María Carla Chicuén has been appointed to lead FIU’s CasaCuba, an initiative that will harness the university’s scholarly assets to build a leading center to promote global understanding on Cuban affairs and culture, through education, discussion, research and the arts.
Chicuén comes to FIU with prior experience in the education sector, specializing in community initiatives and strategic partnerships. She earned a Bachelor´s Degree in History from Harvard University, and a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics. Before coming to FIU, Chicuén led special projects in the Office of the President at Miami Dade College. Previously, she was an education consultant at the World Bank in Washington D.C., and at the Inter-American Development Bank in Panama City, Panama.
“María Carla comes to the role of Executive Director of CasaCuba with a unique educational perspective that will help us bring to life a project that has been in the works for a few years,” said FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton. “She will collaborate with academics, the board of advisors of CasaCuba and the community to create a special place for Cuban intellectual and cultural resources.”
“I am honored to join FIU and lead an initiative that will consolidate the University’s already prominent work in Cuban studies. Through CasaCuba, I am excited to engage the community to promote an even greater understanding of Cuba and preserve our extraordinary legacy for generations to come,” said Chicuén.
Chicuén is leading an effort to raise funds to build a 50,000-square-foot facility on FIU’s campus. The Knight Foundation has supported the CasaCuba initiative, including awarding a grant last year that provided seed funding. The space will serve as an area for community engagement, state-of-the-art exhibits and resources for students, scholars, policymakers and professionals from a variety of fields. FIU already has significant resources related to Cuban genealogy, art, history, music and law, such as the Darlene M. and Jorge M. Pérez Art Collection at FIU and the Díaz Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection.
“We’re thrilled to welcome María Carla to FIU,” said Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute (CRI), in the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. “Her appointment will help to expand Cuban and Cuban-American studies at FIU, as well as our extensive program of public events and community outreach.”
Chicuén is holding community conversations to receive input to help shape CasaCuba. Some of the initiatives she is already developing include a heritage festival to help the community preserve personal objects related to the Cuban experience, and a dinner series to explore and celebrate the diverse roots of Cuban culture and cuisine.
“In hiring María Carla, CasaCuba is now well on its way to becoming a reality,” said Agustín Arellano, Sr., who chairs the CasaCuba advisory board and was a member of the search committee. “We trust that María Carla will guide and advance CasaCuba’s mission to provide a space where we can engage and inspire the FIU community and the world at large with the richness of Cuba.”