Lexington is Full of Pioneers


Lexington has tons of cool history, but it’s not just the super-old, colonial kind of history that makes the pioneer the perfect mascot for Transylvania. Our community has been the home of all kinds of inspiring leaders.

Take our city’s first female mayor, Pam Miller.

Lexington's first female to hold elected office, Pam Miller served as mayor from 1993-2003.

Lexington’s first female to hold elected office, Pam Miller served as mayor from 1993-2003.

In the 1960s and ’70s, she was active in social justice movements for both environmental and women’s rights, joining groups like the National Organization for Women.  The NOW is the largest feminist activism organization in the country – they facilitate calling campaigns to Congress, organize public demonstrations and educate the public on issues of diversity and gender equality.

Pam Miller was originally part of the feminist movement in California, but moved to Kentucky to continue her work as a political activist. In 1973, she joined Lexington’s City Council — making her the first woman elected to public office here. How cool is that?!

Twenty years later, in 1993, she became the first woman elected as mayor of Lexington, too. She served as mayor for ten years (two terms) and brought all kinds of great changes to the city. Miller is credited with accomplishments like:

  • increasing arts programming
  • developing the downtown commercial district
  • making the city safer
  • creating new programs for youth in the community
  • improving environment education by encouraging more people to recycle

Pretty impressive.

Since leaving the mayor’s office, Miller has remained active in both Lexington and Kentucky. She has served on the state’s Council for Postsecondary Education and was recently named the chair of that council. The CPE is a group in the state government in charge of reforms to the postsecondary and adult education system.

I’ve been researching Miller for a project in my Feminist Rhetorics class this semester and it has been pretty exciting to know that women’s political activism isn’t new to Lexington. Miller was even included in the book “Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975.” There’s no denying that Miller’s work has brought positive change to our community and Lexington, and our state as well.

As a college student, it’s much easier to become invested in the life of the campus than the life of the surrounding community. That difference feels especially true in politics because most students are still registered to vote in their hometown, not in the city of their university. At a small school like Transylvania, it’s so easy to spend all your time on campus and rarely venture outside what we call the “Transy bubble.”

But after living in Lexington for almost three years, it’s obvious to me that our location in the city is one of the most unique benefits of Transy. We really are lucky to be in a campus and a community full of so many kinds of pioneers.