Few people have done more than Debra Hensley to make Lexington a better place to live. Now she must pay for it.
The insurance agent and former Urban County Council member will be the guest of honor at a roast at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 to raise money for JustFundKY, which finances educational outreach to stop discrimination against LGBT people in Kentucky.
Former Mayor Pam Miller and Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone are co-chairs of the event at the Lyric Theatre, 300 East Third Street. Herald-Leader editorial cartoonist Joel Pett will be the emcee. Sponsors include the University of Kentucky, Brown-Forman, Columbia Gas and former Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon.
Tickets are $100 and available at LexingtonLyric.com.
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Hensley, who served on the council in the 1980s and 1990s, describes herself as a social entrepreneur and community builder. She worked for passage of Lexington’s Fairness Ordinance in 1999.
She has twice co-chaired city task forces on homelessness and was a leading force behind the creation of the Hope Center and more recent efforts. She is a past chairwoman of the Kentucky Conference of Community and Justice and helped start the Plantory, an incubator space for nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs.
Hensley sponsored “Debra’s Social Stimulus” events for several years to better acquaint people with various neighborhoods and aspects of Lexington. Most recently, she started Lexington Community Radio, a nonprofit that operates low-power, community-oriented radio stations in English and Spanish.
“Debra has worked with so many constituencies and been such a good role model in the LGBT community,” Scorsone said. “It took a few years to convince her to do this (roast), but she’s being a good sport about it. Being willing to put herself out there for some good-natured ridicule makes her a role model, too.”
Hensley was a co-founder of JustFundKY, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It is one of the South’s largest such funds, with an endowment of about $1.4 million. Since 2011, it has made more than $200,000 in grants for, among other things, training medical students about issues involving elderly LGBT people and educational programs for families of lesbian, gay and transgender young people.