SCJ Alumni Hall of Fame2022-10-03T21:32:52+00:00

SCJ Alumni Hall of Fame

The FIU School of Communication + Journalism (SCJ)– under the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts– inducted its first cohort into the inaugural class of the SCJ Hall of Fame in April 2019. These exceptional individuals were nominated and selected by peers in the industry because of their noteworthy accomplishments and advancement within the fields of communication, journalism, and media.

This honor is given to recognize the merit, dedication and leadership of the individual and his or her work in his or her chosen career of communication. They exhibit a high degree of character and integrity, and push the boundaries further. Evidence of excellence can be found in awards and honors for achievements, as well as other recognitions, including the impact of their work.

The Alumni Hall of Fame is designed to be the highest honor a graduate of the SCJ can attain from his or her school. Candidates should have earned their degree from the School of Communication and Journalism (or the School of Journalism and Mass Communication) not less than 10 years prior to consideration. Candidates must have attained a level of success in their chosen field of communication so that their success and significant contributions are recognized by their peers and have had a positive influence on their professions.

2021-2022

Nicole de Lara Puente Headshot

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Nicole de Lara Puente joined the Live Like Bella® Childhood Cancer Foundation as Chief Executive Officer in June of 2017. The foundation is a recognized leader in childhood cancer research and advocacy and provides resources and support services to families whose children are battling cancer in all 50 states and 36 countries.

Under her leadership, Live Like Bella spearheaded a groundbreaking initiative with State of Florida to become the first in the nation to allocate funds specifically for childhood cancer research. Since its inception, the Live Like Bella® Pediatric Cancer Research Initiative has allocated $26 million dollars and funded 45 multicenter clinical trials and innovative discovery science at nine renowned institutions across the state – including one at Florida International University’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

Prior to joining Live Like Bella, Nicole was Director of Development at Baptist Health South Florida and Miami Cancer Institute – an alliance with Memorial Sloan Kettering. There she was responsible for the development and implementation of operational and strategic plans for the Baptist Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Before entering into the non-profit healthcare arena, Nicole spent over ten years in television in International Sales & Marketing for leading media outlets including Columbia Tristar, Sony Pictures, E! Entertainment, MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon.

Nicole also served as Press Secretary for the Florida House of Representatives and Communications Director for the Florida Department of State.

She is a graduate of Florida International University’s School of Communications and Journalism (’00) and holds a certificate in International Business from Scuola Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy.  

She and her husband Justin have two young girls, Victoria (13) and Grace (9) and reside in South Miami, Florida.

Griselle Marino Headshot

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Multi-Emmy-award winning journalist Griselle Marino is a communications professional who has served the community for the past 30 years. She uses her diverse experience in print and broadcast journalism to shed light on important issues in Miami-Dade County and throughout the world. Coupled with her dynamic marketing and public affairs skills, Marino has the unique ability to passionately advocate for positive change, and to make a distinctive impact in public service.

Marino has anchored and hosted TV shows for Miami-Dade County TV, WLRN-PBS, and various TV and radio news stations in the private sector. She is multilingual and has produced in English, Spanish, and Creole.

In 1993, shortly after graduating from Florida International University (FIU) with a Mass Communications degree and a minor in English, Marino traveled to her native Cuba to shoot and produce an undercover story for South Florida’s WSVN Channel 7 about Cuba’s policy of involuntarily confining the HIV positive population. That special report prompted the United Nations to declare it a human rights violation, which led to changes allowing patients to return home. During that trip, she also interviewed children who were victims of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and were receiving medical care in Tarara, Havana. An unforgettable story she covered in Cuba was an interview with a father whose toddler died at sea when without his knowledge, his ex-wife embarked on a makeshift raft seeking a better life 90 miles across the Florida Straits, only to find tragedy.

While working as a radio reporter for WSUA 1260 AM, Radio Caracol, she interviewed U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot and former Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro, as well as other Latin American presidents.

In 1999, Marino returned to FIU and obtained 43 credit hours from the Legal Studies Institute in the School of Law. After graduation, she joined the Law Office of Attorney Roy Black as a legal assistant, he is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier trial and appellate lawyers. She also worked as a Private Investigator. This knowledge helped hone her newsroom acumen as she was familiar with legal terminology, and the skills to conduct in-depth research.  

Marino also worked as a news anchor for Bay News 9 in Saint Petersburg, Florida. There, she covered local, national, and international news. Her most memorable stories were the end-of-life legal debate of the case of Terri Schiavo, and the death of Pope John Paul II.

Marino has been recognized on the floor of Congress for her journalistic efforts to reunite a Colombian mother with her two daughters, who were abducted and held in the Middle East by their Syrian father. In 2013, after a 21-year effort and with the help of social media, they were reunited! The family’s journey received major media coverage thanks to Marino’s assistance.

Marino has served Miami-Dade County Government in various communications positions, from public information officer in 2004 at Miami International Airport to media and public affairs manager for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department and the Office of Emergency Management. She was also the director of media in the Board of County Commission Media Division serving Chairman Jean Monestime; and worked in that division under Chairmen Dennis C. Moss and Bruno Barreiro’s terms.

In her current role as communications and media director, Marino is responsible for the communications of 11 advisory boards under the Office of Community Advocacy, a division of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, currently led by Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz.  

In 2007, the Latino Leaders Network, a Washington D.C. organization, named Marino a “Media Latino Leader” for her government affairs communications strategies.  

In 2017, Florida International University (FIU) featured Marino as a Notable Alumna in its Alumni Spotlights. That article highlighted her Emmy awards, storied career interviewing world leaders such as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Prince Albert of Monaco; and Lord Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana.      

In 2020, Marino was one of 12 recipients of the prestigious In the Company of Women award. She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other inspiring women leaders including Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, FIU’s Suzanna M. Rose, and Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh. Marino won in the Communications and Literature category.  

For decades, Marino has mentored aspiring communications professionals. As a community relations director for the Center for Family and Child Enrichment, Marino also served as a role model for teen girls in foster care.  

Last year, Marino was selected to serve on the Dean’s Advisory Board of FIU’s School of Communication and Journalism.  

Marino has been a member of the National Information Officers Associations, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, where she has served as an Emmy Award judge. Additionally, she volunteers as a Goodwill Ambassador, for the United Way, March of Dimes, autism campaigns, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the American Cancer Society. She is currently an Ambassador in the Making Strides Against Cancer campaign, as her own mother is a 38-year breast cancer survivor.

Marino’s greatest pride and joy are her two adult sons David and Danny. She is most thankful to her parents, family, friends, mentors, and supervisors who continue to support her professional goals.

Throughout her career, Marino has exemplified a strong commitment to her profession, and is an ideal candidate to be inducted into Florida International University’s School of Communication and Journalism Hall of Fame – her esteemed alma mater.

Marisabel Munoz Headshot

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Marisabel Muñoz leads all U.S. Hispanic and international communications and media relations, as Sr. Vice President of Communications for Major League Soccer and its commercial arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM). With the leadership of the veteran public relations executive and the outstanding work of her team, MLS has fostered deep connections with Hispanic media on the North American sports landscape and with prominent outlets across the world, positioning the league as the emerging global force within the competitive arena of international soccer.

Since joining MLS and SUM in 2002, Muñoz has held prominent roles in staging many of the most high-profile soccer events and official national team tournaments played on U.S. soil over nearly 20 years, including nine Concacaf Gold Cups, the Concacaf Nations League Finals, the annual MLS Cup and MLS All-Star Game, and the record-breaking 2016 Copa America Centenario. Her team has set the standard for event promotion and soccer media operations in North America, including re-defining media servicing in 2020 as part of MLS’ return to play following the impact of the global pandemic.

Muñoz has been instrumental in facilitating coverage of Major League Soccer and its nearly 30 clubs, while building key relationships with U.S. Hispanic and international media and broadcast partners, including Univision, ESPN, Sky Sports, among many others. She has assisted the launch of several of the league’s numerous initiatives for its fans, including MLS’s Spanish-language digital platforms.

Muñoz additionally oversees the team responsible for publicity, media relations and media operations for SUM, the preeminent soccer enterprise in North America, where she works closely with partners in building properties and developing communications strategies, as in the case of the popular Mexican National Team tours of the United States. Muñoz was also instrumental in creating a variety of club soccer properties, including the re-imagined Leagues Cup starting 2023, Campeones Cup, InterLiga and SuperLiga, while positioning MLS and SUM as a growing force in the Western Hemisphere.

Muñoz has been named a Sports Business Journal Game Changer, one of Sports Illustrated’s 30 Most Influential Hispanics in Sports, and one of PRNEWS Top Women in PR. She has also been recognized by Impremedia’s El Diario as one of its Mujeres Destacadas (Distinguished Women).

Muñoz is an Honors College graduate of Florida International University, where she earned degrees in Journalism and International Relations, and is a Leadership Council member of the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication. She resides in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Bert Medina Headshot

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Bert Medina is President & CEO of WPLG, INC., which operates the ABC, MeTV and H&I affiliates. Medina became President of WPLG, INC., in July of 2014. Prior to that, he served as WPLG’s Vice President and General Manager beginning in October 2013. Medina is also CEO of Miami Tower LLC.

Previously, Medina held a variety of executive management positions during his 13-year tenure with Univision. He served as senior Vice President and Operating Manager of the TeleFuturaTelevision Network, a unit of Univision Communications, where he propelled it to the number two Spanish-language broadcast network (behind its sister network, Univision). Earlier, in Chicago, he served as Vice President and General Manager of Univision’s WGBO-TV and TeleFutura’s WXFT-TV, launching the latter as TeleFutura’s flagship station and positioning them as the number one and number two Spanish-language stations in that market, respectively.

Prior to Univision, Medina served in several key executive positions during 14 years with Sunbeam Television Corporation, including Vice President, Programming and Operations and Corporate Director of Programming. He began his career at Sunbeam’s Miami station, WSVN-TV, as a Research Analyst and later, Research Director, Director of Marketing and Director of Broadcast Operations.

Most recently, Medina founded and led Cangas Communications, a media investment and management firm focused on commercial television stations, film/TV production and digital media assets in U.S. and global markets.

In 2014 Medina became a member of the WPLG Board of Directors.  He is also on the Board of Directors for Florida Association of Broadcasters, Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication, the Marfan Foundation, where he serves as Secretary, the National Association of Broadcasters, Emma Bowen Foundation Advisory Board and Seneca Park Association Board, where he is Secretary and Treasurer.  Medina served on the Board of Governors for the ABC Television Affiliates Association from 2015 through 2020.

Previously, Medina has served on the boards of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Illinois State Broadcasters Association and the Board of Trustees of Columbia College. He has also served on the boards of the South Florida Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the American Marketing Association.

Medina received his Bachelor of Science in Communications from Florida International University.

Past Hall Of Fame Members

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Mariana Alvarado

Mariana Alvarado is a bilingual journalist based in Mexico City with more than 22 years of experience producing and editing content for print and web. Currently, she is a Teaching Fellow for México and Centroamérica with Google News Lab, a Google´s worldwide initiative to encourage the quality of journalism. In her first five months as a Teaching Fellow, she has already trained more than 2,400 journalists in major Mexican cities and has led workshops in Colombia, Panamá, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico during the first trimester of 2019.

As an instructor and academic adviser at the Center for Education in Digital Journalism at the University of Guadalajara, the second largest higher learning institution in Mexico, she has prepared lesson plans and worked with active and aspiring reporters on their native digital projects. Also a contributing editor and writer with Grupo Expansion, she’s developed ties with the business community while covering international trade and collaborating with journalists to produce in-depth magazine features. Prior to that, she ran web and print business coverage for Grupo Reforma, one of the most important media outlets in Mexico. In the U.S., she wrote award-winning stories on immigration, health, border issues and international business for the Arizona Daily Star and as a contributor for publications such as La Opinión, El Oaxaqueño and the Orlando Sentinel.

Among the honors she´s received are the International Perspective Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Felix Varela Annual Award of Excellence, Best of the West Immigration and Minority Affairs Award, a finalist at the Investigative Reporters and Editors and several awards by the Arizona Press Club for her coverage of undocumented immigrants dying in the desert on their way to the USA and the identification process of their remains. She´s a fellow with the Center for Health Journalism at USC Annenberg and with the Institute for Justice and Journalism. Founder of www.mural.com and www.negocios.com with Grupo Reforma. She has a Master Degree on Journalism from Florida International University and was named Outstanding Student of the Year by FIU in 2006.

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Dianne Festa

Dianne Festa is senior vice president of the News Partnerships team at NBC Universal where she leverages relationships with NBC owned and affiliated stations, as well as provides editorial content to stations and increases local participation on NBC News projects and major stories. In addition, she was responsible for growing NBC News and MSNBC internationally, working closely with the NBC Universal international team.

Prior to Festa joining the News Partnerships team, she coordinated the network’s election year coverage as political editor for NBC News Decision ’96.

In 1991, Festa was named the Moscow Bureau Chief immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union and covered Russia’s transition to a market economy until 1995. During her tenure there, she directed coverage of four presidential summits and the war in Chechnya. She was among those nominated for a 1993 Emmy award for coverage of the October 1993 revolt in Moscow.

From 1989 to 1991, Festa was the Weekend News Manager. Her responsibilities at that time included coordinating worldwide news coverage for NBC News programs and specials. During the Persian Gulf War, Festa served as the acting bureau chief in
Amman, Jordan.

Previously, she worked as an assignment editor in the London Bureau from 1986 to1989. Festa began her career in 1983 working with NBC affiliates in the Florida region as NBC Miami bureau coordinator and also participated in coverage of the Grenada invasion and the civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Festa graduated from Florida International University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She lives in New York with her son, Lucas.

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Rosanna Fiske

Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Wells Fargo & Co. in the Southeast U.S., leading all aspects of corporate communications including executive communications, social media, and internal and external communications for six states, more than 1,200 branches and offices and 35,000+ team members.

With more than 25 years of experience developing comprehensive strategic communications plans and campaigns, Fiske has a proven track record driving successful, multi-channel efforts working with leading brands such as American Airlines, GE, Charles Schwab, Google, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Absolut Vodka, Visa USA and MTV Networks.

She has led a number of award-winning teams and is nationally recognized as an expert in integrated marketing communications and diversity communications, having been honored by PRWeek as the industry’s 2014 “Diversity Champion.” In 2015, Fiske received the PRSA Miami Bill Adams Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) prestigious College of Fellows, an honorary community of 300+ senior-level professionals around the world who have made substantial contributions to the profession and have vast accomplishments in the practice or education of public relations. Named “Professional of the Year” in 2010 by the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA), she has received three PRSA Silver Anvils, – the Oscars of the PR industry – a Bronze Anvil, several Addys and Cannes-Lions awards throughout her career.

Fiske received a master of science from Florida International University’s Integrated Communications: Advertising & PR program and is a source for and a guest contributor to The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, DigiDay, PRWeek, and AdAge. She was the first Latina CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest communications organization with 32,000+ members, and was named one of the Top 100 Influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine.

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Gabriel Gabor

Gabriel Gabor has been a public relations and marketing executive for more than 30 years, specializing in sports, travel and entertainment. Since 2006, he has served as a Miami-based senior consultant for Major League Soccer (MLS) and its commercial arm, Soccer United Marketing (SUM). In this capacity, Gabor has worked as Media Officer for various marquee soccer events, such as MLS Cup, MLS All-Star Games, and the North American tours of some of the most recognized clubs in the world, including Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Chivas de Guadalajara, and the national teams of Brazil and Mexico. In addition, he served as Media Officer for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, the 2016 Copa America Centenario, and the last 10 editions of the Concacaf Gold Cup.

As part of his responsibilities for MLS, Gabor conducts Media Training seminars for players, coaching staffs and executives.  Additionally, Gabor regularly conducts media tours in Latin America. He has traveled to Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil – where he served as the league’s PR representative during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Gabor is also recognized as one of the top creative minds in soccer, conceiving and executing iconic photo opportunities which have generated global media coverage and millions of You Tube hits.  These include FC Barcelona’s 2006 live video chat with the crew of the International Space Station from Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the roof painting of the Seattle Space Needle to commemorate MLS Cup 2009, and Manchester United’s run up the Rocky Steps in 2011.

A graduate of Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gabor’s experience includes public relations and marketing positions with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Miami Fusion FC, Carnival Air Lines, and Miami’s James L. Knight Center.

Gabor’s professional recognitions include the Major League Soccer’s PR Executive of the Year Award in 2000, the Florida International University Distinguished Alumni Torch Award in 2012, and several Golden Bell marketing awards.

Born in Argentina, Gabor resides in South Florida with his wife Lili and 11-year-old son Joshua.  He is fluent in four languages.

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Janet Rivera-Hernandez

Janet Rivera-Hernandez is currently Vice President of Communications for Mastercard Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). In this role, she is responsible for leading the company’s internal and external communications activities, including media relations, reputation management, thought leadership and events, employee communications and digital communications.

For over a decade, Janet has spearheaded transformational communications programs for the company and in 2017 was named PR Week’s Top 40 under 40 in PR.  She has worked in teams that have lead the company through major milestones such as going public in 2006 (IPO), brand identity changes, mergers/acquisitions and the sponsorship of major international sporting events.

She leads a team of communications professionals across LAC focused on delivering integrated communications solutions that connects Mastercard to consumers, partners, customers, and government.  She also sits on various leadership teams including the Global Communications Executive Leadership team and the Integrated Marketing and Communications leadership team for LAC.

Prior to joining Mastercard in 2002, Janet held a number of management roles in top, global PR agencies such as Porter Novelli and Edelman – working on corporate and consumer accounts and international events.

Janet has worked freelance on a variety of projects and in boutique Miami-based public relations firms: the Conroy-Martinez Group and RBB public relations.

She is a graduate of Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Marketing. She has also participated in a number of executive education programs on leadership including the Arthur Page Society’s Future Leaders Program 2016-2017.

She is Miami-native of Cuban descent and resides in Miami with her husband and two children.

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Marybel Rodriguez

Marybel Rodriguez is the Emmy-nominated co-anchor of CBS4 News This Morning airing Monday – Friday from 4:30 – 7:00 a.m.
She began her career as a “spokesmodel” on the popular Univision television show “Sabado Gigante,” the longest-running entertainment show in history seen in every Spanish-speaking country in the world. After six years with the show, Marybel was lured away to become a feature and entertainment reporter for WPLG. Her desire to cover hard news stories persuaded her to make the switch to CBS4 a few months later.

Marybel is pleased to volunteer her time with the Hispanic community. She was the Hispanic Spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD.) In 2008, Florida International University named her Outstanding Alumni of the Year. In 2010, Marybel was inducted by the Miami Dade College Foundation into the Alumni Hall of Fame under the Journalism category. In 2016, she received the “Journalist of the Year” Award from the Latin American Business Association (LABA.) In addition, Marybel has received numerous other awards that attest to her professionalism and dedication to news. These honors reflect the way Marybel’s warm and engaging personality connects with South Florida viewers.

Born and raised in Miami to Cuban parents, Marybel has not forgotten her roots or the importance of her culture. A graduate of Florida International University, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism. Nevertheless, Marybel’s greatest accomplishment is being a mother and wife. She loves spending time with her husband and their three sons.

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