mental Health

Premiered On: July 11, 2014

Renee speaks with Sycarah Fisher, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, and Shambra Mulder, an assistant professor in the School of Education at Kentucky State University.

  • Thursday February 24, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Wil James

Premiered On: July 18, 2014

Renee talks with Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky.

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Dr. Robert Hilgers

Premiered On: July 25, 2014

Renee speaks with Dr. Robert Hilgers, founder and president of the Global Women's Cancer Alliance (WGCA). The WGCA works to advance women's health, addressing particularly those in need of cancer care in developing countries.

  • Monday February 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Judi Jennings

Premiered On: August 1, 2014

Renee's guest is Judi Jennings, former executive director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women, feminist art advocate, and writer.

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  • Sunday January 16, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 16, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 16, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Tiffany Manuel - Affordable Housing - S13 E42

  • Friday January 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 14, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 14, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy - S13 E35

  • Thursday January 13, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 13, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 13, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 9:29 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Donna Grigsby - S13 E28

  • Tuesday January 11, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 11, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 11, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks - S13 E25

  • Monday January 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 10, 2022 2:26 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 10, 2022 1:26 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 10, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 10, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sec. Eric Friedlander - Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services - S17 E16

  • Sunday January 16, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 16, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 15, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 15, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 12, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard - S13 E24

  • Friday January 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - S13 E23

  • Thursday January 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 6, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Educational Innovation - S13 E21

  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Gerald Smith - S13 E20

  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 4, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

DV8 Kitchen - S13 E17

  • Monday January 3, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 3, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 3, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 3, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 3, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 3, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Elizabeth Helm-Frazier - S16 E39

  • Sunday January 9, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 9, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 8, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 8, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 5, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Caroline Randall Williams - S16 E13

  • Sunday January 2, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 2, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 1, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 1, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET

Silas House - S13 E16

  • Friday December 31, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 31, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 31, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 31, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 31, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 31, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk - S13 E14

  • Thursday December 30, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 30, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 30, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 30, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 30, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 30, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House - S13 E12

  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 29, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner - S13 E10

  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 28, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention - S13 E8

  • Monday December 27, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 27, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Season 17 Episodes

Tom Shelton - Henry Clay Center

S17 E16 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 1.23.22

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Sec. Eric Friedlander

S17 E15 Length 28:10 Premiere Date 1.9.22

Exploring Solutions to the Healthcare Worker Shortage

S17 E14 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 12.12.21

William Turner on Black Life in Appalachia

S17 E13 Length 27:54 Premiere Date 11.21.21

Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson

S17 E12 Length 27:43 Premiere Date 11.14.21

Addressing Needs of Kentuckians with Disabilities

S17 E11 Length 27:36 Premiere Date 11.7.21

Chelsea Ellis-Hogan

S17 E9 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 10.31.21

2021 Kentucky Book Festival

S17 E8 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 10.24.21

Devine Carama

S17 E7 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 10.17.21

Rufus Friday

S17 E6 Length 27:56 Premiere Date 10.10.21

Aaron Thompson

S17 E5 Length 28:04 Premiere Date 10.3.21

Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence

S17 E4 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 9.26.21

Filmmaker Sarah Burns

S17 E3 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 9.19.21

Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu

S17 E2 Length 27:23 Premiere Date 9.12.21

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