Gifford Youth Achievement Center announces five new board members

news release

The Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC) welcomed five new board members to the non-profit’s Board of Directors: Paul Knapp, Jennifer Moore, Patti Glavin O’Mara, Milo Thornton and Sara Whiting. With five additional board members, GYAC’s board has reached its limit. “Quite an achievement!” exclaimed Executive Director Angelia Perry.

Paul Knapp, a retired executive of an international financial services technology firm has been involved with GYAC since 2016. Knapp enthusiastically supports GYAC’s mission and joined the board to become more personally engaged in helping GYAC grow and succeed. Knapp first learned about the Center through passionate GYAC supporters in the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club community, where he and his wife Nancy live.

Jennifer Moore, wife of Indian River County Superintendent Dr. David Moore, is a compassionate mother, wife, and professional who always strives for excellence in all endeavors. Stated Moore, “After learning about the positive impact on the youth of Indian River County due to GYAC, I immediately knew I wanted to support and grow such a powerful program.”  As a new board member, she is looking forward to supporting the mission of the organization with integrity and hard work.

Patti Glavin O’Mara, first learned of GYAC from her parents, Cis and Bill Glavin about 10-15 years ago. Cis spent her afternoons at the Center reading with the 3rd graders, and Bill was involved in helping raise awareness and funding for programs.

Before relocating to Vero Beach, O’Mara spent the past 12 years in Oregon, heavily involved in board governance at a high school focused on educating the underserved communities in Portland. After moving, “it seemed natural to get involved at GYAC,” remarked O’Mara, who has always had a passion for educating the young. “I look forward to working with GYAC to help it continue to grow its program and its reach into more and more communities of children.”

Milo Thornton serves as the Major Bureau of Administration at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. Having family that resides in the Gifford community, Thornton has witnessed the Center blossom since opening in 1998. Through GYAC’s partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, he has long been involved in one way or another. “I have observed the organization grow and thrive over the years and want to give back to the community that has given me so much,” stated Thornton.

Sara Whiting has been a GYAC volunteer for five years, assisting after school students with math and science. Seeking a place to volunteer, Whiting discovered GYAC by searching online for organizations with after school programs who might want high school math and science volunteers. “GYAC welcomed me, organized the students and the schedule. It was a wonderful experience working with the kids,” recalls Whiting. 

While tutoring, and subsequently encouraging a computer science component in their Summer Camp, Whiting saw the professionalism, the compassion and the wisdom evidenced by the entire staff. “GYAC is the hands of God reaching out,” said Whiting. “Their community is strengthened.  Kids’ lives are changed. I wanted to help!”

“Going into 2021 with these new board members is a blessing,” commented Perry. “As our reach continues to grow, so too does our ability to engage youth, adults and families through our wide-variety of programs and a diverse Board of Directors. Together we will continue to improve the lives of students and families we serve.”

For more information about GYAC and the Center’s programs visit

About GYAC

Gifford Youth Achievement Center, a 501(c)(3), opened its doors in 1998 with the sole purpose of enhancing the academic performance of children in Indian River County, FL. In addition to year-round educational programs and activities for youth, GYAC provides activities for adults and seniors citizens, such as exercise classes, bible study and educational training. The Center also hosts job fairs, health clinics, community gatherings and serves as an information hub for those in need of services.

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