our team

Who We Are

The Novak Family Foundation is a private family foundation funded by David and Wendy Novak. It was established in 1999 as a charitable trust to provide charitable grants and scholarships to people in need. In 2011, the Lift a Life Foundation was officially rebranded to reflect our purpose, to help those in need reach their full potential. In 2019, the name changed to the Novak Family Foundation to include the family name.

The Novak Family Foundation recognizes that without strong leaders and the resources to execute a large-scale vision, high impact in the nonprofit space is limited. We commit to partnering with organizations that have the leadership capability, the know-how and the personal passion to help their populations reach their full potential.


Executive Director

Ashley NOVAK Butler

Ashley Novak Butler serves as the Executive Director of the Novak Family Foundation. Her work includes developing and managing grant investments with the Foundation’s strategic nonprofit partners, overseeing board communication and staff development, marketing, financial investments and grant evaluation. She joined the Novak Family Foundation in 2010 and has since created and implemented the foundation’s investment strategy in the key areas of hunger relief, student leadership development, juvenile diabetes, early childhood education and military family support.

Ashley serves on the boards of various nonprofits including Dare to Care Food Bank, Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation, Stage One Family Theatre and the Guiding Team for the Metro United Way’s Ready for K Alliance. Prior to joining the Lift a Life Foundation, she worked for Southwest Airlines as a Marketing and Corporate Relations Manager. Ashley earned a B.A. in Political Science and Human Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University and is from Louisville, Kentucky. She is married to Jonathan Butler and has three amazing children, Audrey, Claire, and Luke.



Lead4Change Grant Manager; Novak Family Foundation

Debby Dodge

Debby joined the Novak Family Foundation as the Lead4Change Grant Manager in July 2013 after retiring from USA TODAY as Senior Director of Education. Debby’s responsibilities include overseeing the Lead4Change Grant contribution, establishing, building and developing strategic partnerships, facilitating teacher training and outreach, and managing the Lead4Change Educator Advisory Board.

With a passion for education, Debby loves the work she does to shape the leaders of tomorrow through the Lead4Change Student Leadership Program. “We have seen firsthand how Lead4Change brings about an amazing transformation in students and the communities they serve.” Lead4Change empowers students to act, to serve and to make big things happen locally or globally in their communities.

Contact Info: debby@liftalifefoundation.org


Grants Administrator

Megan McDougal

Megan joined the Novak Family Foundation as the Grants Administrator in November 2014. Megan’s responsibilities include: managing the Community Impact grant application process; developing the website and all social media content. She loves the work she does administering the Community Impact Grants process and recommending innovative and beneficial partnerships that will make a difference. She also enjoys using social media to develop the conversation around the passions of the Novak Family Foundation.

Prior to joining the Novak Family Foundation Megan earned her Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism from Western Kentucky University. She is orginally from Elizabethtown, Ky and currently lives there with her husband and best friend Matt McDougal, and has two incredible children, Simms and Evie.

Contact Info: megan@liftalifefoundation.org


Our Board of Directors

David and Wendy Novak

David Novak is Founder and CEO of oGoLead, a digital leadership development platform he created to help people become better leaders by teaching vital HeartwiringTM and HardwiringTM skills.      

He is Co-Founder, retired Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM), one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with over 45,000 restaurants in more than 135 countries and territories.  He retired in 2016.

A renowned expert on leadership and recognition culture, Novak is also a bestselling leadership book author.  His highly respected and critically acclaimed books include The New York Times bestseller "Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen", "The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office" and his latest parable, "O GREAT ONE! A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition".

Yum! Brands includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, the global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. Yum! Brands employs 1.5 million company employees and franchise associates across its worldwide system. Outside the United States, the Yum! Brands system opened over six new restaurants per day on average, making it a leader in global retail development.

During his tenure as CEO, Yum! Brands doubled in size to 41,000 restaurants and established itself as a global powerhouse going from approximately 20 percent of its profits coming from outside the United States in 1997 to nearly 70 percent in 2016, while remaining an industry leader in return on invested capital. In so doing, Yum! Brands’ compound annual shareholder return has been 16 percent and its market capitalization has grown to nearly $32 billion from just over $4 billion.  Novak was also the architect of spinning off Yum! China as an independent public company as its largest licensee. In so doing, Yum Brands is now almost wholly owned and operated by franchisees.

Prior to leading Yum! Brands, Novak was President at both KFC and Pizza Hut, and held senior management positions at Pepsi-Cola Company, including Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review.  He received the prestigious 2015 Horatio Alger Award for his commitment to philanthropy and higher education and became a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.  He is the recipient of the 2012 UN World Food Program Leadership Award for Yum! Brands World Hunger Relief effort that raised awareness, volunteerism and funds to address the global problem. He also received the national 2008 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. Novak serves on the board of directors of Comcast and is a special contributor on leadership for CNBC.

Novak and his wife, Wendy, established the Novak Family Foundation in 1999 to help individuals in need reach their full potential through innovative grants in the areas of youth leadership development, hunger relief, early childhood education, juvenile diabetes and military family support. 

Wendy Novak serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Wendy Novak Diabetes Care Center. She also serves as the Chair for the Novak Family Foundation Community Impact Grant Committee. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University.

David and Wendy credit their success to their strong family ties and the people who believed and inspired them to reach their potential. David and Wendy are excited about the Novak Family Foundation and it’s mission. Through the foundation, they hope to make a greater impact on the lives of individuals and families in need and to develop leaders who can make a difference locally, nationally and globally.

Jonathan Butler


Jonathan Butler is a Marriage and Family Therapy Associate serving primarily foster and adoptive families or children, while also working as the Director of Life Coaching and Ministry Development for Orphan Care Alliance. He received his Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Campbellsville University.  Prior to becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist, Jonathan spent ten years working in ticket sales and services for several collegiate athletic departments around the country. Jonathan sits on the board of Love Thy Neighborhood, a gospel-centered, social justice non-profit, serving the Louisville community. He and his wife Ashley have three children, Audrey, Claire, and Luke.