Miami Dade College Inducts Outstanding Alumni into its Hall of Fame
The 2012 MDC Hall of Fame Inductees
Miami, May 11, 2012 -
Miami Dade College (MDC) once again honored some of its most distinguished alumni, inducting them into its prestigious Alumni Hall of Fame. In addition to personal success, these outstanding alumni have made a significant impact in the community. Past inductees include actor Andy Garcia, music industry mogul Emilio Estefan, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, former Dolphins receiver Nat Moore, Carnival Chairman & CEO Micky Arison and United States Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, among other distinguished leaders across America.
MDC’s 10th Annual Alumni Hall of Fame Gala was held May 10at the Hilton Miami Downtown. This year’s 25 honorees represent an array of industries and careers, from architecture, medicine and entrepreneurship to urban development and visual arts.
MDC’s 2012 Alumni Hall of Fame Honorees:
Hector Tundidor Jr.
Miami Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP
As managing partner for the Miami office of Ernst & Young, Tundidor focuses on three aspects of his job – people, market and community. He focuses on providing quality services to clients in the market and is devoted to serving the civic community. In addition to Tundidor’s office leadership responsibilities, he serves as the Florida Transaction Advisory Services Leader. He specializes in international investments and has conducted due diligence for more than 250 transactions in Latin America, the United States and Europe ranging in value from $2 million to in excess of $20 billion. Tundidor began his career as an auditor and transitioned several years later into the field of mergers and acquisitions. He serves on the boards of the United Way of Miami-Dade, ALPFA and Ernst & Young’s diversity and inclusiveness taskforce.
ADVERTISING & MARKETING
Robert J. Rodriguez
Robert Rodríguez launched his career in marketing and communications while he was a student at MDC. In the 30 years since, the company he founded, Natcom Marketing, has expanded into magazine publishing and content creation. Its list of clients has grown to include Chevron, American Airlines, Burger King, the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, among others. In 1995 the company produced the award-winning promotion “Around the World in a Day,” using an Air France Concorde to set a new aviation speed record for circumnavigating the globe. Today he also is CEO of NPN Media, which provides customized video news stories to nearly 100 television stations and produces the Internet TV show Health Day TV. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Cushman School. He has served on the executive committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and is a past chairman of the City of Miami’s Ad Hoc Budget Committee. Rodriguez is also an active supporter of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and is the co-founder of Hispanic Friends of Israel.
Angel C. Saqui, II, AIA, NCARB
Angel C. Saqui, FAIA Architects, Planners Interiors, LTD
Angel C. Saqui II transforms ideas into reality. The second-generation architect and principal at Angel C. Saqui, FAIA, Architects, Planners, Interiors, Ltd. delights in turning people’s lifestyles, needs and desires into a building where they can live, work and play. He never had any doubt about his career path. His architect father started taking him to job sites when he was just a toddler. When he joined his father’s firm after graduating, he insisted they needed to expand beyond residential architecture. Since then, the company’s list of institutional clients has grown from health care facilities, both commercial and residential, to national retail developments and stores such as Best Buy, Auto Zone, Circle K, Staples, Walgreens, Payless Shoe Source and Tony Roma’s. He also has been involved with the Latin Quarter Review Board for the City of Miami, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. Saqui is a member of the American Institute of Architects, currently chairs the Elections Committee for that chapter and is a recipient of its Outstanding Young Architect of the Year Award in 1997.
Hector J. Ponte
Community Bank President Dade/Broward Countyline Market
Wells Fargo Bank
Hector Ponte started as a bank teller right after finishing at MDC. Twenty-five years later, he is in charge of 45 Wells Fargo branches in north Miami-Dade and south Broward counties. As the organization grew through mergers with First Union, Wachovia and Wells Fargo, he continued to take on new responsibilities. He was promoted to supervisor, then service manager and then assistant manager. Within six years, he became a branch manager, and shortly after, assistant vice president. In 1998, he became vice president/customer relations leader, responsible for coaching and developing nearly two dozen branch managers. Two years later, he became a financial specialist sales leader. He also served as service director, acquisition banking director and, in 2009, was
named to his current position, senior vice president/community bank president.
President & CEO
Mike Tomas has enjoyed success in a wide variety of fields, from telecommunications to adult stem cell technologies. He helped launch the first company to compete with Telmex in Mexico, co-founded an early-stage private equity investment firm and currently serves as chairman of the advisory board at the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center at FIU. He’s also a founding coach/mentor at the University of Miami’s Launch Pad at the Toppel Center. While at MDC, he began working at MCI, where he spent 18 years. After leaving MCI, Tomas helped raise $40 million to start Ineto, a customer communications software company. After selling it in 2001, he co-founded the equity firm ASTRI Group. Its investments included Perimeter Internetworking, a $100-million software service, providing for the secure transfer of information to the financial and medical industries, along with Bioheart, Inc., a company working on innovative stem cell therapies to reverse heart failure. In 2010, Tomas became Bioheart’s president and CEO. He now currently serves on the boards of both companies.
Vice President, Ticket Sales & Retention
Before joining the Miami Dolphins as their vice president of ticket sales and retention, George Torres spent 23 years at The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He was a recipient of a Miami Herald Silver Knight Award for Journalism in high school and began at the newspaper while studying at MDC, working his way up as he continued his studies. At the Herald, he held positions in the circulation department, the customer service department, sales and collections. In 2003, he became director of marketing and community affairs, responsible for media partnerships, consumer marketing, sports sponsorships, public relations and community programs, including the Athletic Awards, the Wish Book philanthropic campaign and the Silver Knight Awards. His boyhood dream to be a part of the Dolphins came true six years ago, when he joined the team as senior director of corporate communications, managing the team’s marketing, corporate public relations, Hispanic outreach, fan database and advertising campaigns. In his current position, he oversees ticket sales for general and premium seats, executive suites and specialty products.
Former Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President
The former chief operating officer for Denny’s Corporation has spent more than three decades in restaurant operations, rising through a variety of leadership positions. He began at MDC pursuing a degree in education and worked as a teacher for several years after graduation. That experience would later assist him in his new field, as he helped guide others to reach their potential. In 1981, he joined PepsiCo-Taco Bell and during the next 11 years rose through the organization. He was then recruited by the McDonald’s Corp., where he worked in regional management and strategic planning. He has held senior positions with Mrs. Field’s Famous Brands and Gloria Jean’s Gourmet Coffee. In 2004, he joined Dunkin’ Brands, where he was named president of Dunkin’ Donuts. He later became the president and chief operating officer for a division of Carlson Restaurants. In September 2010, he became the chief operating officer for Denny’s Corp., where he oversaw all of the company’s franchise and corporate operations worldwide. He has served on various boards, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and the San Diego chapters of the NAACP and the Chicano Federation. He is active in both the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR).
Dr. Alexis L. Martinez
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Martínez credits Miami Dade College for instilling in him a “can-do spirit” and for preparing him to pursue marine biology at the University of Florida. After graduation, a friend asked him if he wanted to teach. It was love at first course. In 1994, he became an assistant principal and was given a special assignment – opening William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, the first of its kind in South Florida. Students had ID badges and uniforms, and they simultaneously earned their diplomas and vocational certifications. The following year, he faced another first-of-its-kind challenge: setting up schools at Guantánamo Naval Base for 21,000 Cuban rafters. For seven months, he only saw his family for one or two days every three weeks. He returned to become principal at Allapattah Middle School and then Coral Gables Senior High before moving into district administration. Along the way, he was named “Principal of the Year” for the district, received an administrator award from the Council for Exceptional Children and was presented a Cervantes Award from Nova Southeastern University. Martínez is involved in the Sierra Club, Safari Club International and various initiatives to help preserve Costa Rica’s rain forest. He also works with United Way, Camillus House and students with special needs.
Jorge R. Duyos, P.E.
JRD & Associates
Jorge Duyos, the founder and president of the industrial engineering and management consulting firm JRD & Associates Inc., uses queuing models, time and motion studies, and organizational analyses to help organizations improve operationally and financially. Duyos’ list of clients includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development; local and state governments; and, in the private sector, Starbucks Coffee, Burger King and The Sports Authority. After graduation, he worked as a management engineer at Mercy Hospital. He then spent six years evaluating operations for Miami-Dade County, and in 1995, he founded JRD & Associates Inc., which last year received the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Achievement Award. An active member in the Institute of Industrial Engineers, he was named “Outstanding Young Industrial Engineer” in 1998. He also has served on the State of Florida Board of Professional Engineers and the Miami Science Museum Board. He is currently on the board of the UM Alumni Association. Duyos also is a fellow of the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute.
Juan R. Borges
Biomedical International Corp.
After arriving from Cuba in 1966 accompanied only by his younger brother, Juan Borges wanted to do what his father had done: work for a pharmaceutical company. However, when he knocked on company doors, they all said, “Come back when you have a college degree.” Undaunted, he began studying right away at MDC. Today, the company he founded, Biomedical International Corp., is one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s Top 500 Largest Hispanic-Owned Corporations in the country. He attended MDC full-time, working four part-time jobs and helping raise and support his brother. Upon completing his studies, Baxter Travenol Laboratories hired him as a medical sales representative for the South Florida region. He rose quickly in the organization, serving as international marketing specialist for Latin America, then sales manager, general manager of Baxter’s Venezuelan subsidiary and finally head of Baxter’s entire export program. In 1982, he left to form his own company, distributing medical supplies throughout the hemisphere. That one-person operation in a room at his home expanded and now has 30 full-time employees and plans to expand to Africa. In 2004, Borges received the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from FAU’s College of Science. He also serves on the Science Advisory Board at FAU.
HOSPITALITY & TOURISM
Maria R. Del Busto
Global Chief Human Resources Officer
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
As global chief human resources officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., María Del Busto’s responsibilities span the world. She oversees the company’s talent acquisition in more than 103 countries and handles compensation, benefits, shipboard workforce planning, scheduling and employee relations for more than 65,000 employees. She also is in charge of human resources systems, union negotiations and the development of leadership and skills. Beginning her career while at MDC, she has worked for The Hitchcock Clinic, Fortis Health and the Federal Reserve Bank, where she met her husband. She joined Royal Caribbean in 2000 as vice president of Corporate Human Resources and was promoted to her current position in 2006. In addition, she serves on the boards of Dress for Success, United Way of Miami-Dade County, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Common Wealth Institute. She also is on the Dean’s Council at Florida International University and is active in the Early Childhood Education Foundation.
JOURNALISM - BROADCAST
Weekend News Anchor, Noticias 23
Gloria Ordaz, a four-time Emmy winner, the weekend anchor for Noticias 23 Univision News in Miami,has probed the destructive effects of the drug “Special K” and investigated the world of female bail bond agents. She also explores Latin America as the host of the popular travel segment América Mía. It’s a dramatic change from where she began. In Cuba, she studied accounting and finance. In 1998, she came to the United States with her mother and a sister. Her journalism career began at América TeVe in 2003. Three years later, she joined Univision WLTV 23 as a news reporter. The following year, she became a weekend news anchor. She is on the board of the Family AIDS Coalition and also is an active supporter of St. Jude’s Hospital’s Young Professionals and the American Cancer Society.
JOURNALISM – PRINT
Editorial Page Editor
Journalism found Antonio Fins in the sixth grade. He decided on his career path after hearing a travel writer talk about his adventures during a Career Day. That inspiring talk led to a journalism degree at MDC, where he worked at the South Campus paper, The Catalyst. He didn’t become a travel writer, but he did become deputy managing editor for the Sun Sentinel, where he supervises the print and online opinion pages, overseeing a staff of 12, plus 10 freelance columnists. He first worked as a correspondent for Business
Week and later a business writer at the Sun Sentinel. Fins wrote about a variety of topics, including banking, financial trends and money laundering. In 2003, he became a senior editorial writer. Three years later, he was named editor. He has won multiple Florida Press Club and Sunshine State awards, been active with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and is on the board of directors of the Florida Society of News Editors.
Law Offices of Rebecca Ingram
Law is actually Ingram’s second career. She spent more than a decade as a speech pathologist and audiologist with Miami-Dade County Schools before completing a juris doctorate, finishing just in time to help defend consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, as a project attorney for the Put Something Back Program. From there, Ingram went to the Broward County Attorney’s Office, handling commercial and administrative law matters. In 1996 she took the plunge into private practice and family law, which opened a whole new world to her where she was able to help families reconcile and reunite. She has since moved on to probate and guardianship work, helping people with estate and trust matters. She is president of the Missionary Network Inc., and she serves on the board of directors of the Yaeger Foundation, the El Bethel Community Development Center and Recapturing the Vision, an organization focused on building marriages and families.
Food & Dining Editor
The Palm Beach Post
A journalism course at MDC changed Liz Balmaseda’s life. Two Pulitzer Prizes, thousands of articles, two memoirs and a novel later, she is still writing and still loving the path she found there. After an internship at The Miami Herald in 1980, she was hired as a reporter. On her first day on the job, the vessels from the Mariel Boatlift began arriving. She was later promoted to the prestigious position of metro columnist. She took a brief hiatus from the Herald in the mid-1980s when she served as Central America Bureau Chief for Newsweek. She won her first Pulitzer Prize in 1993, for her columns in the Herald on the Cuban-American community and the plight of Haitian refugees. She shared a second Pulitzer in 2001 for coverage of the Elián González story. That year she also received the Hispanic Heritage Award for writing excellence. In 2006, she moved to The Palm Beach Post, where she is now the food editor and dining critic. She has co-authored two memoirs and in 2000 penned an HBO film about Arturo Sandoval, starring Andy García. Her first novel, Sweet Mary, was published in 2009.
Jack J. Michel, M.D.
President and Chairman of the Board
Larkin Community Hospital
Dr. Jack Michel arrived from Colombia with the dream of becoming a doctor. Today he is the president and chairman of the board of the physician-owned Larkin Community Hospital. He also oversees five associated clinics whose mission is to provide a safety net for uninsured patients. After completing his studies, he became board certified in internal medicine through Jackson Memorial Hospital and went into private practice. In 1997, he led a group to acquire the 146-bed hospital from HealthSouth Corporation. Today, it has 525 employees and offers residencies in 20 specialties, assisting medical students in becoming board certified in internal medicine, psychiatry, family medicine and other fields. Under his direction, the hospital also expanded its services to the public through five Centros Médicos Las Américas clinics aimed at providing health care to patients without health insurance.
Carlos F. Orta
President & CEO
Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility
As head of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Carlos Orta leads one of the most influential advocacy organizations in the United States. President and CEO of the national nonprofit since 2006, he works with corporate board members, Hispanic organizations and corporate partners to encourage Fortune 500 companies to include Hispanics in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy and governance. He began his career as a legislative aide in Tallahassee, and in 1993 he was appointed executive director of the Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation office. He left that post to join Waste Management of Florida as manager of government and community relations. In 1997, he was hired by the Ford Motor Company’s Corporate Affairs Division, and in 2004 he was named director of community outreach at Anheuser-Busch Inc. He is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters (National Hispanic Advisory Council) and is past chair of Leadership Miami and a graduate of Leadership Florida, Class XV.
PUBLIC SAFETY – FIRE
Marcos De La Rosa
City of Hialeah Fire Dept.
De la Rosa was already a firefighter when he earned an associate degree in fire science at MDC, which allowed him to advance to fire engineer and later led to a promotion to lieutenant. He also began sharing his knowledge and experience – as well as his love of firefighting – with others pursuing careers in the field. He taught Emergency Medical Services at MDC’s Medical Campus, and many of his former students are now fire chiefs and ranking officers. Although time constraints no longer allow him to teach, he currently serves on MDC’s Fire Science Advisory Board. Under his leadership, the Hialeah Fire Department provides instructors for the Hialeah Educational Academy, a charter school with a focus on public safety, and gives young cadets in its Explorer program experience and training as auxiliaries. He works closely with the American Red Cross South Florida Region, as well as the Life Alliance Organ Donation Program.
PUBLIC SAFETY – POLICE
Addy M. Villanueva
Special Agent in Charge
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
In 2011, Addy Villanueva became the first Hispanic woman to be named Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Regional Operations Center of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Overseeing operations from West Palm Beach County through Monroe County, her responsibilities include working with 52 field agents who specialize in major crimes, along with the protection of Gov. Rick Scott, his family and other dignitaries. During her studies, an agent with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco convinced her to apply to the police academy. She began her law enforcement career in 1989 as an Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco special agent. In 1995, she joined FDLE and became a supervisor in 2002. In 2005, she was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge, and last May was named head of the Miami office. A 2007 graduate of the FBI Academy, she is a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force Executive Committee, both the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Urban Area Security Initiative Executive Boards, and the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast. She serves on the boards of the Miami-Dade County Police Officer Assistant Trust (POAT) and the Law Enforcement Officer’s Foundation.
Regional Managing Director
Department of Children and Families (Southern Region) Miami-Dade and Monroe County
As the head of the Southern Region for the Department of Children and Families, Esther Jacobo always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, to accomplish what her mother wasn’t allowed to do. Her family fled Cuba just as her mother, who had finished a doctorate in education, was beginning law school. Her mother’s sacrifices would forever inspire her own career. Upon completing her education, she joined the State Attorney’s Office, where she served for 15 years. As head of the domestic crimes unit, she handled high-profile homicides and child-abuse cases and helped focus attention on family and dating violence. After a brief and rewarding stint in private family law, the head of Children’s Legal Services at the Department of Children and Families wooed her back into the public sector in 2008. She is involved in the Dade County Bar Association and the Cuban-American Bar Association. Jacobo also works with various community partners, such as the Homeless Trust, the Children’s Trust, and Workforce.
Professional Golfer, PGA Champions Tour President
Bruce Fleisher rose to the top of his sport as the third-youngest U.S. amateur golf champion in history while he was at Miami Dade College. He fell in love with golf when he was 7 years old, became the best player in his county and won his first major golf invitational by the time he was 12. From then on, he was determined to become a professional golfer. In 1967, he enrolled in a sailing class at MDC. Then one day, MDC’s golf coach saw him hitting balls behind the College. The chance encounter got him a full golf scholarship. The following year, he won the U.S. Amateur Championship and went on to play on the PGA Tour for nearly three decades. His greatest success came later, though, beginning as a rookie on the Senior PGA Tour in 1999. He won seven times in his first year, including unprecedented back-to-back victories in his first two events. In 2001, he won the U.S. Senior Open, becoming one of only three players to win both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Senior Open. The other two were Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Today he teaches others how to play through the Bruce Fleisher Golf Members Club. He also helps raise funds for children in need through The Bruce Fleisher Foundation.
Oscar R. Compain
Quest International, Inc.
The founder and president of Quest International Inc. began his studies in pre-med, but the enthusiasm of his MDC chemistry professors lit the spark that he has pursued ever since. Upon completing his studies in 1970, he was hired as a research assistant at Cordis Laboratories. He stayed with Cordis through its merger with Ivax in 1986 and for another nine years, moving up to production supervisor, then vice president of manufacturing. In 1994, he and other colleagues created Quest International Inc. Today, Quest is an internationally recognized maker of diagnostic test products for detecting autoimmune and infectious diseases such as lupus erythematosus and childhood illnesses, as well as diseases that threaten a developing fetus, such as rubella and herpes simplex. As president, Compain oversees the company’s business, technical and regulatory aspects, including quality control, new product development and finance.
Fernando Santa Cruz
Fernando Santa Cruz learned about his business from the ground up, handling everything from routine personnel issues to coordinating complex international trade logistics by air, sea and land. Today, he’s president and CEO of his own company, Freight Solutions. After graduation, he worked as a boarding agent for Maersk Inc., where his duties included making sure the ship’s lines were in place and ensuring compliance with immigration, agriculture and customs requirements. For the next seven years, he helped establish Maersk’s refrigerated cargo business throughout Latin America. In 1999, he moved into the freight forwarding business with BAX Global. A year later, he moved to Envirotainer, negotiating multimillion-dollar leasing programs for the company’s unique temperature controlled containers, critical for sensitive pharmaceuticals. In 2006, he struck out on his own, founding a company that facilitates the movement of cargo between exporters and importers around the world. He is involved with the Archdiocese of Miami as well as with Blessed Trinity School, which his son and daughter attend. He has also served as a professor of international business at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican Campus.
URBAN DEVELOPMENT & CONSTRUCTION
Jorge R. Munilla
Jorge Munilla’s father, Fernando Munilla Sr., left a lasting mark on Cuba. Before Fernando Munilla’s company was seized by the government in 1960, he had built some of the island’s most distinguished and significant structures – including the José Martí Monument in Havana and the iconic El Malecón. Fleeing from Cuba, four of the six Munilla brothers came to the U.S. through the Pedro Pan program and were eventually reunited with their parents and younger brothers, Jorge and Juan, in Miami. In 1983, Jorge and his brothers formed MCM to carry on their father’s legacy. Serving as president, Jorge has led the growth of MCM into the country’s sixth-largest Hispanic contractor with a prestigious ENR Top 400 ranking. In the past decades, MCM has built some of South Florida’s most recognizable projects, including the award-winning I-95 Managed Lanes, multiple projects at Miami International Airport and the expansion and renovation of Miami Senior High School, among many others. MCM has been able to expand operations outside of South Florida, with regional offices in Dallas and international offices in Panama.
Artist Adler Guerrier creates works about the narrative of place, employing various techniques to convey the poetics and complexity of the everyday. An example is Untitled (BLCK – We wear the
mask), which showed in the Whitney Biennial 2008. Guerrier created an installation that is partly attributed to a fictional group of Miami artists. It included text-based works culled from news reports and the larger political discourse of late 1960s. The drawings, photographs, sculptures and video were staged as a dissenting voice based in Liberty City in opposition to the main stage of the Republican National Convention, occurring in Miami Beach. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1975, Guerrier’s path to becoming an artist began at Design and Architecture Senior High, where he took dual enrollment architecture classes at MDC. He found himself drawn more and more to visual art and decided to attend New World School of the Arts, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Florida. Since then, Guerrier has exhibited in numerous galleries and museums, including the Miami Art Museum. His works can be found in the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Guerrier also helps run Dimensions Variables, an artist-run space exhibiting local and international artists.
Learn more about the MDC Foundation at www.mdcalumni.com.
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