William J. Vakos, Jr. and his wife Mary greet officers of the Cadet Corps this past May
After twenty-two years as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Fork Union Military Academy, William J. Vakos, Jr., asked the Board to consider passing the responsibility on to the next generation of leadership. By unanimous vote, as of July 1 Paige Lester Pruett, takes over as the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Paige Lester Pruett is the youngest child of E. H. "Jack" Lester, an alumnus of Fork Union Military Academy's Class of 1951. She grew up steeped in the legacy of the Academy and understands the positive role the Academy played in Jack Lester's life and his success as the founder of Knox Creek Coal Corporation in Grundy, Virginia.
Pruett graduated from the University of Virginia in 1993 with a B.A. in Economics and Foreign Affairs and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia's School of Law in 1996. Pruett then began her legal career with the prestigious firm of McGuireWoods LLP in Richmond, Virginia. In 2003, Pruett was named Senior Counsel at Dominion Resources Services Company, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. In 2010, she began practicing law as a self-employed attorney, serving primarily as counsel to GE Digital.
Pruett was elected to the Fork Union Military Academy Board of Trustees in 1998. She has also served on the Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Stuart Hall School in Staunton, Virginia, and is a past member of the Board of Trustees of Jacob's Ladder, Inc.
Paige Lester Pruett (at right) with fellow Trustee, Eddie George, following this past May's Board of Trustees meeting
As Chair of the Finance Committee and Investment Sub-Committee, Pruett is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board. In addition, Pruett also currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees' Enrollment Task Force, which works closely with the Academy's staff to ensure that the Academy's marketing and communications strategy is appropriate and effective.
"Paige Lester Pruett was raised in the family of an alumnus who loved and generously supported Fork Union Military Academy," said the Academy's president, RADM J. Scott Burhoe. "She not only brings her extensive experience in organizational and human resources law, but has the very valuable perspective of a parent of the same generation as the Academy's current cadets' parents and has served as an active Trustee of the Academy for eighteen years."
William J. Vakos, Jr., will continue to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees and as a member of the Executive Committee. This will help provide a seamless transition in the leadership of the Board.
The father of a Fork Union Military Academy graduate (Bryan Vakos of the Class of 1990), William J. Vakos, Jr., was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1985. His record of service in the years since, and the quiet generosity of William Vakos and his wife Mary, in both their time and treasure, has been an invaluable source of strength for the Academy.
Throughout the terms of four school presidents, the careful and solid leadership of William Vakos has been a steadfast force in guiding the school forward. His unflappable courage and determination, his sharp knowledge and breadth of experience, and his expertise in building and development helped guide the Academy through an unprecedented era of growth and expansion of campus facilities.
During his twenty-two years as Chair, and his thirty-two years as a member of the Board of Trustees, William Vakos has overseen three decades of tremendous improvement for the campus of Fork Union Military Academy with the addition of the Estes Athletic Center, the Moretz Academic Center, the Estes Dining Hall, Pruitt Lake and Pavilion, the Veterans Memorial, the renovation of Hatcher Hall to add the lower level Academic Center, the E. H. Lacy outdoor track facility, a new wastewater treatment plant, a major addition to the Beatty Library, the Aquatics Center, the restoration of Wicker Chapel, and, the crown jewel of his board tenure-the completion of the Jacobson Hall barracks.
In the summer of 2016, Vakos was awarded the Academy's highest honor, the R. L. "Red" Pulliam Award for Distinguished Leadership, recognizing his "outstanding leadership and significant contributions toward the betterment of Fork Union Military Academy." The award's citation further states that his "leadership characteristics of integrity and service to the Academy, coupled with strong Christian morals and values, set this person apart from all others and make him a role model not only for the Corps of Cadets, but for his fellow man."