Sylvia Lovely has been a student of leadership for her entire life. Born in eastern Kentucky but raised in Dayton, Ohio, she was just three months old when her parents realized they could not make a living farming their beloved Kentucky land and rocky hillsides. As did many poor and uneducated Kentuckians, they had gumption. They headed for factories in the north where Walter, her dad, worked as a drill press operator at National Cash Register, and Alma, her mother, kept the home fires burning in one of the many Kentucky diasporas spread across the northern then industrial states.
A first generation high school and college graduate, Sylvia had to learn just about everything as she went along. She describes herself as adaptable to a fault. Overcoming the shock of her announcement that she wanted to attend college, her parents imposed one condition – that she attend Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, a place that to them was “back home” and safe in a culture that keeps family close by. She describes herself as the turnip that fell off the truck when she arrived on campus. A favorite story was about eating out – at that point, one of the few times in her life– with a group of professors and students. When asked if she wanted soup or salad, her nervous reply, “Yes, I’ll have that supersalad.”
Meeting Bernie Lovely, her husband at Morehead, she went onto Law School as she puts it, by accident. Being a lawyer was suggested as a worthwhile pursuit and though she didn’t know what lawyers did, she threw herself headlong into it. Bernie soon abandoned pursuit of a Ph.D. in literature to follow her into law school. She went on to serve as Executive Director/CEO of The Kentucky League of Cities, consisting of 380 member cities throughout the Commonwealth for 25 years. She left that position in 2009 to start a consulting business, Sylvia Lovely & Associates.
Her passion lies in guiding others in leadership development, particularly assisting all levels of employees in finding fulfillment and enjoyment in their work. She lives in Lexington with Bernie and Phoenix, her 100 lb. German Shepard, who she calls the chief of staff of her home office. She has two sons, Ross and David, both lawyers and authors, two wonderful daughters in law, Jennifer (Ross) and Lauren (David) and grandchildren, Jack (David and Lauren), Simon, Ross and Levi (Ross and Jen) and Ross and Jen’s baby girl due in August, 2016.