Maria Elena Ibañez Founder and President Intermark Foods/El Latino
With an exceptional track record building fast-growing, highly successful companies, first in information technology, and now in Hispanic food products, Maria Elena is often referred to as a serial entrepreneur. She led her two prior companies into the Elite Inc 500 list and has already led Intermark Foods to be recognized among the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies three times in a row-- 2009, 2010, and 2011. Maria Elena launched her "El Latino" brand in 2002 and built it into one of the fastest growing Hispanic food brands in the nation. El Latino offers Latin consumers the authentic flavors of their roots, prepared with carefully selected ingredients of the highest quality. Her products are widely distributed through major supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, Publix, Winn-Dixie and all the Hispanic supermarkets in the Southeast.
Maria Elena is a Computer Science graduate from FIU, where she served on the Board of Trustees. She has been involved in a number of boards and community organizations including: The Beacon Council, The Fiduciary Trust, Sprint and President Clinton's Southern Region Advisory Committee for Economic Development.
Mitchell Kaplan the founder of Books & Books & Co-Founder
of the Miami Book Fair
Books & Books, an independent bookstore in Coral Gables, Florida, opened its doors in 1982. He is also co-founder and guiding light of the Miami Book Fair, which he has helped to direct since its founding in 1984.
Born in Miami, Florida, Kaplan pioneered independent bookselling, making Books & Books a success at a time when long-established bookstores began going out of business. One of his most popular strategies has been bringing touring authors to the store for lectures, readings and signings.
Mitchell is the former President of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and also served on the Board of ABFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. In 2011, Mitchell received the National Book Foundation’s prestigious “Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community”.
Today Books and Books has three locations in South Florida, plus stores in Grand Cayman, Miami International Airport, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. and the newest location at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.
American Dreamer & 2013 ESummit Keynote Speaker
President of City Furniture
City Furniture is a retail furniture company with 24 showrooms in South Florida under two brands, City Furniture and Ashley Furniture HomeStores.
City Furniture evolved from Waterbed City which was started in 1971 by Mr. Koenig’s late brother, Kevin. Keith became Kevin’s partner in Waterbed City directly after receiving his MBA from the University of Florida. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida. Mr. Koenig is active in many South Florida community organizations, and has received local and national recognition, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the UF MBA Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the Furniture Retailer of the Year Award. He is past board chair of the University of Florida Foundation, and he chaired the Broward County Regional Council for the UF “Florida Tomorrow” $1.5 Billion Capital Campaign. He was made a Knight of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II.
President and CEO of ALL AMERICAN CONTAINERS INC.,
& Presidential Award Recipient for Excellence in Export
All American Containers, Inc. founded in 1991 is a leading supplier in the United States of glass, plastic and metal containers and caps with operations in Miami, Tampa, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Atlanta and Dallas, producing innovative containers for the food & beverage, chemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
Prior to All American Containers, Mrs. Díaz -Oliver was Director and Consultant of the New World School of Language in Miami, Florida; President of the Association of Exporters, Freight Forwarders and Manufacturers of Greater Miami and Vice President and Member of the Board of Havana Business Academy and Havana Business College, as well as tenure (past and current) on the boards of the following corporations: Avon Products, Inc., Barnett Bank (Bank of America), American Cancer Society, Cuban Liberty Council and many more. She was appointed in 1988 and 1992 to the Advisory Board Trade Policy, Negotiations and International Policy for the President of the United States. Mrs. Díaz Oliver was the first woman to receive the “E” award (for excellence in export) from the President of the United States and the only Florida woman to be a member of the Board of Directors of three Fortune 500 companies, simultaneously.
John Ruffin, Jr.
Founder of J.D. Ruffin & Associates, CEO of Trans Ocean Investment Services
& Chairman of the United Negro College Fund
John Ruffin Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree at Morgan State University and a master’s degree from Cornell University. Mr. Ruffin came to South Florida in 1980 as the Vice President of Pantry Pride, Inc. and became the owner of the first black-owned radio station in South Florida. John and his wife, Dottie, formed J.D. Ruffin Associates, Inc. He is also the CEO of Trans Ocean Investment Services, LC- a firm dedicated to business opportunities between Africa, the US, Caribbean and Latin America. JD Ruffin Associates, Inc. has been responsible for helping to provide scholarships in Florida and North Carolina totaling $250,000 over the past 20 years.
As Chairman of the United Negro College Fund, Mr. Ruffin was instrumental in raising over $1 million for scholarships in Broward County. He has also been a chairman of the following organizations: The Urban League of Broward County, The Community Foundation of Broward, National Conference for Community and Justice of Broward & Palm Beach Counties and the Internet Coast Initiative Council. John Ruffin, Jr. is a Leadership Broward and Leadership Florida graduate and a founding board member of the Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern University.
Tate Capital, LLC
Mr. Tate began his business career in 1949, building single and multi-family residential properties. By the late 1950s, Stanley Tate Builders, Inc., broadened its scope to include commercial and industrial properties as well as providing leasing and consulting services. In 1969 he focused on condominium development and shopping center, apartment, office-building, warehouse, restaurant, and residential construction. During the $17 billion REIT crisis in the 1970’s, Mr. Tate’s expertise was sought after by many REITs, Nationally Chartered Banks and Courts (Federal and State) and the New York Federal Bankruptcy Court. Mr. Tate was appointed by the New York Federal Bankruptcy Court as Trustee to establish a work-out Plan of Arrangement for Associated Mortgage Investors, Inc. and Chase Manhattan Bank, the lead lender for 27 National and State chartered banks involved in this work-out. Mr. Tate’s efforts concluded with a 100% pay back of all of the individual banks’ invested capital. Due to Mr. Tate’s success with the Associated Mortgage Investors, his expertise was used to oversee the workouts of 12 other REITS in similar need. Mr. Tate participated in the formation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, which laid the foundation for the Resolution Trust Corporation (“RTC”). In 1989 he was named Chairman of Region 1 of the RTC, which included 20 states on the Eastern seaboard. In 1993, Mr. Tate was nominated by then-President Clinton for appointment as CEO of the RTC
Tate Capital, LLC
Jimmy Tate, along with his brother, Kenny, co-founded Tate Development Corporation in 1986. Tate Development Corporation has developed a range of asset types, including: condominiums, apartments, single and multi-family homes, industrial parks and commercial retail properties. The Tate family has successfully developed, built and or managed over 7,000 single family and multi-family residences throughout the United States and has developed, operated and managed approximately five million square feet of retail and office space, hotels/casinos, golf courses, office buildings, motels and industrial parks throughout the United States and the Caribbean. From 1993 through 1996, Tate Development Corp. managed the reconstruction efforts for approximately 2,000 multifamily and single family residences which were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Mr. Tate, along with his brother, Kenny, also founded a number of well-known companies in Florida, New York, Los Angeles and the Dominican Republic, in the fields of real estate development, general contracting, clothing manufacturing, management and finance. In 2009, Jimmy and Kenny formed Tate Capital, LLC which, over the past four years, has been an active purchaser of over $600 million of institutional grade real estate related distressed debt. The Tate’s have successfully been able to convert most of this debt into ownership positions for which they oversee all asset and property management. Mr. Tate currently holds Board positions with Mount Sinai Medical Center Board of Trustees, North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art Advisory Board and Miami Country Day School Development Committee.
Tate Capital, LLC
Kenny Tate has started a number of private companies in South Florida over the past 30 years. With his brother Jimmy, Mr. Tate was a co-founder in the Tate Development Corporation. Kenny has had a certified general contracting license in the State of Florida for over 30 years and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State of Florida Contractors Licensing Board for seven years. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Mr. Tate was directly involved in the management and work-out of distressed real estate as a Receiver for multiple State Courts in Dade and Broward County. In the 1980’s thru the late 2000’s, Mr. Tate was an owner and the managing partner of the Villa del Ray Golf Club, an 18 hole championship golf course located in Delray Beach, Florida. In 1996, Jimmy and Kenny formed TKO Apparel Inc, a clothing manufacturer of many national name brands produced and sold around the world. Currently, in addition to operating the TKO family of apparel companies, Kenny and Jimmy, own and manage a number of institutional grade multi-family and commercial properties throughout the United States. Mr. Tate graduated from Vanderbilt University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering and Duke University, where he earned an MBA. Kenny currently serves on the board of Nova Southeastern University, the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, and Kids In Distress. He has been married to his wife, Sandy, since 1977 and together they have three adult daughters.
Entrepreneur Catalyst Award
Founder, Venture Hive
Co-Founder, The Launch Pad; Founder, Venture Hive
Dr. Susan Amat is a serial entrepreneur, promoting concerts in Miami at age 15. Before 25, she started a record label, national television show and the first CD-ROM magazine. Susan returned to South Florida to complete her bachelor’s degree, earned an MBA and developed products for child health monitoring. Dr. Amat also co-founded The Launch Pad at the University of Miami. The international model for entrepreneurship education, TLP has been replicated with support from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, creating the only national network of collegiate entrepreneurs.
With the support of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Dr. Amat founded Venture Hive. Venture Hive is a technology accelerator based on economic development principals, recruiting new talent in focused verticals based on the strengths of Miami: healthcare, travel/hospitality, and creative industries.
Dr. Amat is the Chair of Startup Florida, authors monthly columns in the Miami Herald and the South Florida Business Journal, is currently an International Women’s Forum Leadership Fellow and is in the XXXI class of Leadership Florida. In 2012, Dr. Amat was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change. She loves her husband Luis, and children Frances (6) and Dominic (1).
Entrepreneur to Watch Award
Peace Love World is a lifestyle brand and Alina Villasante’s vision of life. Born in Cuba, Alina moved to South Florida where she and her best friends became known as: Peace, Love, and Happiness. Alina was Love. Alina built a successful aviation business and raised three children. In 1999, she launched the annual “Love Party” and designed t-shirts, pajamas, and jewelry which incorporated her signature symbols of Peace, Love and Happiness. Today, Peace Love World operates six stores in South Florida and three in Hong Kong. The brand is sold online, in 1,800 boutiques and department stores and is distributed in 18 countries. In 2013 she will debut casual clothes line with Coca-Cola, and a luggage collection with Heys USA. Peace Love World is frequently worn by celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Ellen DeGeneres. Peace Love World spreads peace and love through numerous philanthropic endeavors.
2013 American Dreamers
"The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity."
Contact Josie Bacallao 954-683-2028 (cell) or 954-342-0298 (Direct)
Hispanic Unity was founded more than 31 years ago by community leaders to ease the acculturation transition for newcomers from other nations. Today this nonprofit provides 19 programs, in three languages, to Broward’s diverse community. Learn more