Excerpt from the January 2024 Legacy Ledger:
We refer to Legacy NAFC as the “grassroots initiative” of the NAFC Education Foundation. There is a range of membership levels available. Your generous annual support helps sustain everything we do.
Our annual Alumni Royal Court event provides a fun way to join in. It’s tangible; it lets you put a face on the pride you have in your alma mater. But equally critical are some less visible heroes, hiding in plain sight. They serve the Foundation directly, with tireless dedication. Among them are our current Board of Directors and past board members, plus a small legion of special people who bring energy and enthusiasm that can’t be measured.
This month, we introduce two of them. They are both NAFC alumni and their “day job” stories alone would be reason enough to profile them. We’re sharing with you the fabulous work of Allen Platt FCHS ’87 and Becky King NAHS ’64, focusing on what they do for the Foundation. Their commitment helps make the accomplishments of “our team” solid and secure.
Introduction and spotlights by Rex Bickers (FCHS ‘70)
Allen Platt joined the NAFCEF Board of Directors in 2019 and predictably, he was very eager to follow on with a second term (2022-25). And it’s no surprise that he’ll cap it off as Board president 2023-25 (with two earlier years as board secretary). It’s become a pattern that he’s repeated in his service to other non-profit boards, almost too numerous to count.
You quickly get a good idea of who he is… from even a partial list of those groups… and the kind of company he keeps. Examples include Noah’s Ark Children’s Village (founding member and board president 1996-2000, rubbing elbows with Hall of Famer Dennie Jenkins) and the Floyd County Bar Association (member since 1995, president 2001-02). Add this as well… twenty-plus years as a member and leader in New Albany Rotary (past president 2005); the same is true for good friends (also both Hall of Famers) Sally Newkirk and Roger Whaley. Allen was inducted into the Floyd Central Hall of Fame himself in 2017.
In the performing arts world, there’s a similar list of organizations impacted by Allen’s leadership: the Discover Louisville Orchestra Board (1997-2004, president 2002), Arts Council of Southern Indiana (2000-06, president 2002-03) and Hayswood Theatre Group (2012-19, treasurer, then president, spanning six years). He’s especially proud of his two terms on the Indiana Arts Commission (2014-21, serving as chair 2019-21), And that doesn’t even count his impressive resumé in both amateur and professional theatre… hands on… producing, directing and acting. His creative side is nurtured by four other very special FC grads: wife Heidi Gibson Platt ’88 and daughters Regan ’13, Emma ’16 and Grace ‘21.
You might wonder how he has time for a bona fide (and award-winning) professional career. He holds a very high profile position at Samtec, perennially recognized as New Albany’s biggest private company, based on the number of employees (worldwide). He joined the Samtec team in 2014, as the first-ever general counsel. Before that, his legal experience was chiefly in business law, litigation, real estate, lending and risk analysis.
What kind of kid grows up to be such a high achiever? Ever modest, he says that he’s received all the good fortunes and blessings that life can offer. He certainly “picked good parents”, both of them NAHS grads from ’57. His mother was a teacher (Lafayette, then Greenville Elementary). His dad’s law career had a certain resemblance to Allen’s path thus far… both working as in-house legal counsel in a technical environment, combined also with some years in private practice. He was in Floyd Central theatre, band (percussion, first chair), orchestra and Floyd County Youth Orchestra. He is an alumnus of IU Bloomington (1991) and Valparaiso (JD, 1995).
Where should you look to try to find Allen? Soaking up Hoosier basketball at Bloomington, when he can, but this year… you can also find him doing a regular IU podcast called Hoosier Town Breakdown with his friend Greg Nash. Perhaps his newest passion is in Lexington at the opera with Heidi… watching Grace perform!
Let’s just start with what Becky King does now: she IS the Imagination Library for thousands of local children and families. She oversaw its birth, and she has mothered it to its present-day awesome adolescence. The numbers are gigantic: 551,000 books delivered, touching over 18,000 children’s lives. And the statistics don’t even count the benefits to parents and grandparents.
Becky can tell one story after another… from her schoolgirl days, growing up in New Albany. Many involve one of the legends profiled here in Alumni Spotlight. She knew (Hall of Famer) Eddie Abell from the neighborhood firehouse, where he helped her (and many other kids) with homework. She was coached by Letty Walter, and she played summer softball on the BPW Hoosiers team… with (Hall of Famer) Diana Adams Keithley in the time before Title IX and the sanctioning of IHSAA girls’ sports.
In 1967, she began her interwoven life as a wife, mother, full-time elementary teacher and part-time substitute teacher. Her husband Jim (NAHS ’61) also worked in the school system as a PE teacher at FCHS and then at NAHS for thirty-three years. The couple raised two sons, Brad NAHS ’91 and Andy NAHS ’95.
She began a career transition in 1984 as an Instructional Technology Consultant/Trainer at the Wilson Education Center (Jeffersonville) of the Indiana Department of Education, developing and delivering workshops for 2,500 teachers and administrators. In 1990, she joined the founding staff at the non-profit National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), based in Louisville. By 2006, she had risen to Senior Director, a liaison between NCFL and the U.S. Department of Education.
She returned to Floyd County as director of Community Alliances to Promote Education (CAPE). It put down the bedrock for launching the Imagination Library locally… and forming its liaison with the Education Foundation. A five-year grant had already been awarded to the NAFC schools by the Lilly Endowment. The application was written by Teresa Perkins (NAFCS) and IUS Dean (School of Education) Gloria Murray when Dennis Brooks was superintendent. Drawing on her NCFL years, Becky focused on young children’s reading readiness before kindergarten. Her working group had many good ideas and pitched to countless potential stakeholders. These things are never the work of one person.
Becky was determined not to let the energy fizzle out. She gathered up the tools and laid out the roads. She located the right vehicle in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), created initially to serve one county in eastern Tennessee. DPIL was beginning its fifteenth year in 2010; it was perfect timing to extend the work of the CAPE project. Jerry Finn was the director at Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, and he’d recently been chosen to take the reins as president of the Education Foundation Board of Directors. In 2011, a “bridge” grant from Caesars preceded the completion of an NAFCS arrangement… employing Becky with ongoing Foundation support.
Thirteen years later, it’s a well-oiled machine. DPIL has now distributed over 226 million books, operating in more than 1500 counties and communities across all fifty states, with recent entries into four other countries. Indiana enacted legislation in May 2023 to bring the program statewide to every county.
Is Becky King in this for life? Will the U.S. Postal Service ever stop coming to our homes? Use your own judgment on which wager to take, for either question.