Torch is passed, but fire still burns at two Ky. non-profits

Two Kentucky innovators are handing off the reins of the organizations they helped build, though they will still be helping to build a better Kentucky in new roles.

Of all their many accomplishments, what we most appreciate about Kris Kimel, co-founder and leader of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corp., and Hugh Archer, in the same role at the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, is how they nudged and inspired Kentuckians toward new visions for the future.

Kimel helped Kentuckians understand that brain power not brawn would be key to competing in the 21st century and pointed them toward space. He also helped start the international IdeaFestival, held first in Lexington in 2000 and now each fall in Louisville. In his 30 years at KSTC’s helm, Kimel nurtured talent and entrepreneurship, while delighting in headlines from other countries about Kentucky’s space program.

Archer pointed Kentuckians toward the state’s biological capital, rich habitats that support plants and animals found nowhere else. Realizing his big ambitions required patient, meticulous, dogged deal-making, which will accrue to the benefit of future generations. Founded in 1995, the land trust has protected more than 13,000 acres of wild lands and assisted in protecting another 34,000 acres, including the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor. That these natural places also offer awe-inspiring scenery, serenity and recreation is a bonus that should pay off for a region that’s striving to build a post-coal economy.

Both graduates of the University of Kentucky, Kimel and Archer are anything but retiring.

Archer, who has been succeeded as executive director by Greg Abernathy, will stay with the trust as a senior project specialist, continuing to work with landowners, partners and donors. Abernathy, who studied forest ecology at UK, has been KNLT’s assistant director for five years.

Kimel is assuming an extended role at Space Tango Inc., a KSTC spin-off that he co-founded in 2014 and that offers a variety of services and technology to assist in using spaceflight’s low gravity in research and design. He is succeeded as KSTC’spresident by Terry Samuel, who has served as chief operating officer for the past year after seven years on the board of directors.

It’s good to know that these Kentucky nonprofits will continue their important work in capable hands.

Lexington Herald-Leader