UofL's Cherie Dawson-Edwards and Michael Wade Smith are part of the 2021 Bingham Fellows cohort.
UofL's Cherie Dawson-Edwards and Michael Wade Smith are part of the 2021 Bingham Fellows cohort.

The newest Bingham Fellows were announced Thursday and include two representatives from UofL: Cherie Dawson-Edwards, associate dean, A&S Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and an associate professor for the Department of Criminal Justice, and Michael Wade Smith, UofL’s Chief of Staff and External Affairs.  

The Bingham Fellows program is facilitated by the Leadership Louisville Center and brings together about 40 leaders in the city every year to address one of the region’s most critical issues. The cohort of professional peers meet with topic experts and local stakeholders and form project teams to take action.

This year’s class is focused on the topic, “Belonging: Building a Culture of Inclusivity.” As mentioned on its website, Bingham Fellows will gather leaders from every sector in the city to examine racism and bias that has led to income and wealth inequality, social segregation and lack of diversity in leadership positions.

A BetterUp study from September 2019 finds that companies experience a 56% increase in job performance when employees feel like they belong, as well as a 50% drop in turnover risk and a 75% reduction in sick days.

The cohort’s project launch event is scheduled for January 20, 2022.

Dawson-Edwards and Smith join a long list of UofL participants in the Bingham Fellows program, illustrating the university’s commitment to community engagement and leadership. Last year, for example, CEHD Dean Amy Lingo was part of the program, while in 2019, Brandeis School of Law Dean Colin Crawford was a Bingham Fellow.

Other UofL representatives, including Anita Barbee, Eugene Krentsel, Suzanne Bergmeister, Karan Chavis, Monique Ingram, Dave Simpson, Karen Newton, Mitchell Payne, Jenny Sawyer, Patrick Piuma and Dr. Gordon Strauss, have been part of the program throughout the past 10 years.

Past projects have included the West Louisville community development organization OneWest, regular Café Louie conversations with elected officials at Louisville Free Public Library locations and a sustainable model for neighborhood “Little Free Libraries.”

Bingham Fellows was created in 1988 through a $500,000 endowment from Mary and Barry Bingham Sr.