Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of the School of International and Public Affairs is a representative group of individuals who are engaged in international and public affairs—including business, non-profit, and governmental organizations—and who contribute their support, wisdom, and expertise to shape, enrich, and sustain the mission and programs of the School.

The role of the Advisory Board is to ensure the fulfillment of the School’s vision. The Board also assists with the necessary fund development critical to advancing the mission of the School. Board members serve as goodwill ambassadors, representing the School before key constituents, such as alumni, prospective students, prospective donors, and the community at large.

For further information on the Advisory Board, please contact Sebastian Arcos, Associate Director of Development, at or (305) 348-7250.

Deborah Balliette-Jacobson

Deborah Balliette-Jacobson, SBJ, Inc. and Honorary Consul of Tunisia


Mrs. Deborah Balliette-Jacobson is President of SBJ, Inc., which provides strategic planning and solutions for managerial, administrative and marketing needs for governmental and private sector entities. SBJ, Inc. and Advanced Marketing & Consulting International, Inc. (an affiliated company) work together in the representation of Tunisian and North African companies needing representation in the United States. Mrs. Balliette-Jacobson is also owner of American Central Insurance Agency, Inc., which provides life, health, group health, long term care and annuities policies to individuals and business. Mrs. Balliette-Jacobson is the Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Tunisia in Miami, Director of Plus International Bank, member of the International Federation of Women, Advisory Board Member of the Miami Bridge; Past Board Member of the Children Home Society and Past Board Member of the Greater Miami Heart Association. She holds a BA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Miami.

Cristina Barrios

Cristina Barrios, Consul General of Spain in Miami


Born in San Sebastian, Ambassador Barrios joined the diplomatic career in 1979. Since then she has been Deputy Consul in Dusseldorf, Germany, Sr. Deputy Chief of Protocol, first contact with ambassadors, and Sr. Chief of the Protocol Services of the Spanish Foreign Ministry. In 1998 became Ambassador to Sweden and Latvia, in 2003 Ambassador to Mexico, and in 2007 was named Ambassador on Special Mission for Climate Change. Ambassador Barrios was appointed the Consul General in Miami in the summer of 2010. She holds a BA in Philosophy and Letters.

Allen J. Brenteson

Allen J. Brenteson, Baptist Health International Center Intercontinental Health Services Corp.


Mr. Brenteson served on the Board of Trustees of Baptist Hospital of South Florida and was a founding member of the holding company. When Baptist Health decided to pursue the international patient business, Mr. Brenteson was asked to become Corporate Vice President to organize and develop this market. He was responsible for market development, sales, pricing, and concierge services for all international patients. The Baptist International Program is now recognized as the industry gold standard. Mr. Brenteson is now retired from Baptist Health South Florida but continues to represent them as their International Ambassador. He has formed a new company, Intercontinental Health Services Corp., dedicated to international business development and consulting.

Simon Cruz

Simon Cruz, Plus International Bank

Board Chair


Mr. Simon Cruz is President and CEO of Plus International Bank since 2003. Previously, he was president of Millennium Capital, a Real Estate Investment and Mortgage Brokerage firm specializing in arranging debt, equity and advisory services to the commercial real estate industry. He was Senior Vice President of Ocean Bank, and Vice President for the Southeast Region for the Chase Manhattan Bank. He has been Commissioner for the City of Miami Beach, Chairman of the United Home Care Services, Honorary Chairman of Abilities of Florida, and member of the Board of Directors of the Theodore M. Gibson Foundation. He holds a BA in History and Spanish Literature from Rutgers University, and an MA in International Economics and Latin American Studies form the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

Eduardo del Valle

Eduardo del Valle, Exxon (retired)


Eduardo del Valle worked 34 years for Exxon Mobil Corporation, where he held various positions of responsibilities in the areas of Refining Operations and Economics, Supply and Marine Transportation, Corporate Planning, and Finance and Public Affairs. Before his retirement he was Manager of New Business Development for Latin America. Immediately after retiring from Exxon, Mr. del Valle founded EGDV CONSULTANTS, INC., a firm dedicated to project evaluation and development and feasibility analysis, primarily oriented to infrastructure and energy sector investments. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University.

Rafael Diaz-Balart

Rafael Diaz-Balart, Vestec International


Mr. Rafael Diaz-Balart is Founder and CEO of Vestec International Corporation, specializing in international investment banking and international business consulting. Previously, Mr. Diaz-Balart served in executive capacities with IBJ Schroder International Bank, Paine Webber, Barnett Bank and the National Bank of Washington, D.C. During his tenure at the National Bank of Washington, Mr. Diaz-Balart served, inter-alia, as liaison to Eximbank, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. In partnership with the principals of the Brazilian financial group—Banco Paulista/Socopa, Mr. Diaz-Balart founded InterTrust Bank Limited (Bahamas). Mr. Diaz-Balart is presently Senior Advisor for Credit Lyonnais--Private Banking International. He holds a BA in Government from Cornell University and a MA of Business Administration from The American University.

Robert C. Dinerstein

Robert C. Dinerstein, Veracity Worldwide, LLC


Robert C. Dinerstein is President of Veracity Worldwide, LLC, a strategic risk consulting firm. Previously, he was co-chair of the financial institutions practice at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, a full service international law firm. Before that he was a senior executive with UBS AG, having served as Vice Chairman, Americas, Global General Counsel and as a member of the board, with responsibility for all legal, compliance and regulatory matters. Prior to joining UBS, Mr. Dinerstein was executive vice president and general counsel of Shearson Lehman Brothers and was also vice president and general counsel of Citicorp's Investment Bank. Mr. Dinerstein has specialized in banking and securities regulation, international capital markets issues, corporate governance, and risk management. Mr. Dinerstein is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Michigan Law School and lives in New York City with his wife, Marti.

Juan Carlos Flores, Regional Director of External Affairs at AT&T Florida

Juan Carlos Flores is the Regional Director of External Affairs at AT&T Florida responsible for representing AT&T’s corporate and legislative interests, as well as community involvement and local activities within Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Prior to joining AT&T, Juan Carlos managed the Carlos Gimenez for Mayor campaign in 2011 and served as Miami-Dade Field Director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, and Special Assistant to Florida Speaker Marco Rubio at the Republican Party of Florida. Juan Carlos currently serves as a member of the Chairman’s Circle and the Technology & BioScience committees at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

Juan Carlos attended Florida International University where he majored in Political Science and worked at the Universities public policy think tank, The Metropolitan Center.

Edward Glab

Edward Glab, Florida International University

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Edward Glab is the Co-Director of the Global Energy Security Forum at FIU. He joined the Business School at FIU as Director of the Knight-Ridder Center in 2004 after retiring from ExxonMobil, where for over 25 years he held a variety of positions in Public Affairs. Ed has conducted business and traveled in 76 countries around the world. He has taught at Northern Illinois University and the University of Texas at Austin. He has also been a Fulbright Professor at both the University of Chile and La Catolica in Santiago, Chile. He has published a number of articles, edited one book and ran a nation-wide project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the area of bilingual-bicultural education. He has been working on alternative energy for the past three years. Ed received his Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University in 1975.

Rainier Gonzalez

Rainier Gonzalez, Pacer Health


Rainier Gonzalez manages the operations of Pacer hospitals totaling 178 licensed beds and approximately $60 million in net revenues. Pacer was ranked 116 out of the top 500 Hispanic owned businesses by Hispanic Business Magazine. Prior to founding Pacer, Gonzalez was a principal in two South Florida-based financial services firms and previously served as principal and vice president of business development for Brick Mountain LLC. Prior to co-founding Brick Mountain, Gonzalez was an associate in the prestigious Washington D.C. law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, where he handled client matters in the firm’s securitization and structured finance department. Gonzalez holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Florida International University. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from the Indiana University School of Law and worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Federal Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York.

Michael A. Hernández

Michael A. Hernández, Director of Communications, Office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Mike is the Director of Communications for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. In this role, he is the chief spokesperson for Mayor Gimenez - the leader of a 25,000 employee municipal government with 25 departments and an annual budget of roughly $6 billion. Mike also serves as the county's leading Public Information Officer.

Prior to this position, Mike worked as a Sr. Director at research powerhouse Penn Schoen Berland. While there he advised presidential and parliamentary candidates throughout Latin America and the Middle East as well as leading corporations.

Michael has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Bachelor’s in Political Science from Florida International University (FIU). In addition to his service on the School of International and Public Affairs Advisory Board, he is also a member of the university’s Alumni Association Board of Directors and President’s Council.

Farrokh Jhabvala

Farrokh Jhabvala, Jorden Burt


Farrokh Jhabvala is a partner in the law firm of Jorden Burt LLP. He specializes in class actions and other complex civil litigation. He has degrees from the University of Bombay (B.Sc. in Physics/Maths, 1963; B.E. (Elec.), 1966), University of Delhi (M.A. in Political Science, 1969), The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (M.A. in International Affairs, 1973; Ph.D., 1977), and the University of Miami (J.D., 1988). He taught International Relations and International Law at FIU for more than twenty years (Asst. Prof. 1976-1980; Assoc. Prof. 1980-1984; Prof. 1984-1999). He has published numerous articles in journals, such as The American Journal of International Law, the Netherlands International Law Review, The Indian Journal of International Law, the Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, and the Human Rights Quarterly. Mr. Jhabvala was awarded the Francis Deak Prize of the American Society of International Law in 1979. His hobbies are reading (history, politics) and gardening. He lives in Miami with his wife, Margarita.

Morty Kaplan

Morty Kaplan, Kaplan Group


Morty Kaplan is President of Trans-Chemical Corporation and Chairman of the Kaplan Group of Companies. He graduated from Pennsylvania Military Preparatory School in 1947 and Pennsylvania Military College in 1951, later he served in the army as a Line Infantry Officer in the Korean War. After more than 25 years of experience with commodity trading, international trade and manufacturing, finance, and shipping, Mr. Kaplan founded Trans-Chemical Corporation in the early 1970's. TransChem is a U.S. based multinational trading company primarily engaged in the trading and toll processing of bulk industrial commodity chemicals which has broadened its scope over the last decade to include coordination and management of global energy and agriculture projects. Mr. Kaplan is a member of the National Petroleum Refiners Association, the North East Chemical Association, the European Petrochemical Association, and the International Petrochemical Association.

Louise Léger

Louise Léger, Consul General of Canada in Miami

Louise Léger joined the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce as a trade commissioner in 1981. Her career at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has included postings to Colombia, Switzerland and Israel. In 1995, she was appointed ambassador to Panama, and in 2001 ambassador to Costa Rica, with concurrent accreditation to Nicaragua and Honduras. In Ottawa, Ms. Léger has held the positions of deputy director of the Eastern Europe Commercial Relations Division; executive director and deputy director general at the Summit of the Americas Bureau; and director general, Trade Commissioner Service (Operations). Ms. Leger is a graduate of the Université de Moncton with a degree in Economics. She has been the Consul General of Canada in Miami since September 2009.

Cory Ramsel

Cory Ramsel, Manager, Business Development Florida Power & Light Company

Cory Ramsel is focused on developing projects and strategy to enhance natural gas infrastructure within the state of Florida for Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NEE), one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the nation. Prior to this role, Mr. Ramsel was responsible for leading development of commercial projects for NextEra Energy Resources’ solar division in the western United States, where he was instrumental in the development of the largest concentrating photovoltaic project in North America, located in southern New Mexico. Prior to joining NextEra Energy Resources in 2007, Mr. Ramsel worked for Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer. He held a number of key positions developing technical solutions for various military programs ranging from satellites to submarines. Mr. Ramsel received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado and holds an MBA from the University of Florida.

Clayton P. Solomon

Clayton P. Solomon, Attorney, Hogan Lovells US LLP

Clayton is an attorney in the Miami office of Hogan Lovells US LLP, where his practice focuses on complex commercial and administrative disputes in the financial services, real estate, and environmental sectors. He previously worked as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck, where he drafted trial court and appellate decisions for five federal judges. Before that, he was an aide to former FIU President Modesto A. Maidique.

Clayton is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law and holds an LL.M in International Law (focusing on Human Rights) from the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia, where he studied on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. While a political science undergraduate at FIU, Clayton served as president of the student body and as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. He was also elected to serve on the State University System of Florida Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s twelve public universities.

Alexandra Valderrama

Alexandra Valderrama, Chevron


Alexandra Valderrama is Regional Manager – Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron Products Company Downstream in Latin America, based in Coral Gables, Florida. She is responsible for developing and deploying strategies and policies to support Chevron’s reputation and business objectives in Latin America. Alex brings more than 20 years of experience in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry including, project management, marketing strategies, consumer research, product & packaging, integrated marketing and communications, retail and commercial programs for Fuels and Lubricants, public & community affairs, and change management initiatives. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Advertising from the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogota, Colombia, and an Executive Master in Business Administration from George Mason University in Virginia in 2000.

Juan Yanes

Juan Yanes, Exxon (retired)


Juan A. Yanes has over 50 years’ experience in international business at the executive level. The bulk of his career has been as Director, Vice President and CEO of various affiliated companies of Exxon Corporation in Europe and the Americas. Mr. Yanes launched his own consulting career by established his own company, MAI Consulting (now Juan A. Yanes, Consultant, LLC) which participated in the privatization of YPF, the Argentine Oil Company, and in several other projects in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Mr. Yanes has a bachelor degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, and a master degree in International Business from Florida International University.