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John Skowronski ’91

Posted in: Alumni Spotlight

John Skowronski on Bloomfield College campus.

Lost in a large university, John Skowronski ’91 rediscovered his academic purpose at Bloomfield College. Here, he not only found his way but also discovered his passion.

After leaving a large university where he felt lost as a student, John Skowronski ’91 found his way back to academia at the close-knit campus experience offered at Bloomfield College. It was here that he bloomed and found his passion in accounting and taxation.

“I first studied engineering at a big school, but I was not feeling motivated to study. I just focused on having fun and that did not help my grades over a number of semesters,” says Skowronski. “I swung back and forth between doing well academically and doing very poorly. I stopped going to class, quit college and returned home. My parents were disappointed, but they supported me as I worked on finding my way.”

Once he was back home in Westfield, New Jersey, Skowronski started working in a minimum wage job at a one-hour photo store. He later moved on to a full-time job at a video store where the manager had immigrated to the United States from Cuba. He had earned his college degree in the United States before eventually fleeing communist Cuba with only what he could carry in his pockets and in his head. His manager’s story of hard work and determination, and what higher education did for him, deeply inspired Skowronski. He soon heeded his manager’s advice and made the decision to return to school and focus on accounting.

Knowing the big school environment was not for him, Skowronski started taking some classes at Union County College to test the waters and soon transferred to Bloomfield where he hit his stride.

“My manager could see that I was much better off studying something where I could apply my interest in business,” says Skowronski. “So, at Bloomfield, I majored in Accounting. It was close to home and offered a night and weekend program, so I didn’t need to quit my full-time job. My manager was very accommodating. He let me come and go as I needed for classes. Through his encouragement, and the ability to live at home with the support of my family, I found my motivation to set new goals and was doing very well in my classes.

“The small campus environment and a number of the faculty at Bloomfield literally saved my life. I was a lost soul in my early 20s when I attended the big school. Having my professors actually know who I was had a huge impact on my academic success. If I missed class, my Bloomfield professors noticed and would check on me at the next class. They were so caring, and truly took an interest in me and all the students.

“Even as a commuting student with a full-time job, I loved my time at Bloomfield. I enjoyed the interaction in the small classes where you could not help but feel engaged. I graduated magna cum laude, and went right to Fairleigh Dickinson University for my master’s degree in taxation. By that time, I had started a property tax and sales tax compliance position at AT&T just before graduating from Bloomfield, and AT&T paid the tuition for me to earn my master’s, which was huge!”

Skowronski credits the stable footing he found at Bloomfield with setting him on a successful life path. Today, he serves as a vice president of Incentives at Experian Employer Services, a major corporation headquartered in Ireland with its US headquarters in California. John focuses on Fortune 1000 clients and saving them state and local tax through many different economic development programs. Previously, he served as a services director for Tax Credit Services with ADP for nearly 10 years. Earlier roles included serving as director-Tax Credits and Incentives with Baker Tilly US, operations manager-Tax Credits and Incentives at Equifax, and senior manager-Northeast Practice Leader Credits and Incentives with Deloitte, among others.

“My career is interesting because it’s a subspecialty of a subspecialty. I work with many of the same people that I worked with 30-some years ago since there aren’t many people that do what I do. Recently however, I have been spending most of my time working to develop technology solutions that can help companies do what I’ve been doing for years through automation. Companies want to be able to monitor their performance in real time and I see an urgent need in the marketplace with so much money at stake. If companies fail to live up to their commitments, they can lose a lot of money, and I want to give them better information to manage with,” says Skowronski.

“I also find myself in a circular path from when I was a student. I returned to Bloomfield about 12 years ago and became very involved, and it all started with a $25 donation that went awry. After neglecting to sign the donation check, I was asked to come by campus rather than mail in another one. I took up the chance and was very glad I did. The campus looked fantastic compared to when I had attended, and I got a little nostalgic about that time and how Bloomfield College meant more to me than I had realized. It really sparked something in me, and I knew I wanted to bring back what I could to support future students, some of whom might now be going through what I had gone through back then,” he says.

It was suggested that he attend an upcoming Alumni meeting, and Skowronski says that while attending the meeting and hearing from a number of alumni association leaders, he was moved to get involved. With that involvement came enhanced donations and he began making gifts to support Bloomfield students in a more targeted way.

With the help of ADP’s matching gift program, he contributed to the Franklin Residence Hall campaign, he created the John B. Skowronski ’91 Communications Scholarship, and endowed the John Skowronski ’91 Accounting Scholarship for lower-income students with need. While the accounting scholarship was being funded over five years, he funded an ongoing annual award as well.

What’s more, he has given freely of his time – serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for five years until stepping down when he changed jobs during the pandemic and was involved in various pandemic relief programs that consumed his time.

“I was very sad to have to step down from the BOT and I admire all of my fellow trustees who helped bring Montclair and Bloomfield together. Perhaps my proudest accomplishment as a trustee is when I served on the search committee that hired Dr. Evans as Bloomfield’s 17th president. We flew in candidates from all over the country. She was the first candidate we interviewed, and she set the bar so high that no other candidate even came close to her as far as I was concerned. I was a huge proponent of bringing her on board. To me, she was perfect. One notable way that she impressed all of us was how she walked into the room, shook each of our hands and knew everyone’s name – and there were a lot of us. She owned the interview!” he says.

Currently, Skowronski serves as treasurer of the Bloomfield College Alumni Association (BCAA), a position he has held for a number of years. The BCAA recently recognized Skowronski with a Distinguished Alumni Membership Award for his service, which he says he greatly appreciated.

“I am so hopeful for the future of Bloomfield and everything I have seen lately. From my perspective, the merger was executed with thoughtfulness and concern for the students which is what it’s all about. Dr. Koppell and Dr. Evans are doing a wonderful job and I know so many people played a hand both publicly and behind the scenes. I want to thank all of them!

“It truly is my intention to continue to become more involved in the alumni initiatives that are being designed through the merger with Montclair State University, and to continue to further advance the wonderful legacy that we have built at Bloomfield, with a focus on current students. I always see myself in the faces of the students, and this is my opportunity to help them the same way so many people helped me when I was a student here. I also love my fellow BCAA members and hope that we have many more good times to come trying to do the best that we can for the students.”