Notable Alumni

FIU alumni represent all the best that our university has to offer. From NFL football players to Pulitzer Prize winners and top chefs, FIU alumni are making a name for themselves across the globe.

With more than 270,000 graduates, FIU alumni make up one of the fastest growing and most diverse communities in the world. Below, you can learn about incredible alumni who are making an impact in South Florida and abroad. To be included, alumni must meet this criteria.

Artists & Entertainers

  • Teresita Fernández ’90 is an accomplished artist best known for her public sculptures and original use of materials. She is a 2005 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow and has received several prestigious awards and fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Grant, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy in Rome Affiliated Fellowship, and the Oscar B. Cintas Fellowship. President Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 2011, making her the first Latina and the second person of Latino heritage to serve on the Commission. In 2013, she received the FIU Distinguished Alumni award during the FIU Torch Awards Gala.

  • Andy Garcia is an American actor and director. He first appeared on the film scene in the late 1980s and 1990s, landing roles in several successful Hollywood films, including The Godfather Part IIIThe UntouchablesInternal Affairs and When a Man Loves a Woman. More recently, he has starred in Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, and The Lost City.

  • Christine Kling ’88 is an acclaimed author.

  • Danny Pino ’96 was born and raised in Miami. He attended FIU and New York University’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program, where he earned a Master's of Fine Arts. He starred in the CBS crime drama "Cold Case." He later co-starred on NBC's “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as Detective Nick Amaro.

  • Dawn Ostroff ’80 is president of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ), a division of Condé Nast that focuses on the development, production and distribution of original television, feature film and digital video offerings based on the company’s iconic media brands. Prior to joining Condé Nast in the fall of 2011, Ostroff launched and led the new CW broadcast network, a joint venture of CBS and Warner Bros., beginning January 2006. As president of entertainment, she was responsible for all aspects of the CW’s creative efforts. Ostroff has a bachelor's in journalism from FIU and resides in New York City with her husband and their four children.

  • Dennis Lehane ’01 is an American author. He has written several novels, including A Drink Before the War and Mystic River, which was later made into a film. Another of his novels, Gone, Baby, Gone, was also adapted into a film.

  • Leda Gitman ’96 was born and raised in Argentina. She is a professional artist and has had six solo shows and six group exhibits. She has numerous awards for her contributions to the field. She delivered the 2002 Honors College Award Ceremony address.

  • Pamela Crawford ’91 is author of eight gardening books. She has been featured in prominent publications and TV shows such as HGTV Magazine, more than fifty newspapers, and on Fox News.

  • Aimee Carrero ’08 is an actress who is best known for her role as Angie on the Cartoon Network live-action series "Level Up." She currently stars as Sofia Rodriguez on the ABC Family sitcom "Young & Hungry." She was recently selected to voice Disney’s first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor.

  • Robert Macias, better known as R.M. Drake, is a well-known poet and author. He has more than 1 million followers on Instagram and is known for spray painting his poems on the sidewalks of Wynwood.

  • Chrissie Fit is an actress who rose to prominence after she was cast as the character Mercedes Juarez in the medical drama "General Hospital." She is also known for her role as CheeChee in the Disney Channel Original Movie Teen Beach Movie, and for her role as Florencia “Flo” Fuentes in Pitch Perfect 2 and Pitch Perfect 3.


  • Carlos Alberto Arroyo Bermúdez is a Puerto Rican professional basketball player who plays for Galatasaray Liv Hospital of the Turkish Basketball League. Arroyo previously played in the National Basketball Association with the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. In the 2008–2009 season, he played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Basketball Super League, winning the league’s championship and being named the Final’s Most Valuable Player. He has also played professionally in Puerto Rico and Spain.

  • T.Y. Hilton ’13 is wide receiver and punt returner for the Indianapolis Colts. He was drafted by the Colts in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

  • Gerald Hunsicker ’76 is the Senior Advisor of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball. Hunsicker was also an executive with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays and the general manager of the Houston Astros from 1995-2004.

  • Michael Lowell ’97 is a Puerto Rican former professional baseball third baseman in Major League Baseball. During a 13-year career, Lowell played for the New York Yankees (1998), Florida Marlins (1999–2005) and the Boston Red Sox (2006–2010).

  • Pat Bradley ’74 is an American professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1974 and won 31 tour events, including six major championships. Bradley is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

  • Raja Bell is a retired professional basketball player who last played for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was twice named to the NBA All-Defensive Team in his career. As a senior at FIU, Bell led the Golden Panthers to a Sun Belt Conference tournament title, and a bid in the NCAA tournament.

  • Robin Fraser ’89 is Jamaican-born American soccer coach and former player. After retiring, he served as assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls, followed by Toronto FC. He played college soccer at FIU from 1984 to 1988.

  • Tayna Lawrence ’98 is a professional athlete for the Jamaican Track Team and four-time Olympic gold medalist.

Business Leaders

  • Adalio Sanchez ’87 is General Manager of IBM System x and BladeCenter server product lines.  Mr. Sanchez has more than 25 years of experience in information technology and has an extensive background in product development, manufacturing, operations and brand. He was named the 2007 Hispanic Engineer of the Year and has frequently been named to the list of the Top 50 Hispanics in Technology and Business. He is Chairman of the FIU Engineering School Executive Advisory Council, and serves as Chairman of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Advisory Board.

  • Adam Stewart ’03 is the Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chairman of the Caribbean-based resort company Sandals Resorts International with five brands and 24 properties in seven countries, and the ATL Group, a Jamaica-based automotive and commercial and domestic appliance distributor.

  • Adolfo Henriques ’76 is currently vice chairman, president and COO of Gibraltar Private Bank and Trust Company, which is headquartered in Miami. Henriques serves on the board of Heico Inc., Intcomex Inc., Medica HealthCare Plans Inc. and Medica Health Plans of Florida Inc.

  • Alan Leibman ’89 is the CEO for Kerzner International, overseeing the overall corporate strategy of Atlantis and One&Only brands worldwide. He joined Kerzner in 1994 and during his tenure held positions of strategic importance, including COO of Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas; president and managing director of the early development of Mazagan Beach Resort; president and managing director of Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai; and most recently, Kerzner regional president of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

  • Allen Susser ’78 is a chef, author and humanitarian. His restaurant, Chef Allen’s received great praise for his creative use of local fresh fish and tropical fruits in what became known as New World Cuisine and garnered him a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award Southeast Region and accolades in Food and Wine and Time magazines. His recipes have been compiled in his three cook books. He has taken special interest in feeding the hungry and is active in programs to raise funds for the charity.

  • Augusto “Gus” Vidaurreta ’80 is owner of The Wyndham Riverwalk Hotel and The Jacksonville Days Inn. Vidaurreta co-founded Body Well Nutrition, a performance supplements company. He also is involved in ventures in the area of real estate development and natural gas exploration.  Among other accomplishments, he co-authored the popular book Business is a Contact Sport in 2001 and co-founded RAM Strategy Inc., a consulting, training and executive coaching firm built around relationship asset management, the main topic of his book. The book was listed in the top 15 by The New York Times and has been translated to Chinese and Polish. Vidaurreta is a member of the Dean’s Council and was founding chairman of the Alumni Circle for the College of Business.

  • Brian Nordahl ’86 is the Global Head of the Goldman Sachs Hotel Platform and Global Head-Hotel Acquisitions. Responsible for asset management (including leadership of the operating teams) of the firm's $3 billion, 350-asset global hotel portfolio with locations in the US, UK, Europe and the Caribbean. In addition, he assists the Goldman Sachs Asia team in guiding the firm's corporate hotel investments in Asia and India.

  • Bruce Albertson ’73 is former president and CEO of Brown Jordan International, a manufacturer and distributor of casual and commercial furniture. Albertson also served as chairman of Insurance IQ Company, a marketer of advertising services, and as president and CEO of Iomega Corporation, a data management solutions company. He is now retired.

  • Bruce Zwigard ’76 is former president and CEO of Investacorp, a financial services company. It was purchased by Ladenburg Thalmann for $45 million in 2007.

  • Edwin Mugnani ’91 As the President of the Western Division of Eurest, Ed oversees an eclectic mix of business and industry dining including: Financial Institutions, Oil & Gas, Technology, Startups, Manufacturing, and Retail operations. He is responsible for more than 3000 associates generating 280 million dollars in annual revenue. Eurest is a $1.65 billion food and vending organization with 1,900 locations and more than 18,000 associates throughout the US. Eurest serves more than 800,000 customers daily and is a division of North Carolina-based Compass Group North America.

  • Duffy Keys ’75 is the co-founder of B Cellars Vineyards and Winery, a boutique Napa Valley property situated within the Oakville appellation. He was Senior Vice President of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Duffy is an honorary member of the Board of Directors for Casa de Amparo, a California non-profit whose charter is the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect.

  • Humberto “Burt” Cabañas ‘76 is the founder and chairman of Benchmark, a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company and recognized global leader in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers. Benchmark was launched in 1980 as an independent company and today operates worldwide. 

  • John McKibbon ’75 is the Chief executive Office of McKibbon Brothers, Inc. As of 2018 he grew the company to eighty-five managed hotels under five international brands in 31 cities. In addition to developing and managing hotels John combined his experience in hotel accounting with a computer programmer to develop their first hotel accounting system. With the advent of the Internet, they became industry pioneers by utilizing cloud computing. The Accounting Core product was launched in 1998 and marketed in the industry, and then M3 was born. Today, the company is the largest hotel specific accounting company in the industry, with more than 5,000 properties online.

  • Lani Kane-Hanan ’87, MS ’04 also known as Lani, serves as Executive VP and Chief Development and Product Officer at Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation.  She has nearly 25 years of hospitality industry experience. Before joining Marriott International, she spent 14 years in public accounting and advisory firms, including Arthur Andersen and Horwath Hospitality, where she specialized in real estate strategic planning, acquisitions and development.

  • Louis Stervinou ’87 is Managing Director at Eastdil Secured in San Francisco where he is responsible for sourcing and placement of hotel related investment sales, financings and loan sales. Over the past 20 years, he has focused on hospitality transactions totaling $15 billion comprising of over 250 properties and approximately 60,000 rooms. Notable completed transactions include Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Westin St. Francis, One&Only Palmilla, The Four Seasons Mexico City, The Hotels AB Portfolio, Kahala Mandarin, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Four Seasons Resort Maui.
  • Marc A. Hoffman ’79 is the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Sunstone Hotel Investors a Real Estate Investment Trust with a portfolio of 21 hotels.  For the twenty-seven years prior to joining Sunstone, Mr. Hoffman served in various positions at Marriott International, Inc., including General Manager of The Vail Marriott, General Manager of Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, Marriott Market Manager for Fort Lauderdale, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach (where under Mr. Hoffman’s leadership, the hotel obtained the Mobil 5 Star Award), and most recently as Vice President and Managing Director of Grande Lakes Orlando, which included the 1,000-room JW Marriott, the 584-room Ritz-Carlton Resort and Spa and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

  • Paul Livrieri ’85 is the Executive Vice President, Operations of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, A Darden Restaurants brand with 178 locations in 28 states. Before his current assignment with Darden he held the position of Executive Vice President of Longhorn Steakhouse. Paul has been with Darden since 2012.

  • Philip Goldfarb ’79 is President and Chief Operating Officer at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, a Turnberry Associates property. In addition to leading the team at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Goldfarb also oversees two Turnberry properties in Nashville, Tennessee, including the Hilton Nashville Downtown as well as the highly anticipated JW Marriott Nashville, which opened July 2018.

  • Regynald G. Washington ‘74 is the Chief Executive Officer and an active member of the Board of Directors of Hojeij Branded Foods. He is a former elected officer and board member of the National Restaurant Association and served as chairman of the board for the administrative term of 2003-2004. Prior to joining HBF in 2010, Regynald was Vice President of Worldwide Food and Beverage operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, with food and beverage responsibilities for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Paris Resort, Disneyland Hong Kong Resort, and Disneyland Tokyo Resorts. 
  • Russell Bendel ’76 is the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Habit Restaurants, Inc.  He served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Incorporated. Before these two positions he led other restaurant companies including Outback Steakhouse, El Torito restaurants and the Panda Restaurant Group.      

  • Richard Brilliant MS ’93 is the Chief Audit Officer (CAO) for Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise company in the world, with a portfolio of 9 cruise brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.  Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, Richard leads a large global team that provides risk advisory and assurance services to the Board and Senior Executive Management. The scope of risk services under Richard’s responsibilities includes safety, health, environmental and security risks in addition to his responsibilities related to financial, operational, IT, and strategic risk.

  • Tony Argiz ’74 has been managing partner of Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLP since 1997. He serves on the board of trustees and executive committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade, as well as on the board of trustees of the Miami City Club and the Miami Dade Junior College Foundation. Mr. Argiz is a Certified Public Accountant in Florida, New York, Colorado and Pennsylvania. He earned his bachelor of business administration degree from FIU.

Community Leaders & Philanthropists

  • Betty Perry ’74 is a philanthropist.

  • Jayne Abess ’77 and her husband, Leonard Abess Jr., have long been contributors to local organizations, such as the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and Mount Sinai Medical Centre.

  • Marleine Bastien ’86 is a political activist and social worker.

  • Olga Garay-English ’82 is former director of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs.

Industry & Professional Leaders

  • Albert Santalo ’97 founded CareCloud in 2009 with the vision of becoming a health care IT leader focused on eliminating waste and inefficiency in the health care industry. He previously founded Avisena, a software-enabled health care revenue cycle management company, and worked at The Hackett Group/Answerthink. Santalo holds an MBA from FIU and is a member of the Board of Directors for the College of Business.

  • Alfredo Salas ’83 is president and CEO of Koning Restaurants International, which owns the largest number of U.S. Pizza Hut franchises. He is also the first Hispanic owner of a restaurant certified by the Green Restaurant Association.

  • Carole Bernstein ’74 combined theory and practical application from her master’s degree in educational administration and her doctorate in elementary education to create Get Smart, a resource for teachers and parents looking to enhance their children’s development. What began with a dream and $2,000 has expanded into a multimillion dollar company with stores from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach counties.

  • James F. O’Brien ’92 is a computer graphics researcher and professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2015, he received an award for scientific and technical achievement from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

  • Jose Valdes-Fauli ’77 is a veteran of the banking industry and has held leadership positions as CEO and president at Beach Bank, Eastern National Bank and Colonial Bank. Valdes-Fauli graduated from FIU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1975 and served on the FIU Foundation Inc. Board of Directors from 1999-2009. He is a recipient of the FIU Torch Award for Community Leadership and the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Alumni.

  • Ruben King-Shaw Jr. ’86 is managing partner and chief investment officer at Mansa Capital. He also chairs the firm’s investment committee. King-Shaw directs the firm’s deal-sourcing activities, oversees the firm’s value-creation strategies and manages the firm’s investor relations. King-Shaw holds two degrees from FIU: a master’s in health services administration (1986) and a master’s in international business (1987).

  • Susan Fixel ’78 is founder of LTM International.

Media Professionals

  • Belkys Nerey ’89 started her television career as a reporter in South Florida. She was a “one-man band” for two years (shooting her own video and editing her own stories), before heading for Connecticut to take a job as general assignment reporter for WTNH-8, the ABC affiliate in New Haven. It wasn’t long before she was covering some of the market’s biggest stories, often beating the competition because she could speak Spanish. During her current tenure at Miami’s WSVN, Belkys has covered major news stories and, up until recently, co-anchored the pop-culture driven "Deco Drive." Now she anchors the 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts alongside Craig Stevens.

  • Dianne Festa ’84 is manager of NBC News.

  • Elizabeth Balmaseda ’81 is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

  • Jackie Nespral is an American television anchor for WTVJ-TV, the NBC-owned and -operated station in Miami. Nespral grew up in the Little Havana area of Miami, attended St. Brendan High School and graduated in the class of 1984. Nespral began her entertainment and television career as a college student at the University of Miami. Following her graduation from UM, Nespral went on to complete a degree in print and broadcast journalism at FIU.

  • Lorena Estrada ’10 is a reporter for Fox affiliate WSVN 7 News Miami.

  • Manual Garcia ’90 is the editor for the Naples Daily News and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

  • Princell Hair ’00 is general manager at CNN.

  • Raul de Quesada ’74 is an award-winning executive with experience in the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets. De Quesada is currently senior vice president for Hispanic networks and assistant general manager at FOX Deportes. In this capacity, he has been instrumental in the growth and success of the Hispanic cable portfolio at FOX. FOX Deportes now reaches more than 18 million cable and satellite households in the United States. Raúl joined Fox Sports International in 1998 as director of marketing and communications and has risen to become one of the top Hispanic executives within the Fox Cable Television Networks.

  • Steve Tello ’79 is a television executive with more than 30 years of experience working in television news and sports. He currently holds the position of senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports Florida, a unit of the Fox Entertainment Group. Steve Tello graduated from FIU with a bachelor's degree in journalism and communications. He returned to the school as an adjunct to teach television production and TV journalism and remained involved with the school while living in Miami.

Political Office & Governmental Services

  • Justice Barbara Lagoa '89 was born in Miami, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts cum laude in 1989 from Florida International University where she majored in English and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Justice Lagoa received her Juris Doctor from Columbia University School of Law in 1992, where she served as an Associate Editor of the Columbia Law Review. She is fluent in English and Spanish. On January 9, 2019, she became the first Latina and the first Cuban American woman appointed to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. Prior to her appointment by Governor Ron DeSantis to the Florida Supreme Court, Governor Jeb Bush appointed her in June of 2006 to serve on the Third District Court of Appeal.  At that court, she became the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban American woman appointed to serve on the Third District Court of Appeal.  On January 1, 2019, she became the first Hispanic female Chief Judge of the Third District Court of Appeal.

  • Carlos Álvarez ’74 is a Cuban American politician and the former mayor of Miami-Dade County. He was elected mayor in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in 1986 and served in the Miami-Dade Police Department becoming director in 1997 until the end of his tenure in 2004.

  • Cecilia Maria Altonaga ’83 is a Florida United States district court judge. She is the first Cuban-American woman to be appointed as a federal judge in the U.S. She has been noted as a strong supporter of the FIU College of Law and served as the keynote speaker at its 2004 convocation.

  • Danny Danon ’96 served as Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense from March 2013 until July 2014. In May 2015, he was appointed Minister of Science, Technology and Space, serving until his appointment in August 2015 as Israel Ambassador to the United Nations.

  • Mayor Francis X. Suarez '01 learned about public service beginning at a young age as the son of former City of Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez. Before being elected the 43rd mayor of the City of Miami in 2017, he served as Miami Commissioner for District 4 for eight years. Mayor Suarez chaired the Environment Committee and served on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he collaborated with mayors across the country to preserve the environment. He also served as Vice-Chair of the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization, and in that role, he championed the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan, which expands mass transits options in the county to support future population growth. He has also become a highly visible figure championing Miami’s growth as a center of the tech world. Mayor Suarez earned his bachelor's degree in finance from FIU's College of Business in 2001. He also holds a law degree from the University of Florida Frederic G. Levin College of Law.
  • Ileana C. Ros-Lehtinen ’75 is the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first Republican woman from Florida elected to the House. Upon her election, she became the first Hispanic woman elected to U.S. Congress. She is also chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

  • Katherine Vargas ’04 is the director of Hispanic media at the White House. She spearheads efforts to engage Hispanic media, coordinating with all federal agencies on promoting the President’s agenda with the Hispanic community. Katherine has been at the forefront of immigration reform efforts for almost a decade.

  • Manuel Diaz ’77 is a Cuban American politician who served as the mayor of Miami, Florida, from 2001-2009. His daughter, Natalie, recently received her MPH with honors from FIU. His son, Robert, is currently pursuing a political science degree.

  • Mercedes Viana Schlapp ’94 is the co-founder of Cove Strategies, a governmental and public affairs firms based in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a political commentator for U.S. News and has appeared in a variety of TV shows as a Republican strategist. She was the first FIU graduate to have a full-time position in the White House. Schlapp also served as a spokesperson for President George W. Bush.