Alumni

Frank C. Adderley

Colonel, Broward Sheriff's Office

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Frank, a Fort Lauderdale native, joined the City of Fort Lauderdale Police Department in October 1980. In 1985, he became a Major Narcotics Detective where he worked on the United States Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Task Force. Frank was promoted to Sergeant in August 1993 where he served in Patrol, Street Narcotics Unit, and the Office of Internal Affairs. In 1996, he was one of two supervisors in charge of the Street Narcotics Unit. In 2000, Frank was promoted to the rank of Captain. In 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Major making him the first African-American to hold such a rank in the Department’s history. In 2006, he was promoted to Assistant Chief then on June 1, 2008 Frank was appointed as the first African-American Chief of Police in the history of Fort Lauderdale. He is also an Executive Member of the Broward Chiefs Association on the IACP’s Dangerous Narcotics and Drugs Committee. Frank has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology from Florida Gulf Coast University. He is a graduate of the 206 Session of the FBI National Academy, the 52nd Session of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Commanders Course, Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Program at Florida Atlantic University and the 33rd Session of the FBI’s National Executive Institute.

Berta Carral

Court Interpreter in the 11th Judicial Circuit

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Berta obtained a BA in French at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. She did her junior year abroad in Paris, France and attended the University of Paris (La Sorbonne), as well as L’Institut de Sciences Politiques in Paris. Berta married in 1979 in Puerto Rico, had a daughter and moved to St. Maarten, N.A. to work as Marketing Director for the first timesharing resort in the Netherlands Antilles. Later seeking better education for her daughter she mover to the U.S. Berta moved to Miami in 1989 and was hired by Swiss Company, Swissbee to do a feasibility study for their marketing division. Two years later Swissbee closed their office in Miami to operate out of Geneva.In 1992 Berta was hired as a court interpreter/translator for the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami, Florida and has been there ever since. She became a supervisor on the 5th floor. Her additional duties include interpreting at all judicial proceedings, depositions and pre-file conferences, interviews at jails, hospitals as well as psychiatric evaluations of inmates, victims, and witnesses. She also works at different branches such as Coral Gables District Court and Juvenile Court which include translation of documents of non-English speakers submitted to the court for filing. Berta is fluent in French, Spanish, and English.

Isabel Cosio Carballo

Executive Director, South Florida Regional Planning Council

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During her time at the Council, Isabel has held positions of significant responsibilities including Regional Coordinator of the nationally recognized Eastward Ho! initiative. In 2010 she spearheaded, in partnership with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and other regional partners, the organization of the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership and its successful application to U.S. HUD’s Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program. Prior to joining the Council in 1996, Isabel was Chief of Staff to now Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from 1988-1993. She then joined Broward County’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs as a legislative consultant and lobbyist from 1993 – 1996. She has served on numerous state and local boards and currently serves as U.S. HUD’s designated liaison for the Sustainable Communities program and as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Good Government Initiative created by former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson. Isabel has BA in International Business from the University of Texas at Austin. In the course of her study at the FIU EMPA program, Isabel has earned membership with Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, and Golden Key Honor Society. Isabel has also been awarded to be the 2014 Founders’ Fellow by the American Society for Public Administration. Isabel lives in Hollywood with her husband Jim and son Jimmy.

Nicole Cueto

Director of Public Relations, Kroll

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In 2013, Nicole was recruited to serve as Communications Director for Congressman Joe Garcia in Washington, D.C. where she also currently resides. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, with a Major in Broadcast Journalism and a Minor in Spanish. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Nicole also holds both a JD and an MBA degree, and recently graduated from the EMPA program at FIU. She is member of both the Florida Bar and New York State Bar. Nicole obtained two separate judicial clerkships and in 2010 she obtained an internship with former Coral Gables Mayor, Don Slesnick. In 2011, Nicole was recruited as Senior Staff to City of Miami Commission Chairman, Francis Suarez. She was ultimately selected to serve as Director of Constituent Affairs at the City of Coral Gables, under the direction of the City Manager. During her spare time, Nicole has been heavily involved in the community. She has channeled her energies into fundraising for PATCHES – a pediatric care facility for severely disabled and terminally ill children. Nicole was also an active mentor in the Take Stock in Children mentorship program through Miami Dade College from 2010-2013 and former member of the Gator Club of Miami Alumni Board.

Natasha Diaz-Rojas

Administrative Manager & Financial Analyst, City of Miami Beach Tourism & Cultural Development

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Natasha has been in public service with the City of Miami Beach for over 10 years. As Senior Administrative Manager for the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Economic Development, Natasha is responsible for the day-to-day administrative operations and financials for a department with a budget of over $60 million. Prior to joining the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Economic Development, Natasha began her career at the City of Miami Beach as a Procurement Coordinator for the Procurement Office. Natasha received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Florida International University in 2012. Natasha also earned a Professional Certificate in Tourism Marketing and is a member of the Miami Beach Chamber Tourism & Hospitality Council. After completing her Master’s program, Natasha plans to pursue her passion for Finance by joining the Government Finance Officers Association and becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Monica S. Fernandez

Teacher, Miami-Dade County Public School

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Monica currently teaches 6th grade Language Arts and 6th, 7th and 8th grade Drama at Coral Gables Preparatory Academy. Ms. Fernandez received her Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Miami (2004). She double majored in Broadcasting/Digital Media and Theater Arts. After extensive experience in the broadcasting field, Monica was hired as an Associate Producer (News) for CBS 4 in Miami. After two years in News, she transitioned into a career in Education. She has had 8 successful years as a teacher and was rated as ‘Highly Effective’ for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. Since starting the EMPA program, Monica has been awarded the ASPA Founders’ Forum Fellowship, has received the “Best Paper Award” with her team at the Policy Management in Seoul Conference in South Korea and was one of five students who represented the FIU Master of Public Administration program and won first place in the Policy Solutions Challenge regional competition held at the University of Kentucky. She went on to represent FIU at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Michael G. Gregory

Police Major, Fort Lauderdale Police Department

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Michael is a Fort Lauderdale native. He was hired by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in February of 1987. Michael has been assigned to each of the Department’s three bureaus during his 25-year career with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. This consisted of Patrol, Street Level Narcotics, Upper Level Narcotics, Racketeering and Intelligence Units and Administration. He has served in command roles over the Information Technology Division, Patrol Districts 1 & 3, Criminal Investigations Division, Staff Support Division, Special Operations Division and Internal Affairs. Prior to his promotion to the position of Major, he was a Police Captain overseeing one of the busiest Districts in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Criminal Justice/Police Science from Florida Atlantic University. He also completed coursework at the Senior Management Institute for Police (PERF), the Executive Leadership Program at Nova Southeastern University and the FBI National Academy.

Victor London

Police Captain, Fort Lauderdale Police Department

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After graduating from high school in 1986, Victor’s career in law enforcement started with a four-year enlistment in the United States Air Force as a security policeman. Immediately after completing military service he joined the Shreveport Louisiana Police Department in 1990 and served there for four and a half years as a patrol officer, a field training officer and then as a detective. Since 1995 Victor has served the citizens of Fort Lauderdale in a variety of line and supervisory capacities which included: patrol officer, field training officer, detective, hostage negotiator, patrol sergeant, internal affairs sergeant and Special Victims Unit detective sergeant. In 2007 he ascended to the middle management level after receiving a double promotion to the rank of captain, bypassing the rank of lieutenant. Victor is an EMPA graduate from FIU. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Union Institute and University, has attended the Nova Southeastern University/National Sheriffs Foundation’s Executive Leadership course and the coveted University of Louisville Southern Police Institute’s Command Officers Development course.

Sean McCrackine

Chief of Policy & Planning, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava at Miami-Dade County

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Sean has been responsible for developing and coordinating the legislative program for Miami-Dade District 2 Commissioner, Jean Monestime since he was first elected to office in 2010. He has worked with the Commissioner to develop an economic development strategy around “green” jobs and to help the County focus on infrastructure investment in Miami-Dade’s urban core communities. He has developed a portfolio of legislation designed to improve small business participation in County procurement and capital development projects. Before joining Commissioner Monestime’s staff, he served Commissioner Katy Sorenson through two terms as her environmental and land-use policy aide. As such, he was tasked with developing environmental initiatives that led to the adoption of fuel and energy efficiency standards in County operations, the creation of the County’s Office of Sustainability and a mandatory Green Building requirement for County construction. Sean received his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Florida International University and recently graduated from the FIU Executive Masters in Public Administration.

Miriam Monzon

Coordinator at Corporate & Foundation Relations, Florida International University

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Miriam Monzon currently works for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the department of University Advancement at Florida International University. In this position, she develops and executes strategic corporate partnership program consisting of highly customized stewardship plans for select donors; fosters relationships with external constituents to increase awareness and exposure for the university; oversees and manages the inventory of companies the university is in contact with; collaborate with the Office of Alumni Relations to present corporate Alumni Day programs as a cultivation/stewardship activity to strengthen relationships among our local business community and alumni; creates engaging opportunities for new prospects. Aside from her Master’s degree in Public Administration at FIU, she also holds a Business Management degree with a minor in Communications Studies. Beyond the academic world, she likes to spend her time doing volunteer work through Hands on Miami, doing yoga and cooking.

Ronald Morales

Special Agent, Broward Office of the Inspector General

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Ronald was born and raised in Miami, Florida, to immigrant parents. In 2002, he made the decision to join the United States Air Force as a Military Police member and was primarily stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, CO with a few temporary duty assignments outside of the Buckley AFB area. He spent 8 months with the Aurora Police Department as part of an inter-local assignment between the Air Force and Aurora PD. After leaving the Air Force, Ronald was recruited to Target Stores as a Retail Organized Crime Investigator and after 3 years as a District Investigator was promoted to a group executive position as an Asset Protection Business Partner. Ronald has since left Target and currently holds the position of Special Agent with the Broward Office of the Inspector General. Ronald has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, a Master of Business Administration from FIU and is currently pursuing dual degrees in Public Administration and Criminal Justice. He and his wife Angie live in Miami and have two children.

Lissette Perez

Town Clerk/Human Resources Director, Town of Golden Beach

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Lissette has been employed with the Town of Golden Beach for over six years, ascending from the position of Executive Assistant, to Human Resources Director, and finally to her current position where she performs aspects of all three positions with a focus on duties as the Town Clerk. Lissette holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Miami in Broadcast Journalism and English Literature, with a minor in Spanish Literature, and a Master’s from Florida International University in Advertising and Public Relations. She has held a number of jobs in the media field including: staff writer for the Miami Herald Neighbor’s section; staff writer for HispanicOnline magazine; traffic reporter for WLRN radio; and morning news writer for WSVN 7 News. After almost ten years of working in the media industry, she made the career move to politics and is now looking to take that next step in life where she can successfully leverage her skills and expertise in new ways.

Emilio J. Vazquez

Staff Director, Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB)

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Emilio serves as a senior strategic officer, advising the station manager and senior staff on administrative and management matters of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Active in the community, he served on the Board of Directors of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission. He has also been involved as an advisory Board Member to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Regional User Group, Hospice of Hillsborough County Hispanic Outreach Group and the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and the City of Coral Gables Transportation Advisory Board. He was President of the Alumni Chapters of the University of South Florida in Washington, D.C. and Miami and a member of the Latin Builders Association, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Emilio received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from the University of South Florida in 1993. He is current EMPA student at FIU and has also completed graduate level course work in the Political Science field. He is bilingual in English and Spanish. Emilio resides in Miami, Florida with his wife and their daughter.

Karen Velez Arce

Consul of Ecuador in Miami

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Karen was born in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. She was named “Best Student” at the age of 11 and was honored with the City Flag because of her achievements in a regional scholar competition having the best GPA in the city. Karen graduated with honors from High School at the age of 16 having a perfect 4.0 GPA. She also represented her city in the National Swimming Competition winning gold for the region, proving not only academic success but excellence in the sport field as well. Karen’s excellent grades earned her a full scholarship and she graduated as a Lawyer at the age of 21. At that age, she became the youngest Alternative Senator working in Congress with the top Politician of Ecuador. Due to her youth and achievements, at the age of 23 Karen was sent to the United States of America to represent her nation and became the youngest Consul of Ecuador in history. She speaks Spanish, English and French and graduated from the EMPA program at Florida International University while at the same time maintaining her role as a diplomat.

Rahel Weldeyesus

Community Engagement Director Office of Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava at Miami-Dade County

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Rahel graduated from the University of Chicago in 2005 with a B.A. in International Studies and a focus on human rights. She interned with Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLSNY), a non-for-profit legal services organization providing civil legal services to indigent inmates in New York State’s maximum-security prisons. After completing the internship, she accepted a full-time position with PLSNY as the Development Coordinator for all four statewide offices. From 2006 to 2008, Rahel worked for the Office of New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt as his Community Relations Director. Rahel decided to not renew the contract with Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and instead accepted a position with the not-for-profit and faith-based organization, Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, Inc. She was the Program Development Director for four years. In partnership with the Director of the Erie County Task Force on Prisoner Re-entry, she developed a pilot program, Community Re-entry Mentoring, which has been adopted by Erie County and funded by New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS.) Rahel resigned in 2012 and relocated to Miami to start the EMPA program at FIU and a new chapter in life.

Wayne Appleby

Supervisor at Miami-Dade Police Department

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I began my professional career in with Miami-Dade Police Department as Police Trainee in June of 1992 assigned to work the Human Resources Bureau. In September 1992, I started the police academy and graduated from the academy in May of 1993. After graduation, I was assigned to the Doral District as a uniform patrol officer. During my years at the Doral District I received numerous commendations, including the gold medal of valor award. The gold medal of valor was awarded to me for preventing an estranged husband from shooting his wife and taking his own life. From 1996 through 2006 I was assigned to a number of specialized units including Housing Urban Development Policing (HUD), Doral Crime Suppression Team (CST), Organized Crime Unit and Tactical Narcotics Team. In May of 2006, I was promoted to Sergeant and was assigned to the Northside District overseeing the uniform patrol squad, Northside CST and later went on to supervise the Gang Unit. Currently I am assigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau investigations unit. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Barry University in 2013.

Liana Castano

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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Liana has been in Public Service for over 12 years. She has worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2002. She earned her Criminal Justice undergraduate degree from Florida International University in 2005. Liana is married and is the mother of a 19 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. Her children are her inspiration, her strength and the reason why she wants to make this world a better place. She made the decision to pursue a Masters Degree in Public Administration because she wants to expand her knowledge and build her strengths in order to serve her country at a grander scale.

Cameron Creque

Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts

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My name is Cameron Creque and I am 34 years old. I was raised in Miami, Florida. I received my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University. I was employed by the Department of Homeland Security with the Transportation Security Administration.

Currently, I am employed by the Miami Dade Clerk of Courts for the past 8 eight years and presently assigned as the supervisor of the Court Teams. I am obtaining my Executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration to enhance my supervisory skills and to position myself for future promotional opportunities.

Mario A. Diaz

Director of Admissions, Monsignor Edward Pace High School

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Mario A. Diaz has served as Public Information Manager for the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) since 2013. His responsibilities encompass establishing measurable goals and objectives for MDX’s communications, marketing, advertising and public affairs efforts, while also conservatively managing MDX’s Public Communications Department budget.

In coordination with his role at MDX, Mario is also an active member with the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) serving as Chairman of the Communications Committee.

As an active member of his community, Mario additionally sits on the board of the Hialeah Housing Authority since 2011 and has served as vice chairman since 2013.

Karen Diazgranados

Project Manager at Miami-Dade County Office of Management and Budget Department

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After a decade of hard work and dedication to public service, Karen Diazgranados continues to be an inspiration for her peers. Her passion for helping others and leading by example has taken her to a path with no return towards fulfilling her dreams. Today, she is closer to achieving her professional goals as she graduates this Spring with a Master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University. In 2008, she was nominated employee of the year for outstanding customer services. In her role as Civil Citation Coordinator for the Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department she has taken a government program to a different level. Nowadays, the Civil Citation Program offered by Miami-Dade County has positively impacted the lives of many youth across Florida and the United States. Her background in Psychology and Criminal Justice has prepared her to deal with trouble teenagers. Born in Colombia, 35-year-old Karen has lived in Miami since age 15. She is fluent in English and Spanish, loves to travel and embraces other cultures.

Meaghan Gies

Manager, Worldwide Port Operations at Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

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Meaghan accepted a position with Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. in March 2015 as their Lead for Situation Management and Planning spanning seven brands and 47 ships globally. In July 2014, she began work as the Domestic Security contingency planner at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) as the Planner for the Southeast Regional Domestic Security Task Force. Prior to FDLE, she served as an active duty commissioned officer in the US Coast Guard since 2009. Meaghan’s Coast Guard career has encompassed operational and overseas tours. She served aboard three cutters, including as Executive Officer of the Cutter Adak in the Kingdom of Bahrain in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Meaghan graduated with high honors from the US Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine & Environmental Science. Her Coast Guard honors include a CG Commendation Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service ribbon and a Letter of Commendation. Meaghan also continues to serve as an officer in the Coast Guard Reserves here in Miami.

Julia Lopes

Director of Marketing at Mercy Hospital

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Julia Lopes is currently Director of Marketing at Mercy Hospital which is part of the HCA East Florida Division. Julia has extensive experience in Communications, Public Relations, Government Relations and Policy. Prior to joining Mercy Hospital she held the post of Vice President of Community and Governmental Relations at Dade Medical College. Julia has also held positions at the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), City Year Miami, the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives among others. Julia lives in Miami and is active in the community through Switchboard of Miami, Greater Miami Chamber, Amigos for Kids and various other civic activities. Additionally, she is part of the 2nd cohort of FIU’s Executive Master of Public Administration.

Lydia A. Lopez

Assistant Director of Human Resources and Budget, Florida International University Libraries

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Lydia Lopez works in the Office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. As Assistant to the Deputy Mayor, Lydia is the legislative coordinator for the County’s Culture and Recreations portfolio which includes the following departments: Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces; Miami-Dade County Public Library System; and the Department of Cultural Affairs. Prior to joining the County, Lydia worked at FIU as the Assistant Director of HR & Budget at the University Libraries. She actually began her career at FIU as an intern in the curatorial department of The Wolfsonian–FIU, the University’s art and design museum located in Miami Beach. At The Wolfsonian she worked in the Administrative Office, and then in the Education department as Public Programs Manager. As Public Programs Manager some she organized events that included speakers such as architect and designer Michael Graves, graphic designer Steven Heller, former-senator Bob Graham, author and human rights activist Stetson Kennedy, graphic designer Paula Scher, and MIT biomechatronics researcher Hugh Herr.

Lydia’s volunteer activities include committee work with SAVE Dade and the LGBTQ Task Force. Lydia also participated in the LGBTQA Mentor Program at FIU. Lydia earned her Bachelors in Art History from FIU and is delighted to have her Master’s in Public Administration from FIU. A native South Floridian, second generation in fact, Lydia has an aversion to humidity and mosquitos.

LT David McShane

United States Coast Guard

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LT David McShane was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Coast Guard after graduating from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. After successfully completing the Direct Commission Officer Program he served as an Ensign at District Eight Prevention Division.

During his time at District Eight, LT McShane ensured shipping industry compliance with safety regulations and policy in an operational area spanning 26 states and 10,300 miles of inland waters. Also during his tenure he helped stand up Incident Command Systems in response to disasters such as Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Gustav, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon British Petroleum Oil Spill.

LT McShane next assumed the position as Deployable Team Leader in June 2010 at the Maritime Safety and Security Team located in the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. As the Team Leader, LT McShane directly oversaw the training and operations for the Advanced Law Enforcement and Close Quarter Combat team of 22 members. LT McShane led multiple deployments in support of Maritime Homeland Security, Counter Drug Operations, Anti-Terrorism Force Protection, and Non-Compliant Vessel Boardings. During the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2012, involving 22 nations, LT McShane served as the Coast Guard’s Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT) representative. He helped forge relationships with our allies through multiple joint training evolutions including fast roping onto a Russian vessel demonstrating the AIT’s ability to conduct non-compliant boarding procedures.

LT McShane is a native of Chicago, Il. He is married to the former Jennifer Lawson of Downey, Ca. Mr. and Mrs. McShane have a son named Colin and are currently residing in Miami, FL.

Megan O’Brien

Executive Director for PACT

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Megan O’Brien is the Executive Director for PACT, People Acting for Community Together. PACT unites 40 organizations throughout Miami Dade and trains community members to work on County and State policy change. Megan is from Detroit, Michigan, received her Bachelors in a dual degree with Social Policy and Urban Planning from Michigan State University. Megan is a graduate of the Direct Action and Research Training institute and prior to starting to work for PACT in 2009, she worked as an organizer in Dayton, Ohio for LEAD: Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton. Megan practices capoeira and speaks Spanish, English and conversational Haitian Creole.

Lindamaria Ortega Franco

Business Development Advisor, MET Community

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Result driven and highly accomplished professional with International experience. A proven track-record of project management, strategic planning, fundraising, negotiation and business development. More than 18 years of experience in Management, Education and Development Aid. Has worked in different organizations, companies and nonprofit organizations in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe and USA. She has been involved in projects with International Cooperation Agencies such as DFATD, USAID, JICA, European Union and Local Governments. Graduated with a major on International Business and specialized in Education and Development Aid, International Marketing, and Non for Profit organizations.

Nathalia Salas-Restrepo

Development and Marketing Manager at Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS)

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Nathalia received a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida in 2006. After graduation, she began working for the March of Dimes, where she managed fundraising and advocacy campaigns for the non-profit organization. Two years later, she began working as Community Relations Manager for Homestead-Miami Speedway where she oversaw community outreach efforts by developing relationships with key external contacts and the community at large, in addition to implementing programs at community and Speedway events. In 2013, Nathalia began working for Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces where she manages the Department’s annual signature events. She Work with individuals, corporations, and foundations in securing donations and contributions in support of the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade. Her passion for community impact led her to pursue her EMPA from FIU, which she is scheduled to complete in the Spring of 2015. Nathalia is also a member of ASPA, National Recreation and Park Association and Florida Recreation and Park Association.

Maite Soler

The Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s Administrative Office of the Courts

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Maite is a Miami native, having been born in Miami Beach, and raised in Hialeah. In June of 2000, she graduated from Hialeah Senior High School in the top 2% of her class. In 2001, she began working for Miami-Dade County as a full-time employee for the Clerk of Courts department. In 2002, she transferred to the county’s Judicial Administration department - the Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s Administrative Office of the Courts. She discovered a love for public service through her work there. In 2004, she was promoted to assistant manager of a court diversion program, and completed Miami-Dade County’s Supervisory Leadership Development Program. In 2008, she was promoted to administrator of the court diversion program and completed the county’s Professional Development Certificate Program. In May of 2010, she graduated with her Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade College. In the spring of 2012, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit elected her to be a member of the Florida Court Personnel Institute’s first class. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Florida International University in May of 2013, and returned to begin her Executive Master’s in Public Administrative degree in January of 2014. Maite was inducted as a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, a global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, and Golden Key Honor Society during her time in the EMPA program and is looking forward to her future in the public sector leadership.

Kaira Trogner

Personnel Liaison, Public Works Department

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Kaira graduated from Florida International University in August of 2013 with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice. Working for the City of Miami for the last 8 years has provided her with a great experience in various areas in the public sector. Previously assigned to the Police Department, Kaira has worked in the Records Unit, Vehicle Impoundment, Specialized Operations, Criminal Investigations, and Personnel Resource Management working her way up through the ranks from a temp to Administrative Assistant to Section Commanders in the department; essentially earning her Civilian Employee of the Year in 2008. While enrolling in the EMPA program, Kaira was promoted to Personnel Liaison in the Public Works Department and continues her career path in public administration.

Gerardo Tumani

Miami-Dade County’s Parks and Recreation Department

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Gerardo is a South Florida native and has been a civil servant since 2006. Graduated from Miami-Dade Community College with an Associates in Journalism, he later pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at F.I.U. Initial plans were to become an automotive journalist, but that passion were also shared with involvement in government careers. Currently, he works for Miami-Dade’s Parks and Recreation department in management. Before being employed for the County, he started with United States Postal Service as a clerk and ended his run in the human resource department. When he worked for the private sector, he used to be heavily involved within the automotive scene, from sales to media. After achieving his goal in earning an EMPA degree and with academic honors, he sees his horizon escalading within the government sector.

Indira Almeida-Pardillo

Executive Assistant to the Mayor, City of Sweetwater

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Indira Almeida-Pardillo came from Cuba 9 years ago where she obtained a degree in Social Communication from University of Havana. Upon her arrival, she was offered a job as the assistant to the CEO of an aviation company and in order to enhance her knowledge in that area she decided to pursue a second bachelor's degree in Aviation Business Administration which did not fulfill what she was truly passionate about but did provide her more academic discipline and skills to follow more challenging jobs in the public sector, which is her field of advocacy. After working for a couple of years for the Celia Cruz Foundation, she applied for a position at the City of Sweetwater as the Executive Assistant to the Mayor. Sweetwater being immersed in a heavy restructuration process, has been and still is a tremendous source of knowledge and when she found the opportunity of starting a high level academic career (EMPA) in the public sector at one of the best universities of South Florida, she decided to go for it. One of her main goals is to either become an Executive Director in the nonprofit world or to work for Cultural Affairs as she loves to be involved in programs that are aimed to elevate the cultural level of the citizens. Currently, she is part of the Miami Dade County Cultural Affairs Community Grants Review Panel.

Sandra Natalia Ariza Muñoz

Financial and Administrative Manager, Colombian Consulate

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Sandra Natalia Ariza is currently the financial and administrative Manager for the Colombian Consulate; she has been with the diplomatic mission for three years and a half. At the beginning she was the Consul General Executive Assistance, and from 2014 she is the financial and administrative Manager. Mrs. Ariza received her Undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Law from Gran Colombia University and she also holds a Master degree in International Affairs from Extern ado de Colombia University. Also she is the founder of a Non-profit organization in Colombian called Bitacora focus on helping children to develop personals skills in order to be successful and proactive persons in the society. These experiences sparked Mrs. Ariza’s passion for Social Equity, and have proven to be the foundation of a quickly evolving career in Public Service.

Countess Chapman

Contract Manager, The Children’s Trust

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Countess Chapman served as a Program Director and Quality Analyst for Sunrise Community, Inc. for seven years; she also served as Miami’s Operation Administrator for American Habilitation Services, Inc. for four years. Countess is currently a Contract Manager for The Children’s Trust in the Early Childhood Health and Development Department. She has over twelve (12) years of managerial experience in developmental disability, enabling children and adults to lead independent and productive lives, and expertise in the areas of community based group homes, and programmatic and quality assurance. Ms. Chapman earned a B.A. (Public Administration/Magna Cum Laude, and B.A. (Political Science) from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. Louisiana; Florida Memorial College/Miami, Florida. Countess Chapman is trained in the Nurturing Parenting Program Evidence Based Curriculum, developed by Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D., the Parenting Empowerment Project, Promising Curriculum, developed by The National Black Child Development Institute, and the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) Evidence Based Curriculum, developed by Matthew R. Sanders, Ph.D. She is also trained in Result Based Accountability, and the Healthy Steps Program. Countess is currently the President for The Black Child Development Institute-Miami Affiliate, Volunteer Executive Director for St. Paul Community Development Corporation. Countess currently serves on the Coconut Grove Community Action Agency Board, Coconut Grove Drug Free Community Coalition and the Coconut Grove Ministerial Alliance Committee.

Jacqueline Crucet

Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

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Jacqueline Crucet is currently a program analyst for National Parks Conservation Association where her primary focus is on community engagement and protecting natural resources in Florida Bay and the Everglades. Her work with the City of Homestead resulted in the creation of a public transportation initiative connecting people to two South Florida national parks. She also spearheaded an innovative civic engagement program now being replicated nationwide. The first in her family to graduate from college, Crucet grew up in Coral Gables and received her B.A. in American Studies at Smith College. She is delighted to participate in FIU’s EMPA program.

Marina Garcia

Finance & HR Manager at The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum

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Marina Garcia is currently the Budget Manager for the University Libraries at Florida International University; she also serves as back-up HR Liaison for the University Libraries. She has extensive office management, project management, budget management, and accounting experience. Mrs. Garcia received her Undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Florida Atlantic University and she also holds a Certificate in Human Resources from Florida International University. She is part of the FIU University Libraries Staff Development Committee aimed at developing employee team work and communications skills. She has been married to her husband for five years and together they have a baby girl.

Xavier Jones

Lieutenant at Coral Gables Fire Rescue and Pastor, Judah Christian Center

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Xavier Jones is a forward thinking, architect of innovation, and driven young man. He holds two Bachelor degrees, one in Theology and other in Fire Science and Emergency Management from St. Thomas University. For the past 8 years he has served as a firefighter/ paramedic for the City of Coral Gables Fire Department. He has taken on several executive level projects within the department to include the International Fire Accreditation program for the department. In addition, he serves as the Lead Pastor of Judah Christian Center, a non-denominational church in South Florida. Through his pastoral capacity he travels throughout the United States and Caribbean teaching leadership development for churches.

Elyssa Linares

President/CEO at Communities In Schools of Miami, Inc.

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Elyssa Linares is the Director of Planning & Operations with Communities In Schools of Miami. She has been with CIS of Miami for six years. She brings experience in program development, grant management, site coordination, mentoring and partnership development. She brings extensive experience in building and supervising effective teams. She is a national workshop and conference presenter for CIS National on mentoring, staff development, and site coordination. Ms. Linares has provided technical assistance and consultation in the formation of the CIS National Site Coordinator’s Certification Course, Executive Leaders Certification course, and CIS Charlotte Leadership Team on staff development. She has a Bachelor's from the University of Central Florida and is married with two children.

Betty Mayo, RN, BSN, CCM

Executive Regional Nursing Director, Children’s Medical Services (CMS)

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Since June 2014, Betty Mayo has been the Executive Regional Nursing Director for Children’s Medical Service (CMS), South Florida Region. CMS is a specialty managed medical assistant (MMA) program for children with chronic and severe medical conditions. Betty Mayo began her healthcare career as an ICU nurse at South Miami hospital. Betty has over 20 years of experience in case management, utilization management and health promotion in the healthcare arena working in various Managed Care organizations in Dade County serving as Manager and Director. Betty Mayo is a registered Nurse with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Miami Dade College and is certified in case management. Betty is a member of the National Nursing Association, National Association Directors of Nursing Administration and American Society for Public Administration.

Salvador E. Najarro

Miami Dade County, Internal Services Department, Assistant Director of Risk Management

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Salvador E. Najarro has been serving Miami-Dade County constituents through his service in multiple county government Departments, in various roles, for the past 17 years. From Planning and Zoning, to Risk Management, Mr. Najarro has continually proven to be a forward thinking leader, driving organizational efficiency, and accountability in each operation. Having been privileged to be involved in a wide range of administrative disciplines, with a strong focus on budgetary practices, financial planning, and collections. Mr. Najarro has been tasked with overseeing the fiscal planning and revenue collections for major County operations and special events such as the annual Key Biscayne Tennis Tournament (formally known as the Sony), the annual Ribfest and Love-in events, as well as holding the administrative responsibilities of the daily operations of Miami-Dade County Beaches and Marinas. Most recently, Salvador has taken on the responsibility of ushering the continued well being of the County's Insurance Trust fund, and is taking efforts to minimize the County's exposure and cost of mitigated losses. Mr. Najarro obtained a BA in Public Administration from Florida International University, in 2005. He and his wife, Deborah, reside in the Redlands area of Unincorporated Miami Dade County.

Richard R Perez

Executive Assistant to the Director of Parks and Recreation at Village of Key Biscayne

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Born and raised in Miami, Richard Perez is a proud graduate of Florida International University. He holds a Bachelor's degree from FIU in the field of Recreation/ Sport Management. During his time at FIU, he interned for the Athletics Marketing and Promotions Department. His experience as an intern was very rewarding when FIU won the 2010 Sunbelt Football Conference Championship and the 2010 “Little Caesars Pizza Bowl”.

Before establishing his career in recreation, Richard was also an early childhood educator. He was a physical education teacher, after-school programs and athletic director for various private schools in the Miami area. For the last three years, Richard he has held the position of recreation supervisor for the Village of Key Biscayne Parks and Recreation Department. His responsibility includes the supervision of recreation programs, the execution of special events, and the management of facilities and staff. Prior to his current position with the Village of Key Biscayne, Richard held numerous recreation positions working for the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center. Richard started his recreation career as a youth athletic coach, counselor, recreation leader, recreation specialist, and camp supervisor. Overall, Richard has acquired 15 years of recreation experience.

Leisure and recreation service is an integral part of any community physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Through quality programming, dedication, and teamwork, Richard believes he can produce an incredible experience for the citizens he serves.

Krystal Permanan

Communication and Research Officer, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

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Krystal Permanan took her passion for public service and serving the nationals of her home country and joined the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2012 as their Communication and Research Officer. In this role, Krystal is responsible for implementing a comprehensive marketing, communications and public relations platform that will enhance Trinidad and Tobago and the Consulate’s image and position within the general public. Additionally, Krystal has been actively supporting the Consulate’s Immigration department in various capacities over the last two years. Krystal also offers years of experience in broadcast and written journalism and also worked as a video editor for WSVN 7 news. In 2005, Krystal received an Associate of Arts degree from Florida State University in Communications and in 2008, received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Journalism from Florida International University.

Michael Sanchez

Immigration Enforcement Agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency

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Michael Sanchez is an Immigration Enforcement Agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He has been employed by ICE for 6 years and is currently assigned to the detained case management docket under the Enforcement and Removal Operations branch. Mr. Sanchez is currently the ICE liaison for high-threat criminal alien related cases with both the Honduras and El Salvador consulates in Miami, Fl. Mr. Sanchez has collateral duties as a defensive tactics and firearms instructor. Mr. Sanchez brings extensive experience in investigatory/law enforcement functions, contract security management and operational coordination with local, state, federal and foreign governments. Mr. Sanchez holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University as well as a 2nd degree black belt from Joshinmon Shorin-Ryu Okinawan Karate-Do.

Harold Silva

Director at the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy, Miami Dade College

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Harold Alexander Silva, a servant-leader that recognizes and lives by example -the importance of one’s duties to family, and community, exemplifies his values through his engagement and role in various organizations, initiatives and personal endeavors. Mrs. Claudia Raudales and he, have been blessed with their one-year old baby, Jeremiah. Mr. Silva currently serves as the North Campus Director at the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy in Miami Dade College. He dedicates his expertise and engages in various capacities such as the United Nations Association- Miami Chapter as Vice-President; Partners of the Americas- Florida Chapter as Vice-President for South Florida; Pathfinders of America as Program Director; and I AM Ministries, International as a board member. One of his personal endeavors is financial education and coaching.

Anthony Teague

K-12 Partnerships Manager at Florida International University

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Originally from Chicago, Anthony Teague graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009 with a B.S. in Industrial Technology. While in college, Mr. Teague had the opportunity to serve and study in places like New Orleans and Memphis, as well as Honduras and Costa Rica. These experiences sparked Mr. Teague’s passion for Social Justice, and have proven to be the foundation of a quickly evolving career in Public Service. What began as a volunteering opportunity 5 short years ago has blossomed into a career in the non-profit sector. Mr. Teague’s current role is Senior Program Manager with AmeriCorps’ dropout prevention program, City Year Miami. In this role his responsibilities include: building and managing City Year’s partnership with Miami Edison Senior High School, leading 10 full-time volunteers through a leadership and professional development program, team development and impact, staff professional development and strategic service implementation planning. Mr. Teague is now pursing an Executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration, with the hope of continuing his track to Executive non-profit leadership.

Ashlee Thomas

Manager of Education and Community Engagement at the Adrienne Arsht Center

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A Miami-native, Ashlee K. Thomas considers herself an arts activist committed to transforming communities, with an emphasis in education. She is the Manager of Marketing and Outreach at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center and received her Bachelors in Marketing from Florida State University.

In 2007, Ashlee served as teaching artist and Co-Director of the Summer Arts Academy for the Los Angeles based company, CONTRA-TIEMPO, Urban Latin Dance Theater. She has facilitated arts workshops in 6 different countries including the US, Trinidad, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Australia. In 2013, Ashlee co-developed and served as Festival Director for Melbourne WebFest, the first and largest international festival in Australia exclusively dedicated to web series and online content.

Ashlee is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration to support her ambitious desire to work with the public sector to create arts-centered learning facilities in every major urban city in America with 6 international locations that promote cultural exchange and enhance global economics.