Meet our Pioneer Members
RALPH L. GAZITUA
INTERNATIONAL TRADE & LOGISTICS
Ralph L. and operated Foreign Trade Zone and Logistics company proudly celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017.
Mr. Gazitúa is actively involved in the business and cultural development of the South Florida community. He currently serves as Chair for the Supply Chain Management Advisory Committee for Miami Dade College’s School of Business, and was inducted into Miami Dade College’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He has served as trade and logistics advisor for a number of organizations including the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC), Miami Dade County’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), and the Doral Business Council. He is a Deacon of the Catholic Church, and Chaplain for both the Everglades Correctional Center and Miami-Dade Police Department.
In 1972 he married Cookie Justiz Gazitua and has two grown sons, Luis Andre, an attorney, and Sean Paul, WTDC President & CEO.
Gazitúa is Chairman of WTDC, a 3rd generation family-owned
DR. ALEJANDRO BADIA
CHIEF EXECUTICE OFFICER, ORTHONOW
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Alejandro Badia, MD, FACS is an internationally renowned hand and upper extremity surgeon. Dr. Badia graduated from Cornell University and completed his medical degree at NYU. He served as the worldwide president of ISSPORTH and co-founded the globally recognized Miami Anatomical Research and Training Center and The Surgery Center at Doral, an elite state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center. After years of a successful medical career and a prestigious speaking legacy, he saw a need for specialized orthopedic urgent care centers to efficiently assess and treat a range of orthopedic and sports injuries and founded OrthoNOW®, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent franchise. Each OrthoNOW® has a team of orthopedic specialists on staff that treat broken bones, sprains, torn ligaments and muscles, cuts, sports and workers compensation injuries. Dr. Badia, a two-time South Florida Business Journal Top 100 Power Leaders in Healthcare and a Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leader by Diversity MBA Magazine, has also been honored with Legacy Awards from Today's Work Comp Professionals and The Doral Business Council. OrthoNOW® was named a “Top Ten Franchise Opportunity” in healthcare by Entrepreneur Magazine and featured in the following media: Franchise Times, Orthopedics This Week, South Florida Business Journal, Franchise USA Magazine and The Miami Herald.
LILLIAN A. SER, ESQ.
FOUNDING & MANAGING PARTNER, SER & ASSOCIATES
At heart, Lillian is an entrepreneur, a trait she shares with many of her clients. As such, Lillian started her own practice, Ser & Associates, in 2009 and has never looked back. Lillian’s education (M.B.A. and J.D.), coupled with her business and legal experience garnered over the years, prepared her for establishing her own firm and doing what she enjoys most – being closely involved in advising her clients on all aspects of their business, corporate and real estate legal issues. Lillian has become a constant business and legal advisor to her clients while functioning as their legal counsel with regard to all phases of a client’s business, from formation to real estate transactions and development. Prior to starting her own firm Lilly worked with two of Florida’s largest and best-known law firms, practicing in the areas of real estate and land use and after moved to a land developer as its general counsel, where she managed all legal matters in connection with a $600 Million mixed-use commercial project. Lillian is a triple cane, having received her Juris Doctor (magna cum laude), Master of Business Administration (cum laude), and Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Miami.
MARIA PLAITIS MENDEZ
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT & BRANCH MANAGER, AMTRUST BANK DORAL
INTERNATIONAL TRADE & LOGISTICS
As the 2nd Vice President Branch Manager for Amtrust Bank a Division of New York Community Bancorp, Maria Plaitis Mendez has been proudly serving the Doral area for the past decade. With over 30 years of retail banking experience, Mrs. Mendez was responsible for spearheading the Doral branch’s outreach initiative which led to the forging of strong business partnerships throughout the community. During this time, she has been instrumental in helping increase the bank’s profit share by cultivating client relationships and growing deposits. Since then, Mrs. Mendez has also been a strong supporter of nonprofit programs, advocating for the financial literacy training of greater Miami’s youth and at risk members. Ms. Mendez’s career in banking began in 1985 as a teller for Landmark Bank. Following an acquisition with Nations Bank, she became Head Teller in 1991. Four years later, Mrs. Mendez transitioned to Bank of America where she continued to develop her teams as Customer Service Manager and was promoted to Assistant Vice President Customer Service Manager in 2000. After joining the Amtrust Bank family in 2005 as Customer Service Manager, Mrs. Mendez was promoted to Branch Manager just three years later. As a dedicated wife and mother of two, Ms. Mendez constantly strives to strike an effective work-life balance while remaining committed to her family and profession.
PRESIDENT & OWNER, DORAL LINCOLN
Luis Somoano is a successful executive, who with his family has established one of the most thriving businesses in the automobile industry, Doral Lincoln. Doral Lincoln, with more than 90 employees, is located in the city of Doral.
Mr. Somoano started in this business in 1984 having previously founded Heat Motors in 1987. Mr. Somoano has been in the car business for over 30 years and has celebrated over 8 years at Doral Lincoln. Doral Lincoln is the #1 Lincoln volume dealer in the Southeast for the last 6 years in a row. Additionally, Doral Lincoln is home to a high volume luxury and non-luxury pre owned sales center and a full service and parts department as well.
PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GMCVB
TOURISM & HOSPITALITY
William D. Talbert, III, CDME is the Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and serves on the Board's Executive Committee. He served as President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) for the past seventeen years and Chief Operating Officer for the prior nine. His major accomplishments include assisting with the passage of the Travel Promotion Act of 2010; negotiating inter-local government funding agreements; preparing five successful Super Bowl bids, including the most recent bid for the NFL’s centennial year 2020 Super Bowl; and three Pow Wow bids. Under Talbert’s leadership, the GMCVB was awarded accreditation from the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program in November 2007. In June 2016, Talbert was appointed to the United States Commerce Department’s 2016-2018 Travel & Tourism Advisory Board. The Board serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States and offers recommendations on implementation of the National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Talbert holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. In 2006, he earned the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation – the highest educational achievement in the destination marketing industry.
DAVID W. MARTINEZ
VICE PRESIDENT & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, BURKE CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION & URBAN PLANNING
David W. Martinez began his career thirty years ago, as a staff accountant and local municipality’s auditor. In 1992 he opened his own CPA firm with services that included tax, financial, audit and consulting, with a heavy concentration in the construction industry. Mr. Martinez has also been highly recognized as an expert in construction accounting and has handled over $200 million worth of owner direct purchase programs for local municipalities. In 2000, Mr. Martinez became one of the partners in The Tower Group and helped build that company to one of Florida’s leading contractors with 250 employees and annual revenues in excess of $200M. That firm was sold in 2006 and in 2007, Mr. Martinez, along with Anthony Burke, launched Burke Construction Group, Inc. Together these two have completed over $3.1 billion of construction projects throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.