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About IdeaFestival Bowling Green


clownIn 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.


IdeaFestival Bowling Green Planning Committee

  • Fabián Álvarez — WKU Department of English
  • Sandra Baker — Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Tyler Clark — World Council for Gifted and Talented Children/The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU
  • Troy Coleman — AT&T 
  • Dr. Mary Evans — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU 
  • Dr. Tracy Inman — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU
  • Bella Karn — The Gatton Academy
  • Jesse Knifley — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU
  • Avery Lenihan — The Gatton Academy
  • Sedrik Newbern — The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Gordon Ford College of Business, WKU
  • Dr. Julia Roberts — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU
  • Andee Rudloff — independent consultant/artist
  • Erika Solberg — The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU 
  • Wade Vierheller — The Gatton Academy

Past Committee Members

  • 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
  • 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. 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
  • Joe Tudor — Hitcents
  • Natalie Tyree — WKU Department of Art

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 Last Modified 3/23/22