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.
Ambassador João Mendes Pereira
A career diplomat for 28 years, Ambassador 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 Brussels, at the Brazilian Embassy in Lisbon and at the Permanent Delegation of Brazil to ALADI and Mercosur in Montevidéu. Read more.
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.
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.
Jim Dean is President of Orlando Seaworld Parks & Entertainment. He began his career in the theme park industry when he joined Anheuser-Busch in 1985 as an analyst in their corporate headquarters. Mr. Dean worked in a number of locations across the country and in Europe. He moved to Orlando in 2008 to help relocate the corporate office of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. While in Orlando, he served as the Vice President of Finance as well as assumed responsibility for revenue operations for the company. In 2009, Mr. Dean made Tampa his home where he is currently Park President of Busch Gardens and Adventure Island and oversees not only one of the best theme parks in the world, but also one of the largest animal collections in the country. Mr. Dean serves on the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Strategy Committee and is active in the community serving on numerous boards in the Tampa Bay area.
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.
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.
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.
Michael P. Quackenbush Jr.
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.
Rodrigo Ferreira de Souza
Rodrigo is former Vice President of Finance for Gerdau Long Steel North America in its Corporate Office in Tampa since January 2013. Born and raised in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the same city where Gerdau was founded in 1901. Rodrigo graduated in Economics from PUCRS - Pontifícia Universidade Católica in 1988, and finished his Masters in 1990, also in Economics, with specialization in International Economy from UFRGS - Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul. Rodrigo worked for Gerdau Group since 1991. Read more.
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
Founding President and Chairman
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 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 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 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 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.
Vaine is professional speaker, trainer, and coach. As an expert in high performance development, she helps individuals and teams in their personal and professional growth through the practical application of John Maxwell's proven leadership methods. She is an experienced entrepreneur, who have been actively involved in the startup of several Brazilian and American businesses. Currently, in additional to her coaching and training company, she is also a partner in the startup of Brazilian Fashion brand, Geração Mulher. Read more.
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.
Sherwin P. Simmons II
Sherwin Simmons concentrates his practice in the area of domestic and international tax with particular emphasis on businesses and high-net-worth individuals with a primary focus on minimizing his clients' world-wide tax exposure. He has handled numerous IRS and Florida Department of Revenue negotiated walkthroughs and "voluntary disclosure" cases regarding non-compliant taxpayers. He is Akerman's Team Leader for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act ("FATCA") team which specializes in the analysis, complex planning, implementation, oversight and operations associated with FATCA. Sherwin's clients include companies in banking, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, energy and technology. Read more.