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Three community leaders join RE's board of trustees

The Ransom Everglades Board of Trustees increased its expertise in real-estate development and educational leadership with the addition of one of Coconut Grove’s most respected developers and two RE alumnae with a history of successful outcomes with schools, adolescents and children.
Joining RE’s board of trustees on July 1, 2023: David P. Martin, the chief executive officer of Terra; Vanessa Chartouni-de la Serna ’90, who has been deeply involved with RE for years; and Kimberly (Gray) Mendelson ’85, who has served as board chair and chair of development at Lehrman Community Day School.

“We are honored to welcome three distinguished and talented members of our community who will help us execute our ambitious plans for Ransom Everglades,” RE Board Chair Jonathan Fitzpatrick P’20 ’23 said. “All bring to our board great experience and a passion for uplifting communities. We are delighted they are joining our team.”

Martin, a Coconut Grove native, has been the force behind the most innovative development projects in his hometown – including Mr. C’s Residences, Grove at Grand Bay and Park Grove – and his family was widely lauded for acquiring Miami’s Freedom Tower in the early 2000s order to donate it to Miami Dade College.

Chartouni-de la Serna, who in 2020 received Ransom Everglades’ prestigious Head of School’s Award, recently completed a two-year term as Co-President of RE’s Alumni Board. She also served on the Head of School Search Committee, and co-founded and directs Steps for Success, a therapeutic school in South Miami for teens with autism spectrum disorders.

Mendelson, after beginning her career as Vice President of Marketing at Federal Discount Centers on Miami Beach, turned her attention to education, working as a science and business teacher and serving on the boards of Lehrman Community Day School, the Everglades Foundation and the Frost Museum of Science. She helped Lehrman raise $12 million during a recent capital campaign.

The trio will replace departing board members Melissa E. Krinzman ’86 and Eric Mendelson. Miguel F. Dueñas '95, managing partner at Dimension Capital Management, will continue to serve as vice-chair, stepping into the chair role next summer.

Krinzman, the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Miami-based venture-capital fund Krillion Ventures, departs after one term on the board. Eric Mendelson, a former board chair and husband of Kimberly Mendelson, has served five terms on the board since joining in 2008. During his tenure, he helped engineer the purchase of the La Brisa property that has expanded and transformed RE’s upper school. He is Co-President and Director at HEICO Corp. and President & Chief Executive Officer at HEICO Aerospace Holdings Corp.

“We are extremely grateful to Eric and Melissa for their dedication to our board of trustees,” Fitzpatrick said. “Eric’s hard work as board chair set the stage for the building of the Fernandez STEM Center and the development of La Brisa. Both love Ransom Everglades and have made significant and lasting contributions. They will long be remembered for their class and service.”

Read full bios of RE’s new trustees below.

Vanessa Chartouni-de la Serna ’90 received a BA from Duke University, a PhD in Clinical Psychology from The City University of New York, and a post-doctoral degree in Pediatric Behavioral Medicine from University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. She works in private practice in Key Biscayne, where she provides psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and young adults. She recently completed a two-year term as Co-President of the Alumni Board at Ransom Everglades School, and served on the RE Head of School Search Committee. Vanessa was the recipient of the RE Head of School Award in 2020 and was inducted into the RE Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. She is the mother of four boys with three children currently at RE (Classes of ’27,’28 and ’30). Chartouni has served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Families for Fragile X since its inception in 2008. Her passion for this cause developed after her eldest son, Calincito, was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome. Upon realizing that there was so little local support and information for affected families, she became committed to finding a way to make a difference in the lives of those coping with this difficult condition. As part of this mission, she co-founded and is co-owner of Steps for Success, a therapeutic school in South Miami geared towards helping educate adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her background as a Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist has allowed her to bring a unique perspective to her role in these organizations.

David P. Martin, CEO of Miami-based Terra, has cultivated a real estate portfolio comprising South Florida’s most impactful developments, with an emphasis on unlocking value in neighborhoods including Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Doral, Hialeah, Pembroke Pines and Weston. Relentless in his pursuit of design excellence and responsible development, David enlists the world’s top architects, environmental engineers, and urban planners to bring Terra developments to life. A Florida native, Martin has taken a proactive role in ensuring his hometown of Miami is built to last. Terra has achieved international acclaim for its commitment to design excellence, community engagement, resiliency, and sustainability. The firm often integrates green space, renewable energy, resilient construction methods, and transit connectivity into its developments.
This commitment to community is underscored by Terra’s historic role in charitable, civic, arts and cultural organizations, including the Miami Children's Health Foundation benefitting Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the Freedom Tower, Vizcaya Museums and Gardens, the Bass Museum and Teach for America. Additionally, Martin is a member of Miami-Dade County’s Biscayne Bay Task Force and serves as an Advisory Board member for the University of Miami’s Masters in Real Estate Development + Urbanism program. He is Chair of the Neighborhoods Committee for The Underline, a 10-mile linear park under construction in Miami, and serves as an Urban Land Institute board member.
Martin is an alumnus of the University of Florida, where he earned his MBA, law degree and undergraduate degree. He serves on the board for the UF School of Business. He is married to Christina Martin and father to David Martin ’29.
Kimberly (Gray) Mendelson 85 has worked with Lehrman Community Day School for more than a decade, serving in many roles including chair of the board, vice-chair of the board, chair of development and science and business teacher, and her leadership helped generate more than $12 million for a recent capital campaign. She has also served on the board of directors for the Frost Museum of Science and Everglades Foundation, and developed a curriculum for the Citizen Science Program for The Underline. She worked for 10 years as Vice President of Marketing at Federal Discount Centers in Miami Beach after graduating from Tulane University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Management from the A.B. Freeman School of Business. She later earned her MBA from the University of Miami, and is currently a doctoral candidate in business administration at Florida International University’s Chapman Graduate School of Business. Besides teaching at Lehrman, Kimberly also taught science and business at Miami Country Day School, where she helped create the science curriculum and incorporate cutting-edge technology. She and her husband, Eric, are the parents of Hayley ’13, David ’15 and Daniel ’25.
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.