Meet Penelope Peavler, 2019 Most Admired Woman — Arts
Penelope is the 2019 Most Admired Woman winner in the Arts category. Photo by Melissa Donald
President & CEO, Frazier History Museum
Family: Husband Charlie Grass; daughters Scout and Izzy
Area of town: Middletown/Eastwood
When she was young, Penelope Peavler thought she would be an attorney and work in Washington D.C., but a waitlist for law school allowed her to take an internship at Walt Disney World’s management program, an experience that began a long love affair with cultural tourism. After varied professional experiences, including at Kentucky Kingdom and the Speed Art Museum, Penelope is now able to fully blend that love of cultural tourism with her adoration of Kentucky.
What is your favorite historical time period?
I love early Kentucky history. I love anything related to Kentucky. I also love today because I’m raising two daughters, I’m running a cultural institution, and I’m co-chairing the master plan for arts and culture for Louisville (Imagine Greater Louisville 2020). There’s more equity, diversity, and inclusion than there’s ever been so I have to say today is my favorite time period.
What motivates you?
I’m very motivated by results. When I look at what motivates me, it’s about driving toward a goal.
What is the best thing about your job?
The people. I love my team, and I love the board that I serve. I love the community, and I love our Commonwealth. It’s so gratifying to bring the stories of Kentucky to our tourists and to our citizens.
What is challenging about your job?
Running a new institution, we don’t always have the resources that we need to do everything we want to do. Louisville has an amazing cadre of cultural institutions, but we really don’t have the funding mechanism to support all of those institutions.
What do you do to deal with stress and relax?
I have a very close group of friends. About three times a week, I meet two friends at Cherokee Park, and we walk two times around the loop. That is so important to me. This is a group of friends I made at Virginia Chance School when my kids were in preschool there. The mothers have gotten to be such a support and friend network. I also go to Beargrass Christian Church. That’s a big part of my life.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
About 12 years ago, we started the St. Matthews Farmers Market at my church, and I’m one of the members of the organizing committee. Every Saturday without fail, I’m at the market. Last year, a friend and I started making egg sandwiches there.
What would you dream of doing if you weren’t at the Frazier?
I have a desire to own some kind of lodging property with a cafe. I’d love to get into owning a bed & breakfast. I love breakfast and lunch cooking. I love farming. Some of my people were farmers, generations back.
How do you show gratitude to others?
I am a gift giver. My favorite things to give are fresh cut flowers and Benedictine and pimiento cheese. I love taking those to people. So many people help me do what I do. I try to be good about writing handwritten notes.
What is a personal goal you have?
I want to continue to be a good role model for my children, their friends, and my team for how you can try to have it all, which is really hard. I want to show my children that it is possible to be a good person, be active in my community, be committed to family life, but also to lead an organization.