Virginia Union University Appoints New Members to Board of Trustees

June 14, 2023

2023 BOT

[RICHMOND, VA – June 14, 2023] -- Virginia Union University Board of Trustees announced that it has elected new members to serve as trustees of the University:  

·         Lawrence P. Bancroft, President and CEO of Bivium Capital Partners  

·         Kenya Blake, Managing Director and General Manager of Horizon Innovations 

·         Carolyn Jacobs ‘64, Retired Guidance Coordinator, Richmond Public Schools 

·         Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins ‘65, President Emeritus of Livingstone College in North Carolina 

·         Darius A. Johnson, Vice President and Treasurer of Dominion Energy and  

·         Rev. Dr. Lance D. Watson ‘85, Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond. 

“Virginia Union University welcomes these visionary leaders to join our work of building the university of the future in the present, for the present,” said the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chair of VUU’s Board of Trustees. “These individuals have devoted their lives to community service, and we are excited to have them join our team that is shaping the future of higher education.” 

Lawrence P. Bancroft founded Bivium Capital Partners in 2002. As the President and CEO of Bivium, he oversees the firm’s overall growth and direction and develops new, innovative approaches to service clients. His expertise as a strategist and industry advisor has led Bivium to experience increased operational productivity, growth and funding. 

Prior to founding Bivium, Bancroft was employed at Goldman, Sachs and Co. in New York where he evaluated minority-owned investment companies as part of the firm’s Urban Investment Group for capital allocation. 

Bancroft holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a master’s from Cornell’s School of Public Affairs. 

Kenya Blake is the Managing Director and General Manager of Horizon Innovations, a joint venture between Philip Morris USA and Japan Tobacco International, focused on the commercialization and marketing of heated tobacco stick products in the U.S. 

Prior to her current role, Blake served as the Managing Director and General Manager for John Middleton Company, leading the cigar business for two years. Throughout her career, she has held various brand management leadership positions including Director of Marketing in Altria International Sales. 

Blake’s passion for creating a vibrant arts and culture community in Richmond has led her to serve on the Board of Directors at Richmond Culture Works. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and her MBA from the University of Connecticut. 

Carolyn W. Jacobs is a retired Guidance Coordinator in Richmond Public Schools. A Richmond native, she graduated from Virginia Union University in 1964 with a degree in biology.  

Her career in Richmond’s education system spans three decades where she served as a guidance counselor, coordinator and department head. She was licensed as a professional counselor in the Commonwealth of Virginia and was recognized as Virginia Counselor of the Year in 1986. 

After retirement, she served as owner and operator of ExecuTran Medical and Limousine Services. In 2013 she was elected as the VUU National Alumni Association President, holding the position until 2017. 

She holds a master's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and has furthered her studies at Virginia State University, Virginia Tech and University of Virginia. 

Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. is President Emeritus of Livingstone College in North Carolina. He served as President from 2006 to 2022. Prior to retiring as Livingstone’s 12th president, Jenkins served as the President of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida from 1997 to 2002 and Chancellor of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina from 1983 to 1995. His term at Livingstone College is the second longest in the college’s history. 

Throughout his career, Jenkins earned his reputation as a “turn-around artist” due to his ability to rebuild and stabilize institutions facing hardship. During his time at Edward Waters College, Florida Trend Magazine cited EWC as “the comeback college of the year” after the school regained its accreditation. 

Jenkins is the recipient of numerous higher education awards and honors including Northeastern North Carolina’s NAACP Outstanding Leadership Award and Outstanding Educator of the Year. He has served on various committees and boards throughout the North Carolina region and has written and edited multiple higher education publications and professional presentations. 

Darius A. Johnson is Vice president and Treasurer at Dominion Energy. His responsibilities include oversight of risk management, corporate finance, cash management and corporate disbursements.  

Johnson joined Dominion Energy in 2016 as director of Cash Management and then assumed the role of director–electric distribution design, project management and privatization in 2018. In 2019, he became vice president– Employee Engagement & Development and was responsible for the strategic oversight of talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention, leader and employee development, HR communications, and diversity and inclusion.  

Prior to joining Dominion Energy, he served as senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and previously executive vice president at Premier Bank Inc., the successor of St. Luke Penny savings Bank, founded in Richmond by Maggie L. Walker.  

He is chair of Venture Richmond, chair-elect of the MCV Foundation, and is a member of the board of trustees for the State Board for Community Colleges in Virginia. He also is past chairman of the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  

Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Richmond. He completed the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania. His parents are both graduates of Virginia Union University. 

Rev. Dr. Lance D. Watson serves as chief visionary for St. Paul’s and its corporate affiliates, Destiny Schools, Charisma Books and Gifts, Saint Paul’s Community Foundation, NIA, Inc. of Greater Richmond and Positive Power Media Group. 

Saint Paul’s serves as the spiritual home for more than 12,000 people, and the congregation has been noted as one of the fastest growing churches in the nation. Saint Paul's has acquired almost 300 acres of land with plans to construct “The City of Possibility,” a master planned community that will feature multiple residential neighborhoods, commercial, retail and office spaces, a park, an elementary school and a community life facility. 

His own works have been featured in the African American Pulpit, the Baptist Herald and several other publications. He is the author of Being Healthy From Now On, Maximize Your Edge: Navigating Life’s Challenges, Meet Me in the Morning and That Was Then, This is NOW

Dr. Watson is a three-time Summa Cum Laude graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, and a Magna Cum Laude Graduate of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He has served on VUU’s Board of Trustees since November 2022, and he is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.