Shawn is originally from Illinois and a product of a single parent household. He developed the desire to help others at an early age supporting political campaigns through neighborhood petitions, surveys and aiding in organizing counsel meetings. After achieving a B.S. in Urban and Regional planning from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign he advanced his college aided employment at UPS to a Plant Engineering Supervisor. In his 30 + year career with UPS, Shawn has held a variety of business functional and leadership positions. One of Shawn’s pivotal insights is that in order to grow as a leader and a person one must give of self as well as enjoy the work they do. At this point he connected with Louisville Central Community Centers as an volunteer and advocate for socioeconomic change in Louisville's West End. As an Ameri-corp Vista, Businessman, Experienced professional, Entrepreneur, a Connector and Community advocate; Shawn has been an integral part of LCCC's built environment scaling and development, formation of the 3AGA, supporting the Louisville Xtreme and facilitating opportunities for growth and advocacy within the Black Owned Business space.
Shaunti is a published creative writer for hire born and based in Louisville, KY. Her work has been featured in online and print publications based inside and outside of the US.
Why is it important for you to serve on Louisville Tourism's Black Tourism Advisory Council (BTAC)?
Shawn: It is important that all sectors of a city to have proper, adequate and equitable representation. Pulling from my formal educational training, I understand the inherent values of tourism. By being a part of the BTAC, I have an opportunity to assist in highlighting, showcasing, and developing more awareness and creating bridges for and about Black Owned Businesses'. In doing so, locally black owned businesses will have a chance to grow. The city of Louisville has the opportunity to see greater financial returns and all visitors will have a greater and more relatable experience that will definitely encourage return visits.
Shaunti: I am not a part of the council, my colleague is. However, I do believe that it is important to ensure that the various narratives of Black life in Louisville are accurately told.
How many years have you lived in Louisville:
Shaunti: I've spent most of my life between here and Indiana. I graduated from Seneca High School and continued on to graduate from the University of Kentucky.
What neighborhood do you live in?
Shawn: Fern Creek / Highview
Shaunti: My family is from the Russell neighborhood (the West End) of Louisville. I currently live in the Highlands neighborhood.
What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood?
Shawn: Friendly, quiet, peaceful, easily accessible, good neighbors.
Shaunti: I love the greenery. There are a lot of parks and hiking spots in this area. One of the perks of Kentucky is its natural beauty and I see a lot of that where I live. It's great for doing activities such as yoga in the park.
If you grew up in Louisville, what was your favorite place to go in Louisville as a child? Why?
Shaunti: Waterfront Park. It's centrally located downtown so it was easy to get to whether you're on the Indiana side of the bridge or the Kentucky side. There was always some kind of event going on with food trucks, games, and just walking around with my friends looking out at the Ohio River.
When did you fall in love with Louisville?
Shawn: I came to enjoy Louisville shortly after relocation in 1998. The feel of a little big city, easy travel and the family atmosphere is really refreshing.
Shaunti: I fell in love with the city when I left. After college, I moved to Los Angeles, then Atlanta. I didn't realize how much southern culture had been instilled in me until I left home. The charm of my hometown comes out of my mouth and I found myself giving random facts to strangers about the hidden gem that is Louisville. Leaving showed me the potential we have here.
What motivates your own personal travel?
Shawn: Festivals, Music, Family Getaway, Arts/Museum, Outdoors, Adventure
Plus: Famous landmarks, Architecture, Natural Wonders, GOLF!!!!
Shaunti: Festivals, Music, Family Getaway, Arts/Museum, Outdoors, Adventure
Plus: Writers are always looking for inspiration. Sometimes I travel to places just to get a new atmosphere or visual to help create settings and characters for my creative writing projects or building a story for a news article.
What are the Top 5 musts for the Quintessential Black Experience in Louisville?
Louisville Central Community Center-Anchor institution, good food/options, diversity, cultural hub, friendly people
Louisville Xtreme Molo Village- showcase of black owned business'
Roots 101 African American Museum- Phenomenal historical content, amazing artifacts, great personable staff, humble founder
Muhammad Ali Center- Superb history of the Greatest, display and interaction
Shawnee Park/Golf Course – Center of great historical black neighborhood
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage- Anchor institution of art and history
Kulu Gallery- A modern exhibition of art
Black Jockey Lounge- Nice place for food , jazz and good home feel
Melaniare Market Place- Great atmosphere of small business and entrepreneurship and the discovery of unique retail items.
Get a bag of Grippos and a Big Red (Welcome to the Ville)
Checking out the various Black owned businesses located inside the Louisville Central Community Center
Visiting Roots 101 African American Museum
Go to Brunch & Beats
Join and follow the Play Cousins Collective on Facebook.
What makes your Top 5 suggestions "must dos"?
Shaunti: All of these things provide visitors with the opportunity to see the Black experience in Louisville. What Black Louisvillians do for play, business, and culture.
Where do you like to eat?
Lucretia’s Kitchen- Chicken wings; Sweet Peaches-Pork chop sandwich
Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro- Chicken salad sandwich, sweet potato casserole, fried green tomatoes
Eden and Kissi- Chicken pita, plantains
Super Chef- Sub zero, Superman, any Superdilla
Back Deck BBQ- Wings, brisket, smoked turkey, nachos
Georgia's Sweet Potato Pie Company- Everything. Its sweet potato pie
Peach Cobbler Factory- Peach Cobbler, yum yum yum!!!!
Stacy's Donuts- Glazed and apple fritters.
Shaunti: I love Dasha Barbours! It's Black owned and family owned. The location I usually frequent is located inside Old Walnut Plaza. The soul food is delicious and the building itself has pictures of Black Louisville's history.
What do you order to eat your at favorite restaurant?
Shaunti: Fried catfish, mac & cheese, and greens. Side of sweet potatoes.
What is your ideal night out with friends?
Shawn: Outside sitting at river, music (jazz), bourbon, light food, good conversation and some dancing
Shaunti: Probably getting dressed up in something artsy and going to an art showcase at Riot Café. Also joining the Shut up and Write group at a café to get some writing done.
Where do you like to drink/what’s your favorite bar and why?
Shawn: No favorite bar, more so at home. I sip on supreme Tequilas only (Resposado/Anejo) and Bourbon
Shaunti: I love the Limbo. My first time going was on a whim and I went alone. To my pleasant surprise, they were hosting a burlesque drag show! The tequila and tacos were also a plus. They're so sex positive and welcoming of all backgrounds. I feel like myself there.
What should I order to drink at your favorite bar?
Shawn: Old Fashion
Shaunti: Bourbon. Duh.
Where would you suggest a guest to the city stay and why?
Listings from Glenda- Upscale AirBNB, well maintained and managed, black owned
Omni Hotel- new, relaxed atmosphere, inside the CBD, indoor amenities
The Galt House Hotel- Newly renovated, close to river, neat on-site amenities, great brunch, good parking.
Shaunti: The Galt House Hotel has a long history and the staff there is very professional. Being that it's centrally located downtown, you're walking distance from restaurants and shops.
What are the hidden gems in Louisville that only the locals would know about?
Shawn: Old Walnut Street, Jerry Greens.
Shaunti: Indis and Grippos.
What is your favorite seasonal event? Why?
Shawn: Worldfest on the Belvedere, all kinds of foods, family friendly, eclectic culture, good atmosphere, and great dancing. An opportunity for people to be exposed and understand the differences the world offers and what makes us(people)so amazing.
Shaunti: The Reggae fest. I love West Indian food and reggae music. The vibe of the festival is very relaxed and people of all ages come out.
How do you drink your bourbon?
Shaunti: On the Rocks
Louisville is one of the epicenters of the movement for racial equity and social justice. As a city challenged to make pivotal change- how do we through tourism efforts ensure that Louisville is a welcome and inclusive destination for all?
Shawn: Mass acknowledgment. A realization that after decades of reports of what some believed to be a perception or isolated incident is in fact an overwhelming reality. The affirmation of these realities have motivated some agencies and organizations to take intentional action for change. Within Louisville Tourism the BTAC is a good start. I am honored to be a part of this charge. I am hopeful to see more private industries embrace the movement and do more intentional support of small business. More direct long term funding and philanthropic engagement of anchor non – profits that have been instrumental in a long history of micro success' in the black community.
But with deliberate, partnered support from the private sector we could see some dynamic change not just to the black community but to the Metro Louisville/State of Kentucky at large.
Shaunti: I hope that Black owned businesses, organizations, and creations are included as a part of Louisville's tourism. Sharing information about places like the Louisville Central Community Center, a Black led non-profit that provides various recourses to the Russell neighborhood, would be an example of LT using their own platform to share every aspect of Louisville. This city has a history, a present, and a future that none of which can be possible without us all.
What else would you like more people to know more about Louisville?
Shawn: Its a great place to Live, Work and Play. And of course visit- lots of family oriented activities, beautiful scenery in and out of the city. Louisville is growing and especially in entrepreneurial space thus offering more unique, creative experiences for everyone.
Shaunti: There's potential here, but with potential there are gatekeepers. I'm hopeful that future generations will knock down the present barriers here and allow Louisville to be a treasure to all. Not a hidden secret only known by locals.