Community Advisory Board

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CRI's Community Advisory Board is a distinguished group of persons interested in Cuban and Cuban-American affairs and includes representatives from various business sectors and professional backgrounds. Board members contribute their expertise to support the institute's mission, advise its Director on its strategic goals, and assist with fund raising.

Ignacio Álvarez

Ignacio Álvarez, President and COO, Popular, Inc.

Ignacio Álvarez has been President and Chief Operating Officer of Popular, Inc. since October 1, 2014. Prior to his appointment as President and COO he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. Previously, he was one of the six founding partners of the law firm Pietrantoni Méndez & Álvarez LLP. Recognized by Chambers Global as "one of the best lawyers in Puerto Rico," Mr. Álvarez was an integral part of the firm's success for 18 years. Among his main practice areas are banking, corporate, and commercial law; corporate and public finance law; securities and capital markets. Mr. Álvarez was born in Havana, Cuba; graduated from Georgetown University, Magna Cum Laude, and Harvard Law School, Cum Laude; and was admitted to the Bar in Florida and Puerto Rico. Website

Rolando Anillo

Rolando Anillo, Corporate Counsel, Florida Crystals

Rolando Anillo, Esq., is currently in-house counsel at Florida Crystal Corporation and Affiliates focusing on international commercial transactions and matters involving civil law and Spanish-speaking countries. Mr. Anillo has practiced law in Cuba as well as in the United States. Born in Santiago de Cuba, he graduated cum laude from the University of Havana law school in 1988, and received his MBA from Barry University in 1997. Mr. Anillo has written and published professional papers on U.S.–Cuba regulations, Cuban law, and international law.

Juan Luis Betancourt

Juan Luis Betancourt, CEO, Gonza Executive Search

As founder/CEO of Gonza Executive Search, Juan Luis Betancourt runs a leading boutique executive search firm that works with portfolio companies of private equity firms. Prior to this position, he was a partner at Korn/Ferry International and Heidrick & Struggles. Mr. Betancourt previously had a global career as an operational general manager living for 15 years across Germany, France, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Dubai. He was CEO of the U.S. division of Décathlon, the world's largest sports retailer; worked in the U.S. and Brazil at CRM software leader, Siebel Systems; was CMO/Global Brand Strategy Head at Puma AG in Germany; and started his career doing brand management at Procter & Gamble. Mr. Betancourt earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in economics from Harvard University. He also attended the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania for an M.A. in international management. Website

Humberto Calzada

Humberto Calzada, Artist

Humberto Calzada was born in Cuba in 1944 and has lived in Miami since 1960. In 1976 he gave up his industrial engineering career to pursue painting. From the start, the subject of his art was the architecture of his childhood, dominated by columns, tiled floors, stained glass, and the reflection of light. The inspiration was, and is, Havana's colonial and neoclassical architecture, as well as the unique and intimate architecture found in Cuba's interior and small towns. Geography plays a secondary role, grounding the architecture within a context of rich and verdant landscapes, majestic hills, and the same azure sea he saw daily from his childhood window. Mr. Calzada's work forms part of several museums and corporate, public, and private collections. His limited editions prints and books about his work are available from his website.

Erich de la Fuente

Erich de la Fuente, CEO, EDF Communications

As founder and CEO of EDF Communications, Erich de la Fuente oversees the firm's business development and daily operations. In addition to leading the design of corporate communication strategies for recognized brands such as Visa International, Siemens PLM Software, and Delta Air Lines, Mr. de la Fuente has led the charge of developing internal communication programs for clients such as DHL, Pfizer, and the World Bank Group. He has also assisted companies such as Global Crossing, Novartis, and Smiths Detection in developing crisis communication plans and in training their personnel. A lead international communications consultant for over 20 years, Mr. de la Fuente has worked on a variety of international development programs in Latin America, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Website

Sergio González-Arias

Sergio González-Arias, Medical Director, Neuroscience Center, Baptist Health South Florida

Dr. Sergio González-Arias is chief of neurological surgery at Baptist Hospital and chair of neurosurgery at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. He has served as chief of Baptist Hospital's Department of Surgery and is past president of the medical staff. He has lectured nationally and internationally on minimally invasive spine surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery. Dr. González-Arias received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Zaragoza in Spain. He completed his surgical internship at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago and his neurosurgical residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital-University of Miami. He is Board-certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Website

Pedro G. Menocal

Pedro G. Menocal, Partner, Gutiérrez Bergman Boulris, PLLC

Pedro G. Menocal is a business lawyer and a founding partner of Gutiérrez Bergman Boulris, PLLC. He represents a diverse mix of foreign and domestic investors, entrepreneurs, established businesses, private equity funds, and public companies. Mr. Menocal regularly advises clients on many complex business matters, such as mergers and acquisitions, venture capital investing, debt and equity financing, private equity, private offerings, and SEC matters. He has significant experience in the areas of technology, communications, media, film and television, music, consumer products, healthcare, and finance. Mr. Menocal is the managing director of Create Media, a Miami-based media and entertainment firm, and a founding member of the Core Creative Patrons Group at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Carmelo Mesa-Lago has been a visiting professor and researcher in seven countries and lecturer in 40 countries. He is the author of 93 books and pamphlets and 300 articles and chapters published in seven languages in 34 countries, on the Cuban economy, social security, and comparative economic systems. He was also the founding editor for 18 years of the academic journal Cuban Studies. Among his most recent books are Cuba Under Raúl Castro: Assessing the Reforms (with Jorge Pérez-López, 2013); Social Protection Systems in Latin America: Cuba (2013); and Market, Socialist, and Mixed Economies: Comparative Policy and Performance (2002). Website

Eduardo Pérez Bengochea

Eduardo Pérez Bengochea, Former President & Chairman, Chemex Corp.

Eduardo Pérez Bengochea was born in Havana, Cuba, where he attended the Colegio de Belén. He left the Island in 1960 and joined the 2506 Brigade that landed in the Bay of Pigs in 1961. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1965 with a degree in Chemical Engineering, and worked for Monsanto and Dow Chemical in different managerial and executive positions. Between 1971 and 1980 he was Chairman of the Board of Parmachem, Inc., and President and Chairman of the Board of Chemex Corp. from 1980 to 2013. He is currently retired and lives in Miami with his wife.

Lily Prellezo

Lily Prellezo, Writer and editor

Lily Prellezo was born in Cuba and exiled to Miami in 1960 with her family. She grew up in Miami and attended both Miami Dade College and FIU, where she graduated with a degree in English Literature. She is an alumna of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference-Writers in Paradise directed by Dennis LeHane and Sterling Watson. She has also attended the Writer's Institute at Miami Dade College and is the member of a writer's critique group. Ms. Prellezo's first nonfiction book, Seagull One: The Amazing True Story of Brothers to the Rescue, was published by the University Press of Florida in 2010. Ms. Prellezo and her husband, Steve, are involved in The International Kids Fund, which provides life-saving surgeries for children all around the world. Ms. Prellezo and her family live in Miami. Website

Mónica Rabassa

Mónica Rabassa, Vice President of Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Public Affairs, Univisión Radio

Mónica Rabassa's responsibilities include overseeing corporate public affairs, marketing efforts, and talent relations for Univisión Radio's 70 radio stations across the U.S. Prior to joining Univisión Radio (HBC), she was the Marketing Research Director for Cisneros Television Group, where she developed and supervised the Group's global research operations. She has also been a media marketing and research consultant providing services to local, national, and international media companies such as Turner Broadcasting and Hearst Entertainment. Ms. Rabassa has won numerous awards, including four Emmy® Awards for the Writing of Non-News Programs for Spanish-language networks. She earned a B.A. in business and international economics from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the University of Miami. Website

Sissi Rodríguez

Sissi Rodríguez, Executive Director, Roots of Hope

Sissi Rodríguez was born in Cuba and lived on the island until the age of 14 when her family came to the United States. She attended the University of Florida, where she was awarded a Bachelor in Religion and Spanish Literature, with a minor in Latin American Studies. Upon graduation, she attended the Michigan State College of Law, where she graduated with a Juris Doctor degree. She has been involved with different nonprofits since her time at the University of Florida, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Roots of Hope, a nonprofit organization focused on connecting young Cubans on and off the island. Website

Carlos Saladrigas

Carlos Saladrigas, Chairman and CEO, Regis HR Group

In 2008, Carlos Saladrigas cofounded 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. Previously, Mr. Saladrigas served as chairman of Premier American Bank. He was a cofounder and CEO of The Vincam Group, which in 1998 was listed as the largest Hispanic-owned company in the U.S. and was acquired by ADP in 2000. He is also a member of the Hispanic Advisory Board for PepsiCo. Mr. 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, he 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 Belén Jesuit Preparatory School. Website

Cristina Vidal-Artaud

Cristina Vidal-Artaud, Writer

Dr. Cristina Vidal-Artaud is a writer trained as a scientist and physician. She is currently working on a commission from the Ensemble Studio Theatre / Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for a full-length play exploring the interchange between science and society. She is the founder and editor of Cuba Cosmopolita, a media platform presenting Cuban culture and lifestyle content. Dr. Vidal-Artaud trained at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the combined hospitals of Columbia and Cornell, and earned an M.D. from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. in cell and molecular biology from Harvard University. She received her education in theatre and playwriting at HB Studio in New York City.