20 Under 40: Kelly Latterman
People usually attend school board meetings because they have something on their mind and a specific message to give to the board, but when Kelly Latterman went to her first meeting, she was just looking to observe.
When she came to Steamboat Springs, in November 2013, Latterman thought she was going to finish her thesis, work on ski patrol and coach young skiers for a winter and then move on with her life.
“I got pulled in, and I have been here much longer,” Latterman said.
The following year she took a job in Denver with the National Conference of State Legislatures, where Latterman was focused on education policy and specialized in rural education. The job required a lot of travel to other state capitols.
See all of the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s 2021 20 Under 40 winners here.
She went to graduate school on nights and weekends at the University of Colorado Denver and was frequently making the trek back up to Steamboat.
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“It was a lot of miles and cars and airplanes,” Latterman said. “I loved my work in Denver, it was really fulfilling and to a certain extent, that was what got me involved right away in the school district up here.”
Latterman first served on an advisory committee gathering information ahead of running the last bond issue proposal. A year later a position opened up on the school board, and she was selected to serve for a year before running to retain her seat.
“My thought process was that I really like connecting people and ideas, and I also love policy,” Latterman said. “This was local policy, and I could take my state and national experience and apply it at this level.”
Latterman’s foray onto the school board led to people asking about how old she was. She recently turned 29 and doesn’t really think her age matters.
“At 22, I was on a stage talking to a roomful of legislators as a technical expert in school leadership policy,” Latterman said. “I’m not intimidated by people, and I’m very comfortable leading a discussion. It’s not a problem for me.”
As a local school board member, Latterman said she tries to respond to everyone and works to be available for the community. When she first started on the board, there were weeks where it was just three hours of work and others where it is was closer to 15 hours.
“School board is an incredible commitment. It is unpaid and often thankless,” Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton wrote in her nomination of Latterman for 20 Under 40.
“(Latterman) is cool, calm and collected. She has taken the challenges thrown at her with grace and confidence,” wrote Steamboat Springs council member Lisel Petis in her nomination of Latterman.
Now as president of the school board, there have been times when Latterman had to spend more than 40 hours a week to manage the COVID-19 crisis. But she also has an actual job she gets paid for.
Latterman, who previously served as director of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, is now district director of Routt County Junior Achievement.
“I actually did Junior Achievement programming as a student myself, so I was pretty familiar with it,” Latterman said.
The pandemic forced the nonprofit to pivot, and Latterman had the chance to teach some of the classes. While the overall number of students last year declined, Latterman said engagement was stronger.
Latterman also serves on the board of trustees for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and for the hospital’s foundation. She has various volunteering commitments, and she is always looking to recruit passionate people. Latterman and her husband, Harry, have a newborn son Brooks.
“It doesn’t really matter what they are passionate about,” Latterman said. “I just like hearing what they care about. I try to do a lot of listening, just to learn.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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