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Lili Bach, Florida Field Director, America Votes
Lili Bach currently works for America Votes, a nonprofit aiding in field strategies and operations for various campaigns across the state. Elected President of the Miami Dade Young Democrats in June 2013, she helps with youth voter education and engagement and encourages young democrats, and women to get involved and get out the vote. Voted Florida Young Democrat 2014 Woman of the Year as well as 2014 SEIU's Local 1991's Leadership Award. Her passion is Social Justice primarily in voter engagement, women's issues, and climate change.
A California girl at heart, she enjoys snowboarding, wakeboarding, and going to the beach. For fun you can catch her breaking it down on the dance floor or channeling her inner pop star at any karaoke joint.
Aaron Bos-Lun, Teacher, Teach for America/Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Aaron Bos-Lun is in this third year teaching at Homestead Senior High School, where he was recently a regional finalist for Rookie Teacher of the Year. He is an alum of both Teach for America ('12) and of City Year (DC '08) and has taught in three countries on three continents. He holds a Master's Degree in Education and Social Change from the University of Miami and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wheaton College (MA.)
Believing a strong education includes but is not limited to literacy and numeracy Aaron is a Justice Teaching Fellow of the Florida Supreme Court to advance civic education, and a Freedom Writer Teacher (trained by renowned educator Erin Gruwell of the ""Freedom Writers"") to advance student self-expression. Bos-Lun has been active in supporting and helping Gay Straight Alliances start in Miami's urban public schools. His experience sponsoring a GSA at the request of students, and the extremely positive reception at the school, showed him the deep need for safe spaces in all schools. He is especially proud of the amount of straight students, including boyfriend-girlfriend couples, who attend the GSA, showing it is truly a safe space for all students. He has since helped teachers and students throughout the county develop their own GSA's in low-income schools, and continues to strengthen this network of safe spaces. Aaron was honored to be recognized as one of SAVE's ""Luminaries of Equality"" for this work for South Florida. The impact of these GSA's has reached the broader Miami community, showing the potential all young people have- gay or straight, of any socioeconomic levelÑif given a safe space to find their voice. Aaron is joining New Leaders Council to combine his interests in policy, politics, and education, and to be as effective a progressive leader as possible headed into the future.
Benjamin Brodsky, Partner, Coffey Burlington
Ben Brodsky is a partner with Coffey Burlington. Ben joined the firm following a two-year clerkship with the Honorable Judge Joan A. Lenard in the Southern District of Florida. Prior to his clerkship, he practiced with an international law firm in New York. Ben has first chaired jury trials in both federal and state court, and his practice encompasses all aspects of business, commercial, and employment litigation.
He is a Miami native, and a graduate of Ransom-Everglades School, University of Michigan, and New York University School of Law. Ben is the First Vice President of the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He previously founded and served as the chairperson of the Federal Bar Association's Women Lawyers Initiative, which works to promote the interests of female lawyers in the community. He served as County Counsel for the Democratic National Committee's Voter Expansion initiative in the 2014 election cycle. And he is a graduate of the 2012 class of Leadership Miami.
Oscar Corral, President and CEO, Self-employed, Explica Media Solutions
Oscar Corral spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter covering crime, politics and investigative stories. He swapped his pen for a video camera in 2008 and never looked back. He now runs his own video-production company, Explica Media Solutions, which specializes in corporate videos, live webcasting and documentaries.
He may still call himself a journalist if push comes to shove, but will gladly settle for entrepreneur, writer, father, husband or book club dude. He lives in Miami with his wife and fellow journalist, Cecile, his two daughters and his trusty pound mutt, Daisy.
Ana Corrales, Senior Associate Professor of Economics, Miami Dade College
Born in Managua, Nicaragua, Ana Carolina Corrales has called Miami home since the age of eight. She completed an International Baccalaureate Diploma from Coral Gables Senior High and received a scholarship to Swarthmore College. Upon graduation, she worked as a business analyst for Columbia Energy Group, a Fortune 500 company in Virginia, as part of its management development program featuring rotations in financial planning, tax services, corporate communications, and corporate benefits. While working full-time, she earned an M.A. in Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University. Returning to Miami with her degrees in hand, Ana's first opportunity to engage the business community was as Executive Director of the Nicaraguan American Chamber of Commerce, where she represented and promoted its more than 300 members. She briefly left the non-profit sector to be Managing Director of Research and Client Services at The Washington Economics Group, a consulting firm founded by former Undersecretary of Commerce, Tony Villamil. Despite loving her government relations and business clients, Ana was unable to resist her teaching vocation, joining Miami Dade College (MDC) as faculty.
She is currently Senior Associate Professor of Economics at the Wolfson Campus, where she enjoys helping students navigate the transfer application process and achieve their career goals. She served as adviser to Phi Beta Lambda, the premier business student organization, leading chapters to victories in state and national competitions. Ana has collaborated with the University of Miami's Center for Latin American Studies, Florida Atlantic University's Center for Economic Education, Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and Atlanta, and the Center for International Business Education & Research in Michigan. Ana is passionate about mentoring young women and girls to complete higher education, prompting her to join Strong Women Strong Girls as a leadership coach. She was appointed by Mayor Regalado to the City of Miami's Committee on Economic Initiatives. Ana is a founding member of Femfessionals¨, a global networking organization for professional women, and a recent graduate of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Miami¨ program. She strives to empower women and eliminate racism as the current Vice President of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade. In 2014, Ana was honored with an Endowed Teaching Chair Award, the most prestigious distinction for faculty at MDC.
Jorge Damian de la Paz, Policy Research Associate, Miami Coalition for the Homeless
Jorge Damian de la Paz is a Policy Research Associate at the Miami Coalition for the Homeless. A Miami native, he completed a postgraduate degree with honors in Philosophy and Public Philosophy at the London School of Economics and was a recent participant in the inaugural class of the University of Miami's Community Scholars in Affordable Housing program. His primary interests are in housing policy, urban design, and political philosophy.
Maria Escorcia , Director South Florida , Ashoka
Maria Escorcia is the Director of Ashoka South Florida. Ashoka is the largest global network of social entrepreneurs, with 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 86 countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. In her role, Maria is working to bring to Miami the leading global social innovators to help solve the most pressing social problems. She was recently featured in an article in the Miami Herald for her work advancing the social entrepreneurship environment in South Florida. Before joining Ashoka, Maria spent six years managing a corporate social responsibility program for a large Colombian multinational corporation. During her first three years, she was based in Bogota. She designed and implemented a project that aimed to eradicate child labor in rural mining areas which resulted in an invitation to participate as one of the first private sector representatives in the government-led Colombian Forum of Child Labor Eradication. During the company's expansion in Latin America, she was offered the opportunity to create a corporate foundation in the newly acquired plant in Cabaret, Haiti. The Foundation she established played an active role in the relief and reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake.
Maria holds a Master's Degree in International Development from the University of Pittsburgh where she received a full merit scholarship from the Center for Latin American Studies. While working on her Masters, she was invited to participate in the United Nations Headquarters Internship Program in New York City, where she worked at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, Maria holds a Graduate Degree in Corporate Social Responsibility from UNED, in Spain, and a BA in Psychology from the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogota, Colombia. Currently, Maria serves on the board of directors of Sant La, a Miami based non-profit that aims to empower South Florida's Haitian community. She is a sports enthusiast and in her spare time practices yoga and spinning and roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gabriela Guzman , Founder and Director , The Jupiter Circle
Gaby is a Digital Marketing Strategist currently launching her own content and social media agency, The Jupiter Circle. She is passionate about communications and using the right platforms and message to generate action for organizations. Her experience spans from non-profits to fashion and she has managed digital communications strategies for the U.S., U.S. Hispanic, and Latin American markets. Gaby is committed to greater civic engagement in Miami and to authentic, grassroots social programs that bring about positive change in our communities. She recently managed the social media strategy and implementation for the Miami-Dade Democratic party. Gaby grew up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and moved to Miami at age nineteen, when she completed a Bachelor's in Business Administration from the University of Miami. She later received a Masters in Industrial Relations from Penn State University. She moved to New York City where she lived for eight years, and pursued a career in Consulting and Human Resources at Deloitte Consulting and hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co., before moving on to Communications. She landed her "career-change dream job" in Online Latino Outreach at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, crafting online communications strategies on sexual and reproductive health and rights for US Hispanics across the country. Highlight campaigns include the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the 2010 midterm elections. Her approach was based on widening the audience for these conversations, blogging in U.S. Hispanic entertainment sites and making sexual and reproductive health more relevant and relatable. She later worked on award-winning campaigns leading social media strategies at iCrossing, a digital advertising agency.
She returned to Miami in 2012, where she was Social Media Director at Media 8, a local digital advertising agency focused on the Hispanic market. She is excited to start her own venture and propel engaging customer relationships and conversations for brands committed to positivity and authenticity. She enjoys working across industries, and sees this as critical to developing innovative and creative solutions to problems. Gaby's public speaking experiences include: South by Southwest Interactive and Voto Latino Power Summit. She sits on the board for the Social Media Club of South Florida and her interests also include interior design and artistic calligraphy. She enjoys traveling and discovering new spots in Miami with her four-year old son, Matias.
Matt Haber, Assistant City Attorney, The City of Miami
Matt Haber is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Miami where he advises on ethics, public records law, environmental and energy regulatory matters. He earned his BA from the University of Florida, concentrating on Political Science and Religion. Upon graduation, Matt worked as an organizer for the Obama for America campaign, beginning with the Iowa caucuses, and later joined the Presidential Transition Team. Prior to law school, Matt entered the private sector to work for The Nielsen Company as the Outreach Coordinator for the state of Florida.
Matt is a graduate of Duke University School of Law. During law school, he mentored incoming students as a LEAD Fellow, co-chaired the Innocence Project's outreach team, and served on the executive board of the Hispanic Law Students Association. In his spare time, Matt enjoys barbecuing, drawing, and lying on the beach.
Melodie Kinet, Director, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services
Melodie Kinet is French and was schooled mostly in US, in Maryland and Massachusetts. Having completed her thesis in Tanzania, once she graduated from the University of Chicago in 2007 with a degree in medical anthropology, she returned to Tanzania to train attorneys in trauma-informed care at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in Tanzania. She then oversaw an HIV grants portfolio with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, working on innovative financing mechanisms. Interested in grassroots initiatives, she also trained trauma survivors throughout in Bolivia in advocacy and youth leadership. Following the 2010 earthquake, she then helped manage a disaster medicine field hospital in Haiti.
Melodie completed a joint MPH and MBA at Johns Hopkins University in 2011, and has since worked in healthcare consulting with Huron Consulting Group, and as a consultant for a health tech startup in New Dehli, India. Now a proud resident of Miami, she directs the only national program, a partnership between Harvard, NYU, and a local nonprofit, that provides technical assistance to communities resettling survivors of torture across the nation, but not served by treatment centers. Having founded and directed a cross-school incubator during her graduate studies, and being involved in various social design projects locally, she is also starting a social enterprise to provide health services for torture survivors through a community farm.
Mr. Kevin Marra has been a management consultant for thirteen years. His main areas of expertise are ecommerce business models for industrial companies, business process re-engineering for service parts and the application of technology to initiate business transformation.
Raised in Connecticut, Mr. Marra has lived in Miami for ten years and is committed to investing in Miami through its development as a world class city in every regard. Mr. Marra volunteers at the Overtown Youth Center as a standardized test tutor and serves on the board of the Kellogg School of Management's Miami area alumni association. He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and has an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management.
Aleyda K. Mejia, Director of Global Health & Social Ventures, Whole New World Foundation dba CappSci
Aleyda K. Mejia is the Director of Global Health & Social Ventures at CappSci. She joined the organization in 2012 to manage the development, implementation and launch of a global million-dollar competition focused on reducing child mortality, known as the Children's Prize. In her current role, Aleyda leads the organizationÕs effort to consistently deliver high impact execution of competitions under Global Health. She is responsible for day-to-day operations of the program, broadening and deepening engagement, identifying innovative approaches to refining prize operations, translating the program's field work to visual impact as well as overseeing portfolio and management for active project collaborations in Pakistan, Uganda, Angola, Kenya and Nepal. Prior to CappSci, Aleyda focused her efforts on advocacy, education, engineering and entrepreneurship for organizations that include Voices for Children, DHL and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center at Florida International University. Aleyda received regional recognition for outstanding work performance on behalf of the children and youth she represented while at Voices for Children. She was also recognized on multiple occasions by the Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools for her dedication to education and advocacy. She is passionate about education, especially work with STEM and minorities.
Currently, she is pursuing the expansion of science and urban sustainability education in Miami. Aleyda serves on the board as Treasurer for both the USGBC Miami Branch Governing Council and the United Nations Association Miami Chapter. She received a B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Systems & Engineering from Florida International University. Her master's research was in the area of High Velocity Human Factors and focused on cognitive and affective science for visual engineering implications.
Cassandra Theramene, International Specialist, Education Management Corporation
Art enthusiast. Leader. Philanthropist. Activist- words to describe Cassandra Theramene, a native from the beautiful island of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At an early age, Cassandra proved that leadership and community involvement had no age bracket; with current memberships in: Florida A&M University (FAMU) National Alumni Assoc.- Miami-Dade Chapter, Member; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.- GZO Chapter, Global Poverty & Family Strengthening Chair; Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, Member; Miami-Dade Democrats, Member; Miami-Dade Young Democrats, Outreach Director; and Casa Valentina, Board Member. Through her leadership and tireless work in the community, Cassandra was named as Legacy magazineÕs South Florida 40 Under 40 Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (2009), Top Hat Women of Excellence Award in Social Entrepreneurship (2010), In the Company of Women Community Spirit Award (2015), and nominated for the African-American Achiever's Award.
As academics was at the forefront of Cassandra's upbringing, in 2004, she became a very proud alumna at the only and only, Florida A&M University (FAMU), with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. At the age of 23, while living in Peoria, IL and just starting her Marketing & Management career at Caterpillar, Inc., Cassandra had a desire to birth an organization that would bridge the social and economic gaps within minority youths, and transform the inner city communities. This became a reality by way of Scholars Today, Leaders of Tomorrow, Inc. - a 501c3 nonprofit and scholarship foundation with the mission to equip youth and young adults with the tools to excel in the areas of academics, scholastic achievement, financial literacy, social consciousness and civic engagement; while providing scholarships to the male and female college bound students, and females of Haitian descent going off to college to pursue a degree in Business. Currently, she is the International Developer/Specialist for an education corporation where she travels to, oversees, develops and manages over 12 Caribbean countries and 3 U.S. territories for the Southeast Region, and is also an Adjunct Business Instructor at a local college. Having a passion in global business development and foreign affairs, in 2011, Cassandra obtained her MBA with a concentration in International Business from the University of Miami, and is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Organizational Behavior with a focus on Foreign Markets & International Businesses. Cassandra passionately lives her life through purpose by being of service to others. "The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but life without purpose". - Rick Warren
Michael Thompson, Business Development Director, Kroll, Inc
Michael D.K. Thompson currently serves as Business Development Director of Kroll, Inc's Miami office. Kroll is a leading corporate investigations and risk consulting firm, headquartered in New York with offices in 45 cities across 28 countries. Michael is in charge of developing business in Florida as well as for Kroll offices in Latin America and the Caribbean. Previously Michael worked on complex litigation support, fraud and asset search investigations for Fortune 500 companies in the region.
Before moving to Miami, Michael worked as an Adjudicator at the UK Financial Ombudsman Service and was a specialist in mediating disputes between individuals and their financial services provider- mostly UK banks. Michael, who grew up in London (United Kingdom) to an American Father and a Brazilian mother graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an M.A. in Politics before qualifying as a Barrister (attorney) in England and Wales from BPP Law School, London. Michael has worked extensively with NGOs and civil society organizations including Streetlaw Prisons, a group which gives interactive legal presentations to prisoners in London jails; legal charity Reprieve and anti-corruption pioneer Transparency Intentional (Kenya). He has traveled extensively in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Michael decided to focus his career on Latin American issues after spending a year studying politics at the Universidad de San Andres in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Michael is passionate about running and has completed several marathons, half marathons and a half iron man. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
Charo Valero, Field Organizer, SAVE
Charo Valero is the Field Organizer at SAVE, South Florida's largest political advocacy organization for people who are LGBT. Since she was hired in May 2013, SAVE has been working on TransEquality, to secure protections in Miami Dade County for people who are transgender. Charo is also one of the founding members of PUSH, the collective that organized the first-ever LadyFest Miami, a two day festival in celebration of womanhood for women and their allies that empowers the local community and showcases local talent through art, music, and educational workshops and discussions. Before working at SAVE, Charo worked in the private sector in operations, accounting and finance.
She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Religious Studies at Florida International University. Born and raised in Panama, Charo moved to Miami 8 years ago. In every one of her undertakings, Charo strives to build community and empower other women to be leaders. Most recently, her organizing work has focused on deconstructing and raising awareness about the intersectionality of the most salient social justice issues facing Miami. Charo identifies as a queer Latina feminist.
Justin Wales, Attorney, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Justin S. Wales is a progressive activist and constitutional litigator with the law firm of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt. His practice is primarily focused on the First Amendment (freedom of speech, access to government proceedings/records, freedom of assembly, etc.), but also includes election challenges, civil rights and environmental claims, and intellectual property disputes. Justin became an attorney to represent individuals and organizations interested in preserving, protecting, and extending their rights under the Constitution. Through an amazing amount of luck and some well-placed effort, he was able to find such a practice. Since graduating from law school he has had the good fortune to participate in a number of high-profile cases that have had the effect of preserving Florida's parkland from commercialization, protecting endangered species from industrialization, and ensuring civil rights for the LGBTQ community.
When not at work, Justin is an organizer with Emerge Miami, a grass-roots activist group aimed at strengthening MiamiÕs progressive community. He is also an active participant with Code for Miami, where he leads a brigade of civic hackers in an effort to implement an Open Data Policy for Miami-Dade County, and Buskerfest Miami, where he advocates for legislation aimed at protecting the First Amendment rights of artists to perform on Miami's streets. Justin grew up in South Florida but spent most of his teen years running around Los Angeles listening to punk music. After calming down a bit, he attended college at the University of California, San Diego and received a degree in history, magna cum laude. He returned to South Florida in 2009 to attend the University of Miami School of Law where he graduated summa cum laude.