Mary Gwen Wheeler – Executive Director

wheeler portrait-web


Mary Gwen Wheeler is the Executive Director of 55,000 Degrees. Previously, she served as the Mayor’s Sr. Advisor for Education and Youth for Louisville Metro Government, leading policy development and implementation of education and youth initiatives. In Jerry Abramson’s first term as Metro Mayor, she served as Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. In June of 2010, Ms. Wheeler was also appointed by Governor Beshear to the Kentucky Board of Education.

With a B.A. in American Studies and a Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale University, Ms. Wheeler also has experience in family literacy, workforce development, non-profit management, strategic planning, and international development. This included 10 years with the National Center for Family Literacy as a project manager and vice president of planning and development.


Board of Directors

55,000 Degrees is a public-private partnership, and is overseen by a diverse board of directors.

  • Chairman Greg E. Fischer,
    Mayor, Louisville Metro Government
  • Ms. Susan A. Barry,
    President and CEO, The Community Foundation of Louisville
  • Mr. Tony Georges,
    Human Resources Director, UPS Air Region
  • Mr. David Calzi,
    Managing Partner, Ernst & Young
  • Dr. Kevin Cosby,
    President, Simmons College of Kentucky
  • Ms. Wendy Dant Chesser,
    President and CEO, One Southern Indiana
  • Dr. Susan Donovan,
    President, Bellarmine University
  • Dr. Ty Handy,
    President and CEO, Jefferson Community and Technical College
  • Ms. Alice Houston,
    President and CEO, Houston-Johnson, Inc.
  • Mr. David Jones, Jr.,
    Chairman and Managing Director, Chrysalis Ventures
  • Ms. Tori Murden McClure,
    President, Spalding University
  • Mr. Travis Haire,
    Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College Southern Indiana
  • Mr. Kent Oyler,
    President and CEO, Greater Louisville, Inc.
  • Dr. Marty Pollio,
    Superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools
  • Dr. Neeli Bendapudi,
    President, University of Louisville
  • Ms. Theresa Reno-Weber,
    President and CEO, Metro United Way
  • Ms. Sadiqa Reynolds,
    President and CEO, Louisville Urban League
  • Ms. Mason Rummel,
    President, James Graham Brown Foundation
  • Ms. Leisa Schulz,
    Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Louisville
  • Mr. Glenn Sullivan,
    President, The Sullivan University System
  • Dr. Raymond Wallace,
    Chancellor, Indiana University- Southeast