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South Florida Museum Welcomes New Members to its Board

The South Florida Museum recently welcomed six new members to its Board of Trustees who bring with them key professional experiences and backgrounds that will help the Museum remain a regional leader in its field:

  • Dr. Jennifer Bencie, County Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County;
  • Dr. LeMoyne Johnson, owner of Johnson PhotoImaging;
  • Matthew J. Lapointe, Principal, Blalock Walters, PA;
  • Michael C. Moore, Vice President and Business Center Manager for Hancock Whitney Bank;
  • Chris Perkins, Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking for Premier Community Bank;
  • Charles Zajaczkowski, finance manager at Bovie Medical.

“The Trustees serve as the governing board of the nonprofit organization and will help guide its focus as it creates new, dynamic experiences for visitors while enhancing the size, scope and beauty of its public spaces through a major expansion,” said Museum CEO Brynne Anne Besio. “This is such an exciting time for us as the Museum’s expansion begins to take shape. The Board of Trustees plays an important role in guiding the Museum – especially the growth and programming changes we are now in the midst of implementing, and we’re excited to welcome new members. Their personal and professional experiences will add to the Museum’s future success.”

The nonprofit Museum, which opened in 1947, today serves nearly 70,000 people annually, making it the largest cultural attraction in the county and an anchor bringing visitors to downtown Bradenton that provides a $5.8 million economic benefit to the community each year. It also provides a vital natural science learning environment for nearly 10,000 school children from eight Florida counties, including Manatee County where field trips to the Museum are an essential part of the fourth-grade STEM curriculum.

The expansion will include 12,600 square feet of new and renovated classroom and exhibition space and 15,300 square feet of outdoor public engagement space that will allow the Museum to serve school groups and provide daily opportunities for public programs like Lunch & Learn, expanded homeschool courses and summer science camps. It will also include the Mosaic Backyard Universe (MBU), an immersive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning environment for children in pre-K through grade 2 that will be modeled on a typical backyard setting. The MBU will be unique in the region: a place for hands-on exploration and investigation where kids can interact with the simple wonders of nature – land, water, weather, living plants and animals, and humans.

A new executive committee was also elected and the Board thanked Immediate Past Board President Jeanie Kirkpatrick for her time and commitment. “Jeanie’s leadership played an important role as the Museum surpassed its initial $12 million Connect Capital Campaign goal, reaching $15 million, which allowed us to begin construction in January on our expansion,” Besio said. “We can’t thank her enough for her support.”

The Board’s new Officers are:

  • Brian Carter, President;
  • John V. Quinlan, Vice President;
  • Jim Roque, Vice President;
  • Christopher Peacock, Treasurer;
  • Jennifer Turner Gans, Secretary.

By joining the Board, these new members will help the Museum engage audiences and inspire visitors of all ages to connect to the past, present and future of the planet we all share – a role that new Board President Brian Carter relishes. “The South Florida Museum plays such an important role in the community – as a cultural attraction and as a vital educational resource – and I’m excited to be taking on the role as Board President as we undergo these major changes,” Carter said. “This community investment and expansion will allow the Museum to provide even more benefits to the region.”

New Board Member Bios
Jennifer Bencie became the County Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County in 2009, where she oversees a staff of 125 and a $10 million budget. The agency is involved in many population health initiatives including worksite wellness, school health and environmental monitoring. Bencie is also the Health/Medical Co-chair for the southwest Region 6 Domestic Security Task Force and previously served as Director of the Division of Emergency Medical Operations for the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee. In her almost 20 years with the Department of Health, Bencie has also served in leadership roles in health departments in Orange, Seminole, Miami-Dade and Bay counties.Bencie is also a board member of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Centerstone of Florida, the Manatee Healthcare Alliance, the local Ivy League Club, International Women’s Forum Florida Suncoast Chapter, and the Arts and Health Coalition of Sarasota/Manatee.

LeMoyne Johnson is owner of Johnson PhotoImaging in Bradenton, an established portrait studio, camera store, photo lab and photo education center. Johnson has been taking pictures since about age 10. After serving in the Air Force and finishing medical school and his surgical residency, he moved to Bradenton with his wife Darlene and daughter Melanie. He opened his surgical practice in 1977 and in 1978 started the Suncoast Camera Club. In the 1990s, Johnson decided to make a career change and closed his surgical practice. He opened Johnson PhotoImaging in 1999. JPI today is one of the best full line camera stores on Florida’s west coast. In 2017, Johnson and Darlene received the Leadership Spirit Award from the Manatee Community Foundation for their dedication to the arts, education and service in Manatee County. In addition to his involvement with the Museum, Johnson is a member of the Kiwanis Club and Foundation and an advisor to Manatee Technical College and supports the Manatee Performing Arts Center and ArtCenter Manatee.

Matthew J. Lapointe is a Principal in Blalock Walters, PA’s Business & Corporate and Health Care Law practice groups. Lapointe represents companies and entrepreneurs in the full range of business and corporate matters and serves as general outside counsel to business owners in all sectors of the economy. He advises business owners on day-to-day issues, such as personnel issues, and on strategic issues, including business succession planning and business sales and acquisitions. He works with start-ups as well as mature businesses, solving challenging problems with practical solutions. In his Health Care Law practice, Lapointe also advises physician groups, dentists, assisted living facilities and other health care institutions. Lapointe is a member of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and its Health Care Committee and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance. He is a member of the Florida, New Hampshire and Manatee County bar associations.

Michael C. Moore is Vice President and Business Center Manager at Hancock Whitney Bank, where he oversees management and development of a $50 million small business loan portfolio. He previously served as Vice President at C1 Bank, Stearns Bank, N.A., and Assistant Vice President at Superior Bank and BankUnited FSB. He focuses on community volunteering and nonprofit investment support to provide a positive impact to the Manatee County community.

Chris Perkins is a Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking at Premier Community Bank, the only community bank headquartered in Manatee County, and one of only two remaining banks based in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. He joined the bank in March 2017 after spending 13 years as a small business and commercial middle market lender for Fifth Third Bank, covering Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte Counties. Perkins became a friend of the South Florida Museum over the past eight years with the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch, participating in learning events with his kids through Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School, through professional outings with Fifth Third Bank (always advocating with their marketing department to hold client events at the South Florida Museum), and of course the Annual Gala. Perkins’ volunteerism includes work with Rotary youth programs and serving on the board and as President of the club. He also serves on the finance committee for the Florida Center for Early Childhood, has served as a member of the Bradenton Area EDC Board of Directors (2013-2017) and was involved in the International Trade subcommittee.

Charles Zajaczkowski is known as a dynamic and results-driven leader with a unique blend of business operations, engineering and finance experience. Charles has more than 30 years of achievement in diverse manufacturing operations, producing up to $90 million in global sales. He has held executive-level positions in various private- and public-sector firms, leading strategic growth in the fields of chemicals, CNC machining centers, industrial coatings, sports coatings, construction, theming, plastics extrusion and more. Zajaczkowski has held positions of president, chief financial officer and controller, and has worked as an independent consultant in the areas of business operations assistance, software implementation, and financial consulting. He currently works as a finance manager for Bovie Medical.
Known as an exceptional communicator, listener, and decision-maker with a record of developing and fueling accountability in talented teams, he is a strong advocate of company meetings, round table sessions, and one-on-one discussions with employees at all levels of the company.

The Museum Board of Trustees
Brian Carter, President
John V. Quinlan, Vice President
Jim Roque, Vice President
Christopher Peacock, Treasurer
Jennifer Turner Gans, Secretary
Jeanie Kirkpatrick, Immediate Past President
Elizabeth Baran
Jackie Barron
Dr. Jennifer Bencie
Charles F. Elzer III
Greg Hall
Dr. LeMoyne Johnson
Matthew J. LaPointe
John N. McClure IV
Michael C. Moore
Spurgeon Nisbett
Chris Perkins
Andrew Smith
Jay Taylor
Gary Tibbetts
Alisa Westberry
Charles Zajaczkowski