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Mayor taps local activist, artist to lead program helping areas with violent crime

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Posted at 1:27 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 13:27:49-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton on Wednesday named Devine Carama as the director of One Lexington, a program aimed at helping neighborhoods that are experiencing violent crimes.

“Devine has been living the mission of One Lexington for at least 15 years – long before we started One Lexington,” Gorton said. “Through hip-hop, teaching, community engagement and volunteer work he has built programs and initiatives that reach out to young people and help them build successful lives.”

In his new position, Carama will be in charge of coordinating, leveraging and mobilizing city government and community resources to enhance safety and quality of life in affected neighborhoods. He replaces Laura Hatfield, who moved to a new position in Parks and Recreation.

A Lexington native, Carama studied journalism at Aquinas College in Nashville, and business management at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

Gorton said his career is "hard to contain on a resume."

Carama is an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky, where he teaches a course that merges hip-hop writing and community engagement. He is the director of “Believing In Forever,” which offers youth programming like “Poetry in Motion Youth” and community service projects, like “A Coat To Keep The Cold Away.” He is a community engagement coordinator with FEND, which helps students “beat the opioid crisis.” He teaches an interactive summer class on the history of hip hop and how to write hip hop lyrics through the Carnegie Center.

“To me, a community operates at its best when different people from different walks of life with different ideologies come together. There is only one way for Lexington to become and stay a safer place and that is for us to come together as ONE. I look forward to utilizing my new position to be a bridge between government agencies and community partners to better serve the people of Lexington,” Carama said.

Carama won the Bluegrass Community Foundation Black Leadership Award in 2021, was named a “Point of Light” by the late President George H.W. Bush in 2018, and was the recipient of the Lauren K. Weinberg Humanitarian Award in 2018.

Carama and his wife, Cierra Spaulding, who is a life coach for girls and young women, have three daughters.

He is expected to begin work on June 7. His appointment is subject to the approval of the Urban County Council.