Women who run things in Louisville [News]

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Statistics show that women are rising into more positions of power. According to a report by the United States Department of Labor, "Women accounted for 51 percent of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations." After reading an article in US Weekly that claims 57 percent of college students are women, I thought about how that leads to more women in power. I realized I know quite a few women who are in charge of a Louisville business. I've shared a few of them here.

Lisa Frye

Lisa Frye is a visual artist and the president/ founder of Art Sanctuary, an arts non-profit that has been showcasing local artists for 6 years in Louisville.

"At the time, it was very difficult to see local art, and a lot of awesome artists had amazing art rotting under their beds," says Frye. "I started the non-profit with a group of amazing women, and we had our first soiree at Adorno Studio with over 70 artists."

Art Sanctuary merged with the Alley Theater in 2009 when they opened an alternative theater at The Pointe in Butchertown. Alley Theater is Louisville's only alternative theater bringing in acts and shows that usually would not find a good venue in Louisville. In between their theatrical performances of shows such as Point Break Live, Evil Dead the Musical and Sweeney Todd, they have musical concerts, CD releases and themed festivals.

Frye was given the titles of production manager and art director in addition to her role as co-producer of the Va Va Vixens burlesque troop, which performs at the theater. She manages between 4 and 10 events at any given time, logging 60 hours or more per week.

She says it is hard to balance everything because she wears so many hats and fills in where needed, but it is most rewarding to help people make their dreams come true.

Sonya Linser

Sonya Linser is a mother and manager of The Great Escape: a comic, books, and records store on Bardstown Road. The Great Escape has been buying, selling and trading comics, books, action figures, vinyl, cds, dvds, blu ray, gaming supplies and more for 32 years.

Linser has been employed with The Great Escape for 17 years and has been manager for about four. She says they have very little turn over and have only put out a help wanted sign once in the many years they've been open.

"People who work here tend to not want to leave," says Linser. It's a great place to work with great customers. We have people leave for college and come back to work on their breaks. We have a lot of people putting in applications."

Linser stays busy with the demands of keeping the local business running. When interviewed, she was on day number ten without a day off and is sometimes referred to as the "dragon lady" by her employees when things get overwhelming. She says that part of that is also because she quit smoking last year and has been able to stick with it despite her hectic schedule. Even though she gets overwhelmed, she always comes across friendly and often knows the customers by name when they come in.

She says that the biggest challenge in managing the store is keeping up with technology changes without disrupting the familiarity of the store. The store recently launched sales of a T-shirt that says “Buy local or bye local”. So many things can be ordered online now, and technology changes have changed the way people seek entertainment. Despite these changes, Linser has seen generation after generation visit the store, and part of the comfort for customers is that the store is familiar and hasn't changed too much other than some of the items they offer . (They also offer cute baby onesies, weird decorations and novelty items, jewelry and t-shirts in addition to the books, movies, and music they sell.)

Despite her busy schedule and these challenges, Linser says that she likes working there and hopes it is around for another 32 years.

"I don't ever want to see it go away."

Sara Havens

Sara Havens is known for being a bar belle extaordinaire but is also the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Louisville Eccentric Observer a.k.a the LEO. She's been employed by LEO for 11 years now but has held many titles.

"I'm never sure what I'm supposed to be doing," she says. "Sometimes, they have me clean the bathrooms."

She started with them as Assistant Managing Editor right after college. She was sending out applications all over the country from her hometown in Ohio when she visited Louisville for her brother's wedding. She picked up a copy of the LEO and decided to apply.

Havens says that her job is pretty tough because there are so many things going on in Louisville. She has to make sure that the paper covers all of the important events each week. In addition to her "nine to five" editorial duties, she reviews an occasional movie and writes her Bar Belle column.

She enjoys hearing feedback and knowing when she has made someone laugh but also says that the perk of "free beer, [which] never hurts either". She occasionally picks up bar tending work on the weekends, and catches up on her DVR when she is not working.

When asked what her motto to lead by is, she replied "Dance like no one is watching."

Photo: Courtesy of Debbie Hess

About Jessica Lynn
Jessica Lynn has been writing for Louisville.com since fall of 2010 and has also been published in LEO, Velocity, Voice-Tribune and others after serving as Editor in Chief of The JCC student newspaper, The Quadrangle. She has also served as columnist or contributing writer to an array of online publications.
More articles from Jessica Lynn
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