Public Servant

| May 25, 2011
J.P. Davis.

J.P. Davis.

Chances are, if you’re part of the out ‘n’ about crowd in Louisville, you know J.P. Davis – or at least know his face.

Perpetually smiling and seemingly everywhere, particularly at charity functions, the University of Louisville graduate is always quick to support causes and the individuals behind them.

“I’m just a public servant at heart,” he said. “I’m just fueled by people. I can’t think of anything worse than going home and sitting and watching TV.”

Davis grew up in Ashland, Ky., the middle sibling to two brothers and the child of parents who believed in living life for all it’s worth. “I am my mom and dad,” he said. “They are the funniest, most interesting people. They taught me to see the goodness in people, and I really do see the goodness in people.” That’s no small feat considering he knows first-hand what it’s like to be treated based on outward appearances.

J.P. Davis circa 2003.

J.P. Davis circa 2003.

“I’m always going to be a fat girl at heart,” said Davis, who has lost almost 100 pounds since 2003 after waking up one day and deciding it was time to change his life. “I wouldn’t call it a diet. I just changed the way I viewed life. I was tired of being everybody’s teddy bear.”

New to Louisville, Davis realized the move also offered much in the way of “opportunity, education access and exposure – to culture, to what’s possible. And also confidence. I just changed my life completely and said I’m going to be me and keep it real. I changed everything – everything – and I refused to go backwards. I think we are who we are from our past experiences.”

Because of the experience of growing up in a world that all too often looks the other way when it comes to ridiculing people based on appearances, Davis said he gained an understanding of how difficult it is to “really know people” and the knowledge that “words really matter. Everybody comes from different backgrounds and different experiences. I tell people: don’t judge a book by its cover. I know. I’m happy that I had that experience; I’m treated much differently than I was as a fat kid. You know what’s sad? I’m taken more seriously.”

J.P. Davis.Davis also takes his position in the Office of University Advancement for U of L to heart, along with the influence that can come from a combination of passion and a gift for networking, which Davis continues to demonstrate again and again.

“I think it has to do with growing up in Eastern Kentucky and having a real understanding for education and opportunity and how that can make a difference,” he explained. “My brothers and I were always taught about placing others before yourself. I truly believe our legacies, our individual legacies, it’s how people remember us and the effect that we have.”

Right now, Davis’ focus is on putting his efforts behind a soon-to-be announced project that will support researchers. “I’m tired of people getting cancer and tired of people dying of cancer. … We can cure cancer here at U of L. The support doesn’t have to come from people with millions (of dollars). I think all of us have opportunities, no matter what position we’re in, and this is mine – to help recruit people. For me, this is personal.”

Q&A with J.P. Davis

I work in University Advancement at the University of Louisville.

My parents are Bob and Peggy Davis in Ashland. My brothers are Bobby and Wes. I’m the middle; Wes is younger. They live in Ashland, too. My family has a ton of animals. I used to have a dog, but I had to give her up because I was too busy. Her name is Andi. She’s a rat terrier-Chihuahua-Jack Russell all in one. Every time I go home, she cries and squeals and it breaks my heart every time.

I live in Clifton Heights here in Louisville.

Out ‘n’ About
I like to go to Cherokee Park, Sol Aztecas, I love to just go and try restaurants and lounges. I go to Mellwood Arts Center. I spend a lot of time at Pure Fitness.

Well read
I typically like to read autobiographies and biographies. I like to read presidential historical books. … I never like to read one book at a time. It’s usually three or four or five. Thomas Friedman, I’m a fan of him. I like Dan Brown’s books. … I’m fascinated by people. They don’t have to be famous.

Tune in
I listen to all kinds of music. I’m a big fan of Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, of course, Jason Mraz. I listen to every type of music, even country. I’m not a big hard-rock kind of person, but I listen to Train. I don’t know; I like them all, even the boy bands.

Mentor me
I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of great mentors. I do consider that one of my greater blessings. I do have a lot of great people who have put themselves out there for me. It keeps me grounded, too. It helps with decision-making and that sort of thing. I do have one person I consider very special. This person flies under the radar…. She doesn’t let bias and ego and outside interests affect decision-making or the focus, the mission. When you think of words like integrity and honor, intelligence, leadership, all of those strategic words, this person by far – of anyone I’ve ever met in my life – embodies these things. Every day I’m grateful that I get the opportunity to learn from her. Additionally, the environment that I get to work around every day at U of L is a blessing. I consider myself an apprentice.

Presidential pride
The vision of (U of L) President James Ramsey, it’s amazing what he has written down for U of L, but he includes the community, the state, the region. He really understands the impact U of L is going to have on all of us, not just the U of L community. It is community-based and community-minded.

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Category: The Profile

About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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