Jean Frazier Leadership Institute receives transformative gift

As reported today by Louisville Business First, Sacred Heart Schools’ Jean Frazier Leadership Institute (JFLI) recently received a transformative gift from Sacred Heart Academy alumna and retired Starbucks executive Lucy Lee Helm, who said, “I have been so inspired by the incredible impact of Jean Frazier’s significant gift and vision to develop and empower student leaders at Sacred Heart Schools. I want to be part of ensuring that the vision continues and that JLFI thrives as a preeminent student leadership program.”


The $1 million gift will nearly double the endowment of Sacred Heart Schools’ JFLI programs on the Ursuline Campus in Louisville. The JFLI was founded in 2017 through a gift from Jean Frazier and provides a unique, integrated leadership development program unlike any other in Louisville for K-12 students. Helm was a founding member of the JFLI Leadership Cabinet and has helped to shape the development and growth of the Institute since its infancy. This also allowed her to witness the profound experiences of Sacred Heart students during their involvement with JFLI.


“Students at Sacred Heart Academy and Sacred Heart Model School are inspired to discover their passion and purpose by learning the JFLI’s four-part approach to leadership development that includes self-discovery, practical skill building, authentic experience, and reflection,” said Dr. Karen McNay, president of Sacred Heart Schools. “As a founding JFLI Leadership Cabinet member, Lucy Helm has seen first-hand the amazing benefits and transformations our student leaders have shown in the last few years and her gift will provide outstanding opportunities for thousands of students in the future.”   

Students in the JFLI programs develop self-esteem strategies, practice leadership development, and have opportunities to intern in area companies. A speaker series brings real-life leadership into focus and “Navigation Teams” pair students with mentors to build leadership skills and navigate the high school experience as they prepare to enter the collegiate and working world.


“The confidence, empathy, and scholastic development provided by JFLI is a game-changer for these students at a critical time in their cognitive and emotional development,” said Lucy Helm. “I have been involved with JFLI from the beginning and am so grateful for Jean Frazier’s belief in the power of crafting life-time leaders. In my work with the JFLI Leadership Cabinet, I see how this program changes young lives. This investment is about my belief in the program and inspiration from both Jean Frazier and the students who excel because of their experiences with JFLI.”


Helm added, “As a Sacred Heart Academy student, I was fortunate to be shaped and nurtured as a leader, with values and skills I have used throughout my life. Through JFLI, I want every young woman at Sacred Heart Academy and the young students at Sacred Heart Model School to know they are all leaders. JFLI does that by helping students discover the leader within themselves and blends the Ursuline core values that I learned on campus years ago that I still use every day.”


“The overall impact this gift will have on students is stunning,” said Director of the Jean Frazier Leadership Institute, Lauren Hitron. “JFLI has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past few years and the programs we will add and grow will be the benchmark for leadership programs nationwide. Our students today and in the future will be our leaders in industry, government, education, and the nonprofit sector. It’s exhilarating to know they will develop these skills early through JFLI.”


“As a student at Sacred Heart, I was rooted in the core Ursuline values. I was given a base of leadership, service, compassion, and understanding yourself as a woman in a changing world,” said Helm. “This endowed gift will ensure Sacred Heart students will have excellent leadership growth and opportunities through the Jean Frazier Leadership Institute for generations to come. It’s amazing what springs forward for these young women when they find their direction.”


From 2021 to 2023, the number of SHA graduates who earned college scholarships specifically for leadership more than doubled. “As our students grow exponentially through the JFLI, and meet leaders like Lucy, they will realize their own potential as women and leaders for our future,” said McNay. “Those are qualities that have value beyond measure.”