Many young college graduates endeavor to strike a balance between the demands of earning a living and the pursuit of their passions. Jennifer Chappell ‘09 is no exception, and her dedication to public service,
which includes being one of the youngest countywide elected officials in Jefferson County, significantly elevates her challenge of setting priorities.. “It is quite a juggling act,” she said. Her commitment to community deserves a closer
Born in Louisville’s Audubon Park neighborhood, Chappell received a partial scholarship to play field hockey at Bellarmine. Although she was active on the team for four years, she played only two seasons due to medical issues. Among her favorite
professors were Fred Smock in the English Department (“the quintessential college professor”) and Dr. Catherine Sutton, who taught English and Interdisciplinary Studies and founded the Academic Resource Center, which she led from 1997
until her retirement in 2013 (“my advisor throughout my four years…her honesty kept me grounded”).
“Studies show that the average college student switches majors three times over the course of obtaining their bachelor’s degree,” Chappell said. “I did just that—biology to secondary education to English.” She also
recently completed lengthy classroom work at BU toward certification as a project management professional.
Chappell, an account manager for ProMedia Group, a digital advertising and marketing agency in Southern Indiana, also operates an Airbnb and occasionally works at a friend’s jewelry store. In addition, she is heavily involved in civic affairs.
“Studies show that the average college student switches majors three times over the course of obtaining their bachelor’s degree."
For three years, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Center for Neighborhoods, a longtime nonprofit organization in Louisville that partners with neighborhood residents to create positive change in their communities. Chappell is especially
supportive of the Center’s Neighborhood Institute, a free neighborhood leadership training program, and its Better Block program, a temporary event that re-imagines one block in a neighborhood—in 2019 it was the town center at 28th and
Dumesnil in Parkland—using low-cost interventions, such as an open-air market, designed by the community. “That activates my inner urban planner in allowing people to play with the built environment,” she said.
In 2010, Chappell bought a house in Schnitzelburg, part of the larger Germantown neighborhood, and since 2013 she has been a member of the Schnitzelburg Area Community Council (SACC), which oversees beautification projects, sponsors events, assists in
community planning and acts as a link between Metro government and Schnitzelburg residents. In addition to her regular board duties, she created and manages the SACC website. “As simple as it sounds, I guess I just like making things better,”
In her first run for public office, in 2016, Chappell was elected as a Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor. The District sponsors and participates in projects and activities that promote the conservation, development, maintenance
and use of land, water, trees and other renewable resources in the county. The supervisor position, which has a four-year term, allowed Chappell to tackle local green initiatives and to educate people about conservation. She is planning a reelection
bid this year. “There is a steep learning curve to being on the board, and I would hate for everything I have learned to go by the wayside.”
By far her most ambitious civic project has been establishing Three Points, a beautification project at the intersection of Goss Avenue and Logan Street where three neighborhoods meet—Shelby Park, Schnitzelburg and German-Paristown (aka Germantown).
“I am the creator, orchestrator and manager for Three Points,” Chappell said. “This was virtually a dead zone, and no one paid it much attention, but the project has given people pride and ownership in their community.”
In addition to cleaning Three Points’ sidewalks and setting up a community bulletin board, Chappell has facilitated the painting of murals on numerous neighborhood properties. “As Three Points has continued, and more murals have been added,
the area has exploded, especially down Logan Street. Shelby Park and Smoketown have the highest concentration of murals in the city. New businesses are coming in. It’s incredible!”
Chappell arranges mural wall space with local businesses, meets with and hires artists, deals with interested news media and raises the funds necessary for the murals’ completion (over $45,000 so far). Two of the most striking pieces are the colorful
Three Points mural on Goss Avenue between Shelby and Logan streets and the largest endeavor—underway at 923 Goss Avenue, across from Germantown Mill Lofts—that celebrates the old textile mill, Glassner’s Bakery and that area’s
history. Of the latter she remarked, “It has been a monumental undertaking and has taken a while, but I know the final mural will be unlike anything that Louisville has seen before.”
“Dabbling in so many spaces allows me to be a great connector in a network of doers,” she said, “and to see people I have introduced build fruitful relationships that lead to amazing collaborations.”
Written by Harry Rothgerber '69