Fall 2013 Class Notes

Gold denotes Alumni Association members. Submit your own class notes for the next issue of  FIU Magazine here

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Claire Raley ’78 was named senior vice president and community development officer by BankUnited in Miami Lakes.


Kenneth Christopher

Kenneth Christopher

Kenneth Christopher MPA ’83 was appointed associate vice president for academic affairs at Park University in Parkville, Mo., where he previously was associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate professor and chair of the department of criminal justice administration. Prior to moving to Missouri in 2006, Christopher was an adjunct faculty member at Lynn University and St. Thomas University in South Florida and served as chief of security for the Port of Miami and a captain with the Miami-Dade, Police Department.

Pablo E. Garcia ’85 is a proud Panther papa who, with his family, recently saw son Alex Garcia off to FIU for his freshman year.

Julio Jaramillo

Julio Jaramillo

Julio C. Jaramillo ’88 took office in July as the first vice president of the Florida Bar Foundation, a statewide charitable organization that provides leadership and funding for justice in Florida. He is a fellow of the foundation and previously served as a board member. Jaramillo, who practices in the area of civil litigation, was a founder of the Colombian American Bar Association and has served as its president. He has worked pro bono for the Dade County Bar Association’s “Put Something Back” program.

Lissette Campos ’89 is director of community affairs for WFTS-TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg. She recently attended the National Association of Broadcaster’s Service to America Awards Ceremony to accept the 2013 “Service to Community” Award on behalf of her station, which was honored for its annual domestic violence awareness campaign. The proud Panther cites her FIU journalism professors among the people influential in her success.

Ernie Diaz ’89 was named regional president of TD Bank in Florida. Miami Today featured him as “Miami’s Achiever” in its May 9 issue.


Helene Ballmann Dudley ’90 received the Lillian Carter Award from former President Jimmy Carter on May 15 in Atlanta. The award honors outstanding senior volunteers who have kept alive President John F. Kennedy’s dream of international service.

Christine Allen ’91 recently retired from the Miami-Dade County Public School System after 30 years of service. She will now teach religious education at Indian River State College as a staff member for InterVarsity Campus Ministry. As an elementary school teacher, Allen was elected Teacher of the Year on three occasions and won Florida State Educator of the Year once. She’s been recognized in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers publication twice in the last decade.

Janet Bond Brill MS ’92, a noted nutritionist, launched her third book, Blood Pressure DOWN, from Three Rivers Press, in May. The book is a compendium of multiple evidence-based lifestyle techniques proven to reduce blood pressure.

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown ’93 was promoted from senior manager to principal at EY, a professional services organization. Brown has more than four years of experience serving various industries. As a principal, he will continue his commitment to quality client service and building a better working world on a daily basis.

Pano Karatassos ’93 announced the planned opening of Lobster Bar Sea Grill in Ft. Lauderdale. The restaurant will be the 17th for the Atlanta-based Buckhead Life Restaurant Group run by the Karatassos family and its third in Florida, where fans rave about Chops Lobster Bar and City Fish Market in Boca Raton.

Eduardo Lamazares ’93 has been named account executive at Appirio, an information technology consulting company headquartered in San Francisco.

Frances Arber Yurkevich

Frances Arber Yurkevich

Tamara Hanson ’96, writing under the pen name Ciara Knight, has published five novels in two and a half years. Most recently, she released Escapement, the first book of the Neumarian Chronicles, which is an Amazon bestseller in the science fiction, fantasy and young adult categories. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to great acclaim and secured several distinctions as did Book I: Rise From Darkness, a young adult novel in her Battle for Souls series. Hanson balances book signings, blogging and social media while raising three boys.

Frances Arber Yurkevich ’96 and husband Michael Yurkevich welcomed baby boy Gavin Markus on January 26.

Cesar Gonzalez (left)

Cesar Gonzalez (L)

Cesar Gonzalez ’97, chief of staff to Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, was cited as one of “5 Staffers to Watch in Immigration Reform” in National Journal.

Jesse Leon

Jesse Leon

Angie Puentes-Leon ’98 and husband Jesse Leon ’03 welcomed a baby boy to the family. Agustin was born on February 25 and joins his big sister Grace, age 4. Dad Jesse, a sales account director at Discovery Networks Latin America, is juggling fatherhood with training for his second Ironman next year. He finished the Ironman Arizona 2012 triathlon with a time of 14 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds.

Kamala Wright

Kamala Wright

Kamala Wright ’98 is the owner of Edit Your Image Massages, a mobile massage company. Wright also works full-time for the Miami-Dade Police Department in the Fiscal Administration Bureau.

John Fiumecaldo ’99 is a senior paralegal with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and also represents first-time offenders in an accelerated rehabilitation program. Prior to moving to Philadelphia 11 years ago, he was a paralegal and investigator in the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office.

Charles B. Sachs ’99 was named principal and wealth manager by Private Wealth Counsel. He was most recently a principal of Evensky & Katz Wealth Management.


Alexander Binelo ’03 was named a fellow of the Miami Foundation, a program that focuses on building individual’s knowledge, networks and abilities to increase their community engagement and impact. He is currently a director at Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC.

Carla Rosell

Carla Rosell (L)

Carla Rosell ’03 and Jessica Mercado were married on June 27 in the Manhattan city clerk’s office. The two are currently doctoral candidates in the department of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Juan M. Burgos ’04 was promoted this year to supervisory contract specialist with the United States Coast Guard in Miami. Previously he was a contract specialist with the U.S. National Park Service in Homestead.

Silka M. Gonzalez ’05, president and founder of Enterprise Risk Management, was featured in an article titled “Enterprise Risk Management: Taking on the hackers” in the Miami Herald.

Xiuramys Rodriguez

Xiuramys Rodriguez (L)

Xiuramys Rodriguez ’06 received a 10-Year Service Award from Big Brothers/Big Sisters earlier this year. She marvels that the “little sister” she met and mentored since the age of 7 is today a lovely 17-year-old.

Jason Tarazi ’06 was promoted earlier this year from principal recruiter, commercial banking, to recruiting manager, commercial banking, for Capitol One in Washington, D.C.

Jason Auricchio

Jason Auricchio

Jason Auricchio ’07 and Cristina DeVito ’07 were married in July. He is a managing associate/financial advisor with Mass Mutual-DBS Financial, and she is an occupational therapist at Miami’s Alfano Center.

Michael Macias ’07 was named small business relationship manager for TD Bank in Coral Gables. He previously was business banking manager at SunTrust Bank.

Dr. Sarah Bryan Reynoso ’07 and Francisco Reynoso ’07 were married in June 2013 after meeting while completing their undergraduate physics degrees at FIU. She recently received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and works with Intel. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in medical physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and currently performs research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, as part of his doctoral dissertation project.

Lindsay Rosenthal

Lindsay Rosenthal

Lindsay Rosenthal ’07 won the Ms. Foundation for Women 2013-2014 fellowship and started working in the foundation’s advocacy and policy department in September. Rosenthal identifies the best strategies for increasing access to health care services for girls currently in, or transitioning from, the juvenile justice and foster care systems. In 2010 Rosenthal earned a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago. She has advocated on behalf of youth and, especially, girls in a number of positions and served as an intern for the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Natalie Ogando ’09 is the new director of 20|20 Research’s focus-group facility in Miami. She has been with the company for six years and oversees operations and manages recruitment for a sister facility. A research company that supports the technology and field service needs of market researchers, 20│20 Research has pioneered a number of online and facility-based qualitative research techniques.


Lily de la Calle ’10 launched a bilingual advertising agency. LD Creative provides advertising services, including graphic design, copywriting and social media management for small to medium-sized businesses in South Florida. “We’re very excited to take advertising in Miami to the next level and to help local businesses make their mark,” says de la Calle, who is the creative director.

Pamela Ferratjans ’11 was named business banking development officer by TotalBank. She previously was a licensed banker at JP Morgan.

Rebecca Burton ’12 was called one of the “new, young and up-and-coming science, health and environmental writers and reporters” by industry trade publication Scientific American in its online SA Incubator. Burton, who was active in the South Florida News Service and later participated in the Scripps Semester in Washington, is currently pursuing a master’s in science/health communications at the University of Florida.

In memoriam

Elizabeth “Betty” J. Boyd-Beu ’74 passed away on November 15, 2012, at the age of 95. After earning her degree in criminal justice from FIU, she went on to earn a master’s degree and, at the age of 75, a Ph.D. in education. She began her professional career as a civil servant, taking assignments in Bermuda and Honolulu. She accepted the position of education officer at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and eventually retired from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where she served for 32 years.

Barbara G. Heiman ’74 passed away on July 30 at the age of 83. A psychologist, she founded and ran Introductions, Inc., one of the first matchmaking businesses. A true techie until the end, Bobbie remained sharp, knowledgeable, fiercely independent and, according to her family, “feisty.” She was a go-getter who always was eager to lend a helping hand and reveled in her grandchildren.

O’byne Hedgecock Rexrode ’83 passed away on January 8 at the age of 82. She graduated from the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in her 50s, after which she returned to her native Tampa and became a food service manager for the Hillsborough County School System. Her family stated that she was very proud to have received a degree as a “senior” student and grateful to FIU for the opportunity.

Jeanne Kates ’82, MA ’84, passed away on July 8. Prior to enrolling at FIU, she and her husband built a successful agriculture business in south Miami-Dade County and raised to two sons. With a pair of degrees from FIU, she took a position in the department of political science, where she taught courses in international relations and comparative politics and, notably, took charge of FIU’s Model United Nations program. For years she trained team after team in the art of negotiation and compromise, and honed students’ skills in both oral and written communications. From her earliest days leading FIU’s contingent to the New York competition, the delegation annually distinguished itself and won awards. Her former colleagues attribute the program’s continuing success to her legacy and the foundation she built. Kates was recognized by the university with a medallion at the spring 2005 commencement, soon after which she retired.   

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