Professional News

UK economic development leader elected to UEDA board

Melody Flowers is the UK Assistant Vice President for Economic Development and Real Estate, and co-chair of the Economic Development Collaborative (EDC). Photo by Sabrina Hounshell.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 16, 2024) — University of Kentucky Assistant Vice President for Economic Development and Real Estate and Economic Development Collaborative (EDC) Co-Chair Melody Flowers has been elected to the Board of Directors for the University Economic Development Association (UEDA). UEDA is a group of over 160 organizations, comprising economic development professionals committed to expanding economic opportunities in their communities. Their focus includes leveraging talent, innovation and place, recognizing the interconnectedness of these elements.

UEDA members, including universities, community colleges, and economic development practitioners, collaborate to share wise practices, gain recognition for their work and effectively communicate their organization’s impact in building inclusive economic ecosystems. Together, these organizations strive to create local and regional economic opportunities that have a profound impact on communities nationwide. 

As UK’s Assistant Vice President for Economic Development & Real Estate, an office that includes the Coldstream Research Campus, UK Real Estate, the Office of Business Engagement, ASTeCC and KTI, Flowers plays a pivotal role in the oversight of UK's economic development and business engagement activities.

Serving in her role as EDC co-chair, Flowers engages with partners across campus and the community and throughout the state to support economic and community development. The EDC is a network of campus and community stakeholders who shape and support UK’s economic development and business engagement activities with a mission to proactively grow economic prosperity in the Commonwealth.

Flowers' election to the UEDA Board underscores her dedication to community development. With over two decades of experience in strategic and financial planning, project management and policy work across various sectors such as transportation, the environment, community and economic development, emergency preparedness, homeland security, health care and higher education, she brings a wealth of expertise to the role.

Flower’s involvement with UEDA extends back to 2019 when she first attended their annual summit to present the historic UK-LFUCG land swap as a National Award of Excellence Finalist in the Place category. Flowers has twice since presented projects selected as award of excellence finalists, including the Cornerstone Community Innovation Partnership (2023 Finalist) and the economic impact of The Food Connection, for which the University won a National Award of Excellence in Place + Innovation in 2020.

Flowers was recommended to the board by George Ward, UK Associate Vice President for Economic Development and Real Estate. “I recommended Melody for the UEDA board because of her passion for economic development and eagerness to share UK’s successful programs with other universities,” Ward said. “She is well known by the UEDA leadership and will make a great contribution to the organization.”

Flowers was elected to the board in October 2023 at the UEDA annual summit in Salt Lake City. Her board term officially began in January 2024 and extends for two years. In this role she will use her unique perspective and experience to inform the direction of the organization and further its important work.

In addition to her UEDA board position, Flowers serves on several other boards, including CivicLex, Experience Learning, Fayette Alliance, the Downtown Lexington Partnership, the YMCA of Central Kentucky, the UK Art Museum and the Gaines Center for the Humanities. She also lectures on the economics of higher education and serves as a mentor for nationally competitive scholarship candidates.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.