Equity Strategist, Counselor Educator & Mom
Written by Tawana Bain | Photo submitted by Dr. Kish Cumi Price
Dr. Kish Cumi Price credits her faith in Jesus for her interesting journey. She was born in Flint, Michigan, and then moved to Franklin, Tennessee, with her family as a teenager. She witnessed a jarring cultural shift and identified the power of influence. While growing up in Flint, she was surrounded by Black educators, clergy, advocates and working professionals who invested in her growth and development; however, when she moved to Franklin, Black influencers were minimal. She could see how the lack of Black leaders not only negatively impacted her and her Black peers in Franklin, but the whole community lacked due to this gap in presence.
She also experienced the positive impact of a loving family and village of supporters during her childhood. It was clear to her that the benefits that were afforded to her were not just for her, but she now had a responsibility to build with the bricks of knowledge, exposure and fortitude that she received–in order to help others.
An early example of this was when she was presented with an opportunity to go to Australia for a summer to study marine biology. She initially refused the invitation–only to be prodded by her father to get out of her comfort zone and explore–especially since she had been adamant about becoming a marine biologist. After a reluctant “yes,” she had an amazing summer exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, but she quickly realized that she was not interested in being a marine biologist. While in Australia, she witnessed that Aborigines experienced some of the same kinds of injustices in America that Black people experienced. For the first time, she realized that the impact of race relations was a global one.
Although she wanted to stay close to her family and attend college at the University of Tennessee, she once again leaned into her “yes” as she felt called to attend Wake Forest University. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Dance (one of her first loves). She also received her M.A.Ed in Counselor Education from Wake. She got married while in college and became a school counselor. For the next 12 years, she experienced the joys of serving others, being blessed with three wonderful sons, and falling to pieces and being put back together again after a devastating betrayal that led to divorce.
She had also experienced living in 10 different cities at that point–one of which was Louisville. She very quickly felt a calling to the city, but after nine months, she had to abruptly move away. So her question to God after being clear that she was to divorce was, “What now?” After a lot of praying, worshipping and studying of the Word, she knew God was leading her back to Louisville to pursue her doctorate in Counselor Education & Supervision at the University of Louisville. Her family questioned the move since she didn’t have any support in Louisville, and they knew that it could be challenging trying to raise her three sons (ages 8, 5 and 3). Once again she said, “yes.”
She is so glad that she did as it has led to a life that has allowed her to embrace the God-given assignments and to expand her Tribe Called Love. She met friends who became family and also met her husband, Daniel Price five years ago. They added the youngest addition to their family almost four years ago and share the privilege of parenting 10 children together.
Dr. Kish has focused on strategic action to support youth and families for over 20 years. Her work has been shaped by evaluating systems, identifying gaps and braiding resources. As a first-generation graduate, former small business owner, and a divorced mom that had to work multiple jobs while completing a graduate degree, she is invested in helping people prioritize health and optimize educational and workforce opportunities.
She has worked to extend the lines of equitable access in her former roles as President and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Workforce Development and Special Advisor to the Governor, Senior Policy and Advocacy Director of Early Childhood and K-12 Policy at Kentucky Youth Advocates, Director of Education Policy & Programming at the Louisville Urban League, Founding Executive Director of Smoketown Family Wellness Center, a higher ed administrator, a school counselor, and CEO and co-founder of Empowering Youth through Education. She is trained in clinical mental health counseling as a practitioner, researcher and counselor educator.
Her compass has been and continues to be to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” And when He directs, say, “Yes” — even when you don’t understand why.