Fostering Bilateral Trade and Investment Flows Between Brazil and Florida

Marcelo Souccar

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.

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.

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.

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 João Mendes Pereira
Honorary Chairman

A career diplomat for 28 yearsAmbassador João Mendes Pereira took over the position as Consul-General of Brazil in Miami on October 11, 2018.  Prior to that, Ambassador Joao Mendes Pereira was the Head of Protocol to the Ministry of External Relations. Ambassador João Mendes Pereira also served Brazil at the Brazilian Mission to the European Union in Brusselsat the Brazilian Embassy in Lisbon and at the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to ALADI and Mercosur in Montevidéu. Read more.

Felipe Berer

Felipe Berer is a partner at the law firm of Akerman LLP in Miami, Florida. Recognized as a go-to lawyer on Brazil and international trade regulation, for more than 18 years Felipe has advised multinational companies and investors doing business in the United States, Brazil, and throughout Latin America. His work focuses on inbound Brazilian investment in the United States, outbound U.S. investment into Brazil and Latin America, M&A matters, cross-border disputes, international trade law and policy in the United States, Brazil and Latin America, international contracts, trade and anti-corruption compliance, and government affairs in Brazil. Felipe’s clients include Fortune 500 companies and some of the largest and most successful corporations in Brazil and 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.

Rick Homans

Rick Homans

Rick Homans is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Rick, a native of Boston, spent the last 32 years living in New Mexico where he served in the cabinet of Governor Bill Richardson, first as Secretary of Economic Development and subsequently as Secretary of Taxation and Revenue. In 2004, Rick spearheaded the development of the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, and recruited Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to base its world headquarters in New Mexico. Read more.

Christopher Minner

As Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Chris is responsible for the air service development, advertising, marketing, research, real estate, communications and government relations activities of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. Before joining Tampa International Airport, he spent three years as Assistant Vice President, Air Service Development for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with responsibility for passenger and cargo network development in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. 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.

Michael P. Quackenbush Jr.

Michael P. Quackenbush Jr. (Mike)

Mike is the Managing Partner of Pricewaterhouse Coopers Tampa Practice and is a member of the Asset Management Practice nationally.  He has over 21 years of industry experience, including having served as the engagement leader and/or quality review partner on some of our firm’s largest asset management clients.  Mike's clients have included Eagle Asset Management, Transamerica, Dimensional Fund Advisors, T Rowe Price Funds, Vanguard Funds, Schroders Funds, Northwestern Mutual Funds, and Lighthouse Partners, among many others. 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 and former Executive Director of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce in New York, Sueli Bonaparte has devoted more than 30 years of her professional career to forging closer ties between the businesses communities of Brazil and the United States. She was the Founding President of The Brazilian Institute of Arizona, Inc. in Phoenix and a Board Member of Esperança Foundation in Arizona. Prior to that, she held managerial positions at First Call Corporation and CMA, Inc. in Boston. Ms. Bonaparte also served as the Academic Affairs Advisor to the Consulate of Brazil in New York. She earned a B.A. degree in History from the University of São Paulo, an M.S. in Bicultural Education from St. John's University, and was also bestowed the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Thomas Aquinas College. Read more.

Marco Franca

Vice President

Marco A. Franca is the CEO and Owner of Aquila Holdings, a strategic management consulting firm. Prior to this, he was Vice-President, Latin America for PR Newswire Association based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Franca was also Chief Operating Officer of Fidelity BPO Brasil, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company focused on back-office document processing for financial institutions in Brazil. Earlier in his career, Franca was a partner in DealMaker, a consulting company offering business development, interim management, strategic consulting and mergers and acquisitions services. He has also held management, strategic planning, marketing and sales roles within the following organizations: .comDominio, Intelig Telecom, Onduline, National Medical Care, and Jim Walter Corporation in Tampa. Franca has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University.

Michel Amorim

Michel is a licensed CPA in the state of New Hampshire and a Chartered Global Management Accountant. Michel joined our team at Drummond after working in Big 4 environment at E&Y. After leaving public accounting, Michael specialized in international accounting and tax consulting. Michel de Amorim has developed an expertise in procedures pertaining to financial processes, from evaluation and analysis, to controllership, to auditing, tracking data and communicating results and recommendations. Michel’s experience includes accounting and tax due diligences, SEC registrations, Sarbanes Oxley review and procedures according with Brazilian GAAP and US GAAP, including for public filers. Read more.

Arnaldo Carrera


Arnaldo is currently the Managing Partner at Strategic Business Alliance, a consulting firm that helps IT, manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare clients to enter or expand into the USA, Brazil, and Africa. With over 25 years of experience in banking, technology, and operations, he has served at the top executive levels at Safra National Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Bankers Trust Company, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Arnaldo is also an entrepreneur and business developer (founded and raised funds for two start-up companies). Arnaldo holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Physics from Rutgers University and a master of science in management engineering from the N.J. Institute of Technology. He also completed executive education programs at NYU's Stern School of Business and IBM's Advanced Business Institute. 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. 

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.

Dennis Slater

Dennis Slater has been a resident of the State of Florida since 1975, and a valued contributor to the Florida business communityAfter 35 years of Financial Executive positions in the automotive industry, Slater began in 2010 his management advisory firm, CEO-CFO Solutions, LLC which provides strategic investment planning and equity capital infusion plans to high net worth individualsIn 2012, he acquired the US Government Licensing Rights administered through The Florida EB-5 Regional Center. The EB-5 Visa Investment Program was created by the US Congress to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign national investors. Read more.

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Brazil-Florida Business Council • 2202 N. West Shore Blvd. Suite 200 • Tampa, FL 33606 

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