Blair Skidmore, Barbourville Independent Schools
Kentucky School Advocate
January 2022Q. You grew up in Barbourville, spent a year at Centre college, graduated from Union College and worked there before leaving for jobs in North Carolina, Atlanta, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. Why did you return to Barbourville three years ago?
After my grandmother passed away, my mother suggested we purchase her property. My wife’s father lives across the street, and my mother is in town still. My wife’s parents were aging. We decided to return back home and be closer to family.Q. What was the value in working in other cities and states?
The whole reason I left was that I had a conversation with then-Union president David Joyce about career paths and I told him that, at some point, I’d like to be sitting where you’re sitting. He told me the best thing you can do is go and get experience elsewhere and bring that experience back and apply it. It makes you a much more effective leader.Q. You were elected to the school board in 2020. Why did you run?
A friend who works in the school system approached me and said a position was opening on the board, they needed someone good and hoped I would consider running. My father had the same thing happen when a friend approached him about running for city council. My dad served and when he passed away, my mother filled his term. In our family, we want to be of service to the community. If you want things to improve, you have to roll up your sleeves.Q. You work in higher education. Can you explain what you do?
A. I work for Dynamic Campus, which provides IT outsourcing for colleges and universities when they are struggling to make their systems work. We have a cadre of subject matter experts; my area is enrollment and admissions. I work from my home office but spend 15 to 20 percent of my time on campuses.
Q. As someone who works in IT, why is bringing broadband so important to the area.
A. We lived here for a while before we moved to Pittsburgh, and I was trying to find a remote position. I did get an interview, but with the internet we had at the time I had issues even being on a Zoom call for the interview and was not surprised when I didn’t get the job. Now I’ve got a half a gigabit fiber internet connection with plenty of bandwidth in my home office. And the pandemic has shown you don’t have to be in an office to be successful and functional in a role. Gov. Beshear is adamant that we need to expand broadband infrastructure within rural areas so we can have the same capabilities as urban areas.
Q. What is something most people don’t understand about eastern Kentucky?
A. They may not understand the tenacity and capabilities of the people here. There are so many smart, talented and amazing people and if they had access to the same types of services and opportunities as other areas, people would be hearing a lot more about this area. We’ve had a Tony Award winner come out of our little town and others who have done some pretty spectacular things and I think that is going to continue. The more opportunity and services we bring into small rural areas will allow us to spark imaginations of our children and get them thinking about these career paths and jobs of the future. The day that first kid from rural Kentucky is walking on the surface of Mars, that will be a good day.
Getting to know
Profession: Senior business analyst for Dynamic Campus
Family: Wife, Jennifer Travers Skidmore; seven children, Tyler, Alexandra, Jane, Teben, Stephen, Vilia and Ava
Favorite subject in school: High school: science; College: theater; I was a drama major.
Hobbies: My wife is a realtor and we run a couple of Air BnBs and a rental. We both like to cook. My wife loves to entertain so we’ll have fondue nights or fire up our outdoor pizza oven.
Book recommendation: I’m recommending something to help take board members’ minds off the pandemic. “Sam the Cooking Guy: Recipes with Intentional Leftovers” by Sam Zien. From the book’s 20 master recipes, you can create 100 dishes. It decreases food waste. It’s what happens on college campuses – food that’s not eaten is converted into a different dish.
Interesting fact: In Pittsburgh, I worked as a development vehicle operator for Uber’s self-driving cars. It was one of the best jobs I ever had and if it had paid more I would have never left. The interview process was rigorous; you had to go through a series of tests given by high-performance driving instructors on a test track and then do a week of training on the road. There were two of us in each car, a pilot and copilot, and we monitored and reported any issues on a computer hooked up to the car.