Board of Trustees

The SEED School of Miami will be governed by a Board of Trustees who will provide strategic direction and help guide the school as it grows to capacity and beyond. We are honored by the service of the following SEED Miami Board of Trustees:

melanie damian, co-Founder, Damian & Valori, LLP

Melanie Damian is partner and co-founder of Damian & Valori, LLP. Ms. Damian represents public and private companies and individuals in a variety of complex business and securities litigation. She regularly serves as a court-appointed receiver and distribution agent in securities matters and state court matters, as well as counsel to receivers serving in both state and federal courts. Ms. Damian represents and counsels companies on complicated business disputes, injunction matters and high stakes litigation. She currently serves as the chair of the Florida Bar Federal Court Practice Committee and on the Executive Counsel of the Florida Bar Business Law Section. In the community, Ms. Damian is a leader engaged in child advocacy and education and is a founder of the non-profit Educate Tomorrow.

Thomas Culmo, founder and Managing Partner, Culmo Trial Attorneys

Thomas Culmo is board certified as a specialist in civil trial practice by both the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocates has been awarded the “AV” rating from the Martindale Hubbell. Throughout his career, Mr. Culmo has taken on some of the largest insurance companies, hospitals, manufacturers and corporations in virtually every type of personal injury matter, business dispute, and insurance claim. He has negotiated settlements or tried cases for his clients in courtrooms in more than 25 counties throughout Florida and across the country. Mr. Culmo remains committed to his clients long after the conclusion of the case. Visit for more information.

Virginia Emmons, co-Founder, Educate Tomorrow

Virginia Emmons co-led the campaign to bring a SEED school to South Florida. She is co-founder and founding CEO of Educate Tomorrow, which was recognized as a top 25 mentoring "Program of Promise" by the White House in 2010.  She is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Learning One to One Foundation and helping Educate Tomorrow's programs expand to Miami Dade College and Florida International University.  She was awarded the Junior League’s “Women Who Make A Difference Award” and was a finalist for the White House Fellowship in 2012.  Virginia is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer where she served from 2000-2003 in Niger, West Africa.  She graduated with a MSEd in Community & Social Change from the University of Miami in 2012. 

Tery J. Medina, M.A., M.S., associate Director, The Southeastern Equity Center

Tery J. Medina is currently the Associate Director for the Southeastern Equity Center.  She holds an M.S. degree in Diagnostic Teaching with a minor in Bilingual Education, and an M.A.ED. in Administration and Supervision with a minor in TESOL.  Ms. Medina has a wide range of experience.  She has been a teacher of the Learning Disabled, Gifted, Pre-K, Elementary and Adult ESOL.  As an adjunct instructor, she has taught courses in ESL Methodology, Curriculum Development, Bilingualism, Cross-Cultural Issues, and English.  She has delivered training and technical assistance to numerous State Departments of Education, Community Based Organizations, Local Education Agencies, and other professional groups in the areas of Cross-cultural/ Multicultural Education, Equal/Equitable Education, The Hispanic Cultures, Human Relations, Special Education, Parental and Community Involvement, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  She participates in several professional organizations and is involved in advocacy to provide equal and equitable educational opportunities for language minority students and their families.  Tery came to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee.  She has devoted much of her professional life to building bridges across cultural differences towards mutual respect and understanding.

Stuart G. Israelson

Stuart G. Israelson was born in Baltimore, MD in 1946. He attended local public schools and went to Argentina as an American Field Service exchange student during his junior year of high school 1962. Mr. Israelson graduated from Princeton University with B.A. from Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 1967. He attended London School of Economics from 1967-1968 and received J.D. from Harvard Law School 1971. Mr. Israelson moved to South Florida 1976 and served as house counsel at Turnberry Corp 1979-1984. He was a partner in the Jiffy Lube franchise for South Florida, building 26 locations before selling to Pennzoil 1997. Mr. Israelson thereafter retired from active involvement in business and served for multiple years as officer and member of Board of Trustees of Temple Sinai of North Dade, the national Board of Directors of American Field Service (AFS), and Board of Directors of Porto Vita Home Owners Association, Aventura, of which he has been president for 4 years, currently engaged in $18M Club renovation. He is married to Cindy, has a daughter and son – Laura and Jay, and a Chihuahua named Barbie.

Dorothy Terrell, Founder and Managing Partner of FirstCap Advisors

Dorothy Terrell is the Founder and Managing Partner of FirstCap Advisors, a venture capital and advisory services firm committed to helping innovative technology companies move successfully through the critical early stages of product and business development. Prior to launching FirstCap Advisors, Ms. Terrell was a Partner at First Light Capital, a venture capital firm focused on enterprise software/integration, communications, and business-to-business e-commerce. From 2005 to 2008, she took a leave from First Light Capital to also serve as CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City a national not-for-profit promoting economic prosperity in America’s inner cities through private sector engagement.  Ms. Terrell’s corporate career includes senior executive roles at three premier technology companies.  At NMS Communications, she served concurrently as SVP of Worldwide Sales while launching and leading the Platforms & Services Group.

Ms. Terrell’s numerous awards include but are not limited to being named one of the “Top 50 Women Line Managers in America” by Executive Female magazine; one of the “Top Ten Business Marketers” by Business Marketing magazine; and one of “20 Women of Power and Influence in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine.  She was also a subject in two books, The Wizards and Their Wonders: Portraits in Computing by Christopher Warren, and The Enterprising Woman by Mari Florence.



Carol S. Cope is a respected and experienced dispute resolution professional practicing ADR for the past 20 years. She has successfully mediated hundreds of cases in state and federal courts covering a wide range of disputes, including acting as a sole mediator in multi-million dollar contract disputes. Cope has earned a reputation of being knowledgeable, well prepared, efficient, and effective.

A former federal law clerk, Cope is currently serving as vice-chair of the Federal Mediation Advisory Committee for the United States Southern District of Florida. She also served her alma mater, University of Miami School of Law, as Assistant Dean for External Affairs for nearly 10 years. She is the author of three nationally published non-fiction books.

Cope has been certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Circuit/Civil mediator since 1990 and is listed as a federal mediator by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Cope combines nearly 10 years of commercial litigation practice with her education and experience as a psychologist to assist her in working with litigants and counsel in reaching mutually satisfactory resolutions to vigorously contested matters.

Jason Bloch

Jason Bloch served as a Circuit Court Judge in the Criminal Division for the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County from 2014-2017. He was appointed to the Court by Governor Rick Scott in 2014. Since leaving the bench, Jason has devoted his time to pro bono legal representation and assisting in other non-profit causes. He is a member of several boards, including the American Jewish Committee of Miami and Broward. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Jason was an Assistant County Attorney with the Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office. In his 20 years with that office, Jason represented the County, and many of its departments, in a wide array of practice areas. These included torts and civil rights defense, public housing, eminent domain, construction disputes and other commercial litigation. He was lead counsel in numerous trials and appeals in both state and federal court (including in the Florida Supreme Court) and served as legal advisor to several agencies including the Public Health Trust (which owns and operates Jackson Memorial Hospital), the Cultural Affairs Department, and the Nuisance Abatement Board.

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