Bradenton, Fla. – Visible Men Academy (VMA), founded in 2012 to provide boys with outstanding academic, character, and social education in a nurturing school environment, announced today the addition of seven new members to its Board of Directors. In addition to these appointments, the Bradenton K-5 charter school also announced the permanent appointment of Interim CEO and co-founder A. Louis Parker as CEO.
Parker said he and the board are focused on building upon VMA’s legacy of excellence as they prepare for a return to normalcy in the 2021-22 academic year.
“All of us – leadership, administration, faculty and staff – are proud of what we have accomplished in developing young men of high character and achievement here at Visible Men Academy,” said Parker. “As we prepare this summer for our ninth year of service to the people of Manatee and Sarasota counties, we look forward to doing even more for the boys entrusted into our care.”
Gerald Bruce, Timothy Fanning, Naiema Frieson, Ronald Johnson, Tomeika Hunter-Koski, James Stewart, and David Wilkins were all named to the Board of Directors. New director James Stewart said the new board members are united in their support for the school’s vision and values.
“As recently installed members of the Board of Directors, we’re looking forward to advancing VMA’s mission,” said Stewart. “We are especially pleased at the seamless leadership transition, and we know that VMA is actively positioning itself to achieve its long-term goal of providing a wholesome educational experience for more than 200 under-resourced boys in grades K-5.”
The board members each bring a wealth of accomplishment and a passion for primary education to their roles.
Gerald Bruce is the Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations, for Virpax Pharmaceuticals, where he leads all aspects of the development and implementation of the commercial strategy for Virpax novel non-opioid analgesics. He serves as the Chair-Elect of the Board of Trustees for Lincoln University and on the Board of Directors for A Different Path, Inc., in Sarasota.
Timothy Fanning has spent 13 years with The Capital Grille, a high-end restaurant with locations in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach Gardens, and Sarasota. Now a Managing Partner for the company, Fanning is bringing his leadership skills to a number of nonprofit boards, including the Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, where he has served on the Board of Governors for the past five years.
Naiema Frieson is co-owner of Frieson Vaughan Ventures, a business development and consulting firm. She spent 24 years in a variety of leadership roles in the hospitality industry with world-renowned companies including YUM! Brands, The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and Marriott International. She supports causes geared towards children, women, education, the arts, and economic mobility for underserved communities.
Tomeika Hunter-Koski serves as the Director of Mission Machangulo in Sarasota, where she oversees the development and implementation of educational programs while engaging a wide variety of audiences to increase financial support and resources for the organization’s mission. She also runs her own real estate firm in Bradenton, Queen Bee Real Estate. The U.S. Army veteran earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood education at Spelman College in Atlanta.
Ronald Johnson, PhD, is the immediate past president of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga. and a highly experienced business leader, board director, and recognized academic professional. He is a RAS Presidential Counsel in the Registry Advisory Service Board Governance and Leadership Practice and serves on the Impact Investing Committee of the Board of the Community Foundation of Sarasota. Most recently, he served as Chair of the Consumer Advisory Board of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
James Stewart, PhD, is professor emeritus, Departments of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, African and African American Studies, and Management and Organization at the Pennsylvania State University. Stewart is the immediate past president of the Manasota branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida and serves as a board member of the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition and the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative.
David Wilkins, JD, is retired after serving for 25 years at the Dow Chemical Company, retiring as the Associate General Counsel and Director of Ethics and Compliance. Wilkins and his wife, Lois Bright Wilkins, are active members of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Wilkins is the president of Manasota ASALH and his wife is Chair of the African American Cultural Resource Center at the Betty J. Johnson Library. Wilkins earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois School of Law and is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The VMA vision is to lead boys toward a realization of their innate strong character – boys who are family-oriented, community conscious, and globally aware. Through a firm foundation of intellectual and academic diligence, VMA students are equipped to meet and exceed the expectations of challenging middle and high school environments and are eager and determined to pursue college education. Through the rigorous modeling experience of the Visible Men Success Curriculum, VMA students gain vast exposure to future personal and career possibilities. These combine to cultivate within VMA students an unyielding sense of control over their futures – a critical orientation for lifelong success, personal fulfillment, and family and community contribution. For more information, visit vmacademy.org.