As Personnel Cabinet Secretary for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Gerina D. Whethers provides leadership for the state’s employee wellness and engagement programs, diversity and recruitment initiatives, and policy management and procedures for over 29,000 state employees. The Personnel Cabinet plays an integral role in ensuring greater diversity within state government through programs and initiatives driven by its Office of Diversity, Equality, and Training (ODET). “ODET is responsible for maintaining a workplace culture where everyone is valued, respected, and supported,” says Secretary Whethers. “We are committed to ensuring an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging for all state employees.”
Through professional development opportunities like the Governor’s Minority Management Trainee Program (GMMTP) and the Governor’s Conference on Leadership, Equality, Accessibility, and Diversity (LEAD), the Personnel Cabinet provides resources and support to state agencies and public and private organizations across the Commonwealth. In 2020, the phenomenally successful LEAD Conference attracted over 1,000 virtual attendees. With another powerful line-up of speakers for 2021, this year’s conference will take place on November 18 and 19 to address health and educational disparities as well as topics on leadership and legislation. “I am humbled, eager, and motivated to serve in this leadership capacity, as our Cabinet seeks ways to enhance training opportunities.”
Even before assuming her Cabinet position, Secretary Whethers spent much of her legal career in victim advocacy combating domestic violence. She now oversees the Cabinet’s intimate partner domestic violence training programs and serves on the Board of Directors for The Mary Byron Project.
Secretary Whethers shared some of her executive priorities for the Personnel Cabinet in 2021:
A 12-month minority management training program on transformational leadership
Increased minority and female representation from education and workforce development to finance
Minority recruitment outreach to private companies and universities
I am humbled, eager, and motivated to serve in this leadership capacity, as our Cabinet seeks ways to enhance training opportunities.
– GERINA WHETHERS
Growing up with a family involved in social justice and personally enduring forced busing during her schooling shaped her leadership skills and priorities. Secretary Whethers credits her father (“Pops”) with passing on the critical thinking skills that have been so key in her education and professional life. Her mother, the matriarch of the family, always taught and practiced “radical compassion,” a philosophy has always inspired her to help others.
At the age of eighteen, Secretary Whethers was honored to clerk for Congressman Romano “Ron” Mazzoli in Washington, D. C. This served as a launchpad to a lifelong career in public service with integrity and compassion for all people. From Assistant Jefferson County Attorney working in the courtroom to Executive Director of Victim’s Advocacy and Office of Senior Protection in the Office of Attorney General to leading the Commonwealth’s Personnel Cabinet, Secretary Whethers continues to maintain and exhibit those early values.
Secretary Whethers is actively involved in the community as well. She is a member of St. Stephen Church, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the NAACP, Emerge Kentucky, Susan G. Komen, and an active volunteer of Gilda’s Club Kentuckiana. A breast cancer survivor herself, Secretary Whethers lost her mother to breast cancer at 46. Cancer-free for more than twenty years now, she is passionate about cancer awareness, particularly family history and the disproportionate impact on women of color. Facing so many issues locally, state-wide, and throughout the country, she remains optimistic about the future. “I want to walk passionately in the blueprint that’s been created for me by dedicating my life to helping others, leaving this world a little bit better, and honoring the mentors I have had along the way.”
To learn more about the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, visit personnel.ky.gov and follow @kypersonnel on Facebook and Twitter.