2019-2020 VA-ACME Leadership

Keri Reams


Keri Reams is the University Development Coordinator for Grand Canyon University, covering the Northern Virginia, Washington D.C., and Joint Base Andrews area. She has completed her Master’s in Education for Adult Education & Training and a second Master’s in Education for Curriculum & Instruction. As a military spouse, she has always advocated and supported military members in their pursuit for higher education and degree completion. She has a diverse background with institutions that are State, Private, For-Profit and Non-Profit. She continues to connect our military community with a vast wealth of the DMV resources.

La Toya Sivells

Vice President

La Toya Sivells, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, has worked at Northern Virginia Community College as their Military Education Specialist since 2009. La Toya has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hampton University and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Liberty University, pursuing a Doctor in Educational Leadership.

Prior to working at Northern Virginia Community College, she began her career as Assistant Director of Sports Information at Hampton University. She also completed a stint as a military spouse counselor for the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program in Arlington, Virginia. La Toya has served as  a board Member-at-Large for VA-ACME, the Scholarship Committee Chair, and as a serving member of the planning committee.


Kelly Ryan


Kelly Ryan currently serves as a Military Education Coordinator for Military Partnerships with the University of Maryland University College in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. As an Army veteran with over 12 years of experience in military education, she is passionate about assisting service members reach their educational goals. She completed a Masters in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from American Public University and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing at Old Dominion University. Kelly has an 11-year old Basenji mix named Jayden who loves to run with her.

Florence Hayes-Addison


Florence Hayes-Addison currently serves as a Veteran Services Representative for the Benefits Division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). She received her professional post-graduate degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University.

Florence has devoted over a decade in support of military education. Prior to working at DVS, she served as a Military Education Coordinator for Military Partnerships at the University of Maryland University College - Hampton Roads Region and as an Enrollment Coordinator, with the Military Distance Learning Program at Old Dominion University. Florence has six years of active volunteer service with VA-ACME; she has served as a board Member at-Large, Job Fair Committee Chair and on the symposium planning committee.


Carla Bell-Thompson


Carla Bell- Thompson, a native of Hampton Roads, is a graduate of Bethel High School in Hampton. She received a BS in Business Studies and MS in Education from Southern New Hampshire University. She currently serves as a Project Coordinator, for Military Contracts Programs at the Center for Military and Veteran Education at Tidewater Community College. Carla is a former teacher for the public schools in Virginia, California, and DOD, in addition to an Education Advisor for Navy College Offices, NAS Oceana, with several years of experience in Higher Education as a Liaison transitioning service members interested in educational opportunities. Carla has served as Vice-President, Planning Committee Chair and Member At-Large; this is the eighth year of her volunteer service with VA-ACME.

member-At-Large (x2)


Melinda N. Gain er

IMMEDIATE past President

Melinda N. Gainer is the Executive Director of the Signet Event Center in Chesapeake, Virginia. Melinda is a native of Hampton Roads and a graduate of Indian River High School in Chesapeake and Hampton University. Prior to beginning her career in higher education, she completed the National Executive Training Program with Sears Corporation; she was the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission and an adjunct Public Relations/Event Management professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University. Melinda has served as VA-ACME's President, Vice President, and as the symposium logistics coordinator (2014-2017).

Melinda served on the Board of Directors for Girls, Incorporated, has been a member of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the International Society of Event Specialist (ISES) as well as the inaugural committee of the Young Executives at the Town Point Club, Norfolk. She is a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., where she served as Vice President (2004-2008; 2010-2014) and Chairperson of the Debutante Program (2005-2008;2016-2017). Melinda is a member of the Grace Episcopal Church in Norfolk, where she is active with the Adult Choir and the Altar Guild.

Thank you to the 2019 VA-ACME

Board for a job well done!