top of page


Jim Waters

April 17, 2024

Bluegrass Institute welcomes new board members: Former lieutenant governor, award-winning small business owner join two returning members in the organization’s largest-ever expansion

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 17, 2024   

Contact: Jim Waters @ (270) 320-4376

(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – Two new members will join two returning members in the largest-ever expansion of the board of directors of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions (BIPPS), Kentucky’s premier free-market think tank. 

Former Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean M. Hampton of Bowling Green and Lexington businessman Kyle Whalen join Tim Yessin and Tom Dupree, who previously served on the organization’s board and are recognized leaders in Lexington’s financial services sector. 

Jenean Hampton 

As Kentucky’s 57th lieutenant governor from 2015-2019, Hampton was the first African American to hold statewide office in the history of the commonwealth. She focused heavily on education during her term, helping create an entrepreneurship contest for high schoolers, a self-directed reading program and an after-school program introducing middle school girls to STEM fields. Recognizing the key role of education in her rise from poverty, Hampton visited more than 200 Kentucky schools to share life lessons and career advice with students of all ages. 

Hampton's 24 years’ experience in manufacturing includes positions as plant manager, quality manager and production supervisor, with certification as a Zenger Miller facilitator. She deployed during Desert Storm while serving seven years as a U.S. Air Force Computer Systems Officer. Since settling in Bowling Green, Hampton has been active in state and local politics, serving previously as chairwoman of the Bowling Green-Southern Kentucky Tea Party. 

Hampton is currently chief operating officer at SafeEVAC, Inc., a start-up company developing an innovative, patent-pending evacuation, communication and security system that quickly directs building occupants away from violent threats while simultaneously providing valuable real-time information to first responders. The system can also be used to direct occupants to shelters during severe weather. 

I'm honored and excited to join the BIPPS board, the primary organization I consulted frequently the past few years to research education reform and other issues,” Hampton said. “I look forward to helping BIPPS improve education experiences throughout Kentucky." 

A lifelong learner, she holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering (Wayne State University), an M.B.A. (William E. Simon Graduate School of Business), an honorary doctorate from Lindsey Wilson College where she serves on the board and an Extra Class amateur radio license.

Kyle Whalen 

Whalen founded BACK Construction in 1981 with three partners. Today, the Lexington company supports more than 60 employees and numerous trade partners and has received many awards for its success. 

Whalen, who previously ran as a candidate for the newly formed 93rd District in the Kentucky House of Representatives, serves on several boards and has volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and Mustard Seed Communities for many years, using his building knowledge to help others. 

Along with building his business, he says he joined the Bluegrass Institute board to build a better Kentucky for future generations. 

“I have had a successful business career and now want to give back,” Whalen said. “Helping BIPPS get out good factual information on the issues that will move our state forward is my way of giving back to our state.” 

Tom Dupree 

Dupree founded Dupree Financial Group in 2003. The business provides fee-based investment advice for retirees and those preparing for retirement. 

He covers investment news and various entertaining – and sometimes challenging – topics on the Tom Dupree Show each Saturday at 7 a.m. on 630 WLAP. The shows are available on-demand as online podcasts on his website here

Tim Yessin 

Past Bluegrass Institute board Chairman Tim Yessin, vice president of WealthSouth, which has operations in Danville, Lexington and Bowling Green, has three decades of experience in banking and wealth management. 

Yessin founded the Lexington Youth Lacrosse Association and is founder and director of the Bluegrass Lacrosse Officials’ Association, and currently serves as an NCAA lacrosse official. 

“I would like to extend a warm welcome to Jenean, Kyle, Tim and Tom as they join us in our mission. We are grateful that they are partnering with us as our organization continues to grow,” said board Chairman Aaron Ammerman. “The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions recently celebrated its 20th year in existence. We are very proud of our home state and will continue to advocate for free market reforms to help improve the lives of all Kentuckians.” 

The new members join Ammerman, Treasurer Christopher Anderson and Secretary John Garen, Ph.D. 

For more information or, contact Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters at jwaters@, or 270.320.4376 (cell).   

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s premier free market think tank, has been offering commonsense ideas to solve the commonwealth’s greatest challenges since 2003. Find these solutions and support our mission at

More Articles: 

bottom of page