Gary Chartrand | It’s Okay To Be Unreasonable

George Bernard Shaw famously observed that “all progress comes from unreasonable people.” It’s a philosophy philanthropist Gary Chartrand has embraced over the course of his decades-long fight to ensure that Florida children have access to a strong public educational system that embraces 21st-century skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Only by reforming America’s public school system, argues Chartrand, will we develop the next generation of problem solvers.

Gary Chartrand is the former Executive Chairman of Acosta Sales and Marketing. Acosta is a leading full-service sales and marketing agency, providing outsourced sales, merchandising, marketing and promotional services to manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. The company employs over 40,000 associates and operates 100 offices in the U.S. and Canada. Chartrand was the pivotal force behind quadrupling the company's geographic coverage, transforming Acosta into the first national full-service sales and marketing company in the U.S. and Canada. Gary received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the State of Florida in May 2001, and has been an extraordinary leader in his industry and his community. From 2003 to 2009 Mr. Chartrand was recognized as one of the 50 most powerful leaders in the grocery industry by Supermarket News.

Mr. Chartrand also has a passion for educating the children of Duval County and the State of Florida. In April 2007, he led a community effort to bring Teach for America to Jacksonville. In June of 2009 Gary and his wife Nancy made a pledge gift of $1Million dollars to KIPP schools of Jacksonville. The first KIPP School in Florida opened in August of 2010. Because of his passion for education coupled with his business experience and leadership, Governor Rick Scott appointed Mr. Chartrand to the State Board of Education in 2011. He served as Chair of the State Board in 2014 and 2015. Gary currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, The Jacksonville Public Education Fund, City Year, and is currently Chair of the board of the KIPP schools of Jacksonville, FL. He is also Chair of the Northeast Florida STEM HUB. Gary is involved in Guardian of Dreams, Catholic schools and the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Gary is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. Gary and Nancy reside in Ponte Vedra Beach and have two children, Jeffrey and Meredith.