Membership

Matthew Aho
Young Professional

Matthew Aho is an international affairs specialist at Akerman Senterfitt, with more than eight years of experience working on issues throughout Latin America, with a particular focus on Cuba, Venezuela, Central America, Peru, and Mexico. 

Prior to joining Akerman, he was Manager of the Policy Department at the New York headquarters of Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA)—the Western Hemisphere’s premiere business membership organization—and editor of the hemispheric policy magazine Americas Quarterly. From 2009–2012, Matthew oversaw the AS/COA’s Cuba Working Group (CWG), which since 2008 has brought together senior executives of select-Fortune 500 companies with officials from the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, and the National Security Council to discuss topics including financial services, telecommunications, energy, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, and agriculture. The CWG’s discussions focus on possible future changes to U.S.–Cuba relations. In this capacity, Matthew is a recognized expert on the legal and regulatory frameworks comprising the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. During his tenure at AS/COA, Matthew also worked on region-wide public policy projects on issues ranging from insecurity and violence prevention to youth unemployment.

Matthew holds a Master of International Affairs degree in international economic policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a B.A. in Political Studies from Bard College. Matthew has lived extensively in Latin America, including Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil. In 2002, he was awarded a Fulbright grant and conducted year-long research on agricultural markets in Peru. Matt is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese and Russian.   

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Tere Alvarez Canida
Member
Tere Alvarez Canida is President and portfolio manager of Taplin, Canida & Habacht, LLC (TCH), an investment management firm specializing in fixed income account management. Founded in 1985 and located in Miami, Florida, TCH manages client assets for public and corporate pension funds, endowments, foundations and hospitals. Tere is responsible for the firm’s investment policy and strategy and managing client portfolios along with the firm’s other portfolio managers. Prior to founding TCH in 1985, Ms. Canida was Vice President and Senior Investment Officer for Southeast Banks Trust Company. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from George Washington University.

Ms. Alvarez Canida serves on the Board of Directors of Infinity Property and Casualty Corporation, a publicly traded company based in Birmingham, Alabama. She also serves on the Board of Directors of New America Alliance (NAA), as well as the Board of Advisors for Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. back to top
Ambassador Paul L. Cejas
Board Member
Ambassador Cejas served the United States as its ambassador to Belgium. Mr. Cejas of Miami, Florida, has been a business and civic leader in the South Florida community for more than 30 years. He is chairman and chief executive officer of PLC Investments, Inc., a wholly owned company that manages portfolio investments as well as investments in real estate and venture capital projects. back to top
Jose M. de Lasa
Board Member

Mr. de Lasa is Of Counsel in the law firm of Baker&McKenzie. Before joining the firm in 2005, Jose served for ten years as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Abbott Laboratories. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of directors of several charitable organizaions. He is a graduate of Yale University and the Yale Law School.

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Karina DuQuesne
Young Professional
Karina DuQuesne is currently pursuing a Juris Doctorate at Cardozo Law School in New York City, as an E. Nathaniel Gates Scholar.  Mrs. DuQuesne began her career at Goldman Sachs as a Financial Analyst in the Securities Division’s Pension, Endowment, & Foundation Group, which manages relationships with pension funds, endowments, and foundations and works with investors to develop and implement cross asset investment, risk hedging, liquidity management, private placement, and co-investment strategies. Most recently she worked as a Senior Analyst in the Human Capital Management Division where she focused her efforts on Executive and Equity Compensation. She is also a member of Raices de Esperanza, Inc., and buildOn. Mrs. DuQuesne graduated in 2007 from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and concentrations in Real Estate and Management. She is a Series 7 and Series 63 licensed financial analyst.  back to top
Andres Fanjul
Board Member
Andres Fanjul is Executive Vice President of Fanjul Corp. and Florida Crystals Corporation. Florida Crystals owns 155,000 acres of land in Palm Beach County and produces sugar, rice and other agricultural products as well as generates renewable energy in the largest biomass power plant in North America. Florida Crystals, with its subsidiary ASR Group, the world’s largest sugar refiner, produces more than six million tons of sugar across North America and in Europe, which is marketed through the Domino®, C&H®, Florida Crystals®, Redpath®, Tate & Lyle®, Sidul® and Sores® brands. It also owns sugar mills in Mexico and Belize. In the Dominican Republic, Central Romana Corporation, another Fanjul company, is engaged in sugar milling and refining, cattle, real estate and resort hotel operations, including Casa de Campo. 

Mr. Fanjul is President of Florida Crystals’ Okeelanta Division and has overseen its growth into sustainable farming, factory expansion, refining, state-of-the-art packaging and renewable energy.

Mr. Fanjul’s leadership extends to the community. As an advocate and fundraiser for disadvantaged youth and families, he and his wife Cathie have been major fundraisers for New Hope Charities, Food for the Poor, The Heart Association, Catholic Charities and other great causes.

Mr. Fanjul holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in Business Administration from St. Thomas University. back to top
Michael B. Fernandez
Board Member
Miguel (Mike) Fernandez currently serves as Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, L.P., a private equity firm with committed capital in excess of $500 million located in Coral Gables, Florida. The firm focuses on investing in healthcare service companies nationwide. Mr. Fernandez's career has centered on acquiring, growing and divesting of healthcare services companies.

Mr. Fernandez was Founder, President and CEO of Group Tech Systems, Inc., the first national database of group health insurance information. Founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefit Administrators, Inc. (CBAI) which was sold to RHMO (a public company) in 1990. He served as Executive Vice President of Ramsay-HMO, Inc. from 1990 to 1992. Founder and CEO of Physicians Healthcare Plans, Inc., which was sold to Amerigroup Corporation (a public Company) in 2002. Founder and controlling shareholder of Prescribit Rx, which was sold to Humana (a public company) in 2005. Founder and CEO of CarePlus Health Plans, Inc., which was sold to Humana (a public company) in 2005. Founder and controlling shareholder of Atlantic Dental, Inc., a dental HMO, which was sold to Doral Dental in 2008. Founder and controlling shareholder of Hospitalists of America which was sold to IPC The Hospitalist Company, Inc. (a public company) in 2008. Controlling interest in Navarro Discount Pharmacies, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the U.S. focused on the Hispanic market. Controlling shareholder in NutriForce, a vitamin manufacturing and distribution company. Founder and controlling shareholder in Simply Healthcare Plans, a health maintenance organization (HMO). Controlling shareholder in Better Health, a provider services network (PSN). Acquired controlling interest in MSD, a Massachusetts based distribution company sold in 2010.

Mr. Fernandez currently serves on the board of directors of MEDNAX, Inc. (NYSE: MD). His community service endeavors include serving on the boards of the United Way of Miami-Dade County and the University of Miami. He is also Vice Chairman of the University of Miami Medical Affairs Committee. He formerly served on the board of the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation and Sylvester Cancer Hospital. Mr. Fernandez has been honored frequently with recognition for his business acumen. He was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1995.

He attended the University of New Mexico and Northern Virginia Community College. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1975.
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Roberto Goizueta
Board Member
Roberto S. Goizueta is the Margaret O’Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology at Boston College. Dr. Goizueta is a former President of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Marquette University. Dr. Goizueta has received honorary degrees from the University of San Francisco and Elms College. The National Catholic Reporter has named him one of the ten most influential Hispanic-American educators, pastors, and theologians. back to top
David Hernandez
Board Member
David Hernandez is Chairman and CEO of Liberty Power—the only minority owned retailer of electricity with a national presence. In 2001, in the midst of a national economic downturn, Mr. Hernandez teamed with other professionals from the energy, telecommunications and financial services sectors and created Liberty Power. Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Liberty Power supplies power to businesses and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Social Security Administration. Some of their business customers include New York Life, JCPenney, Linens ‘n Things, Circuit City, Eckerd Drugs, and Lowe’s. In less than four years, Liberty Power has gone from grossing less than $1 million in their first year to more than $100 million in 2005. A native of Cuba, Mr. Hernandez graduated Magna Cum Laude from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Palm Beach, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and later earned an MBA from the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He currently serves on their Alumni Council and in 2004 was awarded NYU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005, by Hispanic Business Magazine, and was awarded the 2004 Hispanic magazine Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2006, he was also chosen as one of the Top 100 Most Important Hispanics in Technology & Business by Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology Magazine. He has also been featured in both print and television articles, such as NBC’s Hispanic Today. back to top
Felice Gorordo
Young Professional

Felice Gorordo is President & CEO of ClearPath, a venture-backed tech company revolutionizing the confusing, costly and paper-based immigration filing process - just as TurboTax transformed tax filing.

Most recently, Felice was appointed by President Barack Obama as one of fifteen 2011-2012 White House Fellows, America’s most prestigious and competitive nonpartisan leadership development and public service program founded in 1964. In this capacity, he served as the White House Fellow for President Obama’s Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Munoz working on Latino outreach and immigration policy in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. He also spearheaded the White House Business Council’s competitiveness series, organizing industry leaders sector-by-sector focused on spurring job creation and promoting America’s long-term economic competitiveness.
 
Felice also co-founded and leads Roots of Hope, a national non-profit focused on youth empowerment in Cuba and the "Best Grassroots Organization" – according to the Miami New Times. In 2009, Felice was an advisor to 17-time Grammy winner Juanes and helped organize the historic "Peace without Borders" concert in Cuba, with 1.2 million in attendance.

Previously, Felice led government sales for Liberty Power, the fastest-growing Hispanic-owned business in the U.S., generating $14.7 million in revenues annually. In this role, he managed all government sales and accounts, including the U.S. Navy and several municipalities.  Prior to that, Felice served as a presidential appointee in the Administration of President George W. Bush. In this capacity, he served as an aide to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Special Assistant to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Director Emilio Gonzalez. He has also served as a strategy consultant for the CEO of Jackson Health System and as a member of the University of Miami’s Energy Task Force.

PODER Magazine has named Felice one of the "100 Poderosos" Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S., as well as one of the Top "20 Under 40." He has been featured on CNN’s “Young People Who Rock,” and appeared on BBC, NPR, CNBC, The Economist, and CNN en Español. Felice is a graduate of Georgetown University and currently resides in Miami, FL, with his wife and daughter.

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Maria Elena "Mel" Lagomasino
Board Member

Maria Elena "Mel" Lagomasino is CEO and Managing Partner of WE Family Offices, a multi-family office serving global ultra high net worth families.  She is a recognized leader in the wealth management industry, and is a Founding Member of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard. 

Mel served as CEO of GenSpring Family Offices, a leading multi-family office.  Prior to that, she served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Private Bank, an institution with more than $300 billion in client assets under supervision.  Her career in banking began in 1977 at Citibank.  She joined the Chase Manhattan Private Bank in 1983 and was named head of Chase’s worldwide private banking business in 1997.  Following the chase-JP Morgan merger, she became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the JP Morgan Private Bank.

Mel serves on the boards of The Coca-Cola Company, Avon Products, Inc., and the Americas Society, and is a Trustee on the Board of the National Geographic Society.  She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Economic Club of New York.  In 2012, Mel was named one of the Directorship 100 by the National Association of Corporate Directors and was named by American Banker one of 2012’s Top 25 Women in Finance.  In September 2006, she was appointed by President Bush to help lead an effort to secure private sector funds to aid disaster victims in Central America.

A graduate of Manhattanville College (B.A.), Mel also completed graduate work at both Columbia University (M.S.) and Fordham University (M.B.A).

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Francesca-Maria Lopez Covey
Young Professional

Francesca-Maria ("Cesi") focuses on global strategic political partnerships at Facebook, partnering with political leaders and influencers around high-impact integrations. Prior to joining Facebook, she worked in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. While at the White House, she served as a liaison to the business community and as Deputy Counselor for Strategic Engagement to Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett.

Cesi has a master's degree in Finance and Strategy from l'Institut d"Etudes Politiques de Paris and a BA from Columbia University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband James.

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Eduardo G. Mestre
Board Member

Eduardo Mestre is Chairman of Global Advisory at Evercore Partners and one of the firm’s two most senior investment bankers.  Mr. Mestre was Vice Chairman with responsibility for the management of the firm’s U.S. advisory practice from 2004-2011, and prior to joining Evercore in November 2004, was Vice Chairman of Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. and Chairman of its Investment Banking Division.  Mr. Mestre was head of investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and its predecessor firms from 1995-2001 and co-head of Salomon Brothers’ mergers and acquisitions department from 1989-1995..   

Since joining Evercore, Mr. Mestre has represented, among others, Ally Financial in its pending restructuring of its mortgage business and in the pending sale of its international operations to Royal Bank of Canada and GM Financial; Clearwire in its pending sale to Sprint; International Paper in its acquisition of Temple Inland and the subsequent sale of certain assets; McGraw-Hill in its pending sale of its education division to Apollo; Lubrizol in its sale to Berkshire Hathaway; Century Link in its acquisition of Qwest; Frontier in its acquisition of Verizon’s rural access lines; ACS in its sale to Xerox; MGM Mirage in its financial restructuring; SBC in its acquisition of AT&T; AT&T in its acquisition of BellSouth; CSX in its proxy contest with activist investors; Cendant in its reorganization and in the sale of its Travelport subsidiary to Blackstone; Realogy in its sale to Apollo; Sequa in its sale to Carlyle; Performance Food Group in its sale to Blackstone and Wellspring; and GM in its sale of GMAC to Cerberus.

Over the years Mr. Mestre has represented many clients in communications, media, defense, aerospace and technology, including Amgen in its acquisition of Immunex; AOL in its merger with Time Warner; Citigroup in its acquisition of Banamex; News Corporation in its acquisition of Hughes; SBC in its acquisitions of AT&T and Ameritech; and Northrop in its mergers with Grumman, Litton and TRW.

Mr. Mestre serves as a member of the Board of the International Rescue Committee.  He is past Chairman of the Board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading cancer, genetics and neuroscience research and educational institutions, and past Chairman of WNYC, New York’s public radio stations.  He is also a past trustee of The Taft School.  Mr. Mestre currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Avis Budget Group, Inc. and Comcast Corporation. Born in Havana, Mr. Mestre is a 1970 summa cum laude graduate of Yale and a 1973 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.

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Juan T. O'Naghten
Board Member
Mr. O’Naghten is an attorney in South Florida with the firm of Diaz & O'Naghten. He was a founding shareholder and member of the board of directors and executive committee of and is general counsel to Miami Air International, Inc., DSL Internet Corporation and American Realty Capital, LLC. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors and is currently Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, Inc. He is also Vice President of the Cuban Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and has participated in many humanitarian drives to help the underprivileged in Miami, Cuba and Central America. back to top
Carlos A. Saladrigas
Chairman
Mr. Saladrigas is Chairman and CEO of Regis HR Group, a Professional Employer Organization offering a full suite of outsourced human resources services to small and mid-sized businesses. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of Progress Energy and Advance Auto Parts. Previous, Mr. Saladrigas served as chairman of Premier American Bank. Mr. Saladrigas was a co-founder and CEO of The Vincam Group, which in 1998 was listed as the largest Hispanic-owned company in the U.S., was acquired by ADP in 2000. He is also a member of the Hispanic Advisory Board for PepsiCo. Saladrigas holds an MBA with honors from Harvard University and a BBA, cum laude, from the University of Miami. Mr. Saladrigas was a CPA in Florida. Active in community affairs, Mr. Saladrigas is a Vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami, a director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Miami, and a trustee at Belen Jesuit School. He is a former trustee at the Rhode Island School of Design and Spring Hill College. back to top
Enrique Sosa
Board Member
Mr. Sosa was named executive vice president of Amoco Corporation in 1995 and headed Amoco’s chemicals sector, overseeing worldwide chemical and marketing operations. In 1999, he was named president of BP Amoco Chemicals when the two companies merged. Prior to joining Amoco, he was senior vice president of The Dow Chemical Company and president of Dow North America and a member of Dow board of directors and executive committee. He is a member of the board of directors of FMC Corporation and a member of the board of directors of DSM of The Netherlands. back to top
Natica del Valle von Althann
Member

Ms. von Althann is a founding partner of C& A Advisors, a consulting firm focusing on strategy and risk management for government and select financial institutions. She retired in June 2008 as the Senior Credit Risk Management Executive for Bank of America and Chief Credit Risk Officer of U.S. Trust, an investment management company where she had served as Chief Credit Officer since 2003. Prior to joining U.S. Trust, Ms. von Althann served as managing director at IQ Venture Partners, an investment banking boutique. Previously, she spent 26 years at Citigroup, including in a number of senior management roles. During her time at Citigroup, among other positions, she served as managing director and co-head of Citicorp’s U.S. Telecommunications?Technology group, managing director and global industry head of the Retail and Apparel group, and division executive and market region head for Latin America in the Citigroup private banking group.

Ms. von Althann earned a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science from Bryn Mawr College and completed master’s-level work in Iberian and Latin American history at the University of Cologne, Germany. She serves as a director of TD Bank, N.A., where she is a member of the Board Risk and Wealth Management committees. In 2009, Ms. von althann was appointed to the board of PPL Corporation where she is a member of the Board Audit and Nuclear Oversight Committees and Chair of the Finance Committee. Previously Ms. von Althann spent eight years on the board of the YWCA of New York. In January 2013, Ms. von Althann was reappointed to serve a second three-year term on the First Department Disciplinary Committee of the New York State Supreme Court. She also serves as vice-chair of the Board of Neighbors Link, a non-profit organization in Mt. Kisco, New York, and is a Committee member of the New York chapter of Friends of Caritas Cubana.

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