Former Pro Ball Player’s Business Acumen Helps Women, Minority Entrepreneurs
Lexington, Kentucky…May 25, 2023…Community Ventures has announced the hiring of Devanny King as Director of the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky, a void left by the recent retirement of previous director Phyllis Alcorn. The Women’s Business Center (WBC) of Kentucky is an initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration, hosted by Kentucky non-profit Community Ventures, and aimed at helping women and ethnic minority entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.
King, Kentucky-born but raised in Medina, Ohio, returned to the Commonwealth to earn her undergraduate degree at Georgetown College studying business and communications before heading to Western Kentucky University for her MBA. Following that, King embraced the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas. When her basketball career came to a screeching halt in 2020 King found herself stranded in China, glad to have both her MBA and international work experience to fall back on while waiting to get home.
“I was overseas for six years. Of course, Covid forced everyone into a pivot. From 2016 to 2020, I was in Australia, Spain and China. I played in Mexico as well. But being a female athlete, I feel like that’s not really sustainable from a financial perspective,” King explained. “And, I didn’t want to be that athlete that—post-career—didn’t have a resume built up, or any work experience. So, in those places where I was playing ball, I looked for other places to work in my off-time.
“In Australia, I worked for a media company in PR and operations. I got to see a lot of different work cultures, work styles and a lot of different business practices. I worked in Barcelona, too, and I was in Beijing for two and a half years. There I learned different negotiation styles, different relationship building—it was good to get to see how things are done outside of our borders here in America.”
While waiting on a flight back to the U.S. during Covid, King further flexed her business muscles by creating an online consulting business focusing on personal/professional development. Because while working in China she had gained experience managing work teams remotely, the very first online training module that she developed—in direct response to the pandemic—was remote management. In anticipation of a return home to Kentucky, King applied to and was hired by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
King met Phyllis Alcorn, the recently-retired Director of the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky at the Small Business Administration Lender’s Conference in November of 2022.
“We struck up a conversation and we had a lot in common—a lot of the same values,” remembers King. “I was by then working at the SBDC doing the same type of thing—consulting for small businesses that want to get started, grow, find funding and access one-on-one business coaching. I was drawn to the Women’s Business Center’s similar mission, and to counseling women- and minority-owned businesses. I want to level out the playing field, address the inequalities that still exist and provide adequate resources.
“We saw a significant increase in business start-ups during and after the pandemic. Motivations varied from wanting to pursue passions full-time, a newfound work-life balance, or forced career pivots. Women continue to lead the way with the highest startup rates and that is something to be excited about.”
In addition to start-ups, the WBC of Kentucky also works with existing businesses seeking to scale their operations or those who want sound business advice when looking for funding options to expand. All business coaching services provided by the WBC of Kentucky are confidential and at no cost to the client.
“As a champion for small business, I am eager to continue the work in serving entrepreneurs across Kentucky. An inclusive and innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem will not only benefit the communities where they are located, but also help strengthen Kentucky’s economic growth and prosperity as a whole.”