Board Members

Board Members

Chairman John D. Rood

Ambassador John D. Rood was appointed to the Florida Prepaid College Board by Governor Rick Scott in 2016 and is the current Chairman of the Board. As Chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Board, Mr. Rood serves as Chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation Board. Mr. Rood is the founder and chairman of The Vestcor Companies. He served as United States Ambassador to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas from 2004 until 2007. Mr. Rood previously served as a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Board of Governors of the State University System. He is on the Board of Trustees of Flagler College and previously served as a board member for Episcopal High School and Teach for America. Mr. Rood received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana.

Vice Chair Madeline M. Pumariega

Madeline M. Pumariega is the President of Miami Dade College, where she previously held several key leadership roles.  Ms. Pumariega has served as Chancellor of the Florida College System and as the Executive Vice President and Provost at Tallahassee Community College. Prior to becoming Chancellor, Ms. Pumariega served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Take Stock in Children, a statewide non-profit organization that aims to help at-risk youth break the cycle of poverty by completing college. Ms. Pumariega also serves on the board of City Year Miami and was a national Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community Colleges program. Ms. Pumariega is a doctoral candidate at Barry University and earned her Master of Education from Florida Atlantic University and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Thomas University.

Headshot of Daniel Bean

Daniel Bean

Daniel Bean is co-founder of Abel Bean Law P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida, serving the legal needs of military veterans and government clients. He is a former managing partner at Holland & Knight Law in Jacksonville and a retired Navy Captain. Bean received the Legion of Merit, among other awards, during his twenty-five years of service. Captain Bean is a founding member and Chair of K9s for Warriors, the largest domestic provider of service dogs to Veterans, and is Treasurer for Five Star Veterans Center, a homeless center for Veterans. He was recently appointed to the Jacksonville Port Authority. Captain Bean attended Vanderbilt University, and later graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law.

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Derek Bruce

Derek Bruce serves as a founding shareholder with the Orlando law firm Gunster, and in that capacity manages a specialty practice in complex property disputes and litigation. His community board service includes chair of the Orange County Redistricting Authority and the African American Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of Class 22 of Leadership Florida. Mr. Bruce has three degrees from the University of Florida, which include Law, Journalism and Business Administration.

Headshot of board member Maria J. Lara

Maria J. Lara

Maria J. Lara is the Chief Executive Officer for Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF). Prior to joining NCEF, Lara was Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s (RCMA) Director of Charter Schools. She has more than 20 years of experience in program development and designing effective educational programs for at risk children. Among her major contributions are the development of five charter schools for at risk children, two housing developments for low-income families, and a founding member of a domestic violence prevention organization. Her civic involvement includes serving on District XI Juvenile Justice Board and various non-profit organization boards. Some of her accolades include Woman of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Homestead, Florida and being one of El Nuevo Miami Herald’s “Rising Latino Leaders”. Ms. Lara holds two undergraduate degrees from Florida International University and Universidad de las Americas, and she is a graduate of Hodges University with a Master’s in Public Administration.

Staff

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Kevin Thompson

Kevin Thompson was named the executive director of the Florida Prepaid College Board and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation in April of 2012. He joined the Board in November 2011 as Director of the 529 Savings Plan. With more than 18 years of experience in financial and administrative management, Thompson has served in key roles with several state agencies, most recently serving as Director of Agency Support Services for the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) for the past nine years. Prior to this, he held financial and administrative positions with the Florida Department of Management Services and the Florida Department of Banking and Finance. Mr. Thompson’s private sector experience includes stints with Ernst & Young and Law, Redd, and Crona. Mr. Thompson is a Certified Public Accountant and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accounting from Florida State University.

Cindy O’Connell

Mrs. Cynthia F. O’Connell serves as the inaugural Director of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the Secretary of the Florida Lottery and under her tenure directed an historic 38 percent increase in revenue over 4.5 years. Mrs. O’Connell is past chairman of  Florida House Board on Capitol Hill and served a 10-year term (2001-2011) on the University of Florida Board of Trustees. She currently serves as a gubernatorial appointee of the Volunteer Florida Board, and serves on the UF National Foundation Board. Mrs. O’Connell is a graduate of Leadership Florida, a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, current president of the Economic Club of Florida and advisory board member for St. John Paul II Catholic School in Tallahassee, Florida. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Florida State University, obtained a Graduate Studies certificate in financial services marketing from Louisiana State University and was named in 2000 as an honorary alumnus of the University of Florida.

Kelia Wilkins

Kelia Wilkins has been working with the Florida Prepaid College Program since 2005 and is proud to assist in providing educational opportunities to students throughout the state of Florida. Ms. Wilkins is a go-to resource to all scholarship recipients, donors and institutions seeking assistance with their Florida Prepaid College scholarship. Ms. Wilkins is a graduate of Florida A& M University in which she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

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