Jim Waters
President and CEO, @bipps

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy SolutionsWaters spent more than two decades in newspapers and radio stations as a reporter, editor and anchor.

Since coming to the institute in 2003, Waters’ articles have been published statewide and in national publications, including the Wall Street Journal. He has also appeared on CNN television. Waters’ weekly column, the “Bluegrass Beacon,” appears in newspapers across the commonwealth, including the Paducah Sun, Elizabethtown News-Enterprise, Danville Advocate-Messenger and Corbin Times-Tribune.
Kelly Smith
Vice President of Strategic Partners


Kelly Smith graduated in 1995 from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. As an undergraduate, she spent two summers in Washington D.C., first with the Congressional office of John Boehner and then interning with the office of the House Conference Committee. With experience in both the political and policy, as well as the private sector, Kelly began her career working for Congressman Martin Hoke’s 1996  re-election bid (OH-6th District), then worked for the Ohio Republican Party where she served as Finance Associate, and then as Field Representative for Congressman John Boehner (OH-8th District).

Kelly helped to organize the successful 1998 Governor’s Gala for then Ohio Governor Bob Taft and coordinated Congressman Boehner’s yearly Farm Forum event bringing together farmers and agri-businesses from all over Ohio and neighboring states. Her private sector experience includes serving as Research Associate for LexisNexis in Dayton, Ohio.

During her first year with the Bluegrass Institute as Director of Development, funding increased by 59% over the previous year. In 2011, she completed the Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s Think Tank MBA Program.

Richard G. Innes
Education Analyst or

Richard Innes, the education analyst for the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, brings a uniquely independent viewpoint to public education research, approaching those studies from a parent-oriented viewpoint. Innes has been investigating Kentucky education since 1994. In 1999, his research highlighted significant problems with exclusion of learning disabled students from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Cautions about those problems now are found in recent reports from that testing program, while research still continues on ways to correct these issues.

His many reports, papers, blogs and videos about the shortcomings of Kentucky’s school assessment program, known as CATS, played a role in the 2009 legislative decision to discontinue that program. Innes’ most recent full-length reports for the institute include: “How Blacks and Whites Perform in Jefferson County Public Schools” and “Examining Kentucky’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ Tier 5 Schools” and “Digital Learning Now!: Obstacles to Implementation in Kentucky.

Amye Bensenhaver
Director, Center for Open Government

Amye Bensenhaver



Amye Bensenhaver, one of the foremost experts on Kentucky’s nationally recognized open records and open meetings laws, is director of the Bluegrass Institute’s Center for Open Government.

Bensenhaver, winner in 2016 of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center Award, spent 25 years as an assistant attorney general during which she wrote nearly 2,000 legal opinions forcing government entities to operate in the open when too many of them preferred to keep questionable – sometimes even corrupt – activities hidden from public view.

Folu Elegbede
Director of Digital Marketing








Folu Elegbede, a Lexington resident and Nigerian native, directs the Bluegrass Institute’s digital presence by fully utilizing all available social media platforms to advance free-market solutions to Kentucky’s greatest policy challenges.

Elegbede studied at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he majored in Liberal Arts (Philosophy and History of Math and Sciences), was a Hodson Trust Scholar and served as a Student Government Delegate. He’s currently completing his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Georgetown College leading to a Master’s degree in Diplomacy at the University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

Along with his academic studies, Elegbede has worked as an author and activist for pro-liberty groups in Africa and served as an intern with both the Charles Koch Institute and Atlas Network, where he addressed barriers to trade between the U.S. and African countries.



Dr. John Garen, Chair
Gatton Endowed Professor of Economics, University of Kentucky

Dr. Stephan Gohmann

BB&T Professor of Free Enterprise, University of Louisville

Dr. Gary Houchens

Associate Professor and Coordinator, School Principal Certification Program, Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research, Western Kentucky University

Dr. Eric D. Schansberg
Professor of Economics, Indiana University Southeast

Dr. Brian Strow
BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Western Kentucky University