Comings & Goings

Check out what’s going on with hospitality alumni.

Our appreciation goes to……

Thank you to Burt Cabañas ‘76 for sponsoring, once again, the Hospitality alumni reception at the fabulous Villas of Grand Cypress. It was a great turnout and fun was had by all. Thank you for attending Molly Abel ’95, George Adonis ’75, David Apfelbaum ’79, David Bagwell ’76, John MS ’87 and Allison ‘86 Frohman Bolanovich, Jeremy Fairley MS ’14, Louise Felstrom MS ’97, Michael Kaufman MS ’78, MBA ’77, Frank Mansson MS ’98, Michael Meltzer ’91, Jennifer Morales ’15, John Onachilla ’77, Del Placides ’79, MS 93, Andy ’86 and Cindy ’85 Williams, Professor Michael Cheng, Adjunct faculty Jim Marmorstone, Simone Champagnie, Executive Director of Development, Shivani Joshi, Senior Director of Development and all the guests. Dean Mike Hampton had the opportunity to speak with each of our alumni.

If you attended our Hospitality Alumni reception at the Ace Hotel at the time of the November HX: The Hotel Experience in New York City I am sure you will agree it was one of the best alumni reunions. Thank you Jan Rozenveld ’90, MS ‘91, the hotel’s Managing Director for hosting a fun gathering at your very special hotel. And to the alumni who attended, you made it an unforgettable evening. Alumni who we haven’t seen in a long time took part in the revelry; Marc Villeneuve ’83 flew in from Montreal, William “Bill” Begley ‘80 drove in from North Wales, PA. Alfred Rudolph ’85, who had recently been on a trip to Africa came in from DC., as did Ashli Johnson ’10. The Florida contingent of John McKibbon ‘75, Lani Kane-Hanan ’87 MS ‘04, Jay Litt ‘73, Eric Pfeffer ‘77 and our beloved associate Steve Moll ’76, MS ‘77 attended. Duffy Keys ‘75 left his vineyard in Napa to join us. And from the NY/NJ region there were Charlotte Sardet ’09, Norma Olarte Becker ‘82, Bruce Blum ‘82, Anthony Leone 91, Stephen Baurhenn ’79, Mary MacDonald ‘77, Robin Cohen-Herrnson 83, Ray Kobel 89, Mark Severino ’89, Ed Dramberger ’86, Jack Runkle ’08 and a multiple past host of our NY reception Frank Speranza ’80. And to all the other alumni and guests who attended, it was a pleasure to see you. Thanks to the students who greeted the alumni and guests, Christie Blaise, Marina Boulanger and David Adhira.

A special evening with alumni……

During the NY Wine & Food Festival I had the pleasure of attending at the Plaza Athénée Hotel the Bank of America Dinner series curated by Chefs Club, “A Dinner with Melissa Clark, Marco Canora, Sara Jenkins and Marc Murphy” with Mark ’84 & Gretchen ’85 Von Dwingelo, Ethan MS ’85 & Debby Kramer, Eugene Nicotra ‘86, Daniel MS ‘89 & Sunjin Harrington MS ‘88, Bruce Blum ‘82, Norma Olarte Becker ‘82, Jan Rozenveld ’90, MS ’91.

Moving on…..

After eighteen years with Four Seasons Hotels, thirteen years as a Cairo-based Regional Vice President, Olivier Masson ’82 and his wife Nanette Masson ’83 have decided to become fulltime innkeepers as the owners of the Lazib Inn Resort & Spa ( in the Egyptian desert. Congratulations and best wishes.

Did you know……..

Isis Acuna ’14, promoted to Human resources coordinator at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Raouf Ben Chedli, MS ’99, Cluster General Manager, Hilton Worldwide, Tanger-Asilah Prefecture, Morocco

Charles Berger MS ’06, Director of Internal Audit (CAE), Maryland Live Casino

Brian Biederman, ’78, Senior Financial Counselor, Infinity Financial Services, Raleigh, NC

Brett Blass ’87, COO, Journal Hotels. Mssrs. Chang and Gaw appointed Brett Blass as their Chief Operating Officer to lead the repositioning efforts of the newly renovated Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and their new management company.

Robert Clunie ’91 is the Operations Manager at Disneyland Resort

Marly Colina ’10, Associate Director of Housekeeping at Loews Miami Beach Hotel

Cristofer Coroalles, ’07 opening new restaurant at a Nordstrom, Austin, TX

Bruce Craul  ’74, Emerald Grand Resort, Destin

Dorothy Durena ’12, Front Desk Agent at Eden Roc Miami Beach

Maykel Escalona ’09, General Manager, Michael Mina 74

Saskia Eustace ’03 MS ’04, General Manager, Texas de Brazil, Yonkers, NY seen at the NYC Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

Daniela Figuerola ’08, Regional Director Revenue Management, Standard Hotels

Lourdes Tili Findley (Diaz) ’85, Owner ProfitSword (Operational & Reporting Business Intelligence Software), Orlando, FL

Javier F. Gonzalez, ’14 M.S ’15, Assistant Front Office Manager at Conrad Miami

Lynn (Xiaolin) Li ’13 MS ’15, Front Desk Agent, Intercontinental Miami Hotel

Jorge A. Larrieu Jr. ’00, General Manager Beachwalk Resort, Hallandale, Florida.

Nicola Lorusso ’96, Director of Operations, Hartford Marriott Hotel

Ivan Madera ’06 is in Bahrain as a consultant on theme events.

Theodore Moore III MS ’14, Front Office Manager Hyatt Regency Savannah

Trevor Powell MS ’07, Senior Manager, Applebees, Fort Lauderdale

Omar Shalaby MS ’14, is with a financing company that is building hotels, Saudia Arabia

Said Shehadeh ’02 MS ’09, President & Executive Chef at Miami City Chefs, Miami, Florida

Harvinder Singh MS ’09, Food and Beverage Manager, Wild Dunes Resort by Destination Hotels & Resorts,

Charleston, South Carolina[/fusion_text]

Yolanda Suarez ’16, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans, LA.

Joseph Trimble CPA MS ’80, Director of Finance and Accounting at Williams Island

Volha Zukhtsikava ’14, Food and Beverage Operations Manager, Carillon Hotel, Miami Beach


If you have news you would like to share please send it to me.

Rocco M. Angelo |

A Toast to:

Congratulations to Bruce Blum ’82 who received the Distinguished Alumni Torch Award presented by the FIU Alumni Association at a gala reception and dinner at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. Bruce is the Co-founder and President of GB Lodging, Inc., serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council and heads the School’s Hospitality Real Estate & Financial Management Task Force.

Thanks to Ed Mugnani ’91, President, Eurest-Western Division and Jeffrey Polster ’94 who contributed the wine, our alumni reception in Chicago was a great success.

Suria Plante ‘96, the GM of the Residence Inn by Marriott at the Fort Lauderdale Airport and Cruiseport and her team were selected the Opening Hotel of the Year for the Residence Inn brand. Congratulations.

Thank you Jarel Portman ‘85 for hosting lunch on my last visit to Atlanta and inviting Paul ’83 and Cher ’88 MS 90 Breslin, Natalie Koller ’09 MS 10, Michael Cooper ’91, Donald Sargent ’98. The luncheon was held at one of the fabulous Karatassos restaurants, Chops Lobster Bar. Thank you Pano Karatassos ‘93 for arranging it. After excellent appetizers and entrees, we indulged in the delectable ice cream served at the restaurant and made by ice cream entrepreneur alumnus Donald Sargent’s company Morellis Gourmet Ice Cream.

Alumni News:

Don Andrezjwski ‘83, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Prospera Hospitality visited the School when he and a colleague where scouting hotel properties for their management company.

Daniel Collins ‘89, CFE Director of Franchise Development at BurgerFi International West Palm Beach, Florida lectured in two classes during Panther Alumni Week

Cristofer Coroalles ’07 Restaurant General Manager, Nordstrom Dadeland, Miami

Valentina (Valentina Carrasquilla) Daniel ’09 is the National Account Specialist at Royal Caribbean International, Miami, Florida

Katalina Durbin ’14 is the Assistant Manager at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta

Ana Falcon ’09 Senior is senior catering sales manager at the Conrad Miami

Sandra Field-Ferazani ’90 at Compass Group North America Phoenix is in the Arizona Area Information Technology and Services division

Natalie Koller ’09 MS ’10 is a consultant on the staff of CBRE Hotels in Atlanta

Caroline Lizette Hassell ’88 is Director of Sales & Marketing at The Carillon Hotel & Spa on Miami Beach

Reina Herschdorfer ’81 is the Director of Marketing for Caesars Entertainment National Meetings and Events division.

Natasha Jarrett ‘04 is the Associate Director of Sales at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and the hotel within the hotel the Hotel Beaux Arts Miami in downtown Miami

Austin LaPoten ’14 joined HVS, the consulting and valuation firm, in their Atlanta Office

Alan M. Ledewitz ’98 is the Sales Manager at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando at Bonnett Creek

Shuang (Sheila) Liu MS ’11, is Assistant sales manager, Dalian, Liaoning, China at The Castle Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel

Veronica Majano ’08 is the Catering Sales Manager at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida

Oscar Martorell, MS ’12, is the General Manager at Menin Hospitality, Chicago

Olivier ’82 and Nanette ’83 Masson have been in Cairo Egypt for 13 years where Olivier is the General Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo and the Regional Vice President managing the Four Seasons Hotel’s Portfolio in North Africa.

Bobbie Mesa ‘99, is the human resources director at the ever popular Zuma

David Metrando ‘83, Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Saint Francis Hospital Highland, New York

Mychal Milian ‘11 is the Front Office Manager at The Raleigh Hotel Miami Beach

Matthew Moll ’10 is the manager of the Michael Mina 74 restaurant at the Fontainebleau Hotel

Lydia Muniz ’08 is the Assistant Food & Beverage Director at ARAMARK

Domink Gomez Muschenborn ’03 moved from Four Seasons Hotels to Denihan Hotels where he is the Regional Revenue Manager based in New York City. Dominik and I had a nice visit on my last trip to the City.

Miwako Patton ’94 is the Public Relations and Cultural Affairs Assistant for the Consulate General of Japan

Daniela Pinheiro ’15 was promoted to Manager of Restaurants and Bars at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona after completing the Starwood training program. Best wishes.

Pernell Porter ‘11, Assistant Director EVS at Park Plaza Hospital for Sodexo Houston, Texas

Jeffrey Reyes ‘14, Food and Beverage Manager at Clevelander Hotel

Damion Ricketts ’14 Management Trainee, at the five star One & Only Le Sant Geran, Mauritius

Bassem Salam MS ’95, Vice President Revenue Management – Hotel Services Middle East at Accor Middle East

Kelley Schriver ‘15, Managerial Assistant at Outback Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse, Miami

Carlos Sierra ‘03, Regional Director; Operations and Support at Lodgic Hospitality, Houston, Texas

Jan Hein Simons MS ‘83, Owner at Demand Hospitality BV & Chief Operating Officer @ Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences, Netherlands

Robert R. Stachnik Jr. ’91, Senior Account Executive at JW Marriott Indianapolis

Gary Steven ‘78 is the Director of Food Service at SUNY Brockport New York

Anthea Thomas ‘11, Public Involvement Specialist at Broward MPO,Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area Public Relations and Communications

Stephanie van Romondt ‘15, Kerzner International Management Trainee, Rooms Division, United Arab Emirates

Colan Vance M.S ‘07, Director of Operations at Quince Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Barbara Van Hussen ‘93, Director of Revenue Management at Westin Colonnade Coral Gables

Mark von Dwingelo ’84, SVP, HREC Investment Advisors

Allen Weiss MS ’03, is Director, Global Sales for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and based in Atlanta.


If you would like to be included in future Alumni Comings and Goings, please send your information to me, Rocco Angelo

Do you live in Orlando or will you be attending the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show? Please attend the School’s alumni reception at the Villas of Grand Cypress on Monday, August 26th from 6 to 8 PM. Thank you to our sponsor Burt Cabanas ’76, Chairman Benchmark Hospitality International.

And save the date for the New York Hospitality alumni reception on Sunday, November 13th. The location will be announced at a later date.


Let me hear from you.


Congratulations to Humberto “Burt” Cabanas ’76, Founder & Chairman, Benchmark Hospitality International, the recipient of the Alumnus of the Year Award and to Ed Mugnani ’91, President, Western Division of Eurest-Compass Group who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Both awards were given at the 14th FIU Alumni Association Torch Awards dinner held at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.

Thank you Ed Mugnani ‘91, for hosting a fabulous alumni reception in Chicago at the time of the National Restaurant Association Convention. And thanks to Jeffrey Polster ‘94, Midwest Regional Manager, Blends for providing the wine. It was one of the best turnouts of Hospitality alumni including a few alumni we haven’t seen in many years: John Andrews ‘80, Corporate Director Culinary & Nutritional Services, OPRS Communities, Barbara Jablons M.S. ‘82, Director Global Property Management & Point of Sales System, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Nick Mitchell ‘76, Vice President of Sales, PeopleVine and Robert Weil ’84, Assistant Vice President, Merrill Lynch.

A belated thank you to Alex Tonarelli M.S. ’97 for hosting a blockbuster Hospitality alumni reception at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Let us raise our glasses in a toast to alumna Leslie Weil ’02, the opening General Manager of the Aloft South Beach Hotel

Did you know that we have three alumni managing Loews Hotels? In Miami it is Alex Tonarelli M.S. ’97, In New Orleans, Mohan Koka ‘01 and in Chicago, Christian Hansen ‘88.

Alumni on the Move

  • Don Andrezjwski ’83, the Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Prospera Hotels based in Pittsburgh, PA vacationed in Aruba this Winter escaping the 5 degree temperature at home.
    Gabriel Bardo ‘15 is an entrepreneur with his own restaurant, Bardo’s Caffe, located on Phoenetia in Coral Gables.
  • One of our recent grads, Edward Creel ‘15 checked me into the Loews Chicago Hotel where he is a Front Desk Supervisor.
  • Derrick Deal ’14 is the Assistant Front Office Manager at the Hilton in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • In addition to running Disalvo’s Station Restaurant in Latrobe, PA, Joey Disalvo ‘87 is an importer and distributor of wines and spirits.
  • Ron Ehrhardt ‘80 is Vice President of Operational Safety for the Compass Group.
  • While attending a Greater Miami Convention & Visitor’s Bureau event at The Alexander Hotel on Miami Beach I had time to visit with the hotel’s Director of Food and Beverage Cesar Garcia ’96.
  • Stephen Goglia ‘83 is President & Chief Executive Officer at David Burke Group. David burke is a renowned chef with restaurants in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • Christopher Guidice ‘14 who visited the School recently is Business Transient Sales Manager, Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach Oceanfront.
  • Scott Hedrick ‘81 is the Vice President of the Rooms Division of Orange Lake Resorts, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations located in eight states.
  • David Karas ‘14, graduated this last December from Chaplin School of Hospitality and opened his business in the Design District/ Wynwood Miami area. He does tours with and rentals of Polaris electric bikes.
  • Kevin McLaney ‘94 is the General Manager at the Ocean Five Hotel on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach.
  • Phil Miglino ‘93 has been appointed USA Director of Operations for Cinemex, one of Latin America’s largest exhibitor of movies. In Miami the opening locations will be at Gulf Stream Park and the Brickell City Center.
  • Glenn S. Povitz ‘93, who we saw at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago is Director of Sales/Principal, Father Sam’s Bakery based in Buffalo, New York.
  • It was great to see Joe Rubich ‘77 at our alumni reception in Chicago. Joe is a Territory Manager for US Foods based in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Christian Schreiner ’05, M.S. ’08 was on duty as the Banquet Manager at the Epic Hotel in Miami when I was attending a seminar sponsored by the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association and the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International.
  • A Linkedin search revealed that Tom Vickstrom ‘78 is now at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Alicia Wiley ‘87 moved from Atlanta and is now General Manager of the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Welcome back to the Sunshine State.
  • Rubén Gatica Zincker ‘80 is working in the north of Chile at a five star hotel in the Atacama Desert, in a little town called San Pedro. Check it out at
Our alumni continue to dazzle with their accomplishments in a broad spectrum of the hospitality and tourism industries.

Siegmund Brown Siegmund Brown with wife and two children

Siegmund Brown ’89

Siegmund “Sig” Brown founded EXPOSERVE in 2004 after 20 years in the food and beverage industry in the United States and British Columbia. EXPOSERVE is a regional multi-branded restaurant, catering, and concessions management firm providing high traffic public facilities with private management solutions for maximizing facility foodservice income and customer service. Headquartered in Oklahoma with more than 500 employees, EXPOSERVE manages concessions and catering services at The Tulsa Performing Arts Center, The Oklahoma Aquarium, The SpiritBank Event Center, The Philbrook Museum of Art, Old Driller’s Stadium, Fair Meadows Race Track, Central Park Hall, The Exchange Center, The Muskogee Creek Nation Expo, and the Tulsa State Fair. EXPOSERVE also operates two casual dining restaurants, one fine-dining restaurant, 25 independently branded quick-service Restaurants, and 25 specialty food kiosks.

Siegmund is the son of an international hotelier. He graduated from FIU in 1989 with a degree in Hospitality Management and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma where he currently serves as a Board Member of Alumni Association.

Siegmund resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his wife Ms. Ann Marie Brown and their two children, Broderik and Audrey.

With Gratitude

The year 2014 was an active year for our alumni and it was exciting to see so many of our graduates at our alumni receptions. Thank you to alumni sponsors, Ed Mugnani ’91, president of the Western Division, Eurest, for the reception in Chicago, Humberto “Bert” Cabañas ’76, founder and chairman of Benchmark Hospitality International who hosted our reunion in Orlando and Sofitel Hotels who sponsored the New York City gathering.

Thanks to Bruce Blum ’82, president & co-founder of GB Lodging and the chair of our Alumni Hospitality Real Estate Task Force for hosting a mentoring session with five graduate students in our Hospitality Real Estate Specialization and two undergraduate students. Participating in the session were three other members of the Task Force, Ethan Kramer ’85. president of Paramount Hotel Group, Keith Lefkof ’99, co-founder/managing director, Franchise Advisors 360 LLC, and Gene Nicotra ’86, vice president and general manager at Hotel Pennsylvania. Also, thank you to Michael Dean ’81, vice president at GE Capital who has volunteered to be co-chair of the Task Force.

In the Miami Herald

Miami’s best restaurants of 2014 included OOlite (Restaurant of the Year), Chef/Owner Kris Wessel ’01 and Basil Park, owners Tim Andriola ‘97 and Rodrigo Martinez ‘90.

In a feature article on five South Florida sommeliers, two of those showcased were Amanda Fraga ’11 of Michael’s Genuine restaurant and Syed Ali ’00 of Steak 954.

Other News

  • Janine Ackerman ’08 is Director of Rooms at The James Royal Palm Hotel on Miami Beach.
  • Kristin Biazar ’11 is an HR Coordinator at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
  • David Bagwell ’76 is Chief Operating Officer at Tishman Hotel Corporation based in Orlando.
  • Michael R. Basden ’97 is Senior Director, Business Process & Strategy, Human Resources at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahama.
  • Congratulations to Russ Bendel ’76, CEO Habit Burger Grill, with about 100 locations in California, Utah and Arizona, has some of the best burgers.
  • Claudia Bolla ’12 is Restaurant Manager at Pizzaven C.A, Maracaibo, Venezuela.
  • Ernest Cambridge ’79 has retired after a long and distinguished career at Atlantis in the Bahamas.
  • Mark Campagnolo ’80 is Owner/operator of The Boatyard Grill and Ciao! Restaurants in Ithaca, New York.
  • Mark Casillas ’92 is VP of Hospitality Asset Management & Acquisition for the Enchantment Group.
  • Athya Chowdhury ’14 is Guest Services Supervisor at Conrad Miami.
  • Magdalina Chung ’04 is Hotel Manager, Ramada Encore Doha.
  • Christine Corson ’13 is Marketing & Communications Manager, Intercontinental Miami.
  • Mark Crowell ’81 is Principal Culinologist at CULINEX, LLC Organic and Natural Product Development.
  • Carlos De Freitas ’81 is Managing Director, Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico.
  • Dorothy Durena ’12 Front Desk Agent at Eden Roc Miami Beach.
  • Claudia (Zellner) Edwards ’01, Center Manager at CHEN Medical.
  • Joel Gonzalez ’95, MS ’99 is Director of Rooms at The Westin Fort Lauderdale.
  • On a recent trip to Las Vegas I met with Reina Herschdorfer ’81 who is Director of Marketing, National Sales & Conventions for Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s 40 properties.
  • David Lurie ’82 makes great chocolate. One product is called Sun Cups and you can find it in Whole Foods in Florida.
  • Nicola Madden-Greig ’91 ia a very busy alumna. She is the Group Director of Marketing & Sales for the Courtleigh Hotel Group in Jamaica and is the President of The Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).
  • Lauren McKown ’09 is the Catering Manager at DoubleTree by Hilton Augusta. “FIU has indeed set a good foundation for me in my career.” Thank you for the endorsement, Lauren.
  • Christopher Mehmel ’12 is Director of Daylife at Surfcomber Miami South Beach, a Kimpton Hotel.
  • Alina Molin ’88 is the Executive Vice President of Human Resources at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
  • Rodney Moss ’94 is Dietary Director at Grand Court Lakes in North Miami, Florida.
  • Andrew Neubauer ’84 is Director, National Accounts at Naples Grande Beach Resort.
  • Dawn O’Flannery Walzak ’86, MS ’04 retired from Tishman after 17 plus years of service. Her children are delighted that she will not be traveling 43 weeks a year. Dawn is working closer to home as Director of Sales at Hilton Hotels Worldwide.
  • Persia Roache ’12 is Sales, Profit and Operations Coach at Burger King Corporation.
  • Patty Sabates MS ’98 is Director of Human Resources Trump International Beach Resort Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
  • Congratulations to CSHTM alumna Dr. Donna Schaeffer ’80 on being invited to be a founding member of Business Analytics Collaborative, the community of analytics professionals who collaborate on research and innovation. Donna is associate professor of Information Technology at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Tom Shanahan ’79 Director of Operations at JenCare Neighborhood Medical Centers.
  • Wendy Suarez ’07 is the HR Manager at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
  • Amy Upthegrove ’11 is Operations Manager at TownePlace Suites by Marriott at Atlanta Northlake and “putting my MS and BS to good use.”
  • Sergio Vergara ’10 is the Papillon Lounge & Pool Manager at Loews Hotels.
  • Robert Walsky ’82 is General Manager Bemka Corporation, purveyors of caviar, and other specialty foods.

A Special Salute

  • Douglas Browne ’78 elevated to President of Peabody Hotels and continuing as the General Manager of the iconic Peabody Memphis,
  • Chris Hansen ’88 tapped to open and manage the new Loews Hotel in Chicago,
  • Keith Pierce ’83 Executive Vice President, Brand Operations, Wyndham Hotel Group, on his appointment to the 2014 Executive Committee of the AHLA,
  • Suria Plante ’96 General Manager at the soon to open Residence Inn by Marriott at the Fort Lauderdale Airport.

FIU Restaurateurs

  • I have become a regular at Basil Park; the new Sunny Isles Beach restaurant created by Tim Andriola ’97 and Rodrigo Martinez ’90, located two doors down from their equally fabulous restaurant, Timo.
  • Dined with friends at a landmark Greek restaurant, Greek Islands Taverna in North Fort Lauderdale and had a conversation with Christos Kantzavelos ’12, the general manager of this family-owned institution.
  • My associate Steve Moll ’76, Vice Provost of the Biscayne Bay Campus, FIU, reported on having a fabulous dinner at Jordan’s Steak Bistro in Wellington, Florida and having a catch-up visit with the proprietor, Jordan Naftal ’82.
  • It just opened so I haven’t tried it yet, but Tim Petrillo ’94, President of The Restaurant People has a new restaurant on East Las Olas called “Fork and Balls.” It features, of course, meatballs.
  • Lunch on opening day of the Pubbelly Restaurant Group’s new addition, L’echon Brasserie was a delight. It is located at the recently opened Hilton Cabana Miami Beach Hotel. Best wishes for great success to Andreas Schreiner ’00 the Managing Partner of the Group.
  • Congratulations to Kris Wessel ’01 on the opening of Oolite Restaurant and Bar on South Beach. I cannot wait to try his latest healthy concept.

Promotions and Updates

  • Fiorella Aster ’04 is the Area Director of Revenue Management for Hilton Hotels Worldwide.
  • Adam Bershad ’95 is now President at UniHos.
  • Rafaela Dulanto ’10 is the Assistant Restaurant Manager at L’echon Brassiere.
  • Robert Fitzpatrick ’09 is a catering executive at Le Parker Meridien New York.
  • Natacha Garcia Nieto ’91 Wyndham Hotel Group, Senior Manager of Learning and Development.
  • Attila Gombos ’03 Director of Food and Beverage at Paradisus Playa Del Carmen in Mexico attended our alumni reception in Chicago at the time of the Restaurant Show.
  • Vivianne Medina ’10 is the new catering manager at b2 hotels in Downtown Miami. The hotel is located in the heart of Downtown across the street from Bayside Marketplace.
  • Mychal Milian ’11 recently helped open the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach as the Front Office Manager.
  • Michael Pardo ’97, COO at The Phoenix Restaurant Group, Cincinnati, OH operates The National Exemplar Restaurant, The Golden Lamb Restaurant & Inn, The Phoenix Banquet & Catering Facility, The Restaurant at The Phoenix, and Southerby’s Bar at The Mariemont Inn. Originally established in 1983, the group specializes in operating and managing historically significant restaurant properties and consulting.
  • Richard Scinta ’86 reports that he is now in a new role at Wyndham Vacation Ownership. His new title is Vice President of Club and Association Governance. In that capacity, he controls the board business for Wyndham Vacation Ownership Associations, Shell Vacations, and Worldmark by Wyndham. Congratulations!
  • David Sica ’94 is now with Jones Lang LaSalle as Senior Facility Manager in charge of the Wells Fargo Account in New York City. He is located at the Wells Fargo HQ at the Seagrams Building in NYC.
  • Salo Smaletz MS ’99 is Vice President Development, Latin America, Intercontinental Hotels Group.
  • Gayle Talma ’92 is Manager of The Colony Club, Barbados, West Indies.
  • Ed Vlnicka ’77 CHA, CRME, is Ramada Worldwide, Director, Operations & Support-Western Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
  • Mario Vuksanovic ’92 reports that he is still running his own business as a wedding and events guitarist and can be seen and heard frequently at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove.

Wedding Announcement

  • Eric Anderson MS ’09 and Mengyuan Chen MS ’12 met in the events management class in Fall 2008 when Mengyuan was an undergraduate student at FIU. Eric graduated from FIU in 2009 and Mengyuan returned to Miami from Chengdu, China to work on her M.S. at the Chaplin School. They were wed in December 2013. Eric is at Royal Caribbean in Global Tour Operations and Mengyuan is working for ABTS Convention Services. Congratulations!

Panther Alumni Week

The University-initiated Panther Alumni Week (PAW) was a great success at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Alumni who lectured in classes during the week of February 3 – 7, 2014 were as follows:

  • Carlota Van Der Eijk ’77, President, CJV Marketing Group, LLC
  • Donald Sargent ’98, Owner/Founder, Morelli’s Ice Cream, Atlanta, GA
  • Diana Beltran ’07, Sustainability Manager, Wyndham Worldwide
  • Aline Grelier ’13 (Certificate Tourism Marketing), Marketing Project Assistant, Turkel Brands
  • John Lancet ’95, Director/Partner HVS Consulting & Valuation
  • Peggy Benua MS ’89, General Manager, Dream South Beach Hotel
  • Lesley Miller ’95, Director of Human Resources, One Bal Harbour
  • Andrea Vasquez ’13, Event Planner, Marketing Communications, Amadeus North America, Inc.
  • Astrid Garcia ’12, ABTS Convention Services, Meeting & Convention Manager
  • Ceemee Lam ’93, Director of Human Resources, Conrad Hotel Miami
  • Tim Petrillo ’94, President, The Restaurant People