Family, friends and colleagues of Fred Gainous, the former president of Florida A&M University, convened inside the Hansel Tookes Recreation Center on Thursday afternoon for a surprise reception. He was being honored for his retirement as board chair with Voices for Florida, a nonprofit organization that drives social and economic innovation for children and families in the state of Florida.
The reception was filled with joy and laughter as Gainous’ friends and fellow board members made remarks about Gainous’ leadership and child advocacy. Gainous served as FAMU president from 2002 to 2004.
Col. Ronald M. Joe, a fellow board member at Voices for Florida and a former member of Gainous’ FAMU administration, began his remarks by giving a summary of Gainous’ numerous accomplishments. He also talked about the achievements of Gainous’ FAMU administration.
“Dr. Gainous had a drive that helped us raise money and raise the brand of FAMU so that it would be the excellent institution that it is today,” Joe said.
Joe said later that although he was sad to see Gainous leaving the Voices for Florida board, he was excited to see what Gainous had planned for the next chapter in his life.
“We’ve spent so much time together over the years, that it’s tough to see him go,” said Joe. “I am just so lucky that he called me to join the board at Voices for Florida. We will continue to advocate for the lives of Florida’s children and families when he’s away and I wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Linda Alexionok, president of Voices for Florida, quoted author John C. Maxwell during her remarks. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way,” said Alexionok. “Dr. Gainous, that is exactly what you have done your entire life and Voices for Florida is a better organization as a result of your leadership.”
Larry Robinson, the current president of FAMU, described Gainous as a mentor.
“The time Dr. Gainous spent at FAMU has made a significant impact on my current administration,” said Robinson. “In addition, his passion for child advocacy has helped and led an untold number of young people to this university. He has a fundamental belief in the large capacity of potential that, not only our students have, but our children as a whole.”
The room applauded as they saw the guest of honor making his way to the podium.
When the room settled, Gainous began his speech by thanking Voices for Florida for hosting the reception in his honor. Gainous continued his speech by discussing the issues of the human trafficking of minors. Toward the end of his speech, Gainous closed with a powerful statement.
“The day you’re dealing with a child’s future or when you’re dealing with a child’s life, I can’t tell you what your commitment level needs to be,” said Gainous. “But I can tell you this. Children are the future so when you’re dealing with the life of a child, you may not be ready but you outta get ready.”
To learn more about Voices for Florida, visit voicesforflorida.org or call 850-425-2600.