Van Wezel Foundation Advances Vision for Next Chapter with Board Expansion

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SARASOTA, FL (April 19, 2021) The Van Wezel Foundation has added four new members to its Board of Directors with the election of Michele Hooper, John E. Maupin, Charles Wilson and Jaih Jackson. The new Directors bring a breadth of expertise and diverse backgrounds from finance, corporate and non-profit leadership, academics, and community health and well-being. In addition, they all have served on the boards of nationally recognized arts organizations throughout the nation.

“We are pleased to expand the Foundation board with the appointment of such talented members of our community,” said Jim Travers, Board Chairman. “We are so fortunate to have these proven leaders to help shape this transformative next chapter of the Foundation, with our mission to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds.”

For nearly 35 years, the Van Wezel Foundation has provided grants to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to support arts education and integration throughout our region. Together, the organizations serve more than 40,000 students and their families with enriching arts-based education opportunities each year. In addition to providing professional development for more than 400 educators across five counties, the Foundation is also leading “The Future Is Now” campaign to help the community realize the promise of the Bay Park master redevelopment plan featuring a new world-class performing arts center at its heart.

“Our new members complement the Board of Directors’ skills and experiences and we are confident they will provide valuable perspectives,” said Cheryl Mendelson, CEO. “We are so pleased they chose the Van Wezel Foundation for their service.”

Michele Hooper is the co-founder of The Directors’ Council, a firm which helps corporate boards increase independence, effectiveness and diversity. Ms. Hooper’s 30 years of corporate board experience spans multiple industries with an emphasis on audit, governance, finance and strategy. A highly regarded governance expert and business executive, she holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Hooper currently is a director for United Airlines Holdings and UnitedHealth Group. Previously, Ms. Hooper served on the corporate boards of Warner Music Group, PPG Industries, Target Corporation, and Seagram Company.  

Ms. Hooper is retired from the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) where she served as President of the Chicago Chapter. In 2017, she was recognized as Director of the Year by NACD.

Currently Vice-Chair of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, Ms. Hooper is also a past Director of arts and culture organizations including the Joffrey Ballet and The Economic Club of Chicago.

“I am excited to serve on the Board of such a forward thinking organization whose mission is dedicated to both the opportunities of today and the possibilities of tomorrow,” explains Ms. Hooper. “I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the Foundation’s ambitious vision.”

John E. Maupin, DDS, is a retired healthcare executive with more than 40 years of experience in healthcare administration, public health and academic medicine. A career dental officer in the United States Army Reserves, he retired from the military in 1997. He earned his DDS from Meharry Medical College’s School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee. He also holds an MBA from Loyola University Maryland.

Dr. Maupin served as President of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia until his retirement in 2014. Previously, he was president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville for 12 years.

Other distinguished senior leadership positions include Chief Administrative Officer of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; Chief Executive Officer of Southside Healthcare, Inc. in Atlanta; and Deputy Commissioner for Medical Services, Baltimore City Health Department in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Maupin has a lifelong love of the arts – he is a seasoned jazz musician who is actively engaged in civic and community affairs. He currently sits on the Board of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and has previously served on a number of non-profit boards including the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, America’s Promise Alliance, and United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta.

“I am thrilled to play a role in helping to realize the vision for a new performing arts center,” said Dr. Maupin. “This transformative legacy project will make an impact for the entire region for generations to come.”

Charles Wilson is a veteran financial executive with more than 30 years of commercial and international banking experience. He has held senior positions at firms including Bear Sterns and Co, Inc., AIG Financial Products, and Irving Trust Company, living around the globe including New York City, Tokyo, Japan, Melbourne, Australia and Taiwan. He holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BA in Economics and Poetry from Amherst College.

He currently is an independent financial consultant, advising small companies and start-ups in the areas of building business plans, raising capital and operating funds, performing valuations, and structuring financial obligations. 

Mr. Wilson has been a supporter and patron of the arts in Sarasota for more than six years and has been an active volunteer of the Foundation, serving on the Van Wezel Foundation’s Community Council. He also is a Trustee for Safe Place Rape and Crisis Center (SPARCC) and the Bird Key Yacht Club.

“My wife, Sue, and I have been involved with the Van Wezel Foundation as supporters of arts education for many years,” noted Wilson. “I look forward to translating my career experiences to help bring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community to a reality.”

Jaih Jackson, DDS, is the founder of American Family Dental in Lakewood Ranch, which he started in 2002. He served as a Florida Dental Board Examiner for 10 years and continues to mentor students from the Manatee Technical College Dental Assisting program.

Public service has always been important to Dr. Jackson. After receiving his dental degree from Howard University, Dr. Jackson provided dental services through the National Public Health Corp. to migrant workers and their families in the Plant City community.

Along with his commitment to service, Dr. Jackson is passionate about the arts. He has served on the Board of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe for more than 10 years and is a former board member of Studio 620, an art house located in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Dr. Jackson is also a 30-year member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, where he established the Apollo Club mentoring program. He furthers his commitment to public service by participating in mission trips to Jamaica in partnership with the Jamaican Ministry of Health.

“It is my honor to join the Van Wezel Foundation Board at such a pivotal time in our community’s post-pandemic recovery,” said Dr. Jackson. “I’m happy to support the Foundation’s work in arts education and integration, which provides academic resources for children, training of educators, and vital support for families throughout the region.”

These new Directors join current board members: Jim Travers, Chair, Jenne Britell, Vice Chair, Ali Bahaj, Gerald Biller, Chad Campbell, Vern Chalfant, Mark Famiglio, Julie Harris, David Koffman, Michael Martella, Elaine McClure, Karl Newkirk, Nanci Ross-Weaver and Michael Wilson.

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