“Compromise is the oxygen of democracy.” -Tom Daschle


Tom Daschle

Former U.S. Senator South Dakota and Senate Majority Leader

Trent Lott

Former U.S. Senator Mississippi and Senate Majority Leader


Robert N. Clay

Founder of Three Chimneys Farm

Bill Giles

CEO, Yonder Interactivists


David Adkins

Executive Director, CEO, The Council of State Governments

Bob Babbage

Managing Partner, Babbage Cofounder

Alex Boone

Sterling Ventures

Bill Chapman

President at Clay Ingels Company, LLC

Rob Givens

State Director Office of U.S. Senator Rand Paul

Jim Gray

Chairman and CEO of Gray Construction<br /> Former Mayor of Lexington, KY<br /> Secretary of Transportation

Merl Hackbart

Professor of Finance and Public Administration<br /> UKY Martin School of Public Policy

Tom Harris

Vice President of University Relations<br /> University of Kentucky

Douglas Kiker

Partner, Indelable LLC

David Kloiber

President of the Kloiber Foundation

Sannie Overly

Former Kentucky State Representative, 72nd District<br /> Attorney at Overly & Johnson

Terzah Tippin Poe

Lecturer at Harvard University<br /> Principal Consultant ICS|TRIO Global Solutions

Ian McDowell Ralby

Founder and CEO, I.R. Consilium<br /> Maritime Law and Security, Washington, D.C.

H. McGuire “Mac” Riley

President of BAHR Associates, Inc.<br /> CEO, United Building Services, Inc.<br /> Board of Directors and Past President,<br /> Kentucky Society of Washington

Matthew “Matt” Shank

President, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges<br /> President Emeritus, Marymount University

David Tandy

Of Counsel at Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP<br /> Served as the 7th and 10th President of the Louisville Metro Council

Derek Vaughan

G.F. Vaughan Tobacco Co.<br /> Chairman, CTA Continental, Brazil


Dr. Merl Hackbart

Acting Executive Director

Dr. Merl Hackbart is Emeritus Professor of Finance and Public Policy at the University of Kentucky. At UK, he was honored as Provosts Distinguished Service Professor of Finance and Public Administration. He also served in several administrative capacities at UK including Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Associate Dean and Interim Dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics and as Director of the Martin School of Public Policy & Administration.

In addition to his administrative positions at the University of Kentucky, Merl has served on the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education and he served twice as Kentucky’s State Budget Director. His numerous publications have focused on public budgeting and financial management, municipal securities, and public debt management among other policy issues.

He has been recognized as a Kentucky Distinguished Economist and has been inducted into the National Academy of Public Administration and the Kentucky Public Service Hall of Fame among other recognitions. He has also been honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of South Dakota State University where he received his undergraduate degree. Dr. Hackbart has also been a member of the Clay Center’s Board of Directors.

Abby Didawick

Director of Operations and Programs

Abby Didawick, a 2020 graduate from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Administration and a minor in Digital Media and Design, has been appointed as the Director of Operations and Programs at the Henry Clay Center. Hailing from Arlington, Virginia, Abby has been an integral part of the Henry Clay Center since her graduation from UK, starting as a Staff Assistant and progressing to the role of Program Manager before assuming her current position in 2024.

With a background in nonprofit management and operations, event planning, marketing, and fundraising, Abby brings a depth of experience to her role. Prior to joining the Henry Clay Center, she served as a Congressional intern on Capitol Hill and held an events internship at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

In her capacity as Director of Operations and Programs, Abby holds a pivotal role in the planning, development, implementation, and execution of all current and forthcoming initiatives and programs at the Henry Clay Center, including the annual Student Congresses.

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