Eduardo J. Padrón
Former Secretary of Commerce, State of Florida; and Chairman, Advisory Committee, World Strategic Forum (WSF)
Bill Johnson became President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. on March 2, 2015 following a 35-year career with Miami-Dade County government. Governor Scott appointed Bill to lead the agency that is the state’s principal economic development organization serving as a public private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders. The position also serves as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.
Enterprise Florida's mission is to facilitate job growth for the state through business recruitment and expansion; to assist small and minority businesses through capital programs; and to assist Florida businesses in export and international trade. During his tenure with Miami-Dade, Bill served in a number of executive positions including eight years as Director of Port Miami; and, as an Assistant County Manager, he had oversight of Miami International Airport. Bill also served as Director of the MiamiDade Water & Sewer Department and has had management responsibility for a number of the County’s large infrastructure projects including construction of the American Airlines Arena and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
As a government administrator, Bill earned a reputation as a key trouble-shooter, problem solver and proponent of economic development. At Port Miami, Bill launched one of the most ambitious capital development programs in the port’s history, including public-private partnerships such as the Port Miami tunnel and the deepening of the port’s channel to accommodate the super-sized cargo vessels that will begin passing through an expanded Panama Canal in 2016. On the cruise side of the business, Bill presided over the largest expansion ever of new cruise brands and new cruise vessels solidifying Port Miami as the “Cruise Capital of the World.”
In 2014, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez asked Bill to take over leadership of the Water and Sewer Department, where he launched an ambitious capital program to upgrade and expand the Miami-Dade’s critical water and sewer system. These improvements will enable future growth and economic viability, along with environmental sustainability, throughout Miami’s urban core and adjacent areas.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Bill holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee and has served in a number of leadership roles in business, maritime and economic development organizations at the national and international levels including: Vice President, International Association of Ports and Harbors; Chairman, Florida Ports Council; Chairman, World Trade Center Miami Board of Directors; Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors Board of Directors; US Chamber Let’s Rebuild America Leadership Council and International Policy Committee; Federal Reserve Bank Trade and Transportation Advisory Council; Florida District Export Council; Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Governors; Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Circle; and Past Chair, Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce.
CEO & Port Director, Port Everglades
Steven Cernak serves as Chief Executive and Port Director for Port Everglades, a self-supporting enterprise fund of Broward County, FL, that generated more than $153 million in FY2014 and is ranked among the nation’s leading container ports and a world leader in the cruise industry. Florida’s top container port, Port Everglades annually exceeds 1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, which is the industry standard used to measure containers), is the second busiest cruise port in the world and is South Florida’s main seaport for receiving petroleum products including gasoline, jet fuel and alternative fuels.
Mr. Cernak, who joined Port Everglades in March 2012, previously served as the port director and chief executive officer for the Port of Galveston, Texas, from 1999 until his selection for the top position at Port Everglades. He also served as president of the Galveston Port Facilities Corporation, a nonprofit corporation formed to promote redevelopment at the Port of Galveston and related entities, since May 2002. During this time period, the Port of Galveston’s revenues doubled and it became the top cruise home port in the Gulf of Mexico.
Prior to moving to Texas, Mr. Cernak was the manager of Port Development for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He also held engineering positions with several private engineering consultancies in New Jersey.
Currently, Mr. Cernak is Chairman of the Florida Ocean Alliance, Vice Chairman of the Florida Ports Council, a Board Member for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, and a Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Board Member. He is also a member of National Waterways Conference and the District Export Council. As an active member of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), Mr. Cernak serves on the Board of Directors, is Chairman of the South Atlantic Regional Caucus, serves as Vice Chairman of the U.S. Delegation and is a Legislative Policy Committee member.
Cernak has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and master’s degree in business administration from Dowling College in Oakdale, New York.
CEO, Abacode Cybersecurity Experts
Mr. Ferris has been a Founder, Chairman and CEO of several companies throughout his 20-year career.
Michael began his entrepreneurial aspirations in 1992 after playing football at Missouri Southern State University. Soon thereafter, Mr. Ferris moved to Florida and started TBR Asset Management. After selling TBR, Michael founded Valet Living www.valetliving.com and spent 17 years creating a market-leading company that provided innovative services and technology to the multifamily real estate sector.
Valet’s principal partner was New Mountain Capital private equity group.
In 2012 Mr. Ferris founded Cerca Trova Holdings. www.cercatrovaholdings.com
Cerca Trova has two related firms.
Occam Technology Group - www.occamtechgroup.com
Occam Technology Group is an award winning engineering firm that designs and develops intelligent, sensor-based products and devices for organizations throughout the world. OTG has special expertise in system level design, embedded security, communication protocols and the integration of IoT (Internet of Things).
Abacode Cybersecurity – www.abacode.com
Abacode is a technology firm solely dedicated to cybersecurity and the cyber-threat landscape for businesses in the Americas, Caribbean, LATAM and Europe. As a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) Abacode employs global thought leaders and industry experts in ethical hacking, cryptography and corporate governance which provides organizations with strategic solutions and guidance before attacks become disruptions and financial hardships.
Mr. Ferris is a member of the Real Estate Roundtable and sits on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity Taskforce Committee in Washington DC.
Michael is involved in numerous business organizations and international committees, and was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. Michael has been a Judge for the EY awards program from 2012 – 2017.
Mr. Ferris is a proud contributor to the Occam STEM Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Marine Corps. Heritage Foundation.
Managing Director & Head of Latin America, Berkeley Research Group
Frank Holder leads BRG’s Latin America Practice. With over 20 years of experience, he has directed corporate investigations and security consulting assignments in Latin America and the United States. The investigative matters include large-scale internal fraud and public corruption investigations, product protection, litigation support, due diligence, and hostile takeovers. As a security expert, he designed the security for international airports, seaports, and complex multijurisdictional distribution networks. Mr. Holder began his career with the U.S. Air Force as a political-military analyst for the U.S. embassy in Argentina and as a special agent for the Office of Special Investigations at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, with responsibilities in areas including counterintelligence and force protection. He is an accomplished public speaker and has given numerous presentations throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil on a broad range of topics such as money laundering, risk management, homeland security, and operational risk. Mr. Holder has written articles on similar topics for U.S. and Latin American newspapers and professional journals and has taught courses in Political Science and Law on the Inter-American system at the Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires.
Eduardo J. Padrón
President, Miami Dade College
An American by choice, Eduardo J. Padrón arrived in the United States as a teenage refugee in 1961. Since 1995, he has served as President of Miami Dade College (MDC), the largest institution of higher education in America with more than 165,000 students. He is credited with elevating MDC into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities. An economist by training, Dr. Padrón earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. In 2016, President Barack Obama bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. In 2009, TIME magazine included him on the list of “The 10 Best College Presidents.” In 2010, Florida Trend magazine named him “Floridian of the Year.” In 2011, The Washington Post named him one of the eight most influential college presidents in the U.S. Also in 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Corporation Centennial Academic Leadership Award. More recently, he received the Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service and the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship. President Padrón’s energetic leadership extends to many of the nation’s leading organizations. He is the past chair of the board of directors of the American Council on Education (ACE) and of the board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). He serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, Achieving the Dream, Inc., and is the chairman of the Business-Higher Ed Forum. He has been appointed to key national posts by six American Presidents. He is a prolific writer and has more than 15 honorary doctorates.
- Karl Sestak, Chief of Staff, Carnival Cruise Line
CFO & SVP Finance, GMCVB