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Board of Trustees Members Sworn in at Appalachian State

The six individuals who were sworn in as members of the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees during the board’s Sept. 13 meeting held on Appalachian’s campus. They are, from left to right, John M. Blackburn, James “J.K.” Reaves ’93, Kimberly Shepherd ’97, Thomas Sofield ’76, Mark E. Ricks ’89 and DeJon Milbourne. Administering the oath of office was North Carolina District Court Judge Rebecca Eggers-Gryder ’83 (not pictured). Photo by Marie Freeman

By Megan Bruffy

New and reappointed members of Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees were sworn in during the board’s Sept. 13 meeting held on Appalachian’s campus.

North Carolina District Court Judge Rebecca Eggers-Gryder ’83, of Boone, administered the oath of office to six trustees, including returning members John M. Blackburn, of Linville; Mark E. Ricks ’89, of Bluemont, Virginia; and senior DeJon Milbourne, of Fayetteville, who is president of Appalachian’s Student Government Association (SGA).

Newly appointed members are James “J.K.” Reaves ’93, of Kernersville; Kimberly Shepherd ’97, of Warrensville; and Thomas Sofield ’76, of Boone. James M. Barnes ’84, of Raleigh, will be sworn in at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting.

The Board of Trustees approved the following officers for the upcoming year: Blackburn as chair; Scott Lampe ’94 as vice-chair; Ricks as secretary; and Dawn Antonucci as assistant secretary. These appointments became effective immediately.

About the recently sworn trustees:

James M. Barnes ’84
Barnes is president of NAI Carolantic Realty Inc. He was a founding member of Appalachian’s Board of Visitors. He has previously served the Board of Trustees as chair, vice-chair and secretary. He earned a degree in business administration from Appalachian in 1984.
John M. Blackburn, chair
Blackburn is president of Linville Resorts Inc. He has served in numerous volunteer capacities for Appalachian since 2004, including serving on the Appalachian State University Foundation Inc. Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Blackburn was named an honorary alumnus of Appalachian in 2009.
DeJon Milbourne, ex officio
Milbourne is in his second term as SGA president and serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for Diversity Recruitment and Retention. He is also a member of Appalachian’s Phi Beta Sigma chapter. Milbourne is a senior triple major in finance and banking; risk management and insurance; and accounting.
James “J.K.” Reaves ’93
Reaves is a senior vice president of BB&T’s Life and Financial Planning Department. He has previously served Appalachian as a member of the Appalachian State University Foundation Inc. Board of Directors and as former president of both the Appalachian Alumni Council and the Yosef Club Advisory Board — Appalachian Athletics’ fundraising and advancement group. Reaves was a member of the Mountaineer football team and captain of the team for two years. He established the J.K. Reaves Financial Planning Annual Scholarship for Appalachian’s Walker College of Business.
Mark E. Ricks ’89
Ricks is the owner of Double Wood Farm, an equestrian sanctuary for retired horses in Bluemont, Virginia. Previously, he was the director of global protective operations at Mars Inc. in the Washington, D.C., metro area. In 2017, he committed $10 million to support the A Mountaineer Impact initiative — which provides essential resources for Appalachian Athletics — representing the university’s largest outright gift to date.
Kimberly Shepherd ’97
Shepherd serves as chief executive officer of SkyLine Membership Corp., a telecommunications corporation headquartered in West Jefferson. She first began with SkyLine working part-time in the repair service department and worked her way up to CEO. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics-secondary education from Appalachian in 1997. Shepherd has previously returned to the university to share insights with students in Appalachian’s Walker College of Business.
Thomas Sofield ’76
Sofield is a real estate developer and owner of Sofield Properties. He received Appalachian’s 2017 Outstanding Service Award for his support of the university. Sofield and his family provided the lead gift for the $50 million Sofield Family Indoor Practice Facility. Previously, he served on university boards, including the Athletics Feasibility Committee and the Board of Visitors. Sofield was captain of the 1975 Mountaineer football team.