C-Suite Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 25 C-Suite Executives of Miami for 2022. Miami has long been a major metropolitan city of the US with an international population and global corporations. It is also well known for the arts, cuisine, sports and magnificent beaches. Over the last few years, the city and surrounding region has benefited from a wave of business and investor relocations. This year’s awardees are executives who exemplify what it means to be a leader. They build thriving businesses that contribute to the state’s economic activity and beyond.
Among this year’s awardees is Moez Hassan, Chief Data Officer, Royal Caribbean Group, who oversees the company’s global operations, which include 7 million annual guests and a fleet of 63 cruise ships. Awardee Thomas Baldwin, Chief Executive Officer and President of Benihana, has led initiatives to expand the brand into consumer-packaged goods, branded beverages, and fast-casual restaurant formats across the US. Also awarded is Hilda Fernandez, the Chief Executive Officer of Camillus House. She not only leads a complex system of care serving more than 34,000 but is also a passionate advocate for the homeless.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 25 C-Suite Executives of Miami for 2022.
1. Joe Velasco
Chief Growth Officer of Florida Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealth Group
Joe Velasco is the Chief Growth Officer of Florida Medicare and Retirement at UnitedHealth Group. He first joined the company in 2012 following its acquisition of two South Florida healthcare leaders: Preferred Care Partners and Medica. In this role, he oversees business development responsibilities throughout the State of Florida for UnitedHealthcare. Previously, Velasco was a Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and SVP of Business Development at Preferred Care Partner. Before that, he was an Executive Director of the Athletics Association and FIU Athletics Finance Corporation at Florida International University. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Business Development Manager with Huizenga Holdings and Professional Sports Asset. Velasco has an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Florida.
2. Spondon Dey
Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Innovation Network, AT&T
Spondon Dey is the Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Innovation Network at AT&T. Dey has been with AT&T for over 24 years. Today, he drives AT&T’s Network Function Virtualization/SDN. He’s also a founding member of the AT&T New Product Innovation Organization and led the implementation of the AT&T CallVantage service. Notably, Dey has several patents in the areas of converged mobile devices, mobile video, and mobile CDN/advertising intelligence. Before joining AT&T, Dey was a Course Developer at Marcus Evans and the CTO and Supervising Producer at The Webcast Channel.
Dey graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology with an MS in technology management and an undergraduate degree in telecommunications engineering from the State University of New York.
3. Christopher Knauer
SVP & Global Chief Security Officer, Sitel Group
Christopher Knauer is the SVP and Global Chief Security Officer of Sitel Group. He first joined the company in 2018. Sitel Group is a privately owned contact center company headquartered in Miami, Florida. In his role, Knauer implements his wide range of expertise in cloud security, solution design and consulting, security architecture, call center security, and compliance. Previously, Knauer was a Chief Information Security Officer at Telus International. Before that he was a Director of Global Customer Care Technology and Program Manager of Global Transformation IT at MoneyGram International. Earlier in his career, he worked with TeleTech Holdings as a Director of Global Information Security (CISO).
Knauer has an MBA from Regis University and an undergraduate degree in communications from Depauw University.
4. Luiz Moreira
Chief Commercial Officer, DHL Supply Chain
Luiz Moreira is the Chief Commercial Officer of DHL Supply Chain, the world's largest contract logistics specialist. He joined the company in 2000 as a Sector Director in the UK before becoming Operations Director and eventually VP of Global Product & Accounts Leader. In 2016, Moreira moved to Florida and was appointed VP, Head of Operations and Sales LSHC Latam. Moreira graduated from London Business School with an MBA in marketing management and from Fundação Getulio Vargas with an undergraduate degree in management. He received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Escola de Engenharia Mauá.
5. Ken Tate
EVP & Chief Commercial Officer, Carnival Cruise Lines
Ken Tate is the Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Carnival Cruise Lines. He joined the company in 2012 as Vice President Of Revenue Management. In his current role, Tate is responsible for revenue management, ship deployment, and trade and direct sales channels, including the pre-cruise contact center. Prior to joining Carnival, Tate spent 10 years with the Boston Consulting Group, where he worked on various pricing and revenue management initiatives. Before this, he was at Enron, where he developed pricing models tailored to commodity trading. Tate earned his MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
6. Martin Lehtio
EVP & Chief Operating Officer, iQor
Martin Lehtio is the EVP and Chief Operating Officer of iQor. iQor is a business process outsourcing company that provides customer service, third-party collections, and accounts receivable management. In this role, Lehtio oversees the domestic, offshore, and nearshore customer interaction solutions and the region's product support operations. He leads a global team that works with some of the world’s largest brands to deliver strategic thinking, operational expertise, digital technology innovation, talent management, and organizational effectiveness. Prior to joining iQor, Lehtio served as EVP and COO for IRT/CCT Group, an iQor strategic acquisition. Here, he led client and technology delivery in addition to operations for some of iQor’s largest customers today. Before this, he was the CEO of Reserve Holding Corporation, a product marketing, sales, and support company. Lehtio has a bachelor's degree in business management from Barry University.
7. Moez Hassan
Chief Data Officer, Royal Caribbean Group
Moez Hassan is the Chief Data Officer of the Royal Caribbean Group. The cruise vacation company comprises three award-winning global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises. In this role, Hassan is responsible for creating and improving the data and analytics strategy throughout the company’s global operations. This includes over 77,000 employees, 7 million annual guests, and a fleet of 63 cruise ships. Before joining the Royal Caribbean Group, Hassan was a Managing Director of Global Data Technology at Charles Schwab. Before this, he was the Manager of Business Intelligence at Deloitte Consulting. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Data Warehouse Developer with Qwest Telecommunications.
Hassan graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with an MS in business administration and management and from Regis University with an MS in computer information systems. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Khartoum.
8. Carl Colizza
President & COO, Saputo
Carl Colizza is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Saputo. Colizza has been with the company since 1998, joining as an engineer. During his 25-year tenure, he has held numerous roles of increasing responsibility, including several senior management positions in the company’s dairy division. He served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of the company’s Canadian and Argentinian dairy divisions before being appointed as President in 2019. Before joining Saputo, Colizza was a Validation Engineer at Merck. Colizza has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from McGill University.
9. Josh Kobza
Chief Operating Officer, Restaurant Brands International
Josh Kobza is the Chief Operating Officer of Restaurant Brands International. In this role, he’s responsible for several functions supporting the company’s global brands. This includes new international franchise partnerships, technology, human resources, global business services, supply chain, and global operations. Before that, Kobza was Chief Technology and Development Officer and previously served as the Chief Financial Officer. He joined Burger King in 2012 in the company’s finance area. Prior to his quick-service restaurant experience, Kobza worked at SIP Capital, a Sao Paulo-based private investment firm. Before this, Kobza was an analyst in the corporate private equity area of the Blackstone Group.
Kobza graduated from Harvard College, where he received an AB with honors in economics and language certificates in French and Portuguese.
10. Michael Romanko
Chief Marketing Officer, Five Below
Michael Romanko is the Chief Marketing Officer of Five Below. In this role, he’s responsible for overseeing all aspects of merchandising strategy and operations, including product development. Romanko has more than 30 years of retail industry experience, most recently as Chief Design Officer with Patriarch Partners. Here, he was responsible for merchandise line building and sourcing, and design for 75 businesses. He has extensive experience in merchandising, product development, and design, having held several executive positions with national retailers, including Macy's, Toys "R" Us, Linens 'n Things, and Fortunoff. Previously, Romanko was a Partner at Qbbs Global, a retail strategy consulting firm. He graduated from The College of New Jersey with a BA in liberal arts.
11. Thomas Baldwin
Chief Executive Officer & President, Benihana
Thomas Baldwin is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Benihana. He’s responsible for more than 100 Benihana Teppanyaki and RA Sushi restaurants. Baldwin has led initiatives to expand Benihana’s brand into consumer-packaged goods, branded beverages, and fast-casual restaurant formats. This includes restaurant formats for Yankee Stadium, Hard Rock Stadium, Footprint Center, and other entertainment and retail venues. Previously, Baldwin was a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at ROI Acquisition Corp. Before that, he was a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Morton's steakhouse. Earlier in his career, he worked with Citi as Vice President. Baldwin earned an MBA in finance and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Iona University.
12. Marke Dickinson
Chief Marketing Officer, ChenMed
Marke Dickinson is the Chief Marketing Officer at ChenMed. In this role, he’s responsible for all marketing and advertising efforts to grow the number of patients ChenMed serves. Dickinson is also responsible for utilizing public relations to expand ChenMed’s influence across all segments of the healthcare community. Prior to joining ChenMed, he spent more than a decade leading marketing and the membership business at AAA, where he consistently outperformed revenue and expense plans. Before AAA, Dickinson spent many years consulting companies in the healthcare, energy, and financial services industries with Accenture and CSC. Dickinson graduated from Harvard University with an MBA and MPP, and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Penn State University.
13. Christian Stocker
Chief Executive Officer, LEMAN
Christian Stocker is the Chief Executive Officer of LEMAN. Stocker is a market veteran with over 25 years of experience in global freight forwarding and supply chain management. He first got his start in 1989 as an Ocean Export Specialist at Danzas. From there, he went on to DHL Global Forwarding, where he spent over 10 years before joining Hellmann Worldwide Logistics. Stocker then joined Toll Global Forwarding, most recently as Vice President of Latin America & Caribbean, where he successfully implemented a unified agent network throughout the regions. Stocker graduated from Handelsschule KV Basel with an undergraduate degree in logistics and supply chain management.
14. Armando Hernandez
Founder and CEO, H&CO
Armando Hernandez is Founder and CEO of H&CO LLP, a Global CPA, Advisory & Technology Firm, headquartered in South Florida with offices in over 14 countries. H&CO focuses its practice and expertise in providing international tax and advisory services to multi-national companies and international investors. Under his leadership, the firm has grown from a local accounting firm to a world-wide provider of professional services, now recognized by FORBES Magazine as one of America’s Top Recommended CPA firms for three years in a row.
Armando spends his days strategizing and leading an international team of 500+ professionals all focused on helping global enterprises and multi-jurisdictional families expand and manage their businesses, technology, and compliance needs world-wide. H&CO’s value proposition lies in facilitating global mobility to international investors, global families and multinationals with investments and operations in multiple jurisdictions. They provide a full comprehensive line of services ranging from establishing a business, operations, to selling a business. With that primary objective in mind, in 2013 he founded BLITA, an international association of independent tax advisory firms, comprised of over thirty members with offices in almost every country of Latin America.
As the CEO of one of America’s fastest growing companies, Armando is constantly thinking about the future of the firm and the steps that must be taken now to secure that future. He makes a constant investment of time and resources in professional continuing education, state-of-the-art technology and extensive business relationships. Armando holds a global MBA from Duke University as well as a Master of Taxation and a Bachelor of Accounting from Florida International University. He is licensed as a CPA and Certified as a Trust and Estate Practitioner. He strongly believes in the value of relationships. He views every client relationship as a partnership and truly believes that the company’s success is a result of clients’ success.
15. Diana Brooks
Co-Founder & Chief Vision Officer, The 3rd Eye
Diana Brooks is the Chief Vision Officer of The 3rd Eye, an independent, full-service agency specializing in health and wellness brands. She co-founded The 3rd Eye (formerly VS/Brooks) in her twenties and became a trailblazer for women in advertising. The 3rd Eye reflects Brooks’ passion for health and wellness in vulnerable communities. She’s continued to practice what she preaches by hiring talent that reflects the communities served by the company. For over 30 years, she's led successful marketing campaigns that resonate with healthcare patients and consumers.
Brooks has been named one of South Florida’s 12 Hispanic Women of Distinction by Latina Magazine, one of 25 Women to Watch, and a Florida Entrepreneurial Leader. Her impact in the business world has earned her the American Red Cross Spectrum Award, the Mujeres Giving Back Award from The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Good to Great Award. Brooks has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami.
16. Anton von Rueden
Chief Operating Officer, Aterian
Anton von Rueden is the Chief Operating Officer of Aterian. Aterian is a New York-based firm that provides solutions such as machine learning, natural language processing, and data analytics for the eCommerce industry. Von Rueden oversees the company’s global supply chain operations. He’s also tasked with improving operational cross-department management and processes as Aterian scales its platform. Von Rueden first got his start in 1999 as a Manager of Category Management Computers and Games at eBay. From there, he went on to Sprd.net AG-Spreadshirt, before being appointed President and COO at Boosted Commerce. Von Reuden graduated from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with a degree in economics.
17. Andrei Stern
Partner & CFO, SuViche
Andrei Stern is an entrepreneur and businessman with a focus on financial and strategic decision-making. Stern is Partner and CFO at SuViche Hospitality Group, a hospitality company that owns the brand of two of South Florida’s most popular restaurant concepts: SuViche and Novecento. Andrei focuses on evaluating funding opportunities and securing capital for the business, developing long-term relationships with investors, and leveraging technology to increase operating efficiencies. In addition, he builds financial models to come up with valuation metrics and capital structure decisions. Stern has been able to increase the profitability of SuViche to levels well above industry standards.
Previously, Andrei co-founded Sheepdog Investing, a subscription-based newsletter with trade recommendations based on technical analysis. He also co-founded the American University of Paris Trading and Investment club. Stern raised funds from club members to invest in a collective financial portfolio, achieving a 40% annualized return.
18. Hilda Fernandez
CEO, Camillus House
Hilda Fernandez is the Chief Executive Officer of Camillus House. She leads a complex care system, serving over 34,000 men, women, and children each year through over 40 programs and services. Fernandez is also a passionate advocate for the homeless, as the former Executive Director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. Here, she oversaw an annual budget of more than $49 million, allocated to over 80 providers of housing and services to the homeless throughout the county. More recently, Fernandez served as Vice President For Advancement, Marketing, and Communications for St. Thomas University. Previously, she was an Assistant City Manager in Miami Beach, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, and Director of the Miami-Dade County Communications Department.
Fernandez received a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications from the University of Miami. She is a certified pension trustee.
19. Shannon Yerkic
Chief Executive Officer, Trumantra Education Group
Shannon Yerkic brings energy, expertise, and enthusiasm to Trumantra Education Group. His background and experience consist of executive and corporate management roles, as well as accreditation chair positions, in the higher education, healthcare, wellness, and business sectors.
Shannon is a graduate of Valdosta State University and has worked extensively, in both the international and domestic markets, expanding educational access to the students of The Academy of Lymphatic Studies and Arizona School of Integrative Studies (ASIS Massage Education).
Ultimately, Shannon approaches every situation with the same dedication and determination that has enabled his teams and himself success and looks forward to fostering those results to the students and staff of Trumantra Education Group.
20. Michael Ferrara
Chief Marketing Officer, HairUWear
Michael Ferrara is the Chief Marketing Officer of HairUWear. The company produces high-quality hair extensions, wigs, hairpieces, and systems under iconic brands. These include Great Lengths, Raquel Welch, Hairdo, HIM by HairUWear, Gabor, and American Hairlines. During his time at the company, Ferrara has strengthened the consumer positioning of each brand in HairUWear’s extensive portfolio, creating a unique personality for each one. Before joining HairUWear, Ferrara was the SVP at Coty. Here, he was instrumental in helping transform the $1.4 billion fragrance company into an almost $5 billion international beauty leader. Previously, Ferrara was the Managing Partner of his own consulting practice and held numerous senior positions at Unilever and Nielsen. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology.
21. Marcos Montesano
Chief Executive Officer, Skylease Cargo
Marcos Montesano is the Chief Executive Officer of Skylease Cargo. Before being appointed CEO in 2017, Montesano spent 13 years as Chief Financial Officer, where he was responsible for the group's financial management, including $500 million in revenue. Notably, he created the company’s Fuel Committee, which analyzes fuel consumption and minimizes fuel costs. This resulted in millions of dollars saved since 2005. Prior to joining Skylease Cargo, Montesano was the CFO at Cielos Airlines. Before that, he was a Financial Administrative Manager at Staf SA. Montesano graduated from Facultad de Ciencias Economicas with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
22. Dan Smith
President and CEO, Raines International
Dan Smith is the President and CEO of Raines International. Smith joined the firm in 2005 as a Research Associate. Over the past 15 years, he has developed a broad network across every major industry sector and functional area. Smith’s primary focus today is growing businesses through commercial excellence, M&A, international expansion, and new product development. He has run the gamut of client situations: VC-backed pre-revenue startups and founders, PE investors, first-time CEOs of multibillion-dollar public companies, and seasoned executives of Fortune 500 companies. Smith graduated from the College of Charleston with a BA in philosophy and French.
23. Peggy Nordeen
CEO, Starmark International
Peggy Nordeen is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Executive of Starmark International. Nordeen co-founded Starmark in 1978 with Dan Estes. Nordeen is a visionary leader whose travel and hospitality expertise has helped make the agency a renowned integrated marketing powerhouse. In 2006, she was named South Florida’s Business Woman of the Year, and in 2018 she was named Seafarers’ House South Florida Business Leader of the Year. Nordeen is active in the Marine Research Hub and TechGateway.org economic development initiatives. She is the former Chair of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the current Vice Chair of the Broward Workshop. She’s also involved in a number of nonprofit organizations, including A Child is Missing and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Norden graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in mass communications and English literature.
24. Jeff Feldman
Chief Operating Officer, The Rinaldi Group
Jeff Feldman is the Chief Operating Officer of The Rinaldi Group. As an executive leading Rinaldi’s Florida operations, Feldman oversees procurement, contracts, negotiations, budgeting, and schedule development. He also presides over the division’s project management staff across all regional jobs. Feldman leverages his extensive network in the South Florida region to secure new projects for the firm. Before joining Rinaldi in 2019, Feldman was the Vice President at Uribe construction and President of the DeSoto Development Company. Previously he was at GE and Power Plus.
Feldman graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in management and business administration.
25. Carl McKenney
Chief Operating Officer, American In-Home Care
Carl McKenney is the Chief Operating Officer of American In-Home Care. His responsibilities include operations management, clinical support, regulatory compliance, and information technology. He also leads acquisition integration activities, process improvement, and statutory and regulatory actions that affect the industry. Previously, McKenney served as EVP Operations and was the Vice President of Operations for the company.
Before joining American In-Home Care, McKenney was the CEO of Advocate Home Care, which was acquired by American In-Home Care, LLC in 2015. He is a member of the Board of the Florida Chapter of the Personal Care Association (PCA). In addition, he’s a member of the Broward County EMS Advisory Council and holds certifications as both a national and state of Florida paramedic. He’s also a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) with a FEMA Strike Team Leader Certificate. McKenney graduated from HCI College with an Associate of Science.