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Board of Education

Left to Right: Deborah Finley, Terry Vest, Judy Ledford, Superintendent M. Sean Horne, John Jones, Sean Whitt



Sean Whitt
Board Member Since 2011

Mr. Whitt graduated from Russell High School in 1990 and attended the University of Kentucky. He graduated from the UK College of Business with a BBA in Marketing in 1994 and the UK College of Law in 1999.

Mr. Whitt is currently a partner of VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP, a law firm in Ashland, Kentucky, established in 1923. Mr. Whitt has concentrated his practice in the area of litigation in both state and federal courts. Among other specialties, his practice has included educational law in representing several school districts and boards of education. In addition to his professional career, he has been involved in several community organizations. Mr. Whitt was an original Incorporator of the Russell Education Endowment Foundation, past Board member of Hope's Place in Ashland, Kentucky, former Representative of the Seventh District for the Young Lawyers' Section of the Kentucky Bar Association, and member of the Boyd County, Kentucky, and American Bar Associations. Mr. Whitt also enjoyed many years of coaching in the Russell - Flatwoods Little League and JFL programs.

Mr. Whitt’s family includes his wife Becky and two children, Chaz, a graduate of Russell and a current student at the  University of Kentucky College of Law, and Laney who currently attends Russell Schools.


 Judy Ledford
Board Member Since 2007

Mrs. Ledford is a 1959 graduate of Russell High School. After earning her Bachelor's Degree in English and Art from Eastern Kentucky University, she began teaching at McDowell Elementary School in the Russell School District. While working for the District, Mrs. Ledford received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and her Rank I in Administration and Counseling from Morehead State University. Mrs. Ledford moved to the Russell Junior High in 1969, teaching English and Art until 1972, when she became the Guidance Counselor and later Asst. Principal for Russell Middle School. In 1993, Mrs. Ledford became the Director of Pupil Personnel for the District until her retirement in 1998.

Mrs. Ledford is a former board member of the Russell Education Endowment Foundation. She currently serves as organist for First United Methodist Church in Ashland.



Terry Vest
Board Member Since 2009

Mr. Vest is a 1975 graduate of Russell High School and a 1981 graduate of the University Of Kentucky College Of Pharmacy. Currently, Mr. Vest is employed with King’s Daughters Medical Center as a Clinical Pharmacist he also serves as a Preceptor for aspiring Pharmacists. Mr. Vest is an active member of First Baptist Church Russell and has enjoyed many years of service in the Russell-Flatwoods Little League Program.

Mr. Vest’s family includes wife Elisabeth and three children, Tyler, Hailey and Landon. Tyler, is completing his final year at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Pharmacy, Hailey is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, and Landon is currently a rising Junior at the University of Louisville.


Chair - Deborah Finley
Board Member Since 2017

Mrs. Finley is a 1974 graduate of Huntington East High School, though she grew up in Boyd County.  She is a 1988 graduate of Morehead State University with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education. Mrs. Finley continued her education but obtained a Master's in Elementary Education with Reading Specialist Endorsement from Morehead State University, Rank I in Elementary Education with Teacher of Hearing Impaired Certification from Eastern Kentucky University, Supervisor of Instruction & Principal Level I Certification from Morehead State University, Master's in School Administration with Principal Level II Certification from Morehead State University, Professional Certificate for School Superintendentship from Morehead State University, and continued education towards an Ed.D in Administrator Leadership for Teaching and Learning from Walden University. 

Mrs. Finley retired from Russell Independent School District in July 2016 as Chief Academic Officer.  While employed with RISD, Mrs. Finley served as Principal of Russell Primary from 2005-2010 and Chief Academic Officer from 2010-2016.  Before RISD, Mrs. Finley served as a Literacy Interventionist with Wayne County Schools in West Virginia, Teacher of regular education, speech & language, and teacher of hearing impaired with Boyd County Schools, and Principal of Catlettsburg Elementary in Boyd County.  Along with in school leadership, Mrs. Finley was an active member of Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA), Kentucky Association of Assessment Coordinators (KAAC), Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Reading Recovery Council of North America and was a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) partner.


Mrs. Finley's family includes husband, Jim, and two daughters, Rebecca and Keri.  Of her 6 grandchildren, 3 are Russell Graduates and 2 are current students.


John Jones
Board Member Since 2011


Mr. Jones is a graduate of Danville High School in Danville, Kentucky. He attended Eastern Kentucky University obtaining his Undergraduate Degree in Social Studies and his Master’s Degree in History and Elementary Education.


Mr. Jones served in the United States Army for two years before beginning his career with Russell Independent Schools. While with the District Mr. Jones served in many capacities including Teacher, Asst. Principal, Principal and, finally, Director of Pupil Personnel and Transportation. Mr. Jones retired from the District with 31 years of service.


Mr. Jones’ family includes wife Harriet and one daughter, Erin. Erin is a graduate of Russell High School and Transylvania University.