When Phyllis Alcorn decided to “put her MBA to good use,” it wasn’t solely for her own benefit. In 2008 Alcorn accepted a buyout from her then-employer, the Lexington Herald-Leader. Passionate about both business and helping others—and not one to rest on her laurels—in 2009 Alcorn jumped at the chance to blend the two interests when she saw Community Ventures’ job posting seeking a Business Development Specialist. In her BDS role Alcorn provided business education, technical assistance and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs that looked to the Kentucky non-profit for help turning their small business dreams into reality.
In 2011, Community Ventures made a successful bid to host the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center of Kentucky, aimed at assisting females in navigating the entrepreneurial waters.
While the first director of the WBC of Kentucky worked out of Community Ventures’ Louisville offices, Alcorn helped the program early on by handling the Center’s Lexington clients. As the client base grew, Alcorn was first named Assistant Director and in 2017 was promoted to Director.
No one would blame Alcorn for taking it easy upon her retirement, but that doesn’t appear to be how the 66-year-old plans to spend her golden years. An avid photographer since being gifted a Kodak 110 Instamatic camera by her mother at a very young age, Alcorn looks forward to taking her artistic ‘side hustle’ to the next level now that she’s got the time, further giving that MBA and her creative side a workout. In fact, Alcorn’s nature photography can already be found at another Community Ventures initiative, ArtHouse Kentucky gallery located at The MET in Lexington’s East End.
The former WBC Director thinks back over a long list of clients that include Tammy Walker, owner of Tammy’s Sweet Tasty Treats; Melanie Day, owner of You’ve Got Curls; Tia Chancellor, owner of CattyWampus Station and Sweet Matriarch; Chris Hudson, owner of Life’s Journey; VaShaun Mosby, owner of VaShaun Nicole Enterprises; Angela Allen Johnson, Minister, author, and owner of a mobile notary and other business ventures and Nubia Lateefa, owner of The People’s Porch.
“All of these women have turned their ideas into blossoming businesses, with one of them on track to offer franchise opportunities,” Alcorn noted. “Some of them are graduates of our business builder workshop, which they attended to tighten up or develop their business plans. Some came to me with business plans that were already written and completed. For them, the WBC offered exposure and opportunities to get in front of audiences through events like the ‘Women In Business Conference’ where they led a workshop. Some have presented at our monthly ‘Strong Women, Strong Coffee Roundtable’ meetings in Louisville. Sometimes it is simply about providing someone the opportunity to shine.
“There are so, so many others that I have truly enjoyed working with, whose names escape me at this moment. Like they say in my church, please charge this oversight to the head – not the heart.”
When asked what her biggest takeaway is from her years at Community Ventures, Alcorn replies:
“At CV, the most important thing is the client. Our goal is to make sure that the client is equipped with all the tools, knowledge and information that they need to succeed in business,” Alcorn emphasized. “That’s the biggest thing, and that has always been my goal. To give the women that I work with everything they need to succeed.”