Our dedicated staff are always happy and ready to help our students.
Dr. Paul Thornton
Paulis passionate about adult and extended education because he has lived it: His entire
postsecondary education career—as student, educator, and administrator—has involved
non-traditional education. Paul holds a special affinity for adult learners, as that
is how he got started in pursuing his own college education. Paul earned his bachelor’s
degree in management while on active duty with the U.S. Army at Ft. Benning, GA, attending
classes far away from his home institution, Troy University in Alabama. With a growing
young family, Paul went on to earn his MBA from the University of Rochester, and then
many years later again became an adult learner when he pursued a doctorate in higher
education leadership, while maintaining a full-time career in academia. Paul earned
an EdD from the University of Delaware, where he focused on adult education, and his
research interest pertained to online education. At all levels of Paul's postsecondary
education, he experienced the challenges, and benefits, of being an adult learner.
Paul's involvement with adult learners has been just as substantial as an educator.
As a full-time faculty member, and then as an administrator, Paul has taught in, developed,
and/or led working adult learner evening programs on campus, as well as non-traditional
programs at satellite locations away from the main campus, online, bachelor degree
completion programs at community colleges, worksite locations, at two military installations,
and non-credit community outreach programs.
Higher education is Paul's third career. He worked many years as a financial executive
at a major corporation, and, for over 25 years Paul has been an entrepreneur, owning
and operating a variety of small businesses in the retail sector.x
Barbara began her career at FGCU in 2001 as the accountant for WGCU Public Media and
Instructional Technology. In 2006 she became the Accounting Coordinator for Auxiliary
Services and Tax in the Department of Finance and Accounting in the Office of the
Controller. In 2010, she took the position of Treasury Accounting Coordinator in the
same office. In November, 2014 she became the Business Manager for the Office of Continuing
Education and Off-Campus Program. Barbara has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
from the University of Florida. A long-time resident in the Fort Myers area, before
coming to FGCU Barbara divided her time between parenting, career activities and community
For fun, she leads a monthly book club discussion and is an avid knitter. She loves
to travel, especially to the West Coast to visit with her two sons.
Dr. Petersonhas over 30 years’ experience in training managers and supervisors of several major
Fortune 500 companies as well as numerous medium and smaller-sized firms. Additionally,
he has over twenty years of full-time university and college level teaching at both
the undergraduate and graduate levels, nine years working in the marketing department
of a Fortune 250 company, and over 3 years’ experience as the Training Manager at
a plant of a major US automotive manufacturing company.
Dr. Peterson has over twenty years of leading Six Sigma certification for all facets
of business, including manufacturing, health care, government, education, and service.
He recently completed Six Sigma training for the Lee County Emergency Medical Service.
He holds a PhD in Organizational Development from Southern Illinois University. Dr.
Peterson is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt and was trained in Six Sigma by General
Brendajoined FGCU in 2011 and is currently an Administrative Coordinator with The Renaissance
Academy. Her priority is displaying a “can-do” attitude in serving participants,
staff, and instructors. Brenda moved to Florida from Westchester, NY where she worked
for 17 years as an assistant to the Director of Finance and Administration for The
Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester New York. Brenda enjoys all the beauty that
is SW Florida, its beaches, canals and palm trees. Brenda says, “It’s like living
in paradise.” Additionally, she has enjoyed meeting new friends and is very happy
to have made the move from NY.
Nancy is currently overseeing the new facility for the Office of Continuing Education at
the Herald Court Centre in Punta Gorda. In the past, Nancy worked with the Institute
of Government for almost 4 years. In this position, her passion is customer service
excellence and strives to ensure that participants, clients and facilitators have
exactly what they need.
An interest in life-long learning helped Nancy make the decision to leave a previous
position, go back to college and earn her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
In her spare time, Nancy enjoys live music, her two rescue dogs, and being out in
the Florida sunshine!
I’Riel is a recent graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. She received a degree
in Psychology. She is a dedicated individual who enjoys helping others and making
sure that she excels in all that she does. I’Riel works for Continuing Education as
the Internet Marketing Specialist. I’Riel brings a warming personality to any environment
and is highly skilled in customer service and leadership skills. She brings a variety
of skills that are expressed through her maturity and practical experience.
In free time, she enjoys listening to music, cooking, writing and spending time with
her dogs, family, and friends. She also volunteers with a local rescue as their Adoption/Volunteer
Mary Louise “Lu Lu”joined our team in July 2014 as a Program Assistant. Lu Lu brings more than 25 years
experience as an administrative professional along with a unique perspective in the
workplace. She has worked in the areas of project management, real estate, health
care, customer service and was the owner and manager of a small business. Additionally,
she has earned professional development certificates in outpatient medical coding
and computer software.
Lu Lu handles accounts receivable/payable, assists with budget reconciliation, facilitates
certification programs, and interacts directly with clients, trainers, and participants
to ensure their expectations are met and exceeded.
She lived in Cape Coral from 1999-2011, and after a brief stay in Pittsburgh they
returned to their home in the sunshine state in 2013 where Lu Lu enjoys many outdoor
activities and hobbies year round.
Rose is an Administrative Specialist at Renaissance Academy, Naples, Florida. Rose
is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University where she received her BS degree
in Marketing. She also has an AS degree in Respiratory Therapy. Rose is a past member
of PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) and is CAS certified. (Certified
Rose is a Recipient of the Community Service Award 2010 Nominee for her years of service
and dedication to the community of Granby, CT. Rose is the past VP of the Granby
Chamber of Commerce, Granby, CT, and she is the past President of the CT Chapter of
the American Marketing Association.
Rose developed a non-profit organization (raising $100K annually) to support the development
of a high school football program in her hometown. That program is now entering its
Rose comes to us from Granby, CT where she resided for the last 35 years with her
husband Bill and where she raised her 4 children. Rose is an excellent addition to
our team here at FGCU and the Renaissance Academy.
Jessicais an Office Assistant at FGCU Herald Court. She is committed to fulfilling her role
as the first point of contact for students /staff; as she stands ready with a smile
and helpful direction for those who may need it. Jessica’s passion encompasses health,
wellness, and education. With an associate’s degree from the Florida College of Natural
Health, she extends her ever-expanding knowledge of holistic wellness to her part
time position at a local health food market.
In free time, she enjoys both listening to, and making music, singing, beach trips,
being a mom, and spending time with her friends and family.
Chris is a retired educator who joined the Renaissance Academy team in Punta Gorda
in 2018. She has more than 30 years in education as a teacher (middle school through
doctoral programs) as well as school and district level administration. She earned
a BA in Spanish from the State University of New York at Brockport, an MSEd from Nazareth
College in her hometown of Rochester, NY while raising her two daughters, and an EdD
with a focus on Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota (now Argosy
In her free time, Chris enjoys activities with her daughters, 4 grandchildren, large
extended family and friends, reading, and traveling. Cruising has become a favorite
since her retirement from Charlotte County Public Schools in 2016.
Sinead is an Office Assistant for the Renaissance Academy and Continuing Education
programs. She is a student at FGCU and will graduate in May 2021 with her bachelor’s
degree in Health Science. Her passion in helping others allows her to provide exceptional
support service to our staff and patrons.
In her spare time she enjoys working out, exploring, and spending time with friends