by Jonathan Blount – Guest columnist
Vernice Atkins Bradley is being congratulated by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer as she finalizes her term as Chair of the Orlando Downtown Development Board. The Board spends millions annually, to promote development and events that grow the downtown district.
Vernice is a pioneer in enhancing the downtown area. When she was just starting as a specialist in urban support at City Hall in 1994, she was almost dismissed for allowing African Americans access to meet in City Hall like other citizen groups.
Further, as the first woman president of the Southwest Orlando Jaycees, she brought an African American event downtown to Lake Eola for the first time. The KINGFEST celebration ultimately gave way to the annual MLK parade being held in the city center, rather than it’s long relegation to the back streets of Parramore and Division Streets.
Additionally, she serves as Chair of the African American Chamber of Commerce and on many other community boards. She is a confidant of top political and business leaders throughout Florida and the nation.
Most recently, as VP of Business Development for Turner Construction, she was directly responsible for delivering multimillion dollar contracts to the company. Some were over one hundred million dollars. She left her comfortable and prestigious position to launch her own company, VOTUM Construction. “I wanted to be able to provide direct opportunities for Minorities and Women. I want to create significantly large income streams for these emerging groups even at personal sacrifice,” she observed.
She still serves on the DDB Board along with the first African American Executive Director, Thomas Chatmon, whom she helped to bring aboard. He is widely know as one of the most effective and dynamic Directors in the history of the Board.