Fostering Bilateral Trade and Investment Flows Between Brazil and Florida

The Council

The Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc. ("BFBC") is an independent, not-for-profit business association based in Tampa, Florida. The BFBC was established in 2014 to forge closer ties between the business communities of Brazil and Florida by fostering bilateral trade and investment opportunities in both regions.  The BFBC will provide a forum to nurture the exchange of ideas, foster networking opportunities, facilitate and drive economic growth. As a non-governmental association, the BFBC is supported by membership dues.

The BFBC is run by a volunteer board of directors composed of representatives from member companies. 

Chairwoman's Council

This extraordinary group of influential business leaders and civic leaders is composed of past honorees of the Brazil-Florida Business Awards.

Chieko Aoki

Chieko Aoki

Chieko Aoki serves as Chief Executive Officer of Blue Tree Hotels & Resorts. Mrs. Aoki founded Blue Tree Hotels & Resorts and launched its brand in 1997. She works towards the development of economic and cultural relations between Brazil, United States, Japan and Latin America. She participates actively in philanthropic and social activities to which she contributes with fundraising and resources. Throughout her professional life, she worked around the world in places such as the US, Asia and Europe. Read more.

Guilherme Benchimol

Guilherme Benchimol is the Chairman of our board of directors of XP Inc., a position he has held since August 2019. Mr. Benchimol has over 20 years’ experience in the financial services market. He founded the XP group in 2001 and has been its chief executive officer since 2001. Currently, Mr. Benchimol also serves on the boards of XP Brazil as the Chairman since 2018. Mr. Benchimol holds a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Read more.

Bob Buckhorn

Bob Buckhorn was sworn in as the 58th mayor of the City of Tampa, the nation's 53th largest city, on April 1, 2011. In the past three years, Mayor Buckhorn focused on the city and region’s economic leadership, stability, and most importantly, business opportunity. Today, local government is smarter, urban development is centered on the riverfront, and Tampa is recognized as the competitive city it is. Our continued success in those efforts will set the stage for how and why we build in tomorrow’s Tampa. Read more.

José Luis Cutrale

José Luis Cutrale is the Chairman and CEO of Sucocitrico Cutrale Ltd, one of the world’s largest producers of oranges and orange juice. Mr. Cutrale has extensive experience in the agribusiness after over the 45 years in the worldwide citrus business. Mr. Cutrale is a member of the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, Administrative Board of Coca Cola Femsa, Advisory Board of Spal, CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters) and CDES (Council Development Social and Economic).
Read more.

David Neeleman

David Neeleman

David Neeleman founded Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A in 2008 and serves as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Neeleman has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Azul SA, the holding company of Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A since January 2008. He founded JetBlue Airways Corporation and served as Non-Executive Chairman from 2002 to May 15, 2008 and Chief Executive Officer from August 1998 to 2007. Read more.

José Isaac Peres

An internationally recognized developer and owner of major residential and commercial real estate holdings, José Isaac Peres has been involved in the conceptualization and construction of more than 35,000 residential condominium units in over 350 projects around the world. The self-made father of five launched his first business as a passionate 22-year-old student in Rio de Janeiro and today manages and owns one of the largest real estate portfolios in South America. His Golden Green oceanfront condominium in Rio de Janeiro, for example—which comprises 14 water-front towers surrounded by spectacular amenities, including a private golf course—is a landmark for the city and, to this day, one of the preferred luxury beachfront developments in Brazil. Read more.

Marcos Pontes

Astronaut Marcos Pontes was born in the city of Bauru, state  of São Paulo.  He is an R1 Aviator Lieutenant Colonel of the Brazilian Air Force, an Aeronautical Engineer by the Aeronautical Technological Institute (ITA), a Master of Systems Engineering by the Naval Postgraduate School of California (United States). A member of the 1998 astronaut class of NASA, Marcos Pontes is the only Brazilian to go into space and the first professional astronaut to officially represent a Southern Hemisphere country in space. Read more.

Joc O'Rourke

Joc C. O'Rourke has been the Chief Executive Officer and President at The Mosaic Company since August 5, 2015. Mr. O'Rourke served as Chief Operating Officer at The Mosaic Company from August 13, 2012 to August 5, 2015 and as its Executive Vice President of Operations from January 5, 2009 to August 5, 2015. He is responsible for Mosaic's global mining and chemical processing operations. Mr. O’ Rourke has over 25 years of experience in operating global mining operations and has spearheaded a variety of large scale expansion projects. Read more.

Ozires Silva

Ozires Silva is the founder of EMBRAER, the world’s third largest manufacturer of commercial jets. As one of the first generation of executives who built world-class competitive enterprises in Brazil, he led the way for today’s impressive roster of Brazilian CEOs, and has since played leading roles in both government and academia. Silva was born in Bauru, São Paulo state. He graduated from the Escola de Aeronáutica do Campo dos Afonsos in Rio de Janeiro as military pilot. He then served in the Brazilian Air Force for four years in the Amazon rainforest region. In 1962, Silva graduated from the Aeronautics Technological Institute as an aeronautical engineer. He went on to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1966. Read more.

Gary Spulak

Gary J. Spulak serves as President of Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc. which is Embraer’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary. In this role, he is responsible for the oversight of Embraer’s operating companies in the United States encompassing 1,400 employees and eight locations. Spulak’s career with Embraer began at the time the company was just emerging as a player in the regional aviation industry. Read more.

Advisory Board

Our advisory board  is composed of distinguished members of the private, public and academic communities  who bring unique knowledge and skills which augment the knowledge and skills of the formal board of directors in order to more effectively guide the organization.

Ambassador André Odenbreit Carvalho
Honorary Chairman

Heading the Consulate General since April 11, 2022,  Ambassador André Odenbreit Carvalho was born in Rio de Janeiro, holds a degree in History from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ), and is a career diplomat, having previously served in the embassies in Buenos Aires, Moscow and London, as well as the Brazilian Mission to the European Union in Brussels. Read more.

Felipe Berer

Felipe Berer is a Partner in the Global Commercial Disputes at the Miami office of Reed Smith. He is considered a go-to, trusted advisor for Brazilian clients in the United States.  Fluent in Portuguese and admitted to practice in both the U.S. and Brazil, Felipe has been recognized by leading publications, including Chambers and Partners, for his more than 18 years of experience representing clients on cross-border matters involving Brazil and other jurisdictions in Latin America. Read more.

Santiago Corrada

Santiago Corrada

Santiago Corrada officially began his position as President and Chief Executive Officer of Visit Tampa Bay in May of last year and provides local experience, management skills, industry knowledge, collaboration expertise and overall leadership ability as well as his passion for Tampa Bay. With more than 20 years of public service and management experience, Corrada most recently served as Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa. In this role, he coordinated and integrated the efforts of more than 50 City departments and divisions. Read more.

Thomas Eckschmidt

Thomas Eckschmidt is an engineer who holds an Executive MBA in finance from Business School São Paulo, Brazil. His corporate journey included work in twenty different countries before he launched a successful entrepreneurial career that includes twelve business awards, four patents filed, and eleven books published. A strong believer that business leaders and organizations can do well by doing good, Thomas has been promoting Conscious Capitalism since 2010. He launched a Conscious Capitalism chapter in Brazil and supported the launch of chapters in other countries. Read more.

Plinio Nastari

Plinio Nastari

Dr. Nastari is President and CEO of Datagro Consulting Ltd., one of the world’s leading consulting company specialized in agricultural markets, serving clients in 41 countries. Dr. Nastari holds M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics, from Iowa State University. Was Professor of Economics at FGV – The Getúlio Vargas Foundation, in São Paulo, in undergraduate and graduate level courses (MBA, Masters and Doctoral programs) from 1984 to 2000. Read more.

Marcelo Souccar

Marcelo Souccar has provided software solutions to the professional services industry for more than two decades. He has a Bachelor in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC-SP), an MBA with a specialization in IT from the University of Sao Paulo’s FIA Business School (FIA-USP) and an Master in Science of Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2000, following a three-year stint at one of Brazil's largest law firms, Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice, Souccar launched his first Venture, an IT consulting company for the legal industry. Read more.

Ronaldo Veirano

Ronaldo Veirano

Ronaldo Veirano is the founding partner of Veirano Advogados and is a highly regarded legal expert, recognized internationally for his statesmanship, facility with sophisticated legal issues and significant network of global contacts. Over the years, clients have sought his advice on a myriad of issues surrounding corporate law and operating in Brazil. He has served as an advisor to numerous corporations and their boards, along with governments and their officials from across the globe. An erudite and accomplished speaker, Mr. Veirano is frequently invited to address international audiences on a variety of complex legal subjects, trade issues and other topics that affect companies, countries and their growth. Read more.

Board of Directors

Sueli Bonaparte

Founding President and Chairman
of the Board

Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Ms. Sueli Bonaparte is the Founder and President of the Brazil-Florida Business Council. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of The Brazilian-American of Commerce, Inc. in New York City for almost seventeen years. Bonaparte was also the Founding President of The Brazilian Institute of Arizona, Inc. For almost four decades, she has played a critical role in the forging of closer ties between the business communities of Brazil and the U.S.. Read more.

Arnaldo Carrera


Arnaldo Carrera is currently a Managing Partner of Strategic Business Alliance, an advisory firm that helps IT, manufacturing, agriculture, fintech, and healthcare clients to enter or expand into the USA, Brazil, and China. With over 30 years of experience in banking, technology, finance, media, and operations, he has served at the top executive levels at Safra National Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Arnaldo is a seasoned entrepreneur having mentored and raised funds for several start-up companies. Read more.

Bernardo Piccolo

Bernardo Piccolo P.A. CRS,CIPS,GRI,ABR,SFR is the leader of a residential and commercial real estate practice with 15 years of market experience in the Tampa Bay and surrounding area. With over 800 transactional parties assisted and $100+ millions in real estate sales, Bernardo Piccolo PA is within the top 1% in sales volume and units sold in the Tampa Bay region. Bernardo and his team specializes in domestic and international  relocation, investment real estate, residential  and commercial sales.

Peter Baumgaertner

Peter Baumgaertner is a partner in the New York office and a member of Holland & Knight's Corporate, M&A and Securities Practice Group. Mr. Baumgaertner has significant experience in handling multibillion-dollar matters for clients worldwide. He is highly knowledgeable in handling capital markets, project financing, restructuring, public-private partnership (P3) and lending transactions for a global clientele. In addition, Mr. Baumgaertner has an extensive background in advising financial institutions and borrowers throughout Latin America. He also counsels financial institutions and other creditors in connection with insolvencies and restructurings for corporate borrowers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Read more.

Fernando Cariello

Fernando has over 30 years of international experience, developing market strategies and supporting IT companies to establish operations in the US. He is a Partner/Investor in Staged Ventures, a syndicate fund for post seed investments, a managing partner of the international soft-landing incubator CuboStart, under the lean startup concept, and is co-founder of Base Miami, an accelerator supporting technology companies to develop business globally using Miami as a platform. Read more.

Otavio Carneiro

Otavio Carneiro focuses his work on outbound investment in Brazil and Latin America and inbound investment from Brazil in the United States. Otavio has assisted a number of clients in transactional and regulatory work in a variety of sectors, such as oil and gas (farm-in/farm-outs, drilling services, supply agreements etc.), infrastructure, IT, banking, mining, construction, shipping, real estate, and agriculture, among others. He concentrates his practice on cross border and domestic corporate and financing transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, corporate reorganizations, and loan transactions involving foreign banks and multilateral agencies and Brazilian banks, such as the Brazilian Bank for National, Economic and Social Development (BNDES). Read more

Daniel Aguiar de Melo

Daniel Aguiar de Melo

Daniel Aguiar de Melo is a partner with A15 Investments, a Florida based company that specializes in educational investments. He started his career as a project engineer for commercial and residential construction in Brazil, then he joined the Whirlpool Group Brazil, as responsible for introduction of new products to the Brazilian market. After his experience in the construction and manufacturing sectors, Daniel joined educational business as a manager of a group of private high schools under the Objetivo System, Brazil’s largest educational holding. 

Flávia S. Fernandes Nascimento

Flávia Nascimento is Head of Growth - North America of CESAR, a Brazilian Center for Innovation in business since 1996. Mrs. Nascimento’s mandate in the United States is to expand CESAR’s business in North America and to lead its Internationalization process. She is a seasoned Business Development person with over 20 years of experience in the software/innovation industry in Brazil, Canada, and the United States. Read more.

Gonzalo Padron

Gonzalo Padron is Director of Marketing & Business Development, Latin America, Port Tampa Bay. Gonzalo has more than 20 years of sales and business development experience within the maritime transportation industry. His responsibilities include Port Tampa Bay's outreach and liaison with beneficial cargo owners and ocean carriers, with a particular focus on trade with Latin America. Gonzalo began his career working for ocean carriers Tecmarine Lines and Seaboard Marine, traveling the Caribbean and Latin America extensively.  Prior to joining the Port Tampa Bay, he was employed by DHL Global Forwarding as Manager of Strategic Accounts, Datamyne as Business Development Manager - Maritime, and PIERS as Maritime Regional Manager. Read more.

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Brazil-Florida Business Council • 2202 N. West Shore Blvd. • Tampa, FL 33606 

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