Detail image of Brigette Brouillard for June 2023 MAW stories.

MacDougal dress, $460, at Glasscock/Glasscock Too.

Brigette Brouillard: Founder & Director, Second Chances Wildlife Center

Written by Dawn Anderson, Rocko Jerome and Taylor Riley | Photographed on location at the Frazier History Museum by Kylene White | Styled by Christine Fellingham and Melissa Gagliardi | Hair and makeup by Sarah Allen, Kassandra Cazares Aldana, Kayla Greenwell, Breanna Peters and Michaela Reeves

The field narrowed from over 400 nominations to 89 nominees and finally to the 16 award winners you will meet on the following pages. Representing each of their categories with distinction, your 2023 Most Admired Women bring humility, grace and a great capacity for change to their roles as leaders in our community. We asked each of them to reflect on how they got to this moment, what your votes and this award means to them and where their journeys might take them from here.

“I didn’t realize so many people were voting and I am so appreciative,” says non-Profit Leadership category winner Brigette Brouillard, Founder & President of Second Chances Wildlife Center. “This is great for awareness of our services.” Brigette’s 501(c)(3) organization began in 2009 as a one-woman operation “conserving wildlife through rehabilitation and education.” Second Chances Wildlife Center ( now rescues hundreds of animals and educates thousands of students annually. It achieved a national platform by being featured on the National Geographic reality show Bandit Patrol.

Located on 23 acres in Mount Washington, Kentucky, the staff at Second Chances Wildlife Center work every day filling an important niche in our community. “Some days it can be exhausting and even sad, but I have to stay strong for my team,” says Brigette. She also faces challenges in fundraising and maintaining a volunteer base large enough to care for the wildlife “twenty-four-seven, 365 days a year; animals don’t know holidays.”

“Some days it can be exhausting and even sad, but I have to stay strong for my team.”

Brigette earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University and holds a state and national Environmental Educator Master Certification. With more than 20 years of experience as an environmental educator, she has been named a Kentucky Conservation Teacher of the Year. Brigette dreamed of being a zookeeper, sneaking animals into the basement of the family home from as far back as she can remember. She finally realized she’d hit the big time with regularly-scheduled educational programs and the national publicity and awareness generated by the NatGeo show. According to Brigette, “Being able to operate and offer our services on a daily basis with a dependable team is success enough for me.”

Although Brigette developed so much of Second Chances on her own, she appreciates the long-term volunteers. Another ally along the way was Eileen Wicker, former Director of Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc. “As we got to know each other, we developed a great mutual respect,” Brigette says. “We realized we had similar challenges and viewpoints.” Former Sam Swope Auto Group President Patti Swope purchased the building at Second Chances and continues to support its efforts now as President of Swope Properties, LLC.

Brigette also admires celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and Ian Somerhalder for using their platforms and resources to advocate for wildlife and the environment. But the people who inspire her most of all are her son and daughter. “Both of my children have chosen to serve their communities as well,” she says. “Kyle works very hard to be a good leader in the Army as a Blackhawk pilot. Molly is such a compassionate and ambitious person, just sworn in with a police department.”

The plan for Second Chances Wildlife Center is to continue to grow and add more educational programming. “We will be making improvements and modifications to the property, including a separate bat rehabilitation building,” says Brigette. “My goal is to be able to add more staff members and eventually enjoy my retirement as Second Chances continues!” — Dawn Anderson