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

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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Michael Sanchez is employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He has been employed by DHS for 10 years in a law enforcement position. 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.

Hamad Alhajeri

First Lieutenant in the Bahrain Ministry of the Interior (MOI)

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Hamad Alhajeri has been working for the Ministry of the Interior for 8 years and has excelled well in the diplomatic areas of his field. Hamad received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Criminal Justice from The Citadel, The Military School of South Carolina. During his time there, he was rewarded the top honor reward for his achievements in his studies. Also, Hamad was sent on a scholarship and will be graduating from a dual master’s program by 2017 in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. His areas of interest are in diplomatic affairs, how public administration can become corrupt, and public administration in the field of managing resources.

Mohamed Saad Alnoaimi

Command Center’s Branch Manager in the Bahrain Ministry of the Interior (MOI)

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Mohamed Saad Alnoaimi was born in The Kingdom of Bahrain, where he lived most of his life. Mohamed has attended Al-noor International School and graduated with IGCSE certificate. He then joined Modern Knowledge Schools to enhance his English and graduated with honors and a GPA of 3.8 in American High School Diploma. In 2008, he joined The Ministry Of Interior (MOI) and started serving as a private. Due to his outstanding performance and academic success, he was qualified to be on a full-sponsored scholarship to attend a foreign university. In 2009, Mohamed was accepted at The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina where he graduated in 2012 with Magna Cume Laude and a GPA of 3.8. He also earned other honor certificates, such as The Phi Kappa Phi in Physics and Beta Gamma Sigma in Business Administration.

In 2012, he was given a distinguished promotion from H.M. King Hamad Al-Khalifa and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Post the promotion, Mohamed’s job specification has changed from human resources assistant to being an administrative officer at the MOI Head Quarters in Manama. In 2013, he was selected by The Chief of Public Security to work as an Administrative officer at The Chief’s Command Center. He was then given the position of the Command Center’s Branch Manager. Mohamed has developed skills in strategy implementation, administration of the 26 branches that follows the Headquarters, investigation in police misconduct, and rioting statistics. Mohamed speaks Arabic, English, and Italian.

Wilgienson Auguste

Police Detective Sergeant and Internal Affairs Investigator, Office of the Chief of Police in Fort Lauderdale

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Wilgienson’s, a Fort Lauderdale native, law enforcement career started with his enlistment into the United States Navy as a military police officer. While in the Navy, he quickly advanced through the ranks achieving the rank of Petty Officer, 2nd class. As service member, Wiligienson held critical positions as a Dignitary Protection Specialist, providing strategic protection strategies for high ranking dignitaries and government officials. Wilgienson also served as a adminstrivative aide for detainee operations and security overseas in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Upon concluding his military service, he joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in 2006 as a patrolman. Wilgienson quickly ascended through the ranks and achieved the position of Narcotics Detective assigned to the Special Investigations Division, Street Crimes Unit. In June 2013, Wilgienson was selected to join the South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force (SFMLSF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) group. His duties with the elite group included strategic investigations into domestic and international drug cartels in Latin America.

Additionally, Wilgienson is currently a member of the Florida Hostage Negotiation Association, as well as a team member of his agency’s Hostage Negotiation Team. In January 2015, Wilgienson was promoted to the rank of Police Sergeant, where he supervised the day to day road patrol operations. Wilgienson has a Bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and Public Safety from Vincennes University.

Maribel Balbin

President of the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County

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Maribel Balbin is a professional public administrator with an impressive record of volunteer service with multiple civic organizations. As the President of the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County, she is dedicated to engaging local citizens in the democratic process. Balbin is also a Board Member of the Florida League of Women Voters, the principal voice for election reform in the State of Florida. She has an unwavering commitment to increasing the participation of women in elected office at all levels of government and is active with a national program known as Latinas Represent.

Ms. Balbin is recognized professionally for her involvement with environmental protection and water conservation. Following her service as an environmental policy advisor for the Miami-Dade County Commission, she joined the South Florida Water Management District’s Everglades Restoration Team. Her capacity to effectively communicate the importance of this project through media outlets, in Eng-lish and Spanish, proved critical to increasing awareness among elected officials and the citizens of South Florida. Balbin later served as the first Water Conservation Manager for Miami-Dade County, where she developed an award-winning program that is currently saving millions of gallons of water. The benefits of this water conservation program have saved the ratepayers of Miami-Dade County mil-lions of dollars, as the demand for new production plants has been delayed or eliminated. She has published several articles in science journals on water use efficiency and has been a speaker at con-ferences throughout the United States and South America. Her most recent notable project was the development and implementation of a Green Business Certification Program for Miami-Dade County.

Her community service includes membership on the Miami-Dade College School of Continuing Educa-tion and Professional Development Board, the Cuban Museum, the Nominating Committee of the Citi-zens Independent Transit Trust, the Greater Miami Hotel Association Sustainability Council, and the American Association of University Women. She's a former Chair of the Miami Dade County Commis-sion for Women, former president of Latin Business and Professional Women, and has served on the Community Relations Board and Art in Public Places Trust of Miami-Dade County. She has also worked to assist women inside her native country Cuba through various organizations such as Red-Fem and Conciencia Cubana.

She has received various awards and recognitions for her community and professional service. The City of Miami Commission for Women recognized her with the 2012 "Trail Blazer Award." The Wom-en’s History Coalition named her a "Woman of Impact" in 2012. She was honored by "In the Company of Women" in 2005. The American Society of Public Administration recognized her with an Excellence in Public Administration Award. She’s also a Cuban Women’s Club Floridana.

Ms. Balbin received an Associate’s Degree from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor of Public Admin-istration from Florida International University where she’s currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in the same discipline. She lastly holds certificates in Project Management and Executive Development from Florida International University and is accredited as a LEED Green Associate by the USGBC.

Nahyoh F. Bashui-Goffe

Federal Agent, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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Nahyoh is a native of Miami, Florida. She graduated from Florida International University in 2002 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. She has held numerous positions within the Criminal Justice field to include Correctional Officer and Probation Officer with the Florida Department of Corrections, and Law Enforcement Officer with the Village of Key Biscayne and Florida Atlantic University Police Departments. In 2009, she began her career with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Office of Enforcement and Removal. Due to her commitment and performance, Nahyoh was the recipient of the agency’s most prestigious award, the 2014 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director’s Award. With a Master of Public Administration degree, Nahyoh strongly believes that she can contribute to public service in the best way possible while ensuring that her contribution, no matter how big or small, enhances the community and its people.

Laura A. Borgesi

Town Engineer for the Town of Davie, Florida

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Laura A. Borgesi is a Licensed Professional Engineer and Surveyor and Mapper with over 25 years experience in land planning and development and 10 years in municipal engineering. She has extensive experience in traffic engineering and roadway operations and is also proficient in working with multi-jurisdictional agencies and local entities to provide the best level of service and project management.

In her current role, she leads the engineering division and provides engineering support services to the administration, other town divisions, and to the residents within the municipality. She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Transportation Engineers, and Engineers without Borders. She is a graduate of Florida State University with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering and also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Lenna Borjes

Commission Aide for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr.

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Lenna Borjes has been working as a Commission Aide for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr. since 2012. She works directly with Department Directors on constituent casework, board appointments, street designations, and allocation of monies. In addition, she functions as the scheduler and supervisor of interns and volunteers for District 13. Prior to joining Miami-Dade County, she interned for State Senator Rene Garcia, where she implemented a new constituent case virtual filing and handled concerns for District 38. In 2013, Lenna received her Bachelor’s degree from the Florida International University, with a Double Major in Political Science and International Relations, a Minor in Economics and a Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Lenna is of Cuban origin and has been living in Miami for 12 years. Presently, she is an EMPA student of Florida International University.

Ryon Coote

Philanthropy Director for the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Southeastern Division

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Ryon Robert Coote is a graduate of Florida International University. He has over 10 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors. In his current role, he leads the philanthropic and advocacy efforts for Miami-Dade County. Ryon is recognized by his peers as a respected, self-motivated, high performing, and strategic professional with experience simultaneously managing multiple projects. Ryon works on projects involving community leaders, state, and local officials that impact social service issues affecting underserved children and families. Ryon is an advocate for abused, neglected, and abandoned children. He champions efforts to improve education for children living in underserved communities. He aspires to be the CEO of a non-profit that provides resources and quality of life services to the community. Ryon was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He and his family moved to the United States when he was nine years old. He is the father of a four year old and enjoys dragon boating, out-rigger canoeing, and spending time with his family.

Gustavo Cruz

Director of the Miami-Dade Military Affairs Board

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Gustavo Cruz is actively involved within the local military community and veteran causes, acting as a liaison between federal, state, and county governments. Mr. Cruz is a highly decorated United States Marine who has served multiple tours of combat in the Middle-East under the Special Operations Command. Previously to his current position, Mr. Cruz worked for a local law enforcement agency, serving as a SWAT Operator and a Marine Patrol Officer/Diver. Mr. Cruz received his Bachelor’s degree from FIU in Criminal Justice. Gus is a proud and dedicated father of two young children.

Christopher Cotton

Harbor Master for the Mooring Field, Marinas’ Division in the Public Facilities Department

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Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Christopher is accustomed to the Magic City. Growing up in Miami, Christopher is very familiar with the sun and fun capital, its historic and rich history, and the positive changes that have led Miami from a sleepy small town to an international vibrant and diverse city. It was a natural career path for Christopher to join the City of Miami in 2008. He works at the Marinas’ Division under the Public Facilities Department. He deals with every aspect of operating city marinas from the operational ground level to the upper administrative levels with an emphasis on local government and public sector operations. The Marinas’ Division includes three different marinas, Miamarina at Bayside Marketplace, Dinner Key Marina and Mooring Field in Coconut Grove, and Marine Stadium Marina located on Virginia Key. He graduated in 2012 from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration. Striving for a higher education and employment opportunities, Christopher is currently enrolled at Florida International University in the accredited Executive Master’s Public Administration. If he is not working at the Marinas or studying for classes, Christopher is going to the beach, biking, and enjoys his bayside view in downtown Miami where he lives.

Rebeca Garcia

Assistant Director of Advisement & Career Services, Miami Dade College Medical Campus

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Rebeca Garcia, an FIU alumna in Political Science, has over 25 years of experience in higher education. She has worked at Florida International University, the University of Miami, and Miami Dade College. She has dedicated herself to following her passion of empowering others to pursue their own passions, and has done so in capacities ranging from Alumni Coordinator, Marketing & Outreach Specialist, Business Program Manager, District Director of Student Employment Services, and presently Assistant Director for Advisement & Career Services at MDC Medical Campus. Rebeca is a Leadership Miami graduate who has served in MDC’s Strategic Planning Committee. While serving as an administrator, she has taught courses in Human Resources, Marketing, Customer Service, Human Relations, and Employability Skills. During her years of service at these institutions, she has been proud to help students, alumni, and businesses compete, grow, and succeed. It is Rebeca’s aspiration to use her experiences in the EMPA program to shape public policy at MDC, for the betterment of her students and colleagues.

Alfred Lewers Jr.

Member of the Police Foundation in Washington, DC

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Alfred Lewers Jr. is a Senior Law Enforcement Project Manager with the Police Foundation, joining the Foundation after a 30-year law enforcement career. He recently retired from the Miami Gardens Police Department (MGPD) as the Assistant Chief of Police and holds the unique honor of being the first person hired at the agency in October 2006. He was instrumental in forming the 300-member force from the ground up.

During his tenure at the MGPD, he focused on ensuring that the department was situated to take full advantage of technological advances in policing, ensuring that the appropriate policies, training and technical solutions were in place. He co-authored the City of Miami Gardens’ public safety technology project and self-initiated the deployment of several innovative tech solutions. He was a thought leader in multiple areas of organizational improvement and revamped the Operations Patrol Division to focus on problem-oriented policing and trust building, as opposed to their past traditional policing model.

While at the MGPD, he held the ranks of Captain and Major, being assigned to all divisions within the department. He is skilled in grants acquisition as well as gun violence reduction through technology and multifaceted social services and non-traditional approaches.

Prior to his service with the MGPD, he was a Lieutenant at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, overseeing the Recruiting, Background Investigations, Training and the Alarm Units. While in that capacity, he focused on process improvements and enhanced training benchmarks for the entire agency.

He also held positions as the Recruiting Unit Supervisor, where he perfected his skills in diversity recruitment and retention. He was the Public Information Officer for the Department, a Patrol supervisor, an Officer in the Patrol Division, and an investigator in both the Criminal Investigations and Special Investigations Divisions. He was on the agency’s SWAT team as a Hostage Negotiator and a member of the Department’s Honor Guard.

During Mr. Lewers’ early career he was a Coral Springs Police Officer and is a proud veteran of the United States Army, where he served as a military policeman. Throughout his career, he has been the recipient of over 60 department, citizen, and military awards and commendations.

Mr. Lewers is pursuing his master degree in Public Administration at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Union Institute & University. He also holds a Graduate Certificate from the University of Virginia in Criminal Justice Education and is a graduate of the 259th Session of the FBI National Academy.

Mr. Lewers is professionally engaged and civic-minded, holding memberships and executive board positions in numerous professional law enforcement, civil rights, and civic organizations.

Solange Olivera

Fulbright Scholar from Honduras

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Solange Olivera is an international student from Honduras who was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to obtain her second Master’s Degree in the United States. In the Honduran Government, she worked as a public official for over eleven years, particularly in the Superior Court of Auditors. She worked as the head of the follow-up audit recommendation department overseeing public institutions in Honduras, suggesting recommendations, and making sure policies were being carried out correctly. In addition, Solange also worked with the National University of Honduras as a professor where she taught Project Management.

Solange atended the Catholic University of Honduras and studied industrial engineering. She also earned a Master´s Degree in Project Management and obtained honors distinction. She has attended a variety of courses, particularly in the Certificate Programs on Procurement and Contracting. She was chosen as only one of two officials from a total of 300 public servants to help teach the second Certificate Program; she assisted the creators of the Law on Government Procurement course. She accompanied Dr. Edmundo Orellana Mercado (former Attorney General of Honduras and former member of the National Congress) in teaching this course. She was similarly requested to assist with the creation of the law on making purchases through the online catalog, along with the members of the Regulatory Office of State Procurement and Contracts (ONCAE).

She lastly loves community service, particularly with her Christian Group “Las Uvas” (Abundant Life Christian Church) in which she has been a leader since 2010.

Heather Osorio

Compliance Specialist in the Office of Disclosures & Conflict of Interest Management, University of Miami

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Heather Osorio supports and enforces UM’s mission in maintaining objectivity in research and upholding the highest scientific and ethical standards to assure the integrity of all sponsored work. She is an alumna of Smith College where she received her Bachelors in Arts with a concentration in Neuroscience. Heather also attended the Honors College of Miami Dade College, where she graduated with her Associate in Arts degree with a concentration in Biology.

Randall Overton

Federal Permit Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard

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Randall has over 35 years of public service in the Federal Government: 23.5 years on active duty in the Coast Guard and 12 years as a civil servant with the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard. Randall has served in a plethora of positions and his career highlights include: Chief of Operation, Loran Station Lampedusa Italy; Engineering Department Head, Communication Station, Kodiak, Alaska; Director of Electronic Schools, Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma California; Command Advisor, Electronic Support Unit Miami, Florida; Director of District Bridge Programs, Seattle, Washington; Bridge Management Specialist, Federal Permit Agent, Miami, Florida In his current position as a Federal Permit Agent with the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Randall manages permitting for multi-million dollar transportation infrastructure improvement projects within Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Randall interacts directly with: local, state and national politicians; and national, state, county, and local transportation departments; as well as engaging directly with the public. Randall received an Associate of Art from Miami-Dade College (1994) and Bachelors of Science from Thomas A Edison State College, New Jersey (2002).

Evelyn Roig

Town Clerk, Town of Davie

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Evelyn Roig has been with the Town of Davie for over seven years, ascending from Assistant Town Clerk to Town Clerk where she is responsible for a wide-range of legislative duties. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and also obtained her paralegal certification from Florida International University. Evelyn has been in the public administration field for over 22 years serving at the county and municipal level. She has held upper management positions, from the interim city manager, assistant city manager, director of zoning and enforcement, and building department administrator. Her tenure in public administration is a testament to her commitment and dedication as a public servant. She has been married to her husband for 21 years who works for Miami Dade County and serves as Lieutetant Colonel in the Florida Army National Guard. Together they have two sons ages twenty and eighteen who also serve.

Talmage Thornhill Carrillo

Contract Manager at The Children’s Trust

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Talmage Thornhill Carrillo serves, creates, and inspires through her work in the public sector. As a public servant at The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County, she manages contracts representative of a vast array of initiatives, including After School, Early Childhood, Parenting, Service Partnership, and Youth Enrichment. Prior to joining TCT, Ms. Thornhill managed a comprehensive family support program, helping the community's most vulnerable residents improve their lives through empathy and empowerment. Ms. Thornhill ensures excellence through strong administrative, fiscal, and grant writing skills. Accountability, ethical standards, performance measurement, and a strength-based approach are the driving principles that inform her decision-making skills. Ms. Thornhill's passion for community involvement drove her to serve at an early age, volunteering while in high school as a Head Start program assistant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ms. Thornhill earned her Bachelor's in Fine Arts degree from Florida State University, where she also studied business and journalism. As a passionate animal advocate, Ms. Thornhill's commitment to protecting the innocent extends to all living creatures. She spends her free time serving on her condominium association board and pursuing optimal health through nutrition and movement. Ms. Thornhill's focus on action and legacy drove her to pursue her Master's in Public Administration at the esteemed Florida International University, where she is setting the stage for a bright and impactful future.

Graham Winick

Film and Event Production Manager for the City of Miami Beach, FL

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Since 2002, Graham Winick has served as the Film and Event Production Manager for the City of Miami Beach, FL, where he recruits and oversees all feature film, television, photography and special event productions held within the city. Notable projects have included Magic City, Burn Notice, Pain and Gain, Art Basel Miami Beach, South Beach Wine & Food, and Super Bowls XLI and XLIV. Winick is the Past President of Film Florida, the state’s non-profit marketing and legislative support association, having served as President for three years and as Vice President for two. During his term as President, Winick helped lead the collective initiative to engineer the state’s first entertainment industry tax credit, a $242 Million program, which was made law in June 2010 and is poised to attract over $1 Billion in new entertainment spending to Florida over the next five years. Previously, Winick was the Director of Development for Outlaw Productions in Los Angeles, where he helped usher several features into production, including Breach, The Santa Clause 2, and Training Day. Winick is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch Film and Television program.

Marisol Zenteno

Income Evaluation Specialist, Miami-Dade County Office of the Property Appraiser

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Ms. Zenteno has been a commercial property appraiser for over fifteen years. She worked as an independent contractor for Waronker and Rosen, Inc. in the city of South Miami, Florida. While there she became a State-Certified General Appraiser designation in the State of Florida in 2007. She has experience in a variety of commercial properties, including, but not limited to office buildings, industrial buildings, retail stores, restaurants and apartment buildings. Ms. Zenteno joined the public sector as an Income Evaluation Specialist at the Miami-Dade County Office of the Property Appraiser.

She attended Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida, where she received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management and is enrolled in the Executive Master in Public Administration (EMPA) at Florida International University. The expected graduation is in Spring 2017.

Marisol is active in her community and has volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America serving in positions ranging from Committee Chairman to Cub Master. She also serves as an English and Spanish interpreter at her place of worship.

A native of the Dominican Republic, she is the proud mother of two sons, Thomas and Scott.

Melissa Barrett

Supervisor of Payroll in their Finance Department, City of Miami

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Melissia Barrett is employed by the City of Miami as a Supervisor of Payroll in their Finance Department. She oversees the payroll operations for over 4,000 employees. She is a graduate of Florida International University with a BA in Accounting. Prior to joining the City of Miami, she worked in the Private Sector, and has held numerous positions in the Accounting Industry.

She is currently a mentor with Take Stock in Children. Outside of professional interests, she likes travelling, baking, reading and going on long walks.

Vicky Checo

Administrative and Finance Manager, Miami Homes for All, Inc

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As a product of the system, Vicky prides herself in having attended and eventually gone on to work for the public school institutions within the City of New York. A native of the concrete jungle, she attended CUNY Hunter College and was awarded the Public Service Scholar Fellowship in 2010 and worked as a “special assistant” to the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Youth Development. In this role she worked within the Students In Temporary Housing Program, a national program funded by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act aimed at supporting youth and families who experience homelessness. At the time, the Mayor of New York City just launched his Inter-Agency Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism – a pilot program involving fifteen family shelters and twenty five public schools with the common goal of increasing student attendance and reducing chronic absenteeism through data sharing and collection of best practices. Vicky supported the initiative and eventually became an integral part in planning the first ever annual Parent Summit by designing the logo, preparing logistics, and choosing the venue for the citywide event.

Soon after graduating with her Bachelor’s in the Arts Degree in Sociology, Vicky was hired by the NYCDOE as Citywide Program Coordinator, going on to support over 117 shelter-based school personnel ensuring appropriate implementation of policy and efficiency wherever possible for over 70,000 youth identified has having experienced homelessness within New York City. While in this role she was tasked with the development and monitoring of the program’s Inter-Agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NYC Department of Homeless Services. Prior to leaving her role, Vicky was able to successfully transition all shelter-based staff from fax systems to electronic communications as well as secure remote access to the student database for shelter based staff – thus eliminating delays and offering real time guidance in relation to student performance and attendance.

Vicky’s desire to help others and her love of beautiful weather brought her down to the vibrant City of Miami two years ago. While pursuing other interests she always remained faithful to her longtime passion of supporting youth who experience homelessness. She worked part-time as a Community Liaison for Miami Dade’s County Public Schools’ PROJECT UP-START supporting youth who experience homelessness across the county. In this role she met with families directly; offering services and educational support during their difficult housing transitions. Before leaving this role, Vicky created an internal student database aimed at maintaining electronic records of the office’s activities and service delivery.

In November of 2015, Vicky joined Miami Homes for All, Inc formerly known as the Miami Coalition for the Homeless as the Administrative and Finance Manager. A non-profit dedicated to advocating for the rights of those who experience homelessness, Vicky oversees all administrative and financial components as it relates to the organization. In this role, she is able to ensure appropriate oversight of the organization’s operations to support its county wide initiatives: increasing the amount of affordable housing in our community and creating a system of care ready to respond to the needs of unaccompanied youth who experience homelessness.

As an EMPA candidate, Vicky hopes to move forward in her career supporting the needs of youth experiencing homelessness.

Patricia De La Cruz

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Patricia De La Cruz is a United States Navy veteran serving during the Operation Iraqi Freedom era. Fervent about public service, Mrs. De La Cruz has been an integral member of several governmental entities as well as non-profit organizations such as Baptist Health South Florida. Mrs. De La Cruz began her academic career receiving her Associate in Business Administration from Miami Dade College. Realizing that her passion was within the public administration field, she earned a Bachelor in Public Administration from Florida International University. Desiring to gain a comprehensive background, Mrs. De La Cruz has received several certifications including Leadership Studies and Marketing and Financial Analysis.

Mrs. De La Cruz involvement in the community includes volunteering for various organizations such as Burn Camp and Jackson Memorial Hospital. She currently serves as treasurer of the Student Veteran of America chapter at Florida International University.

Mrs. De La Cruz is happily married and enjoys books by Oliver Sacks. She is an ardent podcast listener as well as engaging in the culinary arts.

Barbara Hernandez

Parks and Recreation Director, City of Doral

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Barbara Hernandez currently serves as the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Doral Parks and Recreation Department. The City of Doral was incorporated in 2003 and at the time, the city did not have any developed parks, but merely acres of land. In 2004, the Parks and Recreation Department was established. Ms. Hernandez began to work for the department in 2005; simultaneously the first park was almost completed. Back in 2005, the City of Doral had an estimated population of 30,000 people and has grown to over 55,000 residents. Ms. Hernandez’s passion for recreation and working with people was very transparent as she, along with the team of recreation aides, began the first Youth Basketball League for the residents of the City. She began in the City as a part-time employee and worked her way up the ladder going to a full-time position in 2006, as a Park Service Leader. In 2008, she became the Recreation Facility Supervisor and in 2009 the Special Needs Programs Coordinator, where she started the first senior citizen’s group called the Silver Club. Also as the Special Needs Programs Coordinator, she began the first Special Olympic team for the special needs population in the City. In February 2011, Ms. Hernandez became the Recreation Superintendent for the department where she oversaw the entire recreation division. December 2011, Ms. Hernandez was promoted once again for her achievement and dedication as the Parks and Recreation Director. She currently oversees the entire department and prepares, administer and execute the Parks and Recreation six million dollar operating budget and a 15 million dollar capital project.

Ms. Hernandez also serves as a Commissioner for the Hialeah Housing Authority Board of Directors. The Hialeah Housing Authority is dedicated to providing eligible, low income families in its community with quality, affordable housing that is decent and safe. The Hialeah Housing Authority's portfolio includes: 545 Affordable Housing units and 402 Conventional Housing units, 1,117 Public Housing units and 4,543 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. Ms. Hernandez was appointed on the board in 2009, and was elected as Vice-Chairwomen in 2010. She received her Associates of Arts in 2009 from Miami-Dade College and her Bachelors in Public Administration in 2012. Ms. Hernandez also received her Certified Parks and Recreation Professional Certification in October of 2012.

Ms. Hernandez was born in the City of Hialeah on August 6, 1984 and graduated from Hialeah High in 2002. She worked for the City of Hialeah Parks and Recreation Department from 2003-2005. Parks and Recreation are a BIG part of her life. Ms. Hernandez has been public servant for 14 years, focusing on the community’s quality of life through parks and open green spaces. Ms. Hernandez believes that with her realism and passion to make things right, it will guide her in the path to be part of something extraordinary.

Rene Lazaro Hernandez

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Mr. Hernández has more than 13 years of professional experience, and has extensive leadership and operational abilities in large and complex environments. Mr. Hernández has held leadership positions since 2011, with the most recent being Regional Activity Manager, overseeing some of the most critical operations in the U.S. for a global mining and manufacturing outfit based in Athens, Greece, focused on engineering, production, and distribution of building materials.

Mr. Hernández holds an Associate’s degree from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Public Administration, and is a 2000 graduate of Miami Senior High School. While earning his degrees, he worked full time and raised a family, developing valuable work and life skills to prepare him to lead.

In October 2003, Mr. Hernández received a Certificate of Appreciation from Miami-Dade County for his contribution to the Arts and Culture of the community, cementing his passion for public service. The honor was presented by the Office of Commissioner Bruno A. Barreiro, District 5, on behalf of the Office of the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners. The honor was the product of having contributed extensively to cultural events throughout South Florida while earning his diploma at Miami Senior High School and after graduation, performing with local music bands to enhance quality of life for residents and visitors–especially for the elderly. Among Mr. Hernández’s early accomplishments, at age 15, Mr. Hernández was appointed Music Director for the local band Union Cubana. With exception of his brother, which was 13 at the time, the band was composed of Cuban musicians between the ages of 24 and 70.

Mr. Hernández is a proud Cuban-American and the first college graduate in his immediate family. In his spare time, Mr. Hernández enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, exercising, volunteering, and participating in professional associations. Mr. Hernández is a member of the American Society for Public Administration, the Project Management Institute, past member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and a licensed Florida Real Estate Sales Associate.

Mr. Hernández’s long-term career goal is to be appointed City and County Manager in emerging Metropolitan areas throughout the United States, where he will use his industry experience and academic training to establish a thriving environment and advance the well-being and prosperity of residents through strategic initiatives in public safety and health, economic and social development, infrastructure investment, improved transportation and mobility, and fiscal fitness. In support of this vision, Mr. Hernández is furthering his education through the Executive Master of Public Administration Program and is actively seeking roles in local government where he can grow into a chief executive officer and make major contributions to the communities he serves.

A native of Missouri and raised in South Florida, Mr. Hernández is the proud father of two sons, René Tadeo and Branden Valentine.

Erica Jones

Impact Manager at City Year Miami

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Erica Jones was born and raised in Hookerton, North Carolina. Erica attended Winston Salem State University where she received her Bachelors in English, minor in Dramatic Arts. While in college she became a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society. Erica has always had a passion for children and education. After graduating from college, Erica decided to join City Year Miami where she served as an Americorps member at Miami Northwestern Senior High School and committed her second year as a Team Leader at Miami Northwestern as well. As an Americorps member Erica had the privilege to speak at the 2014 Women’s Luncheon, where she had the opportunity to share her testimony with others. Erica also was a City Year Ambassador and also represented the Miami site on the Future Educators Task Force while serving as a Team Leader. Through her years of service Erica realized her passion for education and helping young adults increased. She enjoys teaching, mentoring and advising students that she committed to continue another year as a Program Manager at Carol City Middle School. As an Program Manager Erica was asked to participate on a panel for Univision production, with Pamela Silva Conde. Erica had the opportunity to provide information to others on how to get involved in the community an how to find the right non-profit to fit their personal goals.

Erica’s favorite value is Service To A Cause Greater Than Self because she knows the service she does every day is not about her but for our students and community. Because of Erica's love and passion for public service, she has decided to seek her masters degree in Public Administration. She knows no matter what her next steps are in life, she will put her all into the enhancement of the community and our people. She is the oldest of her brother and sister, who she adores. She is very family oriented and loves spending time with friends. Erica enjoys learning about different cultures, dancing, playing with ears and inspiring others.

Mac-Kinley Lauriston

Chief of Staff for the Office of The Chair, Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners

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My name is Mac-Kinley Lauriston, born and raised on the beautiful island of Haiti. For the last thirty years, I have made South Florida my home because I love the sunshine and I hate the cold. I am a father of three wonderful boys and I can truly attest that they are indeed a gift from God. I have had various experiences in my professional life and I must say that I have been and continue to be blessed with the opportunities that I have been afforded.

For sixteen years until 2010, I worked as a Sr. accountant and financial analyst for Ryder System, a fortune 500 company in Miami-Dade County; then I made the leap into the political arena. I worked on a campaign in 2010 to elect the first Haitian-American Commissioner in Miami-Dade County and subsequently joined his staff as Administrative Director for the next four years. I left in January 2015 to manage a very successful campaign to elect the first Haitian-American Commissioner in Broward County. Shortly after the election, she was subsequently selected by her peers to become the Vice-Mayor. I then joined the staff to become the assistant to the to the Vice-Mayor until I was offered the position of Chief of Staff for the Office of The Chair for the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in November 2015.

I enjoyed working in Corporate America and the corporate environment helped prepare me to function more efficiently in government; but my preference is to remain in government in some capacity for the near future.

Tamecka McKay

IT Supervisor/Manager, Town of Davie

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Tamecka McKay is an industry certified Professional with over 17 years of experience. She currently serves the role of IT Manager for the Town of Davie’s IT Department responsible for supervising the design, implementation, maintenance and support of all information systems and services. Additionally, oversight of Help Desk support services for the organization including Civilian and Public Safety Personnel.

Tamecka started with the Town of Davie in 2001 as an Information Systems Specialist and was promoted to Information Systems Specialist II before accepting the role of IT Supervisor/Manager. Tamecka received her Bachelor’s Degree from Broward College in Technology Management after obtaining dual Associate Degrees in Computer Information Systems and Psychology, graduating with honors.

In addition to the role of IT Professional, Tamecka served as chair of the Customer Service and Process Improvement Committee before serving as chair of the Strategic Planning Committee for the Town of Davie. Tamecka has been recognized for her community service and commitment by both Town Administration and Employee Recognition committee including the award for Dedication and Leadership in 2015, Employee Spirit Award in 2010 and Employee of the Quarter in 2003. Currently, Tamecka serves on the Broward College Computer Science and Engineering Advisory Board. Previously serving on the ITT Technology and Computer Science Advisory Board, Women in Technology (WIT), Broward Schools Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) and Take Stock in Children Mentoring Program, Tamecka aspires to use her knowledge and experience along with the Executive Master of Public Administration to advance her career in Public Service.

Kisha Murray

North Region Supervisor of the Code Enforcement Division, Department of Solid Waste Management

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Kisha Simone Murray started her career in Public Service immediately following high school in 1999. She was hired as a courier for the Miami Dade County Administrative Office of the Courts, delivering interoffice mail to Judges' chambers located in the multiple courthouses throughout Miami Dade County. After holding various positions in the Court system, Mrs. Murray transitioned to Code Enforcement in 2002. She obtained a position with Miami Dade County Aviation Department enforcing County code and ordinances at Miami International Airport. In 2007, Mrs. Murray progressed to the Department of Solid Waste Management, enforcing violations related to Chapter 15 of Miami Dade County Code where she currently is the North Region Supervisor of the Code Enforcement Division.

In addition to her extensive experience with Miami Dade County, Mrs. Murray holds a certification with the Florida Association of Code Enforcement (F.A.C.E.) and serves on the membership committee for the organization. She has volunteered with Kids and the Power of Work (KAPOW), collaborating with teachers in Elementary and Middle Schools to teach lessons directly related to the workforce to students. Mrs. Murray is also passionate with giving back to the community as she is a Leadership giver with United Way of Miami Dade County, donating $1000 or more annually to charity.

Scholastically, Mrs. Murray excelled during her undergraduate studies, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management with highest honors from Miami Dade College. She was inducted into the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and made the Dean's list numerous times. Mrs. Murray's ambition has lead her to FIU, where she hopes to continue to excel scholastically in receiving her Master's in Public Administration. She is confident her degree will allow her to continue in Miami Dade County's vision of "Delivering Excellence Everyday".

Pennie Ochipa

Law Enforcement Lieutenant, Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit

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Pennie Ochipa joined the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, as a Law Enforcement Investigator II in 2005. She was assigned as the Intelligence Officer Liaison for the Miami office. She was also a member of the Miami (Pharmaceutical) Drug Diversion Team. Pennie was promoted to her current position of Law Enforcement Lieutenant in 2013. She supervises a team of sworn and non-sworn personnel, investigating allegations of provider fraud, waste and abuse within the Florida Medicaid program. She also oversees the evidence section in the Miami office.

Prior to joining the OAG’s Office, Pennie was a member of the Florida International University Police Department. She started her career as a Police Dispatcher. She eventually obtained her police certification and continued her employment as a Police Officer and later a Police Corporal.

Pennie has an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice. Her expertise is in healthcare fraud investigations, however, she has a broad range of training and experience in various types of investigations involving fraud and white collar crimes. She has been a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners since 2006. In 2012, she earned her credentials as a Certified Fraud Examiner.

Pennie plans to continue advancing her career in law enforcement and she plans to continue being instrumental in combating fraud in the South Florida area and nationwide.

Erik Rodriguez

Office of the Inspector General, Miami Dade County

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Erik Rodriguez received his Bachelor of Accounting from Florida International University (2005). He has over 10 years of audit and investigation experience, including over four years specific to the government sector. In his current role with Miami-Dade County’s Office of the Inspector General, he audits and investigates claims of fraud, waste, mismanagement, and abuse of power in areas concerning Miami-Dade County. In addition, Erik is experienced in auditing areas concerning construction, mortgage, and title services. He is the father of a five year old and enjoys working on his classic Mustangs, ATVs, and spending time with his family.

Terence Thouez

Captain, Internal Affairs at Hallandale Beach Police Department

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Captain Terence Thouez began his law enforcement career with the Hallandale Beach Police Department in 2001 and currently oversees the Internal Affairs Unit. Captain Thouez has worked as a Patrol Officer, Detective, Patrol Sergeant and a Hostage Negotiator. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of Concordia. Captain Thouez is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute, Command Officer’s Development Course, FDLE’s Florida Leadership Academy and Police Executive Research Forum Course in Executive Strategic Management.

Sara Walkup

District Supervisor in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Grants Administration, and Community Engagement, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

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Sara Walkup has been working to provide innovative and inspiring programming to young people for more than ten years. Originally from East Lansing, Michigan, Sara attended Western Michigan University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish. From there, she took her love of government to Washington, DC where she began working for the Close Up Foundation and spent four years working directly with students and teachers to provide engaging programs to participants from across the country and around the world. Sara spent her last six years at Close Up managing partnership programs with the US Department of the Interior, US Department of Justice, Bank of America, and various other corporate and foundation partners. In 2015, Sara moved to Miami and joined Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a District Supervisor in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Grants Administration and Community Engagement. Sara is responsible for securing and managing external funding designed to enhance the educational experiences of students. Through the Master of Public Administration program at Florida International University, Sara will use her experience and knowledge to make a positive impact on the world around her.