Vicky Weber Reflects on Personal and Professional Achievements
You’ve heard all of the familiar phrases and words: “Don’t tell me I can’t, because I will,” or, “If I am determined, then I will succeed,” and of course, “It is just so darned hard for me to say no.” As many times as we have heard these phrases uttered, there are a handful of people who embody these phrases, each and every day. One of these few would be Vicky Weber.
Weber has been an important fixture of the Louisville community, both politically and within the realms of charity and philanthropy. It is because of her diverse knowledge that she is in such demand. Her accomplishments and career span well into five decades of dedication.
Weber developed her stellar work ethic from her family, who had a thriving restaurant in Old Louisville on 3rd Street called Imorde’s. What began as a grocery in the latter 19th century morphed into a restaurant, and offered breakfast and lunch fare. After a century in business, Imorde’s closed, and now the space that once served barley soup is a parking lot.
Perhaps another reason for Weber’s indomitable spirit is that she is one of 10 children.
Upon her graduation from Assumption High School, Weber attended college at Spring Hill in Mobile, Alabama. While at a party on the Western Kentucky University campus with friends, she met her husband Rick. They have been together for 47 years, and have two children, Josh, who works for Brandeis Machinery, and daughter, Jenny Shulhafer. She and her husband, Clay, are the owners of Kern’s Korner on Bardstown Rd. She also gets to spend her time with four grandchildren, who affectionately call her Vi Vi.
Upon leaving Spring Hill in the early 1970s, Weber set out to prove that she can be successful, and began working with the Jefferson County government (before the merger with the City of Louisville), first as secretary to Judge Todd Hollenbach and eventually working toward administrative assistant. She had the privilege of working for Hollenbach during his entire administration. When asked what she feels was part of her success in this position, Weber responds with a smile.
“I was a really fast typist,” she says.
Upon leaving Hollenbach’s office, Weber had a brief stint working with Mitch McConnell’s administration but quickly moved to a position as a management assistant for Sylvia Watson, who was the first female elected as an A District commissioner in Jefferson County, and also for Earl Hartlage, the C District commissioner.
The county judge/executive office, under the direction of Bremer Ehrler, called Weber back into the fold, and soon upon her return and under Harvey Sloane’s tutelage, she became the director of scheduling and communications.
It did not take long for others within the community to catch wind of Weber’s talents, and she catapulted to the position of assistant director for the Louisville-Jefferson County Office for Economic Development, which was the first joint agency formed after the merger between the two government offices. One of the many projects Weber was part of was neighborhood commercial development.
Through her work as assistant director, Weber got to know many of the area’s local businesses and the engines that help drive the city’s economy. One such engine is the Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber was looking for its next president and Weber’s name was on the short list. When she was interviewed, Weber says she had her portfolio at the ready and was armed with answers to what she was sure would be difficult and direct questions. She asked what the number-one goal of the position was, and the answer was quite simple: “To have fun. That is what is expected of the job.” Well, how does one say no to that kind of invitation?
After that successful interview, Weber left her government roots in 1996 and began her tenure as president of the Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce – a title she kept for 13 years. During her tenure she continued to build and nurture a growing Chamber, whose membership has grown from a few dozen members when it began in the late 1960s to more than 1,000 members today.
Upon her departure from the Chamber, Weber was approached about an opportunity to work with Kosair Charities. Having the desire to help others, she happily accepted in 2008 and worked with the organization as senior vice president of communications until her retirement.
As one might guess, Weber is the type of person who doesn’t sit around for too long. Involvement has always been a key need and fixture in her life, both professionally and socially. Through her work and contacts with Kosair Charities, she was approached about serving on the board of Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana. She served as Chairman of the board and now serves as immediate past chair.
“I am extremely proud of the work that Gilda’s Club does within this community,” Weber says. “Our board of directors represents diverse segments of our community and is a hands-on kind of board. Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana President Karen Morrison reminds our board and our wonderful volunteers to be present. This group has helped to define me and I am very lucky to be a part of it.”
“We’ve done great things at Gilda’s, including expanding our space and resources to the new location on Grindstead Drive at the old Burger’s Market,” Weber continues. “While we focus on the fight to beat cancer, we also want to be the epitome of compassion and outreach. 2020 was a difficult year for so many people, not just those who are doing their best to beat cancer, but others struggling with what challenges the pandemic has brought. Our board sponsored a Green Light giveaway, prompted by a suggestion made by Governor Andy Beshear, to turn a green porch light on as a sign of compassion and support for all of us, reminding each person that we will get through this together. We gave away hundreds of those bulbs.”
Aside from her service with Gilda’s Club, Weber chairs two other community boards – the Jeffersontown Economic Development Authority (JEDA) and the Spirit of Louisville Foundation.
“Jeffersontown is near and dear to my heart, so I am happy to be able to help small businesses within its community to find ways to build and succeed,” Weber says.
The role of the JEDA is to provide assistance to businesses who want to make Jeffersontown their home.
“Recently, 3rd Turn Brewing came to us and shared that they wanted to build in downtown Jeffersontown,” Weber says. “We worked with them to be able to get their building approved and the requisite licensing completed. We also secured important funding and incentives to help assure that they would have a successful business launch.”
Around 2014, Weber joined the board of the Spirit of Louisville Foundation, most commonly known as the WLKY Bell Awards. The foundation accepts hundreds of nominations for people and organizations who exemplify community service, and who go above and beyond to make the world a bit brighter. Weber became the chair in 2018.
“For several hours our board will pour over the nominees and narrow it down, and then we whittle it down even farther and choose 10 adult winners and two high school students for the award,” Weber explains. “When John Asher passed away it was hard for all of us, as he was a light and a fixture of this foundation, so in his honor we created the John Asher Spirit Award.”
The newly created award will be presented to a community leader who personifies the humanitarian efforts that Asher shared in so passionately.
While Weber has had her hand in doling out dozens of awards, she has been fortunate to win a few accolades for herself in recognition of her outstanding work in and around the Louisville community.
In 2016, Today’s Woman magazine recognized her as the Most Admired Woman in the Not-For-Profit category, while she was at Kosair Charities. In 2019, Women 4 Women honored Weber with the Heart of the Community Award.
While she has appreciated all of her successes and awards, there is one accolade that she holds very close to her heart.
As a 1970 graduate of Assumption High School, Weber has noted that her education there made an impact on her road to success. In 2019, during the Salute to Alumni Dinner, she was honored with the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Not only did I attend Assumption, but so did my daughter and daughter-in-law, and now I have a granddaughter there as well,” Weber says. “As you can tell, the school means a great deal to me.”
Weber enjoys taking walks with her husband and spending time with her grandchildren. When asked what is next, she says a board position at her alma mater would be nice.
Should that position come to light, maybe Weber can use advice she was once given by the president of Kosair Charities. During her interview for the position she held at Kosair, she asked what the job description was. The president simply replied, “Just be Vicky.”
One could say this has been the key to Weber’s success.