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Jillian Blair

A portrait of Jillian Blair who has her blond hair pulled back and is shown from the shoulders up.

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Jillian Blair, a member of the Honors College from Wheeling, will graduate with a degree in environmental and energy resources management and minors in sustainable design and geology.

She has served as a Presidential Student Ambassador, ambassador for the Honors College, a member of the Sierra Student Coalition, and has held several leadership positions in the Student Government Association.

With a love for Appalachia and a passion for sustainability, this 2020 Foundation Scholar came to WVU with a desire to work in public policy. However, through a chain of experiences that she refers to as “serendipitous moments,” her career aspirations shifted to working in the private sector as a sustainable business leader and circular economy champion.

Her purpose is to create a better life for wealthy and underprivileged communities alike by giving all populations access to affordable, sustainable consumer lifestyles.

During her junior year, she took a deep dive into the world of green enterprise in West Virginia as a competitor in the Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab Social Enterprise Challenge. Here, she developed a business plan to transform Blue and Gold Solutions into a registered LLC, a social enterprise that aims to make green infrastructure and sustainable solutions more accessible to people in Appalachia.

Implementing a two-fold approach for clients, she offered 3D reality green roof renderings to visualize long-term savings and a grant application service to help reduce construction costs. She was exposed to the barriers of sustainability for financially secure individuals while hearing the testimonies of underserved communities who needed sustainability advocates the most, thus transforming her view of sustainability from the next big buzz word in industry to viewing it through a lens of humility and humanity.

Another experience that solidified her future was a two-year internship with FIRSTHAND Coffee, a cooperative that partners with small scale coffee farmers from around the world and local businesses to help build equitable economies.

She worked to expand the organic coffee brand into new businesses and develop a coffee label to support the international right to food movement, while honing her business leadership skills to identify private companies that have genuine environmental and social goals versus the ones greenwashing or resistant to change.

In addition to her entrepreneurial experiences, Blair completed a one-year internship with CRC Industries in Warminster, Pennsylvania, where she worked to gather data on carbon emissions and waste, and she conducted environmental research at a biological field station located in the foothills of the Maya Mountains through the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education.

Blair cited learning how to throw pottery at the Craft Center her sophomore year as one of her most rewarding experiences. This new-found passion led to a small business she now calls JKB Pottery.

Blair was endorsed by WVU for both the Rhodes Scholarship and Marshall Scholarship.

After graduation, she will attend the University of Sussex in England where she will pursue a master’s degree in sustainable development, followed by an MBA.