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About Idea Festival

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In 2011, The Center for Gifted Studies, The Gatton Academy, and the WKU Honors College were awarded a $500,000 challenge grant by the James Graham Brown Foundation – the first of its kind ever given to a public university. We met the challenge grant by raising a matching $500,000 from individuals, businesses, government offices, and foundations. 

Through this funding we created the i4 Initiative, later named Innovate Kentucky, to promote a culture of innovation through a series of outreach and programming opportunities that instilled a sense of importance of STEM education. Innovate Kentucky focused on encouraging children, young people, and adults to combine their innovative ideas with an entrepreneurial spirit. One of the initiative’s top priorities was to establish an annual speaker series at Western Kentucky University.  

Thankfully, a perfect model for a speaker series already existed in Kentucky: IdeaFestival®. Founded in 2000 and held annually in Louisville since 2006, IdeaFestival brings in world-renowned speakers and has attracted thousands of participants. IdeaFestival branched out in 2013 with IF Lexington, which focused on creative disruption. Following that event, Innovate Kentucky was offered the opportunity to host an IF event in Bowling Green.

ifbgThe tagline for IFBG is “Just imagine” because we want to inspire the next generation of thinkers, creators, and entreprenuers. Our one-day event has always featured innovators from a variety of fields who were eager to share their passions, paths, and solutions. In 2016, with the introduction of minds-on, hands-on activities and a new focus on middle and high school student, IFBG positioned itself to continue to work towards Innovate Kentucky's overall goal: spark innovation – one idea at a time.

Thanks to the members of the IFBG planning committee for their tireless work and dedication to make this event a reality.

2023 IdeaFestival Bowling Green Planning Committee

Tyler Clark, Co-Chair, The Center for Gifted Studies

Elizabeth Joyce, Co-Chair, The Center for Gifted Studies

Sandra Baker, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce

Rebecca Clark, The Center for Gifted Studies

Mary Evans, The Center for Gifted Studies

Sam Ford, AccelerateKY

Steve Huskey, WKU Department of Biology

Catherine Malin, South Central KY Area Health Education Center

Sedrik Newbern, WKU Department of Management

Andi Paganelli, WKU School of Teacher Education

Julia Roberts, The Center for Gifted Studies

Andee Rudloff, Local Artist

Heather Strode, WKU Department of Communication

Ashley Taylor, The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science


Past Committee Members

Fabián Álvarez — WKU Department of English

Dr. Gordon Baylis — WKU Research Foundation 

Dr. Dawn Bolton — WKU Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Ron Bunch  — Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce 

Emily Buttrum — WKU Center for Research and Development

Kelsi Cline — Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Craig Cobane — WKU Honors College

Troy Coleman — AT&T 

Sydnee Dorris — Hitcents 

Dr. Julie Ellis — WKU Department of Engineering 

Tracy Harkins — World Council for Gifted and Talented Children/The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Krupa Hegde — The Gatton Academy

Dr. Anne Heintzman — WKU MakerspaceBrian Mefford — CNX Inc

Jeff Hook — WKU Center for Research and Development

Gloria Huang — The Gatton Academy

Dr. Tracy Inman — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Bella Karn — The Gatton Academy

Avery Lenihan — The Gatton Academy

Dr. Cassandra Little — Warren County Public Schools, retired

Lynn Minton — Kentucky Innovation Network

Sam Oldenburg — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU

Dr. Whitney Peake — WKU Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Kim Phelps — Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce

Josh Raymer — Scribe Media

Zack Ryle — The Gatton Academy

Erika Solberg — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU 

Joe Tudor — Hitcents

Natalie Tyree — WKU Department of Art

Wade Vierheller — The Gatton Academy

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 Last Modified 11/30/22