NAPLES — The Immokalee Foundation named longtime pharmaceutical executive Jerry Belle chairman of its 2021-22 board of directors.
After a 35-year global career with pharmaceutical company Aventis SA, Belle retired as CEO of Aventis Pharmaceuticals in 2004, according to a statement. He then served as executive chairman of global animal health company Merial Ltd., retiring again in 2007. Belle also has served on the board for multiple leading pharmaceutical and diagnostic businesses.
Belle and his wife, Janet, were introduced to The Immokalee Foundation in 2017, after Hurricane Irma severely impacted the community, the release states. They visited the office, met the staff and students and learned more about the foundation’s programs designed to improve the future of the children of Immokalee with the help of mentors, donors and volunteers.
“We were thoroughly impressed with the professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm that was obvious throughout,” Belle says in the statement. “The final hook was what I call the ‘success metrics’ – 100% of students supported by The Immokalee Foundation graduate from high school and go on to college or trade school. And most have a scholarship earned through hard work and the support programs offered by the foundation throughout the students’ studies.”
Belle began volunteering and served as a mentor, and in 2019 was elected to The Immokalee Foundation board, the release states. That year, the Belles hosted the annual networking event for The Immokalee Foundation students at the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club and co-hosted the annual Charity Classic Celebration gala fundraiser at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.
Belle says he’s looking forward to working with other board members to continue the expansion of The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program initiated by immediate past chair Steve Pryor. “This well-researched, local model prepares students for professional careers that lead to financial independence, through college or trade studies,” Belle says. “Career Pathways has the potential to become a national model for expanding career opportunities for students.”
“Jerry’s commitment to The Immokalee Foundation has been an inspiration to his fellow board members and our entire staff,” adds The Immokalee Foundation president and CEO Noemi Perez in the statement. “We look forward to his leadership as we continue working together to provide life-changing opportunities for the youth of Immokalee.”
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. Founded in 1991, the foundation serves more than 1,400 children a year with a variety of programs while also working to break the cycle of poverty within some 1,100 families. It has $12 million in assets, according to its most recent IRS filing