Shelby Thompson is every inch a Kentuckian.
She was named after Isaac Shelby, first governor of the Commonwealth. She makes it a point to check in at Keeneland for the April meet and again in October. And she represents the fifth generation of her family to occupy the house on the horse farm in the rolling hills of Bourbon County where she spent her childhood.
It’s called Snow Hill Farm. Shelby’s mother was a grade school librarian. Her father is retired from the horse business. Shelby didn’t ride much growing up – a kid doesn’t just hop on a thoroughbred and go. She was more into basketball, until she blew out her knee her senior year as a Bourbon County High School Lady Colonel.
Shelby’s great-grandmother was a major influence. “Sarah Chenault Thompson. I get my love of travel from her. She’d been to all 50 states. On Saturday nights, she’d babysit me. We’d watch ‘Love Boat,’ and she’d show me photos from her travels. She taught me that the world was much more than my immediate surroundings.”
Shelby left home for DePauw University and kept moving for the next two decades, studying in Rome and working in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London. Her travels have also taken her to Australia, South Africa, Vietnam, Brazil, Turkey and most of Europe.
She’s warm, confident and comfortable with who she is. A few years before joining the Firm, while still in Washington D.C., Shelby made the brave choice to become a mom on her own. She says it’s the best decision she’s ever made. She named her daughter Alice after Shelby’s maternal grandmother. She wanted Alice to grow up near family, so they came home to Kentucky. They live now in Covington’s MainStrasse Village, a short walk away from Shelby’s sister.
Connections matter in a big way to Shelby. She maintains friendships from childhood, high school, college, every stage of her life. She is usually the one who organizes get-togethers. She and her college sorority sisters have had a reunion every year since graduation, and she hasn’t missed one.
“It’s important to be there for those milestone moments – weddings, baptisms, reunions, funerals. I always try to be there for the person, whomever or whatever is being celebrated.”
Shelby joins Graydon as its first Chief People Officer. Her role is focused on recruiting new talent to the Firm, as well as developing and engaging existing talent at all levels, with a particular emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“Talent is the Firm’s most valuable asset and I take that seriously.” Shelby says. “I’m really grateful to have found a place that aligns so well with my personal values. This role is all about people -- and my life has always been focused on people and relationships.”