Catalyst for change

By Jeff McDanald

Contributing Writer

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Alison Lundergan Grimes

Earlier this year Alison Lundergan Grimes was hailed as one of the new stars of the Democratic Party following her address to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

She now stands as the youngest female Secretary of State in the nation, and is one of the last remaining statewide-elected female Democrats in the South.

Her brand of courage is following her heart and standing up for what is right.

Prior to running for Secretary of State, she was a Lexington attorney with an eye on becoming a partner.

“I was in the midst of a legal career with a corner office, a lot more financially lucrative than politics these days,” Alison said.

“I came out of court one day helping a victim of domestic violence. I obtained the protection that she needed. The difference that I made, albeit small, was large in her life and in the life of her child who was there.”

The incident forced Grimes to look inward and sparked her decision to pursue public office.

“I looked around state government and realized there would be no statewide elected female,” Alison said.

She was hopeful that she could be a catalyst for change across the commonwealth as a woman’s advocate in Frankfort. In the back of her head, the voices of her grandmothers urged her on.

“My grandmothers were a big reason I actually made the leap from practicing and litigation work in the courtroom to public service,” Alison said of Elsie Case on her mom’s side and Thelma McHugh on her dad’s side. “They were amazing women who I hope are still watching me from above.”

“Granny said step up, you can’t hit it out of the park, unless you step up and play it.”

Alison’s term as Kentucky’s Secretary of State began in January 2012. Her priorities have been standing up for women’s rights, voting rights, veterans’ rights, workers’ rights and human rights.


In 2013 Alison announced that she would run for the United States Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell.

She took the nation by storm, and the race was neck-and-neck until the disappointing Election Day.

Hollywood executives Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Katzenberg hosted fundraising events for Alison in New York City and Beverly Hills. Her campaign contributors included Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Danny DeVito, Barbra Streisand, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirk Douglas, Ben Affleck, Woody Allen, Nicholas Cage, Ted Danson and Ben Stiller.

“Those experiences were amazing in and of themselves,” Alison said. “But I think I’ve met even more profound individuals, which have changed my life for the better, right here in my back yard in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The Clintons have been a part of Alison’s life since she was a teenager.

“I met Bill and Hillary with my four sisters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial back in 1993 as he was coming into office as president and she was becoming first lady.”

“They have been true friends, and folks that have watched out for me from high school to college to law school, and making sure I was putting my best foot forward when I ran my first ever race as Secretary of State.”

“Hopefully we’ll see in the days ahead of us women break the highest glass ceiling yet — the first female president of the United States.”