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Summer 2013 class notes

Summer 2013 class notes

May 15, 2013 at 10:23am


Tony Argiz ’74, chairman and CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC, was featured in the article “3 Leaders Offer Tips” in the February 2013 issue of Florida Trend.


Jim Beley ’81 has been general manager of the Umstead Hotel and Spa near Raleigh, N.C., for the last four years. He and his wife Ellen have four children.

John Koster ’81 is a regional president at Northern Nevada for Caesars Entertainment in Nevada.

Frank S. Rappazzo ’81 has joined the Miami-based Professional Bank, which provides personal and business banking services tailored for professionals and others. Rappazzo will lead the expansion of the bank’s residential lending department. Previously he worked in top positions within the residential and commercial mortgage lending divisions of an array of global and local banks in South Florida.

Holly Ward ’82 is the accounting manager at the Resort at Fairfield Harbour in North Carolina.

Richard O.B. Makopondo ’84 is the associate dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Kenya Polytechnic University College in Nairobi, Kenya.

Paul Skrobot ’84 is the director of operations for Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. He was a board member of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Broward Chapter for two years until mid-2012.

Brian Weston ’84 now owns 20 Hooters restaurants following the opening of his newest outlet in Phoenix, which seats more than 450 and featured 22 flat screen TVs, a wraparound indoor/outdoor patio and a fire pit.

Bertila Soto ’86 was named chief judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in February. She is the first woman, first Cuban-American and first FIU graduate to serve as chief judge of the circuit.

Eric Schwartz ’87 is based in Philadelphia, where he serves as an account executive with Singer Equipment Company, the fourth largest equipment and supply distributor to the food service industry in the U.S.

John Masi ’88 is a professor at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. His consulting business, Hospitality Performance Partners, recently completed the development of a formal wine and spirits training course for crewmembers who work on international yachts.


Jan Rozenveld ’90 is general manager of the Ace Hotel in New York City.

Michael Internoscia ’91 was named director of sales for the Marina Palms Yacht Club & Residences in January.

Anthony Leone ’91, president of Energy Kitchen, just opened his 15th restaurant and his first in South Florida, on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables.

Hussein Shawbaki ’91 is the operations manager of the royal palaces, home to members of the Jordanian royal family of the Royal Hashemite Court.

Pedro Cevallos ’92 was named executive director of College Bridge in the summer of 2012. After graduating from FIU’s College of Education, he earned his MS from Penn State and doctorate in educational leadership and entrepreneurship from UCLA.

Constantino Papadopulos ’93 is general manager of Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Hialeah-Miami Lakes.

Jose E. Cueto ’96 was named senior vice president of the corporate banking team of First Bank.

Christian Dammert ’96 is director of operations for Shula’s Steak Houses.

Adriana Para-Simon ’96 is director of sales and marketing for Holiday Inn Coral Gables.

Tim Andriola ’97 and Rodrigo Martinez ’90, the masterminds behind the highly acclaimed Timo restaurant in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., are working on another eatery just two doors away.

Stephanie S. Thomas ’99 was the recipient of the 2013 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Scholarship-South Florida Chapter. Thomas is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in Health Informatics and Management Systems at FIU. 


Andreas Schreiner ’00 and his business partners have opened their third Pubbelly restaurant on South Beach, this one focused exclusively on steak.

Melissa Tapanes Llahues ’00 has been named a full partner and shareholder of the firm Bercow Radell & Fernandez. She is among the youngest female equity partners in South Florida. In addition, she serves as chairwoman of the City of Doral’s Design District steering committee and chairwoman of the FIU President’s Council World’s Ahead Faculty Award Committee. She was recently named to Brickell Magazine’s “20 under 40” list.

Darah Zeledon MS ’00 recently debuted her first book, Girl with the Crooked Smile: Stuck in a Moment, released by Sterling Publishing Group. “It’s a moving, cross-cultural read that suggests a paradigm shift in the way we handle life adversity,” she said. A portion of the proceeds will go to Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention in the name of Zeledon’s brother, Adam Silverman, who committed suicide in 2006.

Matthew W. Slotkin ’01 has become director of insurance recruitment for American Recruiters. He leads a team in finding and working with the top 20 percent of insurance professionals to help them find increasingly better opportunities within the field. He is married to Heather and has three children, Nathanael, Josephine and Sarahbeth.

Art Davis ’02 is a broker and the owner of Platinum Plus Realty in Miami.

Holly Ursino ’03 is the senior sales manager at The Ritz-Carlton New York at Battery Park in lower Manhattan.

Claudia S. Santiano ’04 became the vice president of the client management group for Professional Bank. In this role she leads the bank’s new-business development efforts. Before joining Professional Bank, she served as assistant vice president and sales director and in other top executive roles for other local banks.

Juan D’Arce ’05 has been named co-chair for the Corporate Social Responsibility Subcommittee of the Adecco Group North America. The group will develop local and national partnerships with community leaders, organizations, schools and businesses in the communities served by his company. D’Arce is a member of the Leadership Miami Committee and a teaching fellow of the Florida Supreme Court Teaching Institute.

Kevin Codorniu ’05 is assistant executive housekeeper for Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.

Jesille Peters ’05 is the marketing officer for the division of tourism and transportation for the island of Tobago.

Elena Balsinde ’06 and Cesar Martinez ’08 were married on June 30, 2012, at St. Agatha Catholic Church followed by their reception in the Graham Center Ballrooms at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

Carlos Carranza ’06 was named real estate analyst with Holliday Fenoglio Fowler. Previously he was an analyst at Rialto Capital Advisors.

Diana Beltran ’07 is working on a master’s degree in sustainability management at Columbia University in New York City. She manages environmental programs for Wyndham Hotel Group and Wyndham Worldwide.

Onica Charles ’07 led FIU students during spring break in March on a mission in her native Guyana, where the group helped spruce up a nursery school. The next month she took a separate, non-FIU group to Durban, South Africa, to assist with outreach at a health clinic. Charles is the founder and CEO of International Children’s Outreach, a charity that caters to youngsters around the world.

David Irizarri ’07, MS ’11, recently began working as director of information technology and services for Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Fla. Previously he served as associate director of IT for Plantation General Hospital.

Michelle Jean ’07 is recruitment and placement specialist for Club Med.

Michael Macias ’07 was named small business relationship manager for TD bank in Coral Gables. Previously he was business banking relationship manager at SunTrust Bank and small business banker at Fifth and Third Bank.

Kristina Sanchez ’07 and Christopher Mur ’10 were married on March 23 after an almost eight-year courtship that began at FIU. Kristina is the production manager in FIU’s publications office and pursuing her master’s degree in English. Christopher is a technical support engineer at Pace Americas.

Angie Fajardo ’08, a journalist in West Palm Beach, and her husband Leo are working to get the Grabit Robot into general production and distribution. They funded their creative project through Kickstarter and are hoping their multi-purpose holder, useful for either home or office, will take off.

Luis Garcia ’08 is the director of operations at the Villas at Doral, a Marriott Vacation Club hotel not far from FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

Zachary Weil JD ’09 was recently interviewed by GQ Magazine Australia for his film Taste It: A Comedy About the Recession. The Miami-based film earned an “Award of Merit” in July 2012 at The Indie Fest, an international awards competition for independent filmmakers worldwide. The film is scheduled for an online release this April. He is currently developing a web series called Writer’s Block.


Angelica M. Lagunas ’11 works as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at South Miami Hospital, where she is launching a project to help decrease the need for early blood transfusions in pre-term babies. Lagunas is also enrolled in a dual degree graduate program from which she will earn both master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing with a focus on neonatal care.

Jose Pagilery ’11 is now covering small business on a national beat as a staff reporter for Those who want to stay in touch with Pagilery and follow his stories can do so via Twitter @jose_pagilery.

Sanjeev Udhnani ’12 served as an intern in FIU’s Office of Federal Relations in Washington, D.C., during the spring term. He previously advocated for FIU at the state and federal level as vice president of the Student Government Association. He has also interned in the FIU Office of the Treasurer and with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This summer he is planning to bike ride from California to the nation’s capital on behalf of Push America, which raises awareness of and funds for children with disabilities.

In Memoriam

Ann Showell Mariner ’76 passed away on January 27 at the age of 61. A graduate of the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, she returned to Ocean City, Md., where she spent her entire professional career working in the family business, the Castle in the Sand Hotel. She became a co-owner of the business and saw its expansion into the Bahamas as the Green Turtle Club. She and husband A. Reginald Mariner II also created Mariners Country Down in Berlin, Md., a seasonal venue for weddings and other events.