An Idea Created the Legacy

Jim Collier

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation, I reflect on a conversation I had with a remarkable man. Where would our community be today if he had given up? How can a single idea endow people in a community with endless opportunities for personal and professional growth? How can his idea be as relevant to our community today as it was decades ago?

It’s an ability to have extraordinary vision and a belief in what can be: To see it, to feel it, and to convey it. A big idea comes with a hefty price tag for the person who owns it. The endless challenges of creating anything worthwhile exacts a price. Bringing an idea into clear view for all to see, takes a lot of energy.

But missed opportunities come at a higher price. And this man didn’t want that. The price of today’s opportunities was paid for decades ago by the women and men who joined alongside a man who pursued a dream for what our community could be.

James (Jim) M. Collier first shared his vision for a better community in 1956. The idea was to establish a college in Elizabethtown to serve the people of North Central Kentucky. Labeled a dreamer, he labored with relentless resolve for nearly a decade to make it happen. And it did.

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College original campus in 1963.

Jim’s legacy is forever tied to our foundation. As the founder of what is now Central Kentucky Community Foundation, he led regional community champions to establish Elizabethtown Community College and helped fashion legislation creating the Kentucky Community and Technical College system. He was a remarkable and determined man. 

Among the great gifts of my life was listening to and learning from the wisdom of Jim Collier. As we enjoy the fruits of his legacy on the foundation’s 60th year in operation, let’s remember a remarkable man who forever changed us. As we revel in the complete goodness that comes from our community’s growth and abundance, let it be a reminder of our responsibility to add to that legacy. To lose sight of that duty is to lose sight of how much we have to be thankful for.

Let’s Do Some Good Today!

Al Rider, former president and CEO of CKCF