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Carmen Cavezza named interim chairman on National Infantry Foundation’s Board of Directors

Carmen Cavezza, a retired lieutenant general and former commander at Fort Benning, was elected interim chairman of the National Infantry Foundation’s Board of Directors it was announced Tuesday.

Cavezza, who also served as Columbus city manager, will fill the position of retired Maj. Gen. Jerry White, who announced his retirement from the foundation on Nov. 17, more than three weeks after a woman filed suit in Muscogee Superior Court alleging she was the victim of sexual assault and harassment.

Cavezza said his stint will be at least six months unless he’s fired.

“When Gen. White retired, we said we are going to take six months to transition through this and look at everything then make a decision on how we are going to do that,” said Cavezza, now the director of Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development.

White was a key figure in raising $100 million to build the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center, which opened in June 2009. He had served as the foundation’s president and chairman of the nonprofit organization that runs the museum.

As chairman, Cavezza said he thinks the board’s mission now is to look at raising about $10 million to pay off the building’s debt, get two other galleries -- the Revolutionary War Era and Civil War Era -- finished and market the facility.

Two galleries could cost $4.5 million.

“Get people to see it,” Cavezza said. “That is kind of the way I see my role. I’m not going to be the day-to-day, hands-on guy.”

Those duties are still left to Executive Director Ben Williams and Executive Vice President Greg Camp.

Williams said he’s pleased that Cavezza, who is known and respected in the military and civilian community, is moving into the position.

“All those who have supported this project should feel confident that the foundation’s mission of honoring soldiers will continue to build upon the firm foundation already established,” Williams said.

As a volunteer, Cavezza will provide oversight and supervision of the operation of the museum, Williams said.

“I’ll try to continue with the progress that has been made,” Cavezza said.

In other action, Ben F. Williams Jr. was approved as executive director, retired Col. Greg C. Camp as executive vice president and Frank G. Lumpkin III as secretary-treasurer.

Three new board members include Frank Brown, retired Columbus State University president; retired Col. Robert Jordan; and Dr. Robert Wright, retired businessman, optometrist and former Columbus Councilor.

The rest of the board includes:

Columbus Bank & Trust executive vice president Tim Farmer; AFCO Realty (Metro Atlanta) Chairman Sam Friedman; President of Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Mike Gaymon; Frank Lumpkin III of Hutchinson-Traylor Insurance; Park Properties president Jerry Newman; Pezold Companies owner Jack Pezold; community leader Jean Puckett; and RiverWay South executive director Carole Rutland.