Louisville businessman Tom Hudson named JCPS chief business officer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Seven months after first announcing plans to create a new top-level position in Jefferson County Public Schools, the district named a Louisville businessman its new chief business officer on Monday.

In a press conference Monday morning, Superintendent Donna Hargens named Tom Hudson, president of Nth Works -- a stamping, welding, assembly and coating company, to the position. His first day will be Nov. 30.

"I have enormous respect for Dr. Hargens and what she is doing," Hudson said during the press conference. "There is so much positive stuff going on here and it seemed like something I wanted to put my shoulder to the wheel because there are changes that need to be made."

The position is expected to pay approximately $176,000 -- a salary Hudson acknowledges is a significant pay cut from his current position.

"I don't work for money, I work to serve," he said. "We have an issue here of trying to make the place better and get our kids in better shape."

Hudson said for years he's been "working as a customer of the JCPS system." 

"We want kids who can come into our business and help us create a world class operation," he said. "In that exposure, I began to see that we have some work to do in order to get our kids career ready."

Hudson is a graduate of both Stanford University and Harvard Business School. As president of Nth Works, he oversees 400 employees. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Enesco Group Inc., and president of Decision Management Inc.

"It's very important to me that every child in the district, regardless of their background, gets the opportunity for a great education," Hudson said. "The question always comes back to how are we going to pay for this? We are going to work on a way to pull things together so we can fund it."

Hudson is from California and spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a pilot. He and his wife Nancy have four grown children, who all attended public schools. He has lived in Kentucky since 2001.

"The first thing, make sure that we take care of every kid in the county," he said. "The next thing is that I want to make sure that the teacher and student relationship is working and that we are maximizing resources in the classroom so that we get kids with teachers more of the time. And then, I want to look at optimizing the resources we have to make that a reality."

Hargens said Hudson is a "highly experienced business leader and CEO who has managed both small and large human resources, finance, and purchasing departments, and whose business acumen will ensure the most efficient use of JCPS administrative funds."

"He has dedicated himself for more than a decade to creating and enhancing partnerships focused on development a better trained workforce," Hargens said. "Having been on the business side, seeking qualified employees, he gets what we need to do to prepare our young persons for college and career success.”

During the last decade, Hudson has been active in promoting partnerships focused on workforce development in public schools.

Hargens mentioned that Hudson launched a high school apprentice program with Jeffersontown High School at Nth Works; he was a force behind the Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) Program; and he is president of the Louisville chapter of the Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) program, a community partnership that creates dual-track, apprenticeship-style training for students.

Hargens has said the new Chief Business Officer will oversee Cordelia Hardin, the district's chief financial officer, and a new human resources director, who has yet to be hired. 

"I am not a finance person and I am counting on Cordelia to help me stay out of the mud," Hudson said at the press conference. 

This is the second key position to be filled in less than a week for Hargens, who on Oct. 26 named Dena Dossett the district's new chief of data management, planning and evaluation.

Hargens still has two jobs to fill on her cabinet: chief communications officer and chief academic officer. On Monday, Hargens said those positions will be filled "soon" -- before the end of 2015. 

Dewey Hensley stepped down from his position as chief academic officer earlier this month, In a scathing resignation letter, Hensley wrote "it has been a challenge to be heard above the 'noise' of indecision, the circling buzz of perception, and the hammer strikes to fabricate an image." 


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