Directory2023-02-07T10:12:49-05:00

Meet the Team

dean schriner

Brian Schriner
Dean
schriner@fiu.edu
305-348-3176

Brian is an accomplished educator, administrator, fundraiser, strategic thinker, and change maker with a 34-year proven track record of collaboration and success in higher education. He was appointed Dean of the FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) in 2009 and also serves as the university’s Cultural Arts Liaison for the Office of the Provost, which includes collaborating with the University’s three accredited museums: The Wolfsonian-FIU, FIU Phillip and Patricia Frost Art Museum, and the FIU Jewish Museum of Florida.

In support of his vision of “access to excellence,” Brian has strategically enhanced CARTA’s student enrollment, faculty and staff, career-ready degree offerings, reputation and brand awareness, financial base, signature partnerships, and physical footprint — all in support of the diverse communities the college serves. 

Unique in the composition of its academic disciplines, CARTA is united by its mission “Creative Forces At Work” and its commitment to prepare diverse leaders with global perspectives through applied learning, research, and creative activities. Composed of 4 schools, 8 academic departments, and 5 centers/institutes, Brian has grown the college’s diverse student body by 230% to more than 4,000 students from 91 countries (70% Hispanic; 11% African American; and 72% Female) and its world class faculty by 100% (140 full-time and 150 part-time faculty). 

In support of students’ success, Brian established the South Florida Media Network, the EPPY-winning digital media platform for students in journalism and media, and he initiated a number of the college’s career-ready undergraduate and graduate degree programs, such as Digital Media, Graphic Design, Animation, Musical Theatre, Object Design, and the Doctor of Design, the first degree of its kind in Florida and only 1 of 5 in the country. 

As of 2022, CARTA is ranked #11 for US Public Institutions for Innovation by World Universities With Real Impacts, and all of the college’s academic degree programs are ranked nationally: 3 in the Top 50 and all in the Top 65 among US Public Institutions. QS World Rankings ranks the college’s School of Architecture #16 and the college’s programs in Arts + Humanities #48; the Academic Rankings of World Universities ranks the college’s School of Communication + Journalism #64; and Diverse Issues In Higher Education ranks CARTA as the #1 Producer of Minority Graduate Degrees in Architecture. Additionally, CARTA’s Student Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) established by the Florida Board of Governors consistently are among the best in the university for student retention and time-to-graduation, and consistently leads the Florida State University System for employment of its graduates within the college’s disciplines.

Brian has also raised over $85 million in auxiliary and philanthropic support for the college’s student-centric mission, establishing an auxiliary revenue-generating unit within the college, FIU By Design, and securing several seven-figure gifts in support of students’ success, including the largest gift to a school of music and the largest gift to a journalism and media program in the history of the Florida State University System. 

In support of his vision, Brian has also strategically expanded the college’s physical footprint on campus and in the community and has established several signature partnerships. He was the primary architect of CARTA facilities’ renovation on the Biscayne Bay Campus, including establishing The Forum, and open-air gathering space for students, surrounded by the newly created South Florida Media Network’s newsroom and renovated TV Broadcast Studio, the renovated student-led Bold Agency’s strategic communication lab, and the newly established Carole and Phillip Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator, the Steven Cruz Institute for Science, Media, and Technology, and the Lee Caplin Immersive Studio for Altered Reality ( iSTAR).

Additionally, Brian founded and established the college’s collaborative interdisciplinary space, CARTA | Mana Wynwood, in the heart of Miami’s Art District, and college’s School of Architecture’s Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS) and the college’s Department of Art + Art History’s Miami Beach Visual Arts Gallery, both in the heart of South Beach. Brian also established the SFMN’s news bureaus in Miami, New York City, and Washington, DC, and he secured and/or expanded several student-centric, public-private partnerships, such as those with NBCUniversal Academy, TelevisaUnivision (STEP: Student Training and Employment Program), McClatchy, Hearst, Scripps-Howard, the Knight Foundation, the Ratcliffe Foundation, Caplin Family Foundation, the Berkowitz Family Foundation, Island TV, Mana Contemporary, and Miami Dade College’s MAGIC Studio.

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Marilys Nepomechie
Associate Dean of Faculty + Program Development
nepomech@fiu.edu
305-348-1887

Coordination of the hiring, development, assessment and assignment of the College’s faculty and the coordination of the assessment of the College’s academic programs. Marilys R. Nepomechie, FAIA, is also a Professor, practicing architect and 2015-16 President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Her professional and academic projects – focused on urban resilience and on the design of sustainable, affordable housing and infrastructure – are included in the archives of the National Building Museum. Funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the CINTAS Foundation, her work has been honored with over 40 design and research awards, national and international exhibition, and wide publication.

Katie Rothfield
Assistant Dean of Students
krothfie@fiu.edu
305-348-1884

A leader, strategist, and liaison in the design and implementation of CARTA’s mission-driven initiatives, Katie Rothfield, LEED AP, ID+C, IDEC, NEWH is also an award-winning interior architecture educator, NCIDQ certified interior designer, and champion for student success with nearly two decades of professional experience. She earned her BA in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Studio Art from Tufts University, an MFA in Interior Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and she studied at several renowned institutions, including the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Maine Media Workshops + College, and Queensland College of Art. Her recent accolades include FIU awards for Engagement Beyond the Classroom and Excellence in Teaching, the NEWH South Florida Chapter Silver Star Award, and the IIDA South Florida Chapter Educator of the Year Award.

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John Stuart
Associate Dean of Cultural and Community Engagement
stuartj@fiu.edu
305-535-1460

Administration, oversight, growth, promotion, and financial sustainability of CARTA | MBUS. John Stuart, AIA, is the Director of Miami Beach Urban Studios, and Professor, is a practicing registered architect in the State of Florida. He is also an architectural historian and a visual artist developing collaborative research projects on complexity, community, identity, technology, the environment and public space with funding from Van Alen Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Science Foundation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

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Maria Claverie
Associate Director of Alumni Relations
mgclaver@fiu.edu
305-348-1805

Maria G. Claverie holds a master’s degree in International Development Education from FIU. She has worked in higher education for more than 15 years and joined the CARTA team in 2011. Maria oversees the planning of alumni events, serves as the CARTA Alumni Liaison to the central Alumni Office, and engages alumni in the life of the College. She is also responsible for identifying prospective alumni donors and matching their philanthropic priorities with the College’s needs and their engagement with the Annual Fund. Maria also identifies, manages, and processes sponsorships for CARTA.

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Michael Delgado
Senior Special Events Manager
michdelg@fiu.edu
305-348-3176

Michael Delgado comes from a hospitality background and has collaborated alongside Marriott International, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Accor, and others in F&B brand consultation and various event activations. Michael is also a Florida International University alumnus and holds a Master of Science in Hospitality Management and a Bachelor of Business Administration. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with his family.

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Oliver Ionita
Senior Director of Development
oliver.ionita@fiu.edu
305-348-0045
Cell: 312-330-1483

Mr. Ionita has more than 20 years of fundraising experience, working for prestigious organizations including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Architecture, Design & the Arts.  He has also served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

He holds a Bachelor in Music Performance from The Juilliard School and a Masters of Arts in Performing Arts Administration from New York University (NYU).
Mr. Ionita partners with Dean Schriner and CARTA faculty and staff to identify strategic priorities and generate philanthropic support for the College.

Karla Kennedy 
Director of Online Learning
kkennedy@fiu.edu
305-919-4029

Dr. Karla D. Kennedy is a Florida native who has been involved in student speech and publications since her days in junior high school. Kennedy, a strong advocate for the freedoms and rights of students and student journalists, has advised various high school media for 19 years in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She served as the first Scholastic Journalism Outreach Coordinator for the University of Oregon at the George S. Turnbull Center located in downtown Portland, as well as the Executive Director of the Northwest Scholastic Press Association from 2012 to 2015. While at UO, she was honored with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Award in Equity and Inclusion. In 2007, the Florida Scholastic Press Association recognized Kennedy as the Morty Schaap Florida Journalism Teacher of the Year. She has taught Writing for Mass Communications, Writing Strategies, Multimedia Production, Media Law and Ethics, and Public Speaking. She wrote the curriculum and taught the Summer Journalism Institute at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami as well as advised the museum’s student publication, the MOCA’Zine.

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Jacek J. Kolasinski
Director of the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator
kolasins@fiu.edu
305-348-3362

Administration and oversight of the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator. Jacek J. Kolasinski is also a New-Media artist, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the Art + Art History Department at Florida International University. He came to the United States from Poland where he studied history and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. Kolasinski received his MFA and BFA from Florida International University in Miami.

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Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver
Director of The Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center For The Advancement of Women in Communication
lillian.kopenhaver@fiu.edu
305-919-4065

Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver is also dean emeritus and professor of the SJMC. She was named the Outstanding Woman in Journalism and Mass Communication Education for 2009 by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. A nationally known expert and researcher on the First Amendment, the scholastic and collegiate press, and the role and status of women in communication, she is the author of more than 115 scholarly articles, monographs and books.

She is past president of AEJMC, College Media Advisers, the Student Press Law Center, and the Community College Journalism Association. She holds the Wells Memorial Key from the Society of Professional Journalists, only the second woman in the history of the organization to win that award at that time, the CMA Distinguished Service Award, the AEJMC Newspaper Division Distinguished Service Award, the AEJMC Outstanding Leadership Award, the FIU Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Torch Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Rowan University. In 2011 she was awarded FIU’s Distinguished University Service Medallion for her outstanding contributions to FIU, as well as her distinguished service to the profession and the community.

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Shahin Vassigh
Director of Technology Research Development
svassigh@fiu.edu
305-348-3032

Shahin Vassigh has a Master of Architecture, Master of Urban Planning, and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. She has considerable professional experience through her work at various consulting engineering firms ranging from bridge design/analysis to large-scale building construction and design. She has built a nationally recognized body of research work focused on improving structures and technology education by developing alternative teaching pedagogies that utilize digital media.

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Lillian Abreu
Research Associate and Program Officer
labreu@fiu.edu
305-919-4095

Lillian Anne Abreu is currently the Research Associate and Senior Program Officer at the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University (FIU).

Abreu received her doctoral degree in social welfare at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at FIU. Her research agenda focuses on social and economic mobility and Hispanic women living in the United States. Abreu also received a Master’s in science in Fundraising Management and Nonprofit Administration from Columbia University, a Master’s in Science in Social Work from Loyola University, and a Bachelor’s in Science in Social Work from Florida State University.

In her twenty-year-plus career in nonprofit and higher education fields, Lillian has dedicated her career to empowering underserved communities in Florida, Illinois, and New York. Before joining FIU, Lillian’s expertise in social services, nonprofit administration, fundraising, program development, and community engagement has assisted public and private organizations to meet their strategic objectives.   

As the Research Associate and Senior Program Officer for the Kopenhaver Center, Abreu spearheads research and programming initiatives and is responsible for inclusive programming to advance women in communication and other disciplines throughout the College of Communication, Architecture, + The Arts.  

Presently, Lillian resides in the Village of Biscayne Park in Miami, FL, and is dedicated to her family, friends, and adopted rescue dogs, Maxi and Kenny.

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Daisy Chiong Delgado
Office Assistant 
dchiongd@fiu.edu
305-348-2540

Daisy Chiong Delgado has over 35 years of Higher Education experience. Before joining FIU she worked at the University of Miami for 25 years in Office Management and Sponsored Research at both the Coral Gables and Medical Campuses. Daisy joined CARTA in 2014 as the Secretary for School of Music Graduate Director and has since then worked for the college in the areas office assistance , student assistance and facilities.

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Jessica Szmuler
Administrative Specialist
jszmuler@fiu.edu
305-348-3175

Jessica Szmuler, Administrative Specialist, provides support to the Dean, Assistant Dean and Office of the Dean staff. She serves the Office of the Dean as Director of First Impressions by greeting students and guests; manages the day-to-day office operations, including support in scheduling meetings, travel arrangements, ordering of supplies and assisting with appointments for the Student Services group. Jessica joins FIU with over 25 years of administrative and customer service experience, including 16 years of working for non-profit organizations. Jessica is fluent in both English and Spanish.

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Anna Sanchez
Administrative Assistant
annsanch@fiu.edu
305-348-7500

Anna Sanchez, Administrative Assistant, provides support to the Associate Dean of Faculty + Program Development. Anna also provides administrative support to the Robotics Academy Team. Anna joins FIU with many years of customer service and administrative experience in the health industry.

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Robert “B.J.” Duncan
Director of CARTA Facilities; Liaison to the Dean
robert.duncan5@fiu.edu
305-348-1353

Robert “B.J.” Duncan has proudly served Florida International University and CARTA in a multitude of capacities since 2012. He began his career at FIU in the Department of Theatre as a Production Specialist, then Theatre Facilities Manager, followed by his current roles as Director of CARTA Facilities and Liaison to the Dean. B.J. is a very proud two-time FIU alumnus (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, 2009; Master of Public Administration, 2017) and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Idaho. Beyond FIU, B.J. is a two-term elected Council Member serving the Town of Cutler Bay, as well as a Technical Theatre Director and Production Consultant for Zoetic Stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts.

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Rashida Taylor
Associate Director of Finance
rltaylor@fiu.edu
305-348-2286

Rashida Taylor, Assistant Director of Finance, is responsible for the development of annual budgets, salary forecasts, financial statements, and expense approvals for the departments on the MMC campus . She graduated from FIU with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting in 2011, later obtaining a Master of Accounting from FIU’s Graduate School of Accounting in 2012. She began working at FIU in 2008 as a student and then working full time within the CARTA Dean’s Office in 2012.

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Karen Baer
Assistant Director of Finance
baerk@fiu.edu
305-919-4581

Karen Baer, is the Assistant Director of Finance overseeing financial matters for CARTA programs at the Biscayne Bay Campus. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Adminsitration from FIU and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Karen has worked at FIU since 2004.

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Evelyn Martinez
Financial Analyst
emartine@fiu.edu
305-348-6268

Evelyn Martinez is the financial analyst for the Art + Art History Department. Evelyn is the coordinator of the department budget and contracts. She received a Masters in Public Administration from FIU.

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Madeleine Manzano-Barrera
Financial Analyst
mmanzano@fiu.edu
305-348-8130

Madeleine Manzano-Barrera is an accomplished administrative professional with over twenty-five years of experience. Madeleine has provided high-level support in a variety of industries and across multiple functional areas, including the education system for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), before joining The College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts (CARTA) at Florida International University.

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Paulette Rivera
Senior Financial Analyst
priver@fiu.edu
305-348-2895

Paulette Rivera received her M.B.A with an emphasis in management from FIU and double majored in business administration and international business at FIU. She works closely with the chairperson in the areas of purchasing, accounts payable, and preparation of a variety of reports. Her work is primarily computer-based, using online record-keeping systems, word processing, database, and spreadsheet applications. Furthermore, Paulette has been an integrative component of the operations of a retail store for the past for years.

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Sunem Roque
Assistant Director of Human Resources
sroque@fiu.edu
305-348-7996

Sunem Roque, is the Assistant Director of Human Resources for the Office of the Dean for College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). In this capacity Sunem works with the Executive Director of Operations on the planning, implementation and coordination of human resources activities to maximize the strategic use of resources. Sunem has a Master’s of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Florida International University. Sunem also facilitates FIU’s Service Excellence trainings with the purpose of training staff on FIU’s customer service standards. To this extent, Sunem aims to provide outstanding customer service, as well as to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Her primary focus is on the day-to-day activities for issues related to Administrative and staff positions within CARTA.

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Sharon Spallone
Human Resources Manager
sspallon@fiu.edu
305-348-7995

Sharon Spallone, Human Resources Manager for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, served in the U.S Army for 10 years and has over 20 years of experience in Executive Administration and Office Management. She has a Bachelor of Public Administration from Florida International University. She began working for FIU in 2015 as an Administrative Assistant for CARTA Dean’s Office. Sharon now manages the day to day operations of CARTA Human Resources recruitment process for temporary and benefit earning employees and serves as the secondary Human Resources Liaison for CARTA.

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Heather Radi-Bermudez, APR
Director
hradi@fiu.edu
305-919-4050

Heather Bermudez began her career as a public relations practitioner in agency and corporate settings before moving to marketing and internal communications and on to her latest work in academia and non-profit organizations. Her research interests involve health communication and stigma communication in a digitized world. Her earlier work with non-profits led a grassroots movement to create public awareness for teen dating violence in Greater Miami which was recognized by Mayor Carlos Gimenez with a Mayoral Proclamation of “REAL Love Miami Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.” Bermudez is passionate about communications and is committed to providing students with hands-on, real-world experiences both in and out of the classroom bringing them closer to their fields and communities.

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Hansel de Haro
Web Project Manager
hdeharo@fiu.edu
305-348-3699

Hansel de Haro, Web Project Manager, is responsible for designing and managing the College’s websites. Hansel has a master’s degree in Architecture from FIU and stayed within the CARTA family after graduating.

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Zion Sealy
Junior Account Manager
zsealy@fiu.edu
305-348-7500

Zion Sealy, Junior Account Manager for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, handles and assists with CARTA’s overall brand, and marketing/communication initiatives. An FIU alum, Zion graduated with his B.B.A. in Marketing with a specialization in Marketing Research and Analytics. Zion started working in CARTA as a Marketing and Communications Intern his freshman year and joined the full-time staff after graduating.

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Rachel Vanderford
Content Strategist
rvanderf@fiu.edu
305-348-7500

Rachel Vanderford is the Content Strategist for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). A graduate of the University of Mississippi, she holds a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication with minors in Business Administration and English. Before joining the CARTA family, Rachel was Senior Marketing Coordinator for Ole Miss Dining.

Advising

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Cory Fairfield
Assistant Director
cfairfie@fiu.edu
Ph: 305-348-2219
Office: PCA 272

Cory Fairfield began his career with the College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts in November of 2017 and originally started working for FIU at Onestop Enrollment Services. Cory previously advised students for Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Landscape Architecture Programs and was recognized as FIUs Academic Advisor of the Year in 2019. He completed both his Undergraduate and Graduate degrees here at Florida International University and is currently working towards an Ed.D in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. Cory now serves as Assistant Director of Academic Support Services for the School of Architecture, School of Music, Department of Theater, and Department of Arts and Art History. In addition to this, Cory enjoys teaching SLS 1501 to first-year students, mentoring with FIU Embrace, and training new instructors with FIU Safe Zone.

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Linda Lara
Assistant Director
Linda.Lara@fiu.edu
Ph: 305-919-4066
Office: BBC AC2 230

Linda Lara serves as the Assistant Director of Academic Advising Services for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). She has devoted the past 17 years to student services in the field of higher education. She began her career in academic advising at Miami Dade College. She then transitioned to FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences in 2008 as an Academic Advisor and was later promoted to Assistant Director of Advising Services at the Biscayne Bay Campus in 2010.
 
She currently leads the School of Communication and Journalism advising team, and a current member of the CARTA Dean’s Office Student Success Team. She earned two degrees from FIU: BA in Psychology, and MS in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs in 2007. In 2016, she was recognized by her peers and received the Significant Impact on Advising Community and Advising Partner Award. She is an optimistic, well-rounded, compassionate, and versatile leader. She also enjoys mentoring, teaching, and leading a group of like-minded individuals who are fully engaged, innovative, and proactive with achieving results.
Meet Your Advisor

Careers

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Clotilde M. Picart-Laguer
Career Specialist
cpicartl@fiu.edu

Clotilde M. Picart-Laguer is a Career Specialist with more than 20 years of experience in labor law. Ms. Picart-Laguer holds a bachelor’s degree in Systems of Justice from Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in Puerto Rico, a master’s in Labor Relations, and a Juris Doctor from Interamerican University. She served as an administrative judge in labor matters and represented the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in labor and torts disputes and real estate endeavors. In addition, she was a solo-practitioner in family and labor matters representing the interests of marginalized individuals before the judicial court of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

She most recently devotes her time to higher education, beginning at FIU in 2017, teaching a variety of courses which include Public Speaking, Ethics in Communication, Interviewing Skills and Practices, Nonverbal Communication, and Business Writing and Oral Skills. Most recently, Ms. Picart managed the Communication Studio in CARTA’s Department of Communication, where she coached hundreds of students in honing their presentation skills. She believes in the power of mentorship and encouraging students to seek new opportunities.

Management

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Linda Woolfson
Student Services Office Manager
lwoolfso@fiu.edu
Ph: 305-348-3176
Office: MMC – PCA 387A

Linda Woolfson, joined FIU in 2017 as the assistant to Dean Brian Schriner. She then joined the CARTA Communication and Marketing team as the communications and events manager. In this role, she worked closely with the Division of Strategic Communications, Government and External Relations and the CARTA dean on account management, overseeing collateral materials, videos, FIU News stories and more. She also provided counsel to units within CARTA regarding event protocol and supported the logistics of strategic events within the college. Linda joins the CARTA Student Success team with years of experience in project managment and event planning. She will support the Assistant Dean of Students and work closely with the student services team to ensures projects are kept on task, deadlilines are met and initiatives are executed and in alignment with the university’s goals of student success, workforce development and community engagement. Linda has more than 30 years of experience working for both profit and non-profit organizations.

Ebru Ozer
Strategic Planning Coordinator
eozer@fiu.edu
Ph: 305-348-7560

Ebru Özer teaches grading, drainage, and construction, and community, urban, and regional design. Her research focuses on stormwater management, green infrastructure, sustainability in park and trail design, and age-friendly open space design. She has over 20 years of experience in practicing landscape architecture and architecture. She is the co-founder and principal of LandscapeDE, a landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm based in Miami, Florida. She serves as the treasurer of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) and the executive committee member of the American Society of Landscape Architects Florida Chapter.