Our Mission: To Help improve the lives of underprivileged students and their families in the greater Jacksonville area during the holidays.
Board of Directors
Bright Holidays' Board of Directors came together in July, 2005 and is comprised of the area business leaders and educators identified below. Bright Holidays plans to expand its Board in the coming months.
John Forrester, founder of Bright Holidays, is a business consultant. Mr. Forrester has held senior management positions with LK Industries, CSX Transportation and Buildscape, an Internet start-up focused on the home building marketplace. Other work experience includes Mars Electronics, a subsidiary of M&M/Mars Corp., KPMG Peat Marwick, Wang Laboratories and IBM. Mr. Forrester has also published several business articles and taught at the University of North Florida's Business School. He holds a BA in Mathematics/Russian Studies from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Forrester is a former board chair and board member of the Otis Smith Kids Foundation, which served underprivileged children in the greater Jacksonville area for nearly 20 years. Earlier in his career, he campaigned for the United Way.
Leigh Forrester is a native of Northern Virginia and graduate of Sweet Briar College. Leigh moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1996 and has twenty-one years experience in development/advancement and nonprofit management. Locally, Leigh has worked for the North Florida School of Special Education, Episcopal High School, and the College of Business at UNF. Leigh has served on the boards of the Friends of Guana River State Park and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Leigh co-founded Career Frontiers of NE Florida Inc and the nonprofit’s Bark ‘N Howl Bakery in 2009 and served as President of the Board 2009-2012. Leigh has been involved with the JAX Chamber since 2006. She has served as President of the Arlington Council (2007 & 2008), served on the Board of Directors of the Health Council (2010-2012) and on the JAX Chamber’s Board of Directors (2012 & 2013). Leigh served as the JAX Chamber Councils Chair (2012 & 2013) and on the board of the Women Business Owners of North Florida.
T.J. Fraser has been involved in many community organizations, including acting as a Director for the Otis Smith Kids Foundation, acting a Director for the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association, being a Program Director for the Holiday in January project (which provides gifts to children entering the Jacksonville foster care system during the month of December), and being involved with the "Back to School Jamboree" project (which provides school supplies to children that are underprivileged or in the foster care system). T.J. is the managing partner and one of the founding members of Eavenson, Fraser & Lunsford. Prior to his current position, T.J. has been a member of the management team of several companies, and was formerly an associate at Rogers Towers, P.A. T.J. earned his B.A. (in economics) and his law degree from the University of Florida, where he was a member of the Editorial Board of University of Florida Law Review.
Karl Hanson, Jr.
Karl Hanson, Jr. is an attorney with Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, a Florida law firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA. He has been a commercial real estate lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida for 41 years. Mr. Hanson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (1968) and received his law degree from the University of Florida (1971). Mr. Hanson has served on numerous civic and charitable boards, including as a board chair and board member for the Otis Smith Kids Foundation. Mr. Hanson was formerly a partner of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP and Smith & Hulsey.
Hannah Hawkins has been a resident of the Ponte Vedra Beach/Jacksonville, FL area since 1997. She graduated with honors from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Advertising (2012) and is a member of the "F Club" athletic alumni organization after being a 4-year member of the University of Florida Dazzlers dance team. After graduation, Hannah moved to New York, NY to work in for publishing Men's Health magazine.
Hannah is currently an account manager for a school communications platform, PlanetHS/K8, and works closely with Duval County Public Schools. She is also a team member of the Jacksonville Jaguars ROAR Cheerleaders and has been involved with multiple community events and organizations as a representative of the Jaguars organization. Hannah has worked as a Bright Holiday's Sorting Day volunteer over the past several years and is excited to become more involved with Bright Holidays as a member of the Board.
Lindsay Hoffmann has been a resident of Jacksonville for over 20 years. She attended the University of North Florida, where she graduated with honors in 2005. Lindsay has been serving the children of Jacksonville for the past nine years as an elementary teacher. She is currently a third-grade reading teacher at Chet’s Creek Elementary. Lindsay is passionate about literacy and hopes to share this passion with the Bright Holidays community.
Melanie Jennings Husk
Before Melanie Jennings Husk joined Baptist Health in 2006, she was president of Husk Jennings, Jacksonville-based advertising and public relations agency which she founded with her husband Gary in 1978. Husk Jennings was an award-winning creative firm serving local and national accounts in diverse industries ranging from health care to banking to telecommunications. Among its notable accomplishments, Husk Jennings was ranked as Jacksonville’s number-one woman-owned business.
Husk has earned a number of awards for her professional and volunteer work, including receiving the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from University of North Florida, as well as being selected as a Florida Times-Union EVE Award finalist, a Tribute to Women (TWIN) winner, and a Jacksonville Business Journal Woman of Influence.
Active in the community, Husk serves on the boards of various organizations, including the United Way of Northeast Florida, University of North Florida Foundation, YMCA Metro, and Bright Holidays. She is a past member of International Women’s Foundation and served on the Board of Easter Seals for 12 years, earning recognition as the first individual outside of the medical profession to receive its Professional Advisor of the Year Award.
A graphic designer by training, Husk graduated with honors from the University of North Florida in 1977. In 2005, Husk became the first woman in the nation to receive the Advertising Federation of America’s Silver Award in recognition of her accomplishments in the industry.
Dr. Johnson earned a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and her Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. She has taught in most elementary grades, in middle school, and at two universities. She served proudly as Principal of West Jacksonville Elementary for 11 years and Eugene J. Butler Middle School for four years and as an Executive Director for 34 schools. She is completing her 45th year as an educator and now serves as Principal of West Riverside Elementary and Dual Language Magnet School. She is completing her 45th year as an educator and now serves as Principal of West Riverside Elementary and Dual Language Magnet School. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Johnson has been blessed with a rich career, focused mostly on at-risk, high poverty populations. Her career began as an instructor in a maximum security prison at 22 years of age. This life-changing assignment was the fuel for her passion to try to keep students from such a destination by making sure she is always part of the solution. A world-class education is what every child deserves and she has dedicated her life working to that end.
God has blessed her to be the recipient of a number of awards in education, to have served on the Executive Board of Leadership Jacksonville, and currently serves on the Executive Boards of Bright Holidays, Young Life, and the Children’s Resiliency Project in South Africa for orphans of AIDS.
Honors and Recognitions:
- University of North Florida Outstanding Alumnae Award (1992)
- Regional Outstanding Elementary Principal (1997)
- Member of Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society (1997)
- Florida Times-Union EVE Award Winner in Education (2000)
- True Bible Character Award from Truth for Living Ministries Seminary (2000)
- Member of Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2001
- Featured on the poster for the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women (2001)
- Mary Singleton Award for Education (2002)
- Nominated for Pi Theta Lambda Honor Society (2002)
- Living Through Giving Community Hospice Award (2006)
- Thomas Mulkeen Best Dissertation Nominee (2009)
- Panelist for The Urban Symposium 1, “Reclaiming Young Black Males for Jacksonville’s Future” (2009)
Frances T. King
Frances T. King, a native of Lakeland, FL, owns and operates Sunmint of Ponte Vedra, Inc. of the Shapiro Insurance Group in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Frances is a member of Insurance Women of America, the Ponte Vedra Chamber of Commerce, and an avid supporter of Shriners Hospitals, VFW and various other charities.
Frances began involving herself in community activities in Lakeland, where she was a board member of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and a fundraiser for the PTA, Florida Southern College, the Womens Club and Chamber of Commerce. A favorite project was Paint Your Heart Out Lakeland, where she worked with other civic leaders and 2,500 volunteers to repair and repaint 75 area homes for those unable to do so themselves, all in a single day.
Upon moving her family to the Jacksonville area in 1993, she began serving on the board for the Educational Foundation in Ponte Vedra Beach, joined Women Business Owners and Esprit de Corp. In addition to Bright Holidays, Frances remains active in the greater Jacksonville community.
Dean McQuiddy is a founding principal of Sawgrass Asset Management, a Jacksonville based registered investment advisor with over $4 Billion in assets under management. He graduated from the University of Florida with a finance degree and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. In addition to Bright Holidays, he has been involved with several community based organizations including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lifework Leadership, The Taylor Home Foundation, and the Otis Smith Kids Foundation. He is a deacon of the San Jose Church of Christ. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach with his wife Julie and their three children.
Todd Miller is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina and moved to Florida to study finance at the University of Florida (2005), where he graduated with honors. He has lived in the Jacksonville area for over the last 6 years, where he is a Top Producing Mortgage Specialist with EverBank. Todd is a strong supporter of many community organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Girls for Africa, the YMCA, and now Bright Holidays. Todd is an avid adventurer who enjoys traveling and is always up for new experiences.
Pearl Roziers is Executive Director of School Choice/Pupil Assignment Operations for Duval County Public Schools.
Mike Shreve is President of MTS Analytics. Previously, Mike was Vice President of Business Analytics at ADT, a $3 billion security company, and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Credit Policy and AT&T Universal Card. Mike has a BS in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the Darden School of the University of Virginia. Mike's community involvement includes serving as a board member and board chair for the Otis Smith Kids Foundation; serving as a director of the Jacksonville Basketball League; and coaching more than 35 youth teams over the last 25 years.
After working as a journalist and media relations professional for many years, Holly returned to school for a master's degree in Practical Philosophy & Applied Ethics at UNF. These studies ignited a particular interest in social justice issues, deepening an awareness of the voices too often missing from public discourse because they lack the stature to be heard. She devoted her graduate internship and thesis to the work of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, with its call for a gender-responsive approach to girls in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She recently documented Florida's justice for girls movement through a writing grant from the Policy Center.
Holly's Bright Holidays involvement began in 2010, when she and her young son were recruited as gift wrappers for students at Spring Park Elementary. They were instantly hooked by the warmth and enthusiasm of everyone they met, recruiting the rest of the family in subsequent years, and then becoming involved in public relations for the organization. Holly is a former communications consultant for The Children's Campaign and recently served as a citizen member of the Florida Times Union editorial board.
Violetra C. Ward
Violetra C. Ward, recently retired having served for over twenty-three years with the Duval County Public Schools. Ms. Ward’s experience includes six years as District Cadre with Professional Development, three of which she served as a visiting professor for the University of North Florida’s Excel Program for pre-service teachers. Ms. Ward went on to serve as a Design Coach for an America Choice School and then as Vice Principal for Pinedale Elementary. Ms. Ward also served as a Vice Principal at Chimney Lakes Elementary for two years. Throughout her career with the County Schools, Ms. Ward has implemented several innovative Safety Nets. She has also served the school and community to provide assistance for families in need through her collaboration with organizations such as the Otis Smith Kids Foundation, United Way, and now Bright Holidays.
Paige Wagner is an Assistant General Counsel with Florida Blue. Prior to joining Florida Blue in August 2013, Ms. Wagner worked as an attorney with the Jacksonville office of GrayRobinson, P.A. Ms. Wagner is a native to Jacksonville and graduated from Episcopal School of Jacksonville in 2002. After high school, Paige attended the University of Florida and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 2005. While in college, Paige was a member of Kappa Delta sorority and was elected as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Paige also attended the University of Florida for law school and graduated cum laude with a Juris Doctor in 2008. Ms. Wagner and her husband John have two children and she is excited about the opportunity to serve the children and families of Jacksonville through Bright Holidays.
The Board of Directors anticipates that this list of schools will change over time based on the success of fund-raising efforts and the identification of those in need.