State of the Union Experts

President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union address before Congress on January 30, 2018. FIU has many subject experts available to discuss and analyze the president’s remarks, as well as the response by U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Experts are available before and after the speeches to discuss a wide range of subjects, including immigration, foreign relations and the economy. Experts are available for interviews in both English and Spanish.

For help reaching FIU’s State of the Union experts, please contact:

    • Maydel Santana, assistant vice president of communication: 305-348-1555,
    • Madeline Baro, associate director: 305-310-9665,
    • Jessica Drouet, senior account manager: 305-348-6944,
    • Dianne Fernandez, broadcast media manager: 305-608-4870,
    • Amy Ellis, communications manager, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs: 352-999-0577,


Brian Fonseca
Director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.
Fonseca serves as the institute’s technical expert for national security and foreign policy. He has been featured in local and national media analyzing the 2016 U.S. general elections. He joined FIU after serving as the senior research manager for socio-cultural analysis at United States Southern Command. Fonseca holds degrees in international business and international relations from FIU and has attended Sichuan University in Chengdu, China and the National Defense University in Washington D.C. From 1997 to 2004, he served in the United States Marine Corps and facilitated the training of foreign military forces in both hostile theaters and during peacetime operations.
Office: 305-348-7420
Cell: 305-218-6323

Randy Pestana
Policy analyst at FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
He specializes in international relations with a focus on U.S. foreign policy, electoral politics, global security and U.S.-Latin American relations. His work examines governance and security in the Western Hemisphere including U.S. national security strategy, civil-military relations and rule of law. Pestana is charged with leading the Gordon Institute’s 2016 Presidential Election coverage and has conducted numerous interviews with both local and national media. Pestana is an adjunct professor for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs and the Honors College. He holds an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a graduate certificate in National Security Studies from FIU.
Office: 305-348-0114
Cell: 305-305-1065

Brian Latell 
Adjunct professor at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
Latell served 35 years with the CIA and National Intelligence Council, advising the White House and Congress on Latin American and the Caribbean. He frequently advised U.S. and foreign government policy making organizations and leaders, including presidents and ministers. He has authored several books on Cuba and Fidel Castro, including History Will Absolve Me: Fidel Castro: Life and Legacy (2016), Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy (2012), and After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba’s Revolution (2005). Before coming to FIU, he taught Latin America and American foreign policy at Georgetown University and was a Senior Research Associate in Cuba studies at the University of Miami.
Office: 305-348-2977

Eduardo Gamarra 
Political Science Professor
Gamarra has conducted two polls on Hispanic voters in the United States and Florida. He also has done research on the regional dynamics of Latin America, including Cuba’s role. As an expert in Bolivia and the Andean region, he has followed closely the alliances formed by Fidel Castro, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Gamarra has also studied drug trafficking in the Caribbean and the effects of American policies in the regional dynamics. He has testified in front of the U.S. Congress several times and is the author of more than half a dozen books and more than forty academic articles on Latin America. Gamarra is available for interviews in English and Spanish.
Office: 305-348-1718
Cell: 786-253-4898


Dario Moreno
Associate Professor in the Department of Politics & International Relations in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. He conducts research on Miami politics, Florida politics, and Cuban-American politics. He has published over 20 scholarly articles, book chapters, and two books. Dr. Moreno is a nationally recognized expert on Florida and Miami politics and is often quoted in both the national and local media. He has been a Pew Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Fulbright scholar in Costa Rica. He teaches courses on Miami politics, Cuban politics, Florida politics and urban politics.
Office: 305-349-3854
Email: or

Sara Moats
Instructor in FIU’s Department of Politics and International Relations
Moats has an interest in group politics and studies group interactions from several perspectives. Her research analyzes how and why organized interests become involved with foreign governments and intergovernmental organizations, and why a group would expand beyond the domestic political arena to lobby additional venues. Moats is currently examining group involvement in several different policy areas, including environmental policy and human rights.
Office: 305-348-2226
Cell: 304-282-5159

Kathryn A. DePalo
Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations
DePalo has extensive experience in state and local government processes and elections both in Connecticut and Florida. She has managed several campaigns, including a successful countywide judicial campaign in Broward County, Florida. Her teaching focus is American politics, including judicial process, gender and politics, and state and local government. DePalo’s primary research interest is in Florida politics, and has published on topics such as state judicial selection, the effects of gender in state legislative politics, and career paths of term-limited legislators.
Office: 305-348-2859
Cell: 954-608-8368


Latin America/Cuba
Eduardo Gamarra
Please see biography above.

Guillermo Grenier
Professor of sociology and one of the lead researchers in charge of the FIU Cuba Poll FIU
The poll measures the attitudes and opinions of Cuban-Americans in South Florida on issues ranging from their support for the U.S. embargo, to their party preference. In addition to the poll, he is the author of books such as “Miami Now: Immigration, Ethnicity and Social Change;” “Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States;” and “This Land is Our Land: Newcomers and Established Residents in Miami,” in which he is a co-author. He has also written numerous articles on labor and ethnic issues in the United States. He is available for Spanish language interviews.
Office: 305-348-3217
Home: 305-388-6469

Michael Bustamante
Assistant professor of Latin American history, specializing in modern Cuba, Cuban America and the Caribbean
Bustamante previously served as a research associate for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. He comments frequently on contemporary Cuban and Cuban-American affairs for publications like Foreign Affairs and media outlets like Al-Jazeera America. Since 2013, he has served as a study leader the Smithsonian Institution’s people-to-people trips to Cuba.
Office: 305-348-2035

Danielle Clealand
Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations
She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Political Science, an M.A. from New York University in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and a B.A. from Tufts University in International Relations. Her research focuses on comparative racial politics, racial ideology, nationalism, group consciousness and racial attitudes throughout the Americas. Dr. Clealand is finishing work on her book manuscript, Uncovering the Power of Race: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness in Contemporary Cuba. Uncovering the Power of Race examines the social norms with regard to race that the Cuban Revolution’s racial ideology has created. Dr. Clealand has taught courses such as Caribbean Politics, Black Politics in the Americas, Latin American Politics and Race and Politics in the United States. Before joining the faculty at Florida International University, she was a visiting fellow at the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. She is available for Spanish language interviews.
Office: 305-348-3295


Tatiana Kostadinova
Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations
Her research and teaching interests include Central and Eastern European political institutions with a special emphasis on elections, electoral systems and electoral behavior; institutional reform; democratic transition; political corruption; comparative public policy; and public support for foreign policies. Kostadinova’s book Political Corruption in Eastern Europe: Politics After Communism (2012) analyzes the emergence of corruption as a major obstacle to successful democratic transition. Kostadinova teaches undergraduate courses in Russian and Eastern European politics, electoral behavior, and research methods, and graduate courses in institutional choice, democratic transitions, political parties, and advanced research. She has also conducted field work in Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia. Kostadinova has authored and co-authored articles, book chapters and book reviews. Kostadinova can talk about U.S. diplomatic relations with Russia. She is fluent in English, Bulgarian and Russian.
Office: 305-348-4493.

Middle East

Eric Lob
Assistant professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations
Lob’s research focuses on the intersection of development and politics in the Middle East. His research specifically examines how state and non-state actors in the region use development to further their political interests domestically and internationally.  He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria.  Lob teaches courses on Middle Eastern politics and international relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and political violence and revolution.  He has traveled extensively throughout the region and is proficient in Arabic, Persian, and French.  Lob can speak about about the Middle East’s historical and contemporary issues, events, policies, developments, and trends, such as America’s allies and local governments, popular uprisings and regional instability (Iraq, Syria, and Yemen), the US invasion of Iraq and rise of ISIS/ISIL, the Saudi-Iranian rivalry and Iranian nuclear program, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace.
Cell: 914-261-3225


Tom Breslin
Professor of Politics and International Relations and an expert on U.S. diplomatic history; China’s foreign relations history; U.S.-China relations; and ethnicity and religion in foreign affairs
He is the author of the groundbreaking exploration of the effect of presidential ethnicity on American foreign relations from George Washington to George W. Bush, The Great Anglo-Celtic Divide in the History of American Foreign Relations.
Office: 305-348-3765

The Economy

Pedro A. Freyre
Adjunct professor at FIU’s College of Law and is member FIU’s President’s Council
Freyre is also a nationally recognized authority on the U.S. Embargo on Cuba. He advises U.S.-based companies on the types of business transactions that are legal in Cuba under the U.S. embargo, helps U.S. entities that are engaged in authorized activities in connection with entering the Cuban market and advises foreign entities that are involved in Cuba business on implications with U.S. law. As chair of Akerman Senterfitt’s International Practice, Freyre also focuses extensively on inbound foreign investment in the U.S. and outbound U.S. investment in Latin America. His work includes project construction and financing involving governmental and private entities in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, acquisitions and dispositions, environmental regulation, international transactions, cross-border due diligence, insurance regulation, and corporate representation. He regularly provides compliance counseling and training in connection with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). He is available for Spanish language interviews.

Jorge Salazar-Carrillo
Professor of economics and director of FIU’s Center of Economic Research
Salazar is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a consultant for both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). His areas of interest include economic integration, international trade and finance and labor economics. He has conducted research on Venezuela’s oil sector and Latin America’s capital markets in the 1990s. He has also published two books on Cuba and has a third coming out this fall from Transaction Press. He is available for Spanish language interviews.
Office: 305-348-3283
Cell: 305-915-0063

Cem Karayalcin
Chair of the Department of Economics
He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research is focused on the effects of globalization on the economies bound together by international flows of goods, services, capital and labor. He has published articles on the effects of globalization on the distribution of incomes and wealth in both historical and contemporary contexts and on effective fiscal policy.
Office: 305-348-3285

Jerry Haar
Professor of management and international business
He was Director of Washington Programs for the Council of the Americas, a New York-based business association of over 200 corporations comprising a majority of U.S. private investment in Latin America, and served as Special Assistant to two cabinet secretaries. He can address issues of international business, politics, and economics including the economies of Latin America, financial markets, and competitiveness.
Office: 305-919-4222
Cell: 786-338-5100


Juan Carlos Gómez
Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic
He has been defending the rights of individuals in immigration matters for the last twenty years. During this time, he has represented persons before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in complex immigration matters. Within the field of immigration law, he has helped thousands of individuals in situations including removal and deportation proceedings, family immigration, and the transfer of professionals and executives to the United States. Mr. Gómez counsels international and national corporations on compliance with immigration laws. He also has coordinated teams of attorneys in multi-forum conflicts to effectively resolve clients’ problems. As an attorney for a Central American Refugee Project, he coordinated the representation of thousands individuals in the Southeastern United States in a national class action. He has represented refugees from every part of the world where there have been conflicts over the last two decades. As director of East Little Havana Legal Services, he led a team of attorneys to resolve the series of problems faced by clients in a holistic manner. Mr. Gómez is a highly sought out attorney by other immigration attorneys for consultation on complex matters. In addition to having taught at a law school, he frequently lectures on immigration matters before professional organizations.
Office: 305-348-3179

Ediberto Román
Law professor with an interest in immigration law and reform
He is a nationally-acclaimed scholar and award-winning educator with broad teaching interests and an extensive scholarship portfolio. Before entering academia, he specialized in securities and antitrust litigation at several Wall Street law firms. He is available for Spanish language interviews.
Office: 305-348-2444

Sebastian Arcos
Assistant director of the Cuban Research Institute
Arco’s father and uncle were active participants in Castro’s revolutionary movement and briefly held important governmental positions, but were soon disillusioned by the new regime’s totalitarian nature. His entire family was arrested and sent to prison for attempting to leave Cuba illegally in 1981. In 1987 he joined the Cuban Committee for Human Rights (CCPDH), the first independent Cuban human rights organization, and was part of the CCPDH team who met with the Special Group from the UN Commission on Human Rights who visited the island in 1988.  He was finally allowed to leave Cuba in 1992.  For three consecutive years (1995, 1996, 1997) Sebastian was part of the Freedom House delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland.  He later advised the U.S. Department of State on issues concerning human rights in Cuba between 1998 and 2000. He is available for Spanish language interviews.
Office: 305-348-7250
Cell: 305-431-4576


Edward Glab
Director of the FIU Global Energy Security Forum and a member of the Graduate Faculty (Politics and International Relations) in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public affairs
He has over four decades of experience in the energy field, including 25 years as an executive in the private sector. Glab is an expert on various aspects of the global energy industry, including political risk analysis and government relations, and he has conducted business and academic work in every country of Latin America and dozens of other around the world from Asia and Africa to Europe and Australia. Glab speaks Spanish and has published in the area of bilingual/bicultural education.
Office: 305-348-4203
Cell: 305-299-7155

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