We envision a welcoming community of informed citizens cooperatively engaged in preserving and enhancing our unique fabric of environmental, aesthetic, cultural and historical assets.
In 2013 the joint lecture committee of Fayette County Master Gardeners and the Friends of The Arboretum of Kentucky invited as its annual speaker Katy Moss Warner, the 25 year director of landscapes at Disney World and a leader in the national America in Bloom organization. With the help of then Vice Mayor Linda Gorton, we organized a community breakfast “How Can We Make Lexington Even More Beautiful?” and AIB Lexington was born.
For 2014 and 2015, the organizing committee focused on participating in the America in Bloom evaluation and awards programs and reflecting on their suggestions, transitioning to participating in the International Communities in Bloom program in 2019. And our efforts have paid off! Lexington has won numerous awards for environmental innovation, urban forestry, for beautification efforts, and the highest possible 5 star status. Our efforts have culminated in a comprehensive PROFILE for Lexington-Fayette County covering six key areas: Urban Canopy, Landscaped Areas, Heritage Preservation, Floral Displays, Community Vitality and Environmental Sustainability. We are constantly updating and expanding the use of the information contained in the document.
In 2016, it was time to grow. We formalized our vision and mission with nonprofit status, asking ourselves: how can we add value to all the efforts ongoing in Lexington? The answer from us was that we could foster collaboration, awareness, education, and recognition between and among all these efforts.
Our first annual Celebrate Lexington! event in 2017 highlighted representatives in each of the six focus areas. To honor people who have played a significant role in Lexington’s past beautification efforts, we established the Community Champion Award, with former Vice Mayor Isabel Yates named the first recipient AND having the Award named for her. Paused in 2020 due to the pandemic, we have turned our emphasis even more fully towards building collaboration.
In 2022, as we began to become more active after two years of relative virtual activity, the board decided to create a new face with a new website and a new name: Celebrate Lexington. And as always, we continue to strive to make Lexington the best place in America in which to live.
If you’d like to help as a Board Member or on a Committee, just let us know! We look forward to working with YOU!
Former AIB Lexington board member, Linda Gorton, hosts this informational video in 2017.
Doris Settles, President – Doris has spent her life writing about people: their joys, successes, work and communities. Author of five books and numerous regional and national articles, she has taught writing at Lexington Community College, the University of Kentucky, and serves as a writing mentor at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. A lifelong garden enthusiast, Doris volunteers as a speaker for the Fayette County Extension Master Gardener Program, where she was part of the original lecture committee that brought Celebrate Lexington to Lexington.
Ann Garrity, Treasurer and President Emeritus – Ann retired from the University of Kentucky after 27 years in a variety of academic support roles including 15 years as Assistant to the Chancellor of the Lexington Campus. Since 1999 she has volunteered with community organizations as an advocate for children, the environment, and democratic engagement. It was through membership on the Friends of the Arboretum/Fayette County Master Gardener lecture committee that she and other board members were inspired to seek participation in the national America in Bloom Evaluation & Awards Program beginning in 2014.
Mary Taylor, Secretary – Mary grew up in Lexington and graduated from Lafayette, Transylvania University and University of Kentucky before she taught in Fayette County Public Schools for 30 years. With husband Jason, they own Perspectives, Paint, Wallpaper and Window Treatment Store in Southland which recently received the Silver level Green Check from the city for environmental initiatives. She serves as President of Transylvania Woman’s Club, Secretary of Church Woman United and a member of Local First. As a Habitat for Humanity volunteer she has participated in building over 30 homes. She loves to garden and tour other gardens. Serving as a volunteer tour guide for the AIB National Symposium led to her current position on Celebrate Lexington’s board.
Brendan Campbell - As a member of Angela Poe's Environmental Services team with Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government, Brendan has had a birds-eye-view of our efforts. He can't wait to become part of our projects!
Caroline Francis – A native of Lexington, Kentucky Caroline enjoys spending every free minute digging in the dirt. She is a strong advocate for preserving our beautiful historic Bluegrass region for future generations. She is a Friend of the Arboretum and member and past President of the Bluegrass Herb Guild. She is the Director of the University of Kentucky Alumni Career Services program and is a Certified Professional Retirement Coach (CPRC), Certified Career Counselor (CCC), Certified Career Services Provider (CCSP), Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), and Board Certified Coach (BCC) with over 25 years of experience working with adults in all stages of career transition. In her Alumni Career Services role with the University of Kentucky, she assists individual clients, develops career-related presentations and programming, and writes regular columns for the UK Alumni magazine. In 2013, she co-founded the Central Kentucky Job Club.
Sheila O. Ferrell – Sheila supports and advocates for history, art and culture in our community. In particular, Sheila has spearheaded efforts to tell the story of hemp in Lexington’s early history and prosperity. She serves on various other boards focusing on art and culture.
Collin Lloyd - Born in Hilo, Hawaii, Collin grew up outside of Syracuse, NY where he enjoyed the woods near his house. Trilliums in the woods ignited a love of plants and he’s been wandering and studying them ever since, including the study of botany and ethnobotony in Alaska and Washington state colleges. Serving in the Army from 2004-2009 took him to Iraq, further expanding his understanding of native habitats. Collin currently serves as service technician for Expresso Medic. His involvement in Celebrate Lexington allows him to give back to this vibrant community he’s called home for nine years, appreciating Lexington’s quirky independence and uniqueness in the heart of America. He believes in the positive power of integrating plants into our lives.
Nancy McNally – Nancy is originally from Kansas City and has been busy as a Lexington community volunteer since retiring from a career in retail buying and management. For over 10 years she has been very active in supporting The Arboretum programs and served as President of The Friends of The Arboretum for 5 years as well as serving on their Advisory Board. Through Arboretum projects, she became associated with Celebrate Lexington and is honored to serve as a Board member.
Judy Pelfrey - Judy is a vital part of maintaining the Waveland Historic Site gardens, as well as part of her garden club. An enthusiast of both history and gardens, Judy lives in Lexington.
Christine Smith - Chris is a retired elementary teacher and reading specialist. A resident of Lexington for over 40 years, she has consistently been active in the community through her garden club, church and neighborhood. She is married with two children and two grandchildren.
Jackie Wagoner - A long-term garden enthusiast, Jackie is president of Gardenside Green Thumbs Garden Club and has followed Celebrate Lexington's efforts for a while. She looks forward to being an integral part of our organization now.
Angela Poe – As Program Manager for Public Information and Engagement with the city’s Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, Angela helps Celebrate Lexington stay on top of issues and programming in all six areas.
Marcia Farris – Following a 25 year career as Director of the UK/LFUCG Arboretum, Marcia helped organize our board until her sudden passing in 2017, providing experience and wisdom as we transitioned to a non-profit corporation in 2016.