Erika Donalds
and Chief Executive Officer

Education entrepreneur Erika Donalds is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of OptimaEd and The Optima Foundation. She is a finance professional with a passion for education and has offered her expertise in business and policy to help further the expansion of high-quality school choice options and to improve accountability and governance in Florida’s public schools.

Erika is a former elected member of the Collier County School Board and now serves as a visiting fellow for The Heritage Foundation Center for Education Policy. She previously sat on Florida’s 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission, Governor DeSantis’ Advisory Committee on Education and Workforce Development, and the Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees. She is on advisory boards for Heritage Foundation, Classical Learning, Moms for Liberty, and the Independent Women’s Forum Education Freedom Center.

Prior to launching OptimaEd, Erika spent 20 years in the financial services industry. She was Chief Financial Officer/Chief Compliance Officer and Partner at a multi-billion-dollar investment management firm, responsible for finance, compliance, and operations, in addition to serving on the Management Committee.

Erika holds a BS in Accounting from Florida State University and a Master of Accountancy from Florida Atlantic University, where she is a Distinguished Alumni Honoree. She is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

Erika and her husband Byron have lived in Naples since 2002 and have three sons – Damon, Darin, & Mason.

Adam Mangana, M.Ed  is the Chief Product Officer and a founder of Optima Ed, the only Education Experience company focused on creating American Classical and Virtual Reality Curriculum in the world. Mr. Mangana has over 15 years of experience in education technology. He also launched the world’s first Virtual Reality Charter School Optima Classical Academy in the fall of 2022. A tuition-free online school serving students grades 3-8.

Prior to the launch of Optima Classical, he was the Head of School at Benedict Day School in Sumrall, Mississippi. At Benedict, he built the only Virtual Reality Lab in the Pine Belt and inspired by challenges of the worldwide pandemic, he has pioneered an immersive virtual education delivery through the use of the Engage platform in VR.

He also served as the Director of Extended Reality Lab at Jackson Preparatory in Flowood, Mississippi where he worked to build the Southeast’s largest Extended Reality Lab in K-12 schools. This work is focused on curating the best educational experiences in Virtual Reality as well as teaching students to build their own experiences and content in VR.

He is a Teach For America Alumni as well as an Albert Bennett award recipient. After his two-year teaching commitment with TFA, Mangana worked for the prestigious education consulting firm Carney, Sandoe, and Associates. His career path has led him to work with both public and private schools in Miami, Providence, Chicago, and Jackson before founding the first Charter School in the state of Mississippi’s history, Midtown Public Charter School.

Mangana holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University with a double major in Classics and Public and Private Sector Organizations. He also earned a Master’s Degree from Vanderbilt University in Independent School Leadership.

Adam lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with his wife Sophy and his son Aaron and daughter Aaliyah.

Adam Mangana
Chief Product Officer