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Rudy Fernandez Returns to His Roots

Recently named senior vice president for public affairs and communications and chief of staff to the president, Fernandez plans to take UM’s Division of University Communications “from good to great.”

UM News

Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 25, 2017)CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 25, 2017) – Rudy Fernandez cut his teeth in politics and communications some 18 years ago while serving as the spokesperson and press secretary for iconic U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It was at a time when two of the biggest stories in recent South Florida history—the Elián González case and the U.S. presidential election recount—dominated the headlines, putting him in a position to shape national headlines.

“The stakes were high,” recalls Fernandez, who was only a couple of years removed from his days as a Harvard undergraduate. “I was speaking for a congresswoman who was up for reelection every two years and managing her communications strategy. So it was fast-paced and sometimes frantic, but I learned a lot.”

With his mettle and savviness sharpened under Ros-Lehtinen, Fernandez would go on to serve as a special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush administration, eventually landing at the University of Miami in 2007 as vice president for government and community relations—a role in which he helped to secure more than $400 million in public funding for the University and led advocacy efforts that resulted in the passage of several landmark pieces of state legislation.

Now, the son of Cuban-born parents is taking his successful work managing external relations in government and expanding it to include other constituents important to UM. With his promotion last week as senior vice president for public affairs and communications, Fernandez has taken aim at elevating UM’s Division of University Communications “from good to great.”

“Over the next 24 months, I want to see our division become, in a way we can verify and quantify, the strongest communications team in the Southeastern United States,” says Fernandez, who will be working closely with Vice President for University Communications Jackie Menendez and will continue in his role as chief of staff to UM President Julio Frenk.

To take the division to the next level, digital content, multimedia storytelling, and learning through analytics will be an increased focus. “We will enhance our ability to tell the great human stories we see every day on our campus, in our hospitals and clinics and in communities around the world where UM’s teaching a research is making an impact. Whether it’s talented faculty making groundbreaking discoveries or a student who excels in the classroom, in the community, or on the playing field, we will harness new media to share more and better stories of ‘Canes in the world” says Fernandez, who holds an M.B.A. from UM’s School of Business Administration.

Saying the division needs to be one that is “results oriented,” Fernandez hopes to make greater use of social media and other tools “that weren’t available to communications teams 30 years ago but now help us to spread our content and measure which audiences we reach and how.”

“We can now see how many eyeballs are reading our stories and watching our videos,” he explains. “The news cycle over the last 25 years has changed significantly. You once had to wait for the paper to hit your front door to get the news. Now stories are updated moment to moment. We have to have a communications shop that has that orientation.”

The division Fernandez will lead includes media relations and communications and marketing, and produces print publications such as Miami magazine, as well as electronic publications including the Veritas employee newsletter, and the special online reports on climate change and the Zika virus.

His plan to ramp up the division includes much more than pushing out Tweets and producing more content. “We need to interact with our audience,” says Fernandez, who wrote for the Harvard Crimson as an undergraduate. “From the national media who want access to our experts to alumni who want to share stories of their impact in the world, our communication strategies need to invite people in. And we need to interact with our internal audiences as well. We want to make sure that students are heard and that our incredible schools and colleges help surface stories of our research and teaching in action.”

While pursuing new communications strategies and creating more nimble content across multiple platforms are key ingredients to his plan, Fernandez says the basics—“the blocking and tackling of communications”—still hold true. “Building trust, getting the facts right, producing top-notch content. That will never change,” says Fernandez. “The University of Miami’s story is a story of academic excellence and rising reputation; community connection and rich diversity; spirit and sports; and, as President Frenk says, resilience and renewal. It is a privilege to be charged with telling that story, and together we will do that better than ever before.”

 

 

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A Champion for Children and the Arts

Dean Berg, right, with University of Miami Trustee Paul DiMare, a previous Twelve Good Men honoree

Dean Berg, right, with University of Miami Trustee Paul DiMare, a previous Twelve Good Men honoree

Frost School of Music Dean Shelton G. Berg was among the dozen outstanding men honored at the 25th annual Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Twelve Good Men Luncheon, which recognizes distinguished men whose contributions and community involvement enhance the well-being of children in South Florida.

Bestowed at the Coral Gables Country Club on April 25, the award comes on the heels of another community honor for the noted jazz and classical pianist, four-time Grammy nominee, and past president of the International Association for Jazz Education. In March, Berg received the Champion of the Arts Award from Citizens Interested in Arts (CIA), a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to “keeping the arts alive in South Florida.”

Now in its 25th year, the Twelve Good Men Luncheon is the premier fundraising event for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida, which provides a home away from home to families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital. The event honors a dozen leading men who exemplify exceptional kindness, caring, sacrifice, and generosity for the needs and causes in our community.

“It is an honor to celebrate these men who have worked hard for the betterment of our community and who share our passion in helping those who are less fortunate,” said Soraya-Rivera Moya, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House.

Berg, who has served as dean of the Frost School for the past decade, has appeared in concert with orchestras around the world, including the Romanian National Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and Dallas Symphony. But he is also well known for his artistic, civic, and educational contributions closer to home.

He was recently named artistic advisor for the JAZZ ROOTS series at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and was instrumental in the establishment of the Donna E. Shalala MusicReach program, which enables Frost School students to provide free, hands-on music instruction to hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students in Miami-Dade County.

Since its 1997 inception, CIA has awarded nearly $1 million in grants to members of the arts community, including one of the first to a New World School of the Arts student who this year sang alongside Placido Domingo in Verdi’s Nabucco at the New York Metropolitan Opera House.

In honoring Berg, the organization recognized his lifelong commitment to the arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sergio Gonzalez Headed to Brown

UM News

Sergio Gonzalez

Sergio Gonzalez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 17, 2017)—Sergio Gonzalez, the senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs who led the University of Miami’s Momentum capital campaigns and the ‘U’ rebranding effort, has been named senior vice president for advancement at Brown University.

“After more than 15 years of superlative service to the University of Miami, Sergio will certainly be missed, but I am sure you will join me in congratulating him as he embarks on this next chapter of his outstanding career,” President Julio Frenk said in announcing Gonzalez’s new position, effective August 1.

“Over the years, Sergio has led all development, communications, community relations, and alumni relations activities at the University. His efforts in these areas contributed significantly to our progress as a top-tier institution.”

In addition to the Momentum capital campaigns, which raised more than $3 billion during former UM President Donna E. Shalala’s tenure, Gonzalez was responsible for implementing the “U” as UM’s university-wide visual brand, now considered a national model for university rebranding. He also created the University’s first comprehensive parents program, a widely recognized donor stewardship effort, and a highly successful admissions legacy program.

In a message to the advancement team, Gonzalez said his decision was bittersweet as he had the great privilege of leading University Advancement under two gifted presidents who provided compelling and far-reaching visions for the institution. “It is,” he wrote, “ a wonderful and exhilarating time to be at the U. However, often exciting and different opportunities come your way that you never expected. These require consideration and sometimes result in difficult—and life-changing—professional and personal decisions.”

At Brown, an Ivy league college founded in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1764, Gonzalez will oversee advancement areas across the University, including the Office of Development, Office of Alumni Relations, Corporate and Foundation Relations, the Office for International Advancement, the Brown Sports Foundation, the Brown Annual Fund and others. He will report directly to Brown President Christina Paxson and serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

Before joining UM, Gonzalez served as chief of staff for the Miami-Dade County executive mayor and as a senior executive in Miami-Dade County government. He also served as the executive director of the South Florida 1999 Super Bowl Host Committee and the first executive director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

A self-described son of Miami, Gonzalez also has been deeply involved in the community, having filled a number of senior roles in key local private and public organizations, including the Dade County Homeless Trust, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, and Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office.

He also served in key community institutions, including the Orange Bowl Committee, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the Arsht Performing Arts Center Trust, and nationally as a member of the boards of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the National Council of La Raza.

Frenk said a comprehensive search for Gonzalez’s replacement will begin immediately, and will rely on input from faculty, staff, trustees, and other members of the UM community.

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USF Honors Frenk with Honorary Degree

05-15-17-USF-Frenk-608x342Before conferring nearly 3,800 degrees to the University of Miami’s spring 2017 graduates last week, UM President Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., received another degree of his own—from the University of South Florida where he delivered the commencement address at the USF Health Ceremony.

USF System President Judy Genshaft and Charles J. Lockwood, M.D., senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, presented the USF Honorary Degree to Frenk at their May 5 ceremony when 450 newly minted nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and other health professionals walked the stage in Tampa.

Frenk, the former health minister of Mexico and former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, congratulated the  students for making “an existential commitment to improving the human condition through your unique blend of knowledge, skills, experience, and compassionate care.”

He also told them their graduation coincides with a moment in history that can be characterized with two words: change and complexity. “In particular,” he said, “health care is being shaped and challenged by unprecedented economic, technological, and social forces. It is changing from a system that rewards volume to one that rewards value; from care that is fragmented across highly specialized silos into care that is integrated across collaborative teams of health professionals.”

 

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Fernandez and Ronda Honored for Embodying Public School Success

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Rudy Fernandez and Barbara Ronda

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 11, 2017) — Two University of Miami leaders—Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government and community relations and chief of staff to President Julio Frenk, and Barbara Ronda, associate vice president and chief administrative officer for the University of Miami Health System—were among the high-achieving graduates of Miami-Dade County Public Schools honored last week by The Education Fund.

Fernandez and Ronda, both 1991 graduates of Southwest High School, and 23 other community and business leaders received the Sapoznik Insurance Public School Alumni Achievement Awards at the fund’s annual For the Love of Art charity auction at the Miami Airport Convention Center on May 10 for embodying the success of a public school education.

The Education Fund, a nonprofit, works with the private sector to support and promote quality public education in Miami-Dade’s public schools by providing teachers and students with resources they need to be successful. Each year, the organization honors distinguished alumni who have made an impact on Miami-Dade County, which Fernandez and Ronda  have—and which their early leadership roles portended. Back in 1991, he was Southwest’s student government president and she its senior class president.

Today, Fernandez, who also serves on the boards of the United Way of Miami-Dade, the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the third class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a national leadership development initiative that draws upon the resources of three U.S. presidential centers.

Prior to joining UM in 2007, Fernandez served as special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush White House and held senior positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign, and the Republican National Committee.

In addition to her duties at UM, Ronda serves on the board of directors of the Health Foundation of South Florida, which promotes health and disease prevention in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. She also was selected last year for the inaugural class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship, a cutting-edge program that accelerates the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health care.

Ronda, who joined UM in 2013, previously served as assistant vice president for strategic operations and business development at the  International Medicine Institute and as director of strategic operations and business development for managed care.

Prior to joining UM, she held several positions in the Jackson Health System and at Miami Children’s Hospital.

 

 

 

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