Tag Archive | "Government and Community Relations"

Tags: ,

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)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 and 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.”



Posted in Appointments, NewsComments Off

Chief of Staff Named Presidential Leadership Scholar

Tags: ,

Chief of Staff Named Presidential Leadership Scholar

Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 1, 2017) – Rudy Fernandez, chief of staff to UM president Julio Frenk and vice president for government and community relations, is among 60 leaders across the nation selected for the third class of Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program, a unique leadership development initiative that draws upon the resources of the presidential centers of George W. BushWilliam J. ClintonGeorge H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

“I am honored and humbled to be included among this distinguished group of leaders,” said Fernandez, one of only two 2017 class members from Florida.”The first 20 years of my career have had a public policy focus, so this will be an invaluable opportunity to study presidential leadership and leverage the resources of these four prestigious presidential centers.”

As chief of staff, Fernandez serves as a senior advisor to UM President Julio Frenk on strategic objectives and operational issues, often leading major initiatives on behalf of the president. Fernandez also served as chief of staff to former UM President Donna E. Shalala, and he played a key role in the presidential transition at UM.

Prior to joining the University, Fernandez was special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs in the George W. Bush White House. He also held senior positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign and the Republican National Committee. He has a bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the University of Miami.

Comprised of  veterans, educators, public servants, and corporate professionals, the third PLS class was selected after a rigorous application and review process, and was based on each member’s leadership growth potential and the strength of personal leadership projects aimed at improving the civic or social good by addressing a problem or need in a community, profession, or organization.

Over the course of several months, the scholars will travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, key administration officials, and leading academics. They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership, develop a network of peers, and exchange ideas with mentors and others who can help them make an impact in their communities.

The program begins in Washington, D.C. on February 7, where scholars will visit the National Archives and Records Administration, Mount Vernon, and the White House Historical Association, and explore personal and professional development areas, including core values and civility.

The latest class, which also includes Rory Diamond, the chief executive officer of K9s For Warriors, in north Florida’s Neptune Beach, joins the alumni network of 121 scholars in the program.

To learn more about the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, visit www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org.


Posted in Honors, News, Priority: Home Page TeaserComments Off

All Eyes on the U as UM Hosts GOP Debate


All Eyes on the U as UM Hosts GOP Debate

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

DebateCORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 10, 2016)—Matthew Deblinger, president of the University of Miami School of Law’s Student Bar Association, walked into Thursday’s CNN Republican presidential debate hoping to witness an intellectually driven discussion about improving the nation.

“Our country has serious issues that need to be resolved under the next administration, from a big national debt to an imminent environmental crisis,” said Deblinger. “But these global concerns have gotten lost in the theatrics of this year’s primaries.”

Deblinger, who is on track to graduate from Miami Law in May and plans to pursue a career in politics, was one of about 60 UM students who attended the GOP debate inside the BankUnited Center, where candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and UM alumnus Marco Rubio faced off just five days ahead of next week’s critical Florida primary.

For Monica Bustinza, president of UM’s Get Out the Vote initiative, the event provided her with “a better understanding of how debates work internally and the efforts that go into making them possible.”

As president of UM’s Get Out the Vote initiative, Bustinza conducts voter registration drives on the UM campus twice a week, educating students about the voting process and providing them with nonpartisan information on political candidates. Having watched every debate this election season from home, she said it was a “privilege” to finally witness a live debate, especially one that was held before she would cast her ballot next Tuesday.

Medical student Hong-Uyen Hua, executive president of the Miller School of Medicine’s Student Government, said she felt “humbled” and “lucky” to attend the debate. “With Florida’s primary around the corner, I hope to use this opportunity to learn more about our presidential candidates and to be an informed voter,” she said.

During the two-hour debate, moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper, candidates sparred over issues ranging from the economy and immigration to education reform and social security.

“An opportunity to see democracy in action first-hand” is how Casey Klofstad, associate professor of political science, described the debate’s impact on students.

“To give a group of our students access to a high-profile event such as this is exactly what we should do as an institution of higher learning,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely. “Our students will become the next generation of leaders, and the debate gives them the unique opportunity to experience the process of political discourse up close and personal.”

University of Miami President Julio Frenk and Board of Trustees Chair Stuart Miller were among those in attendance. “Democracy is more than an ideal—it is a rigorous and participatory exercise of our rights and duties,” Frenk said to the audience during the debate’s opening portion that was not televised by CNN. “There are still many months to go before November 1, and I have no doubt that our state and our city will play a crucial role by making sure that voices are heard and votes counted.”

For the University itself, the debate was another feather in its cap of notable and newsworthy events that have been held on the Coral Gables campus over the years—from a presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry to a visit by the Dalai Lama, from a campaign rally by Barack Obama to a talk by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

And just as they did for those occasions, UM departments and divisions played key roles in assisting and supporting the outside organizations that staged Thursday’s debate.

UM’s Information Technology department, for example, tackled one of the biggest jobs, providing voice data, Ethernet, wireless, and fiber-optic services that allowed CNN to cover and broadcast the debate to millions of viewers.

“We started preparing two weeks out and really ramped up our efforts last week,” said Cesar Ferreiro, director of IT, noting that CNN, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Republican National Committee all praised his team’s efforts. “We’ve done this for many important events, including debates, so having that kind of on-the-ground experience certainly didn’t hurt.”

Working closely with Coral Gables Police, the UM Police Department took the lead in planning and executing a security plan for the entire debate week. “It was a tremendous team effort,” said UMPD Chief of Police David Rivero. “After word got out that we’d be hosting the debate, agencies from across the county started calling to find out how they could assist us. The UM name attracts people who want to be associated with us.”

In all, more than 100 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were involved. Miami Dade Police sent bomb-sniffing dogs, City of Miami Police sent bomb technicians and mobile command units, and the FBI and Secret Service also played support roles.

The Herbert Wellness Center’s entire second-floor main gym was transformed into a media filing center and spin room, where reporters spoke with debate participants and their representatives.

“It looks like a Hollywood movie set,” said Wellness Center Executive Director Scott Levin, describing the spacious gym’s conversion—a process that included setting up a giant high-definition TV screen and multiple smaller monitors, setting up video boards around the room that offered statistics on the voting patterns of different groups, and installing workstations to accommodate 500 members of the media.

The Herbert Wellness Center, which also served as the media filing and spin room when UM hosted the 2004 presidential debate, remained open on the days leading up to the GOP debate, closing only on Thursday. “We tried to minimize the impact on our members,” said Levin. “It’s been exciting for us to be part of this and have such an active role. Millions of people were watching. How do you put a value on that?”

The Student Center Complex was a hub of activity on debate day, as CNN en Español, the network’s 24-hour Spanish-language television and radio news channel, broadcasted from the newly renovated Storm Surge space in the Whitten University Center. Meanwhile, the UM College Republicans staged a debate watch party in the Shalala Student Center’s third-floor ballroom, and the Republican Party of Florida hosted a private event in the center.

On the University of Miami’s Foote Green Thursday morning, it was a New Day, and CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo greeted a nation rising from a night’s sleep with an address familiar to all ’Canes: “Welcome to the U,” said Cuomo, as he and his co-host flashed the ever-popular U sign to open the network’s morning news show.

Indeed, for most of the week, the massive green space in front of the institution’s Richter Library, dominated the spotlight, as CNN aired its popular lineup of news shows from that location—the iconic U statue visible in the background for many on-air shots. Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, and Anderson Cooper were among the other CNN anchors on campus.

The debate came a day after Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off at Miami Dade College.

Posted in News, Priority: Slider Feature ItemComments Off

Rudy Fernandez Elected to United Way Board


Rudy Fernandez Elected to United Way Board

Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, the University’s vice president for government and community relations, has been elected to the executive committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade, where he joins other community and corporate leaders charged with advancing the organization’s mission of building community by helping people care for one another.

Also elected to the executive committee during the United Way’s June 30 annual meeting was Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of the Jackson Health System.

Fernandez, who joined the University in 2007, previously 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. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the University of Miami.

Posted in Appointments, News, Priority: Home Page More News, Priority: Home Page TeaserComments Off

Chamber Salutes  ‘JC’ del Valle for His Leadership


Chamber Salutes ‘JC’ del Valle for His Leadership

UM News

Juan Carlos 'JC' del Valle

Juan Carlos ‘JC’ del Valle

MIAMI, Fla. (June 5, 2015) —Juan Carlos “JC” del Valle, the University’s assistant vice president of Government and Community Relations, was honored for his significant contributions to the community last week by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, which recognized him for his leadership in government at its annual Salute to Miami’s Leaders awards luncheon.

Bestowed on alumni of the chamber’s Leadership Miami program, the awards recognize “community stars” who “make Miami a stronger, more vibrant community,” something del Valle has been devoted to his entire career. The immediate past chair of Leadership Miami, which prepares the next generation of Miami leaders to meet future challenges, he remains active with the chamber, serving on its board, as well as the boards of CareerSource Florida, the American Diabetes Association, uAspire, Florida Covering Kids and Families, and the One Community One Goal Steering Committee.

At UM, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration, del Valle oversees all University activities related to local government. He is also responsible for the community relations of several programs and for identifying new funding opportunities for the University via different government and business sectors.

Before joining UM in February 2008, as director of government affairs, del Valle was an assistant to the county manager of Miami-Dade County, where he was responsible for several key infrastructure departments. He started in Miami-Dade County as a senior policy analyst for former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, and then served as the assistant director of legislative affairs for former Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Del Valle also holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University.

Posted in Honors, News, Priority: Home Page TeaserComments Off

  • Features
  • Tags
  • Popular
  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
    Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

    You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

UM Facebook

UM Twitter