The Paducah Chamber’s Business Education Partnership (BEP) will feature a virtual event on Tuesday, August 11 to hear more about the positive impact of a public-private partnership to increase the number of community residents with college degrees. The featured speaker is Mary Gwen Wheeler, Executive Director of 55,000 Degrees based in Louisville, an organization working to create a better educated, work ready community that is attractive to new businesses and an excellent place to live, work and learn.
The virtual event will begin at noon and is sponsored by the Murray State University Paducah campus. Register to attend the event via Zoom at paducahchamber.org.
In 2010, when the 55,000 degrees initiative launched, about 38 percent of Louisville’s working age residents had obtained an associate degree or higher. According to their statistics, this put Louisville at the bottom among peer cities. The goal of 55,000 Degrees represented the total number of degrees necessary for Louisville to move into the top tier of peer cities in terms of education attainment, with 40% of the adult workforce holding bachelor’s degrees and 10% holding associate degrees.
“We are very pleased to have Wheeler join us to speak about the 55,000 Degrees initiative, how they worked to achieve their goals, what has been learned along the way and their next steps following the 10-year project,” said Terri Lundberg, Paducah Chamber Vice Chair of Education and Workforce and Chair of the BEP.
Wheeler has a B.A. in American Studies and a Master’s in Public and Private Management from Yale University. She previously served as the Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Education and Youth for Louisville Metro Government, leading policy development and implementation of education and youth initiatives.