Northern Kentucky, and Our Region, Loses a Respected Community Leader and Fierce Advocate for Families

(Newport, Kentucky – October 24, 2022) It is with great sadness that Brighton Center shares the sudden and unexpected passing of Vice President Talia Frye on October 20, 2022. She was a leader, role model, mentor, and friend to all. 


Talia’s career at Brighton Center began in January 2003. During her tenure, she had the opportunity to lead and build program efforts in the areas of Crisis Stabilization (homelessness to self-sufficiency), Workforce Development, Family Development, Community Building, and Youth Development. This has included developing and implementing national best practice models such as the Center for Employment Training, Family Development, Family-Centered Coaching, and the Financial Opportunity Center model. She was promoted to Vice President in February 2021.

“Talia made each employee feel welcome, provided compassionate and approachable support, and was a consummate humble servant leader,” said June Miller, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. “The depth of her oversight at Brighton Center was undeniable. She was responsible for an organization with far-reaching impact and provided oversight to a multi-million-dollar budget, close to two hundred employees, and thousands of volunteers.” 

Not only was Talia an inspiring leader within Brighton Center, but she was also an innovative leader regionally and nationally. Much of Talia’s work recently was spent as a driving force with national efforts on workforce development and the field of job quality leading, both the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Employer Best Practice Symposium (which she Chaired for several years; most recently held in March of 2022) and the regional Job Quality Challenge (which received national attention). 

She leveraged the experience of working with families on their journey to financial stability and independence to help employers build talent pipelines that benefit their bottom lines and the lives of their staff and families. She was an integral part of leading the work of Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce (GROW NKY) Pillar 2: College and Career Readiness and Pillar 5: Employer Policy and Practices (for which she is the immediate past Chair). 

Talia was instrumental in bringing The Talent Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati to our region (she was a vital founding member and the current Vice Chair). The Talent Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati is a regional tri-state workforce development initiative that is now a member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions network of 34 communities across the U.S. seeking to improve workforce outcomes. The National Fund offers leading-edge resources, best practices, and thought leadership to help benchmark and accelerate efforts, with an emphasis on equity and inclusion. Quoted for a recent press release for this groundbreaking initiative, the following was put forth by Talia: “Now, more than ever, our region’s employers need access to the most cutting-edge solutions to meet their labor demands. At the same time, workers in our community need us to understand the complexity of their lives, including what factors help or hinder their ability to get and keep quality family-sustaining jobs,” said Talia Frye, Vice President at Brighton Center. “The National Fund for Workforce Solutions connects our community to the most innovative and comprehensive best practices our nation has to offer.” This was the type of visionary and methodical thinker she was for our region.

Talia never turned down the opportunity to be at any table to share the voice of our families. She knew that it was important for others to understand their lives, the issues they faced on their journey to achieving their aspirations, and the critical role systems and public policy played in holding them back. She served on the Mental Health Court Community Board, Talent Strategies Symposium Planning Committee, the Newport Primary School Resource Center Advisory Council, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Committee (having previously supported the Grow Mentoring Program and Annual Breakfast Committees), to name a few. She understood and lived Brighton Center’s value of community leadership with heartfelt dedication. 

“Talia was a champion for all, impacted thousands of lives, and believed deeply in the potential of every human and led them to believe in themselves,” shares Melissa Hall Sommer, Vice President at Brighton Center. “Her heart for giving back to the community was evident and she modeled the way for our staff and customers.”

Talia was an alumna and steadfast supporter of Northern Kentucky University (NKU), where she earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a master’s degree in public administration. She provided instrumental leadership to the start-up of Brighton Center’s Opportunity House on NKU’s campus, an innovative project to develop post-secondary education opportunities and stable housing for young adults (ages 18-24) with difficult lived life experiences…ultimately leading to academic success, employment, and self-sufficiency.  

Talia was a respected and trusted community leader and sought-after national presenter in countless trainings and webinars; most recently, she presented on Understanding the Social Determinants of Work in August for the National Fund. Internally within Brighton Center, she received every employee award throughout her tenure. Externally, she was a recipient of the NKY Young Professionals at the NKY Chamber of Commerce with the Next Generation Leader Award in the Community and Social Services Category in July 2018; the Outstanding Workforce Employee of the Year in 2020 from the Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board; and a recent Workforce Cultivator nominee for the 2022 GROW NKY Workforce Innovation Awards.  

“Talia was a special soul with the biggest heart who worked with strength and conviction daily to make this world a better place. The impact on us, our families, and our work over the last 20 years have been profound and beyond measure. The outpouring of love, support, and condolences has been immense, a testament to a meaningful life lived with purpose, kindness, and compassion. We are all better (the Center, this community, our region, and each of us) for having known and loved her. She was our mission; she was our values; she was Brighton Center with every fiber of her generous heart and passionate being,” said Wonda Winkler, President & CEO of Brighton Center.

At the end of the day, the north star for Talia was always those we serve; children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and older adults…everything she did had families at the core. She was a fierce advocate for them at every turn, and because of her, hopes and dreams were realized.


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