The 2020 Laureate Inductees
The Late George Garvin Brown
Russell F. Cox
President and CEO
Olivia F. Kirtley
Corporate Director and Consultant
Larry W. Myers
President and CEO
First Savings Bank
The Late George Garvin Brown
George Garvin Brown was the founder of what is today Brown-Forman Corporation and served as President from its creation in 1870 until his death in 1917. He created the company’s founding brand, Old Forester, and worked tirelessly on behalf of the distilling industry throughout his career.
As a young pharmaceutical salesman, Brown realized the unmet demand for a whiskey of consistently high quality that could confidently be prescribed by doctors for medicinal purposes. In 1870, with $5,500 in saved and borrowed money, Brown partnered with his half-brother to found the company.
Brown developed a process of blending barrels together to give the whiskey a consistent flavor profile and selling it in sealed glass bottles to assure its quality. This was a very innovative approach at a time when whiskey was commonly sold by the barrel. This whiskey became Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, America’s First Bottled Bourbon and the company’s flagship brand, which includes his written guarantee of quality on every bottle to this day.
George Garvin Brown was also a pioneering leader within the liquor industry and a believer in stricter industry self-regulation. He was a founding member and president of the National Wine and Spirits Association and was a key player and president of the National Model License League, a protective and self-policing agency of the liquor industry. In 1910 he published The Holy Bible Repudiates Prohibition, in which he quotes every reference to strong drink in the Bible and comments on the fact that it repeatedly promotes responsible consumption, while never prohibiting the consumption of wine or spirits. His personal integrity was recognized with a silver cup in 1911 for repaying a debt that had long been forgiven.
Now, 150 years later, the company launched by George Garvin Brown’s entrepreneurial spirit is a publicly-traded, fifth-generation family-controlled company and one of the top 10 largest global spirits companies, selling its brands in more than 170 countries. Brown-Forman employs more than 4,600 people worldwide and 1,300 in Louisville. It produces and markets many of the most well-known and best-loved wines and spirits in the world, including Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Finlandia Vodka, Herradura Tequilas, and Sonoma-Cutrer wines.
Russell F. Cox
Russell F. Cox assumed his current position of president and chief executive officer of Norton Healthcare on Jan. 1, 2017, becoming just the fifth CEO in the not-for-profit health system’s history. Russ joined Norton Healthcare in September 2000 as vice president of support services. He was appointed senior vice president of operations and development in October 2002; executive vice president in September 2004; and executive vice president and chief operating officer in September 2005.
Russ has more than 30 years of executive experience in health care. Before joining Norton Healthcare, he spent six years as executive director of resource operations at Caritas Health Services in Louisville. Before that, he worked for Humana Inc., Galen Healthcare and Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., in various executive roles, including human resources, development and acquisitions, and operations support.
A lifelong resident of Louisville who grew up in St. Matthews, Russ earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. He also attended the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management in Nashville, Tennessee, and completed the requirements for certification from its Executive Development Institute.
Russ is passionate about education and giving back to the community. He currently serves on various nonprofit and volunteer boards, including the Bellarmine University board of trustees, where he serves as vice chair; Kentucky Chamber board of trustees; Greater Louisville Inc. board of trustees executive committee; and the WDRB editorial board. He previously served on the Downtown Development Corp. board as treasurer and member of its executive committee; and Kentucky Country Day School board of trustees as chair and member of its executive committee. He is a past chair of the Leadership Louisville Foundation board.
Russ is married to Kathy Ulmer Cox and has three sons, Russ Jr., Christian and Will.
Olivia F. Kirtley
Olivia Kirtley has served on public and private company boards in North America and Europe since 1997. She is currently a director of U.S. Bancorp, Papa John’s International and Delta Dental of Kentucky. Other recent boards include Randgold prior to merging with Barrick Gold, and ResCare (BrightSpring Health Services) before the KKR acquisition. Olivia began her career with the international accounting firm now EY, followed by 20 years in executive management with Vermont American Corporation and joint venture of Emerson Electric and Bosch.
Since 2000, Olivia has been an advisor and speaker on corporate governance and risk oversight best practices, including as 10-year faculty member at The Conference Board’s Directors Institute. She has also actively contributed to corporate governance developments, including testifying before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Enron hearings and the G20/OECD Paris hearings for revising their global Principles of Corporate Governance.
For 30 years, Olivia served in leadership roles for accountancy profession organizations. She made history as the first woman Chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Chairman of the Board of Examiners for the CPA Exam. In 2014, she was elected the first woman President & Chairman of International Federation of Accountants, comprised of 175 organizations in 130 countries that work together globally on professional issues and international standard-setting. During her tenure, she met with government leaders in over 30 countries on the importance of assuring strong national accountancy professions to enable economic growth. Along with advocating for greater diversity in the profession, especially in Africa and Asia where women greatly underrepresented. In 2016, an accounting scholarship was established in Zimbabwe in her honor. The Olivia Kirtley Tinokunda Scholarship requires a majority of 10 annual recipients be women.
In community and volunteer work, Olivia has been Chairman of the Community Foundation of Louisville and served on boards and committees for National Center for Family Literacy, Heuser Hearing Institute, International Women’s Forum, Southeast Christian Church and SOZO International.
A native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, Olivia is a graduate of Florida Southern College and a Master of Taxation from Georgia State University. She is married to Dr. Louis Kirtley and they have three sons.
Larry W. Myers
Larry W. Myers was named President and Chief Executive Officer of First Savings Bank and First Savings Financial Group in 2006. During his tenure the bank has achieved a number of significant milestones. In 2008, during the financial crisis, First Savings Financial Group (FSFG) issued its initial public offering on the NASDAQ at $10.00 per share. At that time the bank was $220 million in total assets operating seven offices in two southern Indiana counties. Over the last decade First Savings has grown to over $1.2 billion in assets with 16 offices in six counties. This growth has been fueled by two bank acquisitions along with the creation of three national lending platforms. Currently FSFG stock is trading in excess of $60 per share.
As President of First Savings Bank, Larry fosters an environment of community service. In 2008 FSFG formed First Savings Charitable Foundation to focus on financial literacy. Since its inception the Foundation has donated $1.3 million to various educational causes. First Savings Bank is very supportive of numerous charitable activities in both dollars and employee time. The Bank’s staff typically donates over 7200 hours annually to community services to organizations such as Junior Achievement, the Boy Scouts, American Heart Association and Habitat for Humanity. In 2019 First Savings Bank was recognized by Business First as the best mid-sized company in their Partners in Philanthropy awards.
First Savings has also been recognized as one of the top performing banks in the country by KBW, largest SBA lender in Indiana, and Best Places To Work by Business First.
Larry is currently a director with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis along with the Lincoln Heritage Council of the Boy Scouts of America (LHC). He has served as Chairman of the LHC and of the Indiana Bankers Association. Larry has served as a director on the Federal Reserve’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council, One Southern Indiana, the American Banker’s Community Bank Council and First Savings Charitable Foundation. Larry is an active member of Southeast Christian Church.
Larry resides in Anchorage, Kentucky with his wife of 35 years Debbie. He has two grown sons and a daughter.