Governance at Riverside Military Academy

The Academy is governed by a 24-member Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, greatly expanded since 2009, has become a strength of the Academy. The depth and breadth of professional experience represented among the Trustees is impressive and invaluable. In addition to bankers, attorneys, and financiers, they count college presidents, a state Superintendent of Education, general contractors, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and a Flag Officer among their number.The president has autonomy in operational matters, while the Board of Trustees is more strategic.

Executive Staff

List of 10 items.

  • LTC James G. Spivey, USA (Ret)

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  • Britt Daniel, J.D.

    Executive Vice President
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  • SgtMaj Jorge F. Sosa, USMC (Ret)

    Academy Sergeant Major
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  • LTC James P. Corbin, GAARNG

    Vice President for Enrollment Management
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  • Col. Robert G. Cagle, USMCR (RET)

    Dean of Academics
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  • Ellen DeFoor

    Vice President for Advancement
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  • Marc Paglia

    Athletic Director
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  • LTC Kenny Payne, USA (Ret)

    Senior Army Instructor, JROTC
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  • Kelly M. Smith, CPA

    Chief Financial Officer
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  • Larry Robinson

    Facilities Director

Board of Trustees

List of 22 items.

  • Rutledge A. Griffin, Jr., '62, Chairman

    Mr. Griffin is a 1962 graduate of Riverside Military Academy. Appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in January 2011 to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He is the former Chairman and CEO of Griffin L.L.C. of Valdosta, GA, a manufacturer of crop protection & specialty chemicals founded in 1935. After the death of his father, he became President and CEO (at age 26) of the family owned business, Griffin Corporation. The business partnered in joint venture with Dupont in 1998 and eventually sold its interest in the joint venture to Dupont in 2003. Mr. Griffin serves as a co-chair on the capital campaign for the Boys and Girls Club of Valdosta and has served on the Georgia Ports Authority, as Emeritus Trustee of the University of Georgia, and is past chairman of the South Georgia Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Born and raised in Valdosta, he attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, GA and received a B.S. from the University of Georgia with a major in Agriculture and a minor in Business. He and his wife, Barbara, have three children and eight grandchildren.
  • C. Brian Daniel, Vice Chairman

    Mr. Brian Daniel of Gainesville, Georgia, is president and CEO of Carroll Daniel Construction Co. of Gainesville. Mr. Daniel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Auburn University and a Master of Science in building construction from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. His community involvement includes membership on the board of directors for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Daniel serves as a director of the Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia and Associated General Contractors. He and his wife, Kristin, are members of First Baptist Church of Gainesville and are the parents of a son, Stuart, and a daughter, Callie.
  • Anthony M. Herdener, Treasurer

    Mr. Herdener, now retired, has most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Northeast Georgia Health System since 1995. He earned his CPA Certificate and Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He was responsible for all financial and information systems operations including Financial Planning, Reporting, Investments, Capital Formation, Treasury, Risk Management, Internal Audit, Managed Care and Health Partners (PPO Network). Prior to his time at NGHS, he served as CFO of Saint Joseph Health System of Atlanta and as Vice President of Finance & Treasurer of Catholic Health East in Pennsylvania. He served as Budget Director for Saint Joseph Hospital in Tacoma following three years with the CPA firm Ernst & Ernst (Ernst & Young).

    In his most recent role as a member of the NGHS Senior Management team, Mr. Herdener led several financing projects totaling over $700 million to fund NGHS growth, and maintained the “A” Rating with credit agencies for NGHS. He also led the negotiation team with HCA to acquire Lanier Park Hospital and the development of various internal processes to strengthen financial performance, financial planning, revenue cycle, risk management, and balance sheet position during his tenure. He is an active member of the Georgia CFO Networking Group, the Gainesville Rotary Club where he served as President, the Audit Committee Chair of Elachee Nature Center, and he serves on the board of Health Partner’s Cooperation. His past service includes the United Way Budget & Allocation Committee, Leadership Hall Program, Lakeview Academy Finance Committee Chair, and Chairman of Elachee Nature Center Board.
  • J. Allen Nivens Jr., Secretary

    Mr. Nivens is the Director of Corporate Sales for Indigo Energy, an oil distribution company in Alpharetta, Georgia. Mr. Nivens was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997 with a minor in finance. Prior to college, he attended and graduated from The Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina. His community involvement includes chairing the John Jarrard Foundation, serving on the executive board of the Gainesville State College Foundation, the executive board of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and the First Methodist Church Lay Leadership Committee. He was named Hall County Young Man of the Year in 2007 and received the Silver Shovel Award from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the finance committees of the United Way of Hall County and the Chattahoochee Country Club. He is a board member of First Century Bank. Mr. Nivens and his wife, Meg, are the parents of two daughters, Sara and Annie. He joined the Board of Trustees in 2009.
  • Ruben A. Barahona Lopez, '89

    Mr. Lopez was named a Riverside Military Academy Trustee at the board’s 2014 Homecoming meeting. He is also a past member of the Academy’s Board of Visitors. Mr. Lopez resides in Cancun, Mexico and is an attorney at law and founding partner of Camara & Asociados. He is a graduate of the Universidad del Mayab in Merida, Mexico. From June 2005 to the present he is Notario Publico Titular number 13 for the state of Quintana Roo.
  • Margaret O. Blackstock

    Margaret Owen Blackstock of Atlanta is known for her many volunteer leadership positions over the years, particularly in educational institutions. Her late husband, Jerry Byron Blackstock, RMA Class of 1962, was Chairman of the Academy's Board of Trustees from 2002 until his death in 2006. Mrs. Blackstock is a native of Charlotte, NC and a graduate of Brenau University in Gainesville. She served as President of the Brenau Alumni Association and repeatedly received the Alumnae Leadership Award as well as being the recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award and The Service to Brenau Award. In 2002 she was named to the University’s Roll of Honor. In addition to her work as an alumnae with Brenau, Mrs. Blackstock has been involved with various parent leadership organizations related to her children's educations. She served as President of both the Trinity School Parents’ Association and the Woodward Academy Parents’ Association. Mrs. Blackstock also served on multiple capital campaign committees through her children's educational careers.

    Mrs. Blackstock's involvement in the Atlanta community includes positions with the Atlanta Unit of the American Cancer Society, where she served on the Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors in addition to chairing the unit's Residential Crusade and the American Red Cross, where Mrs. Blackstock chaired the Fulton County Volunteers. Mrs. Blackstock has also served as President of the Circle for Children, an Atlanta based organization that supports Tallulah Falls School, where she was on the Board of Trustees. As an active member of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Mrs. Blackstock has held numerous leadership positions including Chairman of the Administrative Board and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. As a member of the Phi Mu Sorority, Mrs. Blackstock served on the local and district levels before being named National Public Relations Director and later being elected first as National Alumnae Vice President and then National President. Most recently, she chaired the organization's capitol campaign for the building of its national headquarters. Mrs. Blackstock's interests include history, travel, reading, running, photography and genealogy. She is a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a past Trustee of its Board and a current member of its Council of Advisors. She has compiled and authored a book of her paternal family tree, 
    The Lineage of the Reverend John Owen.
  • Counte L. Cooley

    Mr. Counte Cooley (President/Owner) started with Electronic Sales Company, Inc. in 1958 as he held flashlights and passed tools to his dad. He built his first HAM radio transmitter at the age of eight and earned his HAM radio operator's license by the age of nine. He attended Southern Tech where he majored in electronics engineering. From 1967-72, he served in the Georgia National Guard Infantry with training in Advanced Infantry. He is now President and Owner of Electronic Sales Company and has attended more than 100 Electronic Security Seminars. He frequently speaks to the electronic security industry on security and business management topics. The most recent seminar he presented was to the National Poultry and Egg Association, concerning agro-terrorism. He is proud to have led his company since 1972 while meeting the standards of Underwriter Laboratories. In 1999, after many years of pursuing a National Listing by its industry trade publication, Electronic Sales Company finally obtained the listing of Position #99 in the "Top 100" listing of the SDM Magazine.

    Mr. Cooley served for two years as President of the Georgia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and four years as Director. He also served a two year term as Vice President of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and three years as a member of the “Strategic Planning Committee.” He was recently involved in chartering the new Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Systems Association (GELSSA) and served as Director. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors. In 2011, he was named to the Georgia State Construction Industry Licensing Board: Division of Low Voltage Contracts by Governor Nathan Deal, which serves to safeguard the public against faulty, inadequate, insufficient or unsafe electrical, plumbing, conditioned air or low voltage contracting, installation or repair. He is also President and Major Stockholder of Georgia Powder Coating in Gainesville, Georgia. He served as past President of the Gainesville Kiwanis Club. He serves on the Finance Committee at the Chattahoochee Country Club and as a member of the board for the University of North Georgia's School of Business. Mr. Cooley is co-founder, along with his wife Jackie, of the "For Her Glory" foundation which provides wigs for cancer patients that have no other means of obtaining one.
  • Gregory A. Fisher

    Mr. Fisher has been in the securities business for over 30 years. He joined Jefferies in November 2015 as Head of Emerging Markets Fixed Income Sales within Jefferies Wealth Management Division, and is now a Managing Director at Jefferies. Previously, he served as managing director/head of institutional EM fixed income sales for Oppenheimer & Co.’s Atlanta International branch from 2005-2015. Prior to Oppenheimer & Co., he worked for Bear Stearns & Co. as a senior managing director in charge of sales and trading for the firm’s Caribbean and Central American business. While working for Bear Stearns he covered approximately 14 countries and maintained in custody $3.3 billion in client assets. After joining Oppenheimer & Co., Mr. Fisher was instrumental in the creation of a new branch, Atlanta International, with its main focus in the Caribbean and Central American region.
  • Bernard M. Freeman, ‘58

    Mr. Freeman is a 1958 graduate of Riverside Military Academy. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1958-1960 and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Engineering in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. From 1964-1973 he held a variety of engineering positions with the Virginia Department of Highways, E.I. Dupont Engineering, and Construction and Allied Chemical Corp. Engineering. He joined Steel-Fab Inc. in Fitchburg, MA in 1973 as general manager. He purchased the company in 1979 and became chairman, president, and CEO from 1979-2007. Since 2007, he has been chairman and treasurer. 

    For many years, Freeman chaired the government affairs committee where he has served on the Board of Directors of The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his RMA fundraising efforts, Mr. Freeman has raised funds for The United Way of North Central Massachusetts where he is a member of The United Way Tocqueville Society. In addition to serving as a Board of Trustee, he is also Co-Founder and Chairman of the Riverside Military Academy Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of the Alumni Council. He was presented with the President's Leadership Award at Riverside in 2014 for his leadership in philanthropy, and he received Riverside's Distinguished Alumnus award in 2016. 

    Mr. Freeman and his wife, Marcia, have two children and six grandchildren and divide their time between homes in Vero Beach, FL and East Harwich, MA.
  • Felix A. Gonzalez Canto, '86

    Felix Gonzalez Canto served as governor of the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico from 2005 to 2011. A native of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, he attended Riverside from eighth through twelfth grades, and graduated in 1986. He was battalion commander his senior year as well as class president each year from eighth through eleventh grades. Following graduation from Riverside, Mr. Gonzalez earned a degree in economics from the Technological and Higher Studies Institute in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Prior to entering the public sector, he was the coordinator of advisors for the Center of Finance and Economics at the Institute, and he also served as advisor to the president of CANACO on the subject of external commerce during the presidency of Victor Santin Padilla. His elected positions include mayor of Cozumel from 1999-2002, federal representative of the 59th Legislature of Congress of the Union for District 1, Quintana Roo; secretary of the committee of tourism of the Chamber of Representatives of the Congress of the Union, and representative of Mexico before the Central American Parliament in 2004. Mr. Gonzalez includes among his accolades and awards the earning of the Douglas McArthur Award presented to him personally by General McArthur's widow at Riverside Military Academy in 1986. He and his wife, Narcedalia Martin Villanueva, have two children, Victoria Patricia and Felix Lenin.
  • Robert C. Hendricks

  • Drew W. Horner, '78

    Mr. Horner is the Founder, Chief Financial Officer, and Vice President of Progressive Improvements, Inc., a hotel renovation company based in Kennesaw, Georgia. Since its establishment in 1987, he and his business partner have developed the company into a multi-million dollar international success. Progressive Improvement’s portfolio includes full-scale renovation projects at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. He is also the managing partner of Swanhorn LLC, a real estate holding company located in Kennesaw. Prior to Progressive Improvements, he worked as the operations manager of a national transportation company. He is a 1978 graduate of Riverside Military Academy and attended the University of West Georgia. He previously served on the Academy’s Board of Visitors, and he is committed and passionate about the welfare and future of Riverside. Mr. Horner lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Jane, and he has two adult children, Andrew and Allison.
  • Frederick J. Kennedy, '64

    Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Riverside Military Academy and The Citadel. He holds Masters of Education degrees from Georgia State University and Columbus University. He served as an Infantry and Special Forces officer in the US Army and is a retired Lieutenant Colonel. He also taught at both the Infantry School and the Special Warfare School. Since retiring from the Army, he has been Senior Army Instructor at Oak Ridge Military Academy, Assistant Commandant at The Citadel, President of Oak Ridge Military Academy, and worked in the private sector with several business enterprises. He is Chairman of the founding Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Leadership Academy. 

    A decorated veteran, Mr. Kennedy has served as past president of the Retired Officers Association and the Military Order of the World Wars. He was presented the Distinguished Alumnus award in 2005. He joined the Riverside board of trustees in February 2006 and served as chairman from 2006-2009. He and his wife, Nancy, are residents of Mt. Pleasant, SC. They have two sons - Matthew and Christopher.
  • Charlie J. Lail, Jr.

    Mr. Lail is the president and CEO of Entegra Bank. Mr. Lail led the organization through regulatory approval, capital-raising and the pre-opening organizational process; he also serves as a director of the bank. His previous bank experience includes tenures at Quantum National Bank and SunTrust Bank. Mr. Lail earned a Bachelor of Science engineering degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, his juris doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law, and a master's from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. He served in the Georgia National Guard from 1988 to 1995. Mr. Lail is a native of Atlanta and a long-time resident of south Hall County, Georgia. He and his wife, Nancy, have two sons.
  • Ernest T. Lopez, III '84

  • Kenneth L. McKelvey

    Mr. Ken McKelvey is Chairman and CEO of Defender Resorts, Inc. The company and its subsidiaries are involved in vacation ownership property management, resales, and rentals. The company represents 19 timeshare resorts located predominantly in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. Mr. McKelvey is a CPA recognized by the ARDA Educational Institute as a Registered Resort Professional (RRP). He is a licensed builder in South Carolina and a Real Estate Broker in both North and South Carolina. He currently serves on the American Resort Development Association Investment Committee and the Management Committee. He is Chairman of the ARDA-Resort Owners Coalition Executive Council and is past Chairman of ARDA-Carolina. He also serves as a member of the ARDA Board of Directors and as a member of its Executive Committee as well as a Trustee. He is a member of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors and the Myrtle Beach Tourism Committee. He has been a featured presenter at many industry conferences.

    Mr. McKelvey is an ordained Deacon of his church and served as chairman of a capital building program that successfully doubled the size of the church building. Previously, he was partner and principal in a CPA firm for 15 years; controller and financial vice president for a large privately-held industrial maintenance and real estate development firm; and a participant in the development of numerous timeshare resorts in Myrtle Beach, SC. He is a graduate of USC-Columbia and holds a degree in Business Administration. He and his wife, Rachel, are parents of an RMA Class of 2013 alumnus.
  • John B. McKernan II, '88

    Mr. McKernan graduated from Riverside Military Academy in 1988. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Shorter College. Mr. McKernan is an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage focusing on the areas of Buckhead, Roswell, Alpharetta, and Lake Lanier, Georgia. His professional life has included corporate compliance investigation responsibilities reporting directly to the Chief Compliance Officer of then Prudential Bank. Mr. McKernan has also served as co-owner of a web design firm and managing partner for McKernan Consulting, LLC. He has served on the Triangle Inc. Board of Directors in a variety of positions including President. He and his wife currently serve on the board of The Soaring Hawks Foundation as at-large members, which is a foundation setup to meet any and all needs for the teaching/PTA needs of Hembree Springs Elementary School. Mr. McKernan enjoys mentoring young men who have struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. He also coaches soccer in the Roswell Santos Soccer Club's Junior Academy. Mr. McKernan resides in Roswell, GA with his wife, Tracy, and their son, Trey.
  • Andrew W. Talkington, ‘71

    Mr. Talkington, an RMA graduate and Battalion Commander in the class of 1971, is Vice Chairman and Co-Head for Global Industrial Practice CTPartners in Houston,TX. He previously worked as a Senior Client Partner with Korn/Ferry International’s Houston office where he was a member of the firm’s Global Industrial Market. While at Korn/Ferry he specialized in the Board and CEO Services Practice and Energy, Chemicals, Crop Science and Mining Sub-Sectors. He has over 16 years of executive recruitment experience, placing mostly Board of Director, CEO and executive-level management positions within the industrial field. He has conducted over 350 global searches for private equity, venture capital, and small to large private and public companies in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

    Earlier in his career, Mr. Talkington accumulated over 20 years of management experience in the agricultural, energy, chemicals, and mining industries. Prior to entering the search business, Talkington was vice president of Occidental Chemical Corporation, a division of Occidental Petroleum Corporation. He received both his master of engineering and Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering from Cornell University.

    He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Development Committee. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Houston with their two children, Hayley and Jack.
  • James R. Van Arsdale, ‘79

    Mr. Van Arsdale is Executive Director and Head of Banking & Lending Solutions for UBS AG, US Private Bank, a position he has held since 2008. He joined UBS in 2003 as a NJ based Regional Banking Consultant and later was assigned to cover the Northwest United States based out of San Francisco. He was a consistent top quintile or better performer across all areas of sales responsibility. Prior to joining UBS, Mr. Van Arsdale was Senior Vice President, Private Clients Division at Fleet Bank. During his earlier career, he held a number of Private Bank sales and management roles of increasing responsibility.

    He graduated from the University of South Carolina’s Business School with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and is a 1979 graduate of Riverside Military Academy where he was Battalion Commander his senior year. He is a recipient of Riverside’s Sandy Beaver Medal of General Excellence. Since 2010, prior to his election to the Board of Trustees, Mr. Van Arsdale served as a member of Riverside’s Board of Visitors. He was appointed to and continues to serve on the Green Brook Township (NJ) Land Use Board. He is honored to have been recently promoted to Commander in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Additionally, Mr. Van Arsdale has served on several non-profit boards and as a Junior Achievement volunteer where he tutored children on the merits of the free enterprise system. He lives with his wife and two children in Green Brook, New Jersey.
  • Jeffrey S. Weiner, Esq., '66

    After Riverside, Jeff attended the University of Miami where he was inducted into the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the University’s highest honor. He then earned his Juris Doctor Degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology/ Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he was president of the Student Bar Association and a moot court winner. In 2005, Jeff received his law school’s prestigious Professional Achievement Award and, in 2013, he was recognized as one of his law school’s 125 “Alumni of Distinction”.
    Since 1974, Jeff has been a practicing criminal defense attorney. He has argued trials and appeals throughout the United States in both state and Federal courts. In 1991, Jeff argued a landmark search and seizure case before the United States Supreme Court.
    Jeff has lectured before lawyers, law students in over 25 states. He served as a regent and faculty member at the National Criminal Defense College, and has been invited to teach cadets at the law department of the United States Military Academy at West Point and United States Navy defense lawyers at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.
    Jeff is a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and of the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Association. He was awarded NACDL’s highest recognition, given to “the one criminal defense attorney who best exemplifies the goals and values of the Association, and the legal profession”. Jeff is a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. He is named in Florida Trends “Legal Elite” which singles out fewer than 2% of the 66 thousand Florida Bar members and has been voted by his peers in the “Best Lawyers in America®”.

    Jeff has four sons and a daughter.  All of his sons graduated from Riverside Military Academy.
  • Emeriti

    Lucile E. Beaver,

    Paul A. Gross, '56

    O. Jon McRae, 

    Richard M. Nichols

  • Honorary Members

    Jerry B. Blackstock, '62, (Posthumous)

    P. Alexander Fraser,

    Howard A. Kalmenson, '49

    Dr. Daniel J. Kaufman,

    Ira J. Middleberg, Esq., '66

    Abraham A. Mitchell, '52

List of 1 items.

  • Board of Visitors

    The Riverside Military Academy Board of Visitors (BOV) is comprised of alumni, former parents, community leaders, and friends of the Academy. The purpose of the BOV is to assist the President and the Board of Trustees in the achievement of the Academy mission. The BOV will offer the collective wisdom, advice, and counsel of the members toward the continual improvement of the educational environment at the school. The Board meets twice a year (Homecoming and Founders’ Day) to receive briefs relative to all aspects of the Academy.
    View Members