Media Relations and Communication

Maydel Santana ’91, MSM ’16
AVP of Media Relations and Communication


I have worked in and with South Florida media for the better part of the last three decades. I began my career at The Miami Herald in the afternoon of the first day of my freshman year at FIU. I majored in journalism and worked on the student newspaper, while working at The Herald part time, first as an assistant for the social column, then as a weekend assistant on the news desk and later as a junior features writer.

After graduation from FIU, I went to work at el Nuevo Herald, The Miami Herald’s Spanish language sister paper. I worked as a general assignment reporter, covered education and immigration. Among the most memorable stories I covered were the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the Cuban rafter crisis of 1994.

In 1995 I returned to FIU to join the media relations team as the assistant director, where I have been part of FIU’s spectacular transformation into a research institution and one of the largest universities in the country. In my media relations capacity, I lead a bilingual, award-winning team that helps tell the FIU story to local, regional, national and international media and manages crisis communication for our 54,000 student institution.

Recently I went back to the classroom to earn a graduate degree in marketing.

Madeline Baró MPA ‘11
Director of Media Relations

I am a communications professional with two decades of experience in journalism and media relations. I currently serve as associate director for media relations at FIU. In that role, my duties include overseeing university-wide communications, speech writing, as well as writing and disseminating news about the university. Prior to joining FIU, I worked for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, covering the Cuban-American community and other immigrant communities in Miami. Before that I worked for the Associated Press in Texas, including two years as the correspondent in Harlingen, on the U.S.-Mexico border. My other journalism experience includes working for the Miami Herald’s online edition, writing breaking news for the website and technology articles for the Living section. I am a native of Hialeah, Florida and hold a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Latin American Studies from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in public administration from FIU.

Dianne Fernandez ’94
Broadcast Relations Manager

I am an Emmy-nominated, veteran broadcast journalist who spent 17 years covering some of the nation’s biggest stories. Most recently, I was the political reporter for WSVN-Channel 7 covering a historic recall election that garnered national attention and the turmoil within the City of Miami Police Department. It was the culmination of a 10-year career at 7News spent cultivating sources and earning the trust of a community. Using the skills honed on the scenes of some of this country’s biggest news stories, I became FIU’s Broadcast Specialist in 2011. It is my job to get FIU on the nation’s airwaves.

Angela Nicoletti
Senior Writer

I have a passion for storytelling and writing. In my role as a staff writer at FIU, I get to live out that passion every day, helping to share how FIU is making an impact on our community and the world. I draft speeches and talking points, as well as memos, university-wide communications and press releases. Previously, I worked in the media relations department at Broward College. While there, I launched an experts database to connect faculty and staff experts to the local media and community speaking opportunities. I also worked the 2014 Florida Gubernatorial Debate, where more than 200 national, state and local media members were on hand from 65 media outlets. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida Atlantic University and am currently enrolled in FIU’s Global Strategic Communications master’s program.

Jennifer Lacayo ’15
Junior Account Manager

I am a proud Panther with a passion for public relations. Less than a year after graduating from FIU with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, I joined the media relations team. In my role as Junior Account Manager, I help get the word out about all of the amazing things happening at FIU. I work with different divisions and departments to identify, write and share stories about FIU’s research, programs, student success initiatives and institutional priorities, contributing to FIU’s missions and goals. Recently, I led a successful media campaign to highlight FIU’s efforts to assist students from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean impacted by hurricane Maria. The campaign stories received 69 media hits with a total of $568,935.26 in ad value. These clips include hits in national outlets including NBC News and a television interview in CNN en Español. I also help staff major events, including MSNBC’s town hall with Marco Rubio and President Obama’s campaign visit before the 2016 presidential elections.

Previously, I was an intern at Cece Feinberg Public Relations in Miami, where I managed multiple clients and worked high profile events like Miami Swim Week and the Miami Open. I am enrolled in the FIU public administration master’s program and plan to soon be a double FIU alumna!

Alyse Mier ’16
Junior Public Relations Associate