Larry Williams, who has spent 20 years in economic development, recently become Beacon Council president and CEO. Prior to coming to Miami in October, he worked in Atlanta, Seattle and Raleigh. Mr. Williams is still learning and meeting with community leaders before deciding on a plan of action.
However, he sees great potential for Miami-Dade in trade and logistics, information technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as the Asian markets, in addition to Latin America and Europe.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Williams in his office in Brickell.
Arnold Donald has a light-hearted sense of humor. But then again, he is now president and CEO of a corporation aimed at leisure and travel: Carnival. After a 20-plus-year career at Monsanto, where he ran several divisions, he went on to head the artificial sweetener company Merisant.
He had been part of Carnival’s board since 2001 when he got a call from Micky Arison, former president and CEO and son of founder Ted Arison, offering him the position. Micky Arison is still chairman of the board.
After being on the job for just over three months, Mr. Donald targets better coordination and collaboration across the brands and has plans to add eight more ships over the next three years.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Donald in his office in Doral.
Wayne Slaton was the first Miami Lakes mayor after the town’s incorporation in 2000. He was in office eight years after decades of being involved in the community through civic and homeowners associations.
After Michael Pizzi was arrested on corruption charges by the FBI and left office in August, Mr. Slaton won a special election Oct. 1. Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mayor Slaton at Miami Lakes Town Hall.
New Yorker by birth but a true Miami native, Barbara Jordan has been involved with Miami-Dade County throughout most of her career: on the administrative side she rose to assistant county manager, and she has now been a commissioner since 2004.
Economic development and employment, housing and transportation, education as well as incorporation and annexation are all issues that concern her in the county.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Commissioner Jordan in her district office in Miami Gardens.
Alina Interián has been involved with the arts for most of her career. She was executive director of the Miami Book Fair International for 11 years and in 2000 she started overseeing the Center for Literature and Theatre @ MDC, which included the fair itself as well as other activities. Last year, Ms. Interián took on a bigger scope as she became senior executive director of the Miami Dade College’s Cultural Affairs Department. As the 30th Miami Book Fair International is coming up Nov. 17 to 24, Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Ms. Interian in her office in downtown Miami.
Laurence Dubey has come a long way from Switzerland. After deciding she wanted to see the world and travel, she studied hospitality and has worked in the Americas and in Europe. After years with the Ritz-Carlton, Ms. Dubey decided to join the Viceroy Hotel Group and move to Miami. She now manages the 148-room boutique hotel, which opened in Brickell in 2009.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Ms. Dubey in one of the Viceroy’s suites in Brickell.
Miami Bridge, Youth and Family Services is the only emergency shelter for homeless or abandoned young people ages 10 to 18 in Miami-Dade County. The face is Mary Andrews, executive director, who has an extensive background in psychology and rehabilitation and a natural ability for empathy. She’s working with the county to achieve the possibility of helping young adults who are not in the foster system after they turn 18.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Ms. Andrews in the shelter in Miami.
Jack Kardys is a sports and outdoor enthusiast. Born and reared in Miami-Dade County, he has dedicated his 32 years of professional life to the Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, of which he became director in 2007.
The department currently has several projects in the works, which range from new business venues at Crandon Park, Miami Wilds, negotiations for a soccer facility and expanding the tennis center to bringing on new YMCA centers to parks.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Kardys in his office in downtown Miami.
Since he moved to Miami in 1979, Rick Kuci has devoted his career to banking. He is passionate about it and looks for the same trait in employees. His journey from Southeast Bank, where his professional path started, to others such as Bank of Florida, County National Bank and Kislak National Bank, led him to Coconut Grove Bank in 2005. Since July, Mr. Kuci has been president and CEO of the 87-year-old bank.
His main goals are growth and a successful move to the adjacent parking lot, where a new building is to be finished in 2016. Mr. Kuci holds the role of smaller banks to be very relevant in the current scenario, particularly to help revive the economy.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Kuci in his office in Coconut Grove.
About 10 months into his position leading the US Southern Command, Gen. John F. Kelly is set on continuing to work with countries and territories in Latin American and the Caribbean: anything from intelligence sharing with the Peruvian government and its fight against drug production and trafficking to humanitarian relief in Haiti, his focus is on maintaining links and cooperation.
Born and raised in Boston, Gen. Kelly has devoted his life to the Marine Corps and has had his share of experience with the legislative and executive branches, handling congressional relations for the Marine Corps and as senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Leon Panetta.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Gen. Kelly at the new headquarters for SouthCom in Doral.
Bernie Navarro was born and raised in Miami. A University of Miami and Harvard University graduate, he has always been involved in the mortgage business through different corporations. After selling Home Mortgage, in 2008 he opened Benworth Capital, a private mortgage lender.
His latest venture, however, has been through the presidency of the Latin Builders Association, a large Hispanic construction trade association with 750 member companies in South Florida. His biggest project there has been the start of the LBA Construction and Business Management Charter High School last fall.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Navarro at the charter high school in Hialeah.
Nilda Peragallo Montano lived in many parts of the world and of the US before moving to Miami to become the University of Miami’s dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Born in Valparaiso, Chile, she also spent time in Germany, Texas, Chicago, Maryland, West Virginia and Orlando while studying, practicing her career and in academia.
She has been at UM for ten years and took part in the school’s move to a new building on campus. Her next project is aimed at providing students with a real life professional experience: a simulation hospital.
Dean Peragallo Montano has devoted much of her work to serve minority populations through the organizations that she has been involved in, especially the Hispanic community.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Dean Peragallo Montano in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at University of Miami.
Mayi de la Vega was born in Cuba but has lived in South Florida since such a young age that she considers Miami her home.
An entrepreneur from the start, with her father she co-founded Intercontinental Metals, a distribution company that sold aluminum sheet and plate to the aerospace industry. They sold the business in 1992 and she stayed on board with the new owners until she decided to pursue a career in real estate.
After forming Stewart de la Vega Group, a real estate firm specializing in luxury sales, Ms. De la Vega acquired the ONE Sotheby’s International Realty brand in South Florida and launched it in late 2008.
In five years the company has grown from 30 to 300 agents and has eight offices in Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Brickell, Miami Beach (two offices), Sunny Isles, Aventura and Fort Lauderdale. Sales numbers reached $1.2 billion last year.
Now the company is looking at development, while keeping its luxury sales focus.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Ms. De la Vega in her office in South Beach.
Leslie Smith is not only a partner at Foley & Lardner but also chair of the Miami office’s litigation practice. She has recently broken new ground: she became the fourth woman president of the Dade County Bar Association and the 97th overall.
Ms. Smith is also very active in the community. She is a member of the Forum on Franchising, of the International Franchise Association and the Florida State Bar Association; past governing committee member of the American Bar Association, and past member of the Board of Governors Young Lawyers Division Executive Committee. Ms. Smith Leslie also serves on the board of directors for the Women Presidents' Organization.
She stills finds time for family, music and yoga.
Louisiana-born and Florida-raised, Darryl K. Sharpton came to Miami quite serendipitously. He started his own accounting and business consulting firm in 1984 and his partner joined him just over a year later. Sharpton Brunson and Co. lived through the recession and is now getting stronger.
In addition, Mr. Sharpton took on another challenge in June. After being part of the two-year Financial Recovery Board at Jackson Health System, he is now chairman of the Public Health Trust that oversees the system. His main goals for the system for the foreseeable future are renovations, equipment upgrades and urgent care locations.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Sharpton in his SBC office in downtown Miami.
Susan Amat is a self-defined problem solver. An entrepreneur herself — she started her own company at 15 — she co-founded The Launch Pad, meant to provide guidance to other entrepreneurs at the University of Miami. This year she officially launched Venture Hive, an accelerator and incubator, to help local and international startups in the Beacon Council's One Community One Goal targeted industries.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Ms. Amat in her downtown Miami office.
Even though he wanted to be a labor lawyer, Alan T. Dimond now has more than 40 years in commercial and real estate litigation, and has represented major multinational corporations, local and regional real estate developers, individuals and government entities.
Some 38 years ago he joined Greenberg Traurig, a law firm that was founded in 1967. Mr. Dimond, now a shareholder, has held an important role in the firm’s growth from a boutique firm to a global one, with 29 locations in the US and 38 total worldwide. He joined as the 14th lawyer and there are now almost 1,800.
He was the lead attorney for developers of Fisher Island for 25 years, led the trial team that obtained $30 million settlement for the Estate of Eastern Air Lines from insurance companies based on damage to the environment at several major US airports, and led the trial team that obtained a $25 million embezzlement verdict on behalf of a subsidiary of Aegon, a Dutch insurance company, against its American managing general agency and that agency's officers, among other roles.
Mr. Dimond has been a member of many local and regional organizations. He was the president of the Florida Bar from 1992 to 1993 and is currently on its board of governors and executive committee. He has sat on the board of directors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and has been a professor at the University of Miami School of Law.
He has also received awards and recognitions throughout his career, having been listed as one of South Florida’s Top Lawyers in South Florida Legal Guide every year since 2005 and one of the Florida Super Lawyers by Super Lawyers Magazine every year since 2006. In February he was awarded the Judge Learned Hand Award by the American Jewish Committee.
A New Yorker by birth, his family moved to Northern Virginia, where he grew up. Washington, DC, holds an important spot, as well as George Washington University, where he attended law school and where he served on the board of advisors.
But Miami has been his city for more than four decades, and he has kept a very close relationship with the University of Miami, his alma mater. He has resided in Coconut Grove for most of his South Florida years, and it is still the place that most of his family calls home as well.
Until recently he played tennis during his free time, but he is still a sports enthusiast and an avid collector of Latin American art, especially of Cuban Art ranging from the 1940s decade until the late 1950s.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Dimond in his 44th -floor downtown Miami office.
Jimmy Morales has close to 20 years of experience in public affairs. Born and raised in Miami Beach, he attended Harvard for college and for law school. After working in law firms in New York and Washington, DC, as a transactional attorney, he came back to South Florida in 1993.
He served on the Miami-Dade County Commission for District 7 from 1996 to 2004, when he ran unsuccessfully for county mayor. For the next four years Mr. Morales was city attorney for the City of Marathon in the Keys and for the City of Doral afterwards.
For the past 13 years he has also been a shareholder and a member of the board of directors at the Miami law firm of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Morales in his office in Miami Beach prior to the final two commission meetings that named South Beach ACE to negotiate for the Miami Beach Convention Center redevelopment project.
Henry Martinez lived in many parts of Latin America while growing up. Three languages and a California college degree later he came to Miami, where he has been for more than three decades.
He is now president and managing director for Discovery Networks Latin America/ US Hispanic and Canada, the company he joined in 1994. He is part of the entrepreneurial generation of the paid TV industry and has been a longtime supporter of its growth throughout the region. Discovery has consolidated Discovery Kids and Animal Planet in Latin America as a top source of educational programming.
Miami Today reporter Vanessa Zambrano interviewed Mr. Martinez in his office in Miami.