DIS Alumni Spotlight: Kat Abner

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, December 19, 2023


There is a Danville Schools alumna on the 2023 Louisville Business First 40 Under 40 honoree list: Kat Abner, a 2005 Danville High School graduate.

She stuck around Danville to attend Centre College and graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in government and international relations. She then earned a dual master’s degree from the University of Louisville in urban planning and public administration.

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Now, she lives in Louisville with her husband and dog, and she is Social Purpose Manager at Yum! Brands Inc. This is the work that got her recognized on the 40 Under 40 list. She manages Yum!’s Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, a $100 million social impact initiative that addresses inequality across the globe. She also shares stories about the impact of the initiative and engages employees in volunteer activities with community partners.

Some other community involvement of Abner’s is that she mentors high school students through the Cardinal Bridge Academy and sits on three boards. She’s co-board chair of the 3003 Project, treasurer of Sarabande Books, and she is also on the board of Arts Journalism Trust. In her spare time, she likes to travel, go antiquing and complete do-it-yourself projects.

Keep reading to learn about Abner’s Danville Schools journey.

Tell us about your Danville Schools journey. What school(s) did you attend, and what’s a highlight that stands out to you?

I attended Toliver Elementary and grew up four houses away! I also attended Bate Middle School and Danville High School. Going all the way, kindergarten through 12th grade, with the same people, it was wonderful to be able to share formative experiences with the same friend group.

What aspects of your Danville Schools education helped mold you into the person you are today?

Danville Schools offered me so many choices from a very young age. Beginning in middle school, we had the opportunity to choose our elective courses. That’s how I discovered my love for the French language, which set me on the path to not only study abroad in France in college but forge a career in international philanthropy. There were also so many extracurricular options. I was on the swim, cross country, track, tennis and soccer teams. Always having such a busy schedule taught me discipline and time management skills that have been invaluable professionally.

When you think back on your Danville Schools experience, are there specific instances or relationships that stand out to you as having had a significant impact on your success since graduating?

Coach EG Plummer was one of the most important people to me growing up. He instilled confidence in me, encouraged me to not let obstacles stand in the way of what I want to accomplish, and gave me leadership opportunities. Coach Plummer was deeply invested in me and my teammates, and the positive atmosphere he fostered taught me the power of a positive attitude on a team.   

As a product of Danville Schools, what advice would you give to a parent who was choosing an education path for their child?

Give your children the space to explore their passions. In today’s world, kids are expected to specialize, whether in sports or career fields, so early. I am so grateful to DISD for providing me with so many options throughout my entire educational journey.

As a product of Danville Schools, what drives you to give back to your local school and/or district?

I cherish my time in DISD, and it has made me a huge public school advocate. If you’re not able to directly be involved with Danville Schools, become an advocate for the local public school district where you live so that students can benefit from the same kinds of experiences as you did.