2023 Professional Achievement Award
From a single mother determined to see her daughter reach her full potential, she learned the values of resilience, resourcefulness, and sacrifice. Growing up in diverse Dayton, Ohio, she gained understanding and empathy. At EKU, she found a “rigorous academic foundation and a safe space to evolve into a confident young woman.”
Today, Lori Holt helps others realize their own dreams as the executive vice president and chief operations officer of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the preeminent global membership organization for Black (current and former) CEOs, senior executives, and board members of Fortune 1000 and equivalent companies, top-tier entrepreneurs and global thought leaders. The Council advocates for advancing Black leadership by increasing the number of Black CEOs, c-suite executives, and board members and building the pipeline of the next generation of Black corporate leaders.
“The most rewarding aspect of working for the ELC is witnessing the tangible progress and empowerment achieved in advocating for the placement and advancement of Black talent within corporate America and for corporate board seats,” she said. “It’s fulfilling to contribute to a positive change that leads to increased diversity, representation, and opportunities for underrepresented individuals, creating a more inclusive and equitable corporate landscape.” Her previous work includes progressively responsible leadership roles during 18 years with Cardinal Health, including general manager and vice president.
Her early experiences in multiple cross-functional leadership roles across for-profit, private equity/venture capital, and non-profit sectors “honed my skills, expanded my perspective, allowed me to drive significant change in various environments, fueled my drive to overcome obstacles, and led me to pursue a career focused on growth, empowerment, and contributing to positive change in the lives of others.”
Ms. Holt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, said her “holistic educational experience” at EKU “fostered personal growth, resilience, and adaptability, traits that have been instrumental in my professional journey. The diverse student population and inclusive environment exposed me to various perspectives, expanding my understanding of the world.”
She measures her professional success by the lasting impact she has made on the lives of others and hopes her legacy is one of “fostering growth, empowerment, and positive change in those I’ve influenced, leaving a trail of personal and professional development in my wake.” This summer, Ms. Holt wed fellow EKU alum DeVone Holt,’95, vice president of external affairs for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, who received the same Professional Achievement Award in 2021.
Originally published in EKU Alumni Awards.
Ms. Lori Holt
Chief Operating Officer of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC)
Eastern Kentucky University, ’94 BBA Accounting and Finance