Community Advisory Board
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, President and CEO, Popular, Inc.
Ignacio Álvarez was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Popular, Inc., effective July 1, 2017. Prior to his appointment, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Popular, Inc. 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
Juan Luis Betancourt, CEO, Humantelligence
Juan Luis Betancourt is the CEO of Humantelligence, a consulting human resources and recruitment platform. His experience in human capital advising was developed while a partner at Korn/Ferry International and Heidrick & Struggles. He previously had a global career as a general manager (U.S., France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Dubai). He also worked at Siebel Systems (now Oracle) and at Procter & Gamble, in both the U.S. and Latin America. While at Puma, AG, as Chief Marketing Officer and Strategy Officer based in Germany, he was responsible for relaunching the Puma sports brand globally. 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, 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, Partner and CEO of U.S. Operations, Llorente & Cuenca
In 2001, Erich de la Fuente founded EDF Communications, which was acquired by the Spanish-owned agency Llorente & Cuenca in 2015. As the firm's CEO, Mr. de la Fuente has provided strategic communications and public affairs counseling to organizations operating in the United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and other emerging markets. EDF has developed a broad client portfolio, including Delta Air Lines, DHL, Siemens, Medtronic, Level 3, Honeywell Aerospace, The World Bank Group, and the American Bar Association. Mr. de la Fuente earned an M.A. in Latin American Affairs from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and his B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Latin American Studies from Florida International University. He is fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and proficient in Italian and Russian. Website
Isidro Fernández, Director, Alternative Investors, Santander Private Banking
Raised by Cuban immigrants in Union City, New Jersey, Isidro Fernández is currently based in Miami. He was previously a fund advisor at Hayfin Capital Management LLP, an independent investment firm in London, and Co-Head of European Research at Halcyon Structured Asset Management LP. Mr. Fernández was also Head of Credit Products and Trading at Caja Madrid, where he specialized in structured credit products and leveraged loan/credit derivatives trading. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Harvard University.
Ana Gamundi, Writer for Film & Television
Ana Gamundi recently relocated to Miami after living several years in Los Angeles, where she worked in film and entertainment, as well as received her Master of Fine Arts in "Writing for the Screen" from Loyola Marymount University. Prior, the Miami-raised writer received a B.A. in History from the University of Miami, having previously attended the Honors College at Miami Dade College. Ms. Gamundi worked for the likes of Univision's then sister-station Telefutura, as well as world-renowned production houses, including the French studio EuropaCorp. She is a current member of the Independent Writers' Caucus within the Writer's Guild of America (W.G.A. West). She also received national recognition for previous works, as well as directed short plays during her time in Miami.
Sergio González-Arias, Chief, Department of Neurological Surgery, Baptist Health South Florida
Dr. Sergio González-Arias previously served as Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. 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, General Counsel, Humantelligence Inc.
Pedro G. Menocal is a legal, business, and strategic advisor with over twenty years' experience representing clients, big and small, from all over the world. His domestic and international business practice focuses on general corporate and business law, venture capital investing, private equity funds, real estate financing and syndication, and a variety of investment vehicles. Mr. Menocal is active in the community and regularly provides pro-bono legal services to several civic organizations. He earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations and English Literature from Florida International University and a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Website
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 94 books and monographs and 318 articles and chapters published in eight languages in 34 countries, on the Cuban economy, social security, health care, 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 Voices of Change in Cuba from the Non-State Sector (2018); Cuba under Raúl Castro: Assessing the Reforms (with Jorge Pérez-López, 2013); and Social Protection Systems in Latin America: Cuba (2013). Website
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
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
Alexandra Serra, Senior Attorney, FedEx Express
Alexandra (Alex) Serra is a Senior Counsel with expertise in the Latin American and Caribbean region, including Cuba. She has solid experience in advising senior leaders on matters involving the potential impact of contracts, legal documents, and regulatory compliance on business. She previously served as Senior Counsel and Vice President in the Latin America and Caribbean Division at Western Union. During her tenure at Western Union, she completed six business trips to Cuba, conducted several successful negotiations with the state-owned non-banking financial institution, Financiera Cimex, S.A. (Fincimex), and ensured compliance with U.S. regulations. She earned her J.D. at the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in English (Cum Laude) at the University of Miami.
Aymee D. Valdivia, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP
Aymee D. Valdivia is an attorney in the International and Cross Border Transactions Practice of Holland & Knight's Business Group and a member of Holland & Knight's Cuba Action Team. Ms. Valdivia focuses her practice on corporate and international law, representing foreign and domestic clients in joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and a broad variety of commercial transactions, with a focus in Latin America and Cuba. She also advises domestic and foreign clients in connection with U.S. sanctions regulations and compliance matters. Her background and legal education in both common and civil law systems provide Ms. Valdivia with the ability to advise clients on transactions and projects involving multiple jurisdictions, legal systems, and cultures. She earned her J.D. (Cum Laude) at the University of Miami and a law degree (Magna Cum Laude) at the University of Havana. Website
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.