Fostering Bilateral Trade and Investment Flows Between Brazil and Florida

2016 Brazil-Florida Business Awards

This prestigious award aims to acknowledge and honor two visionary and outstanding business and community leaders for the sustainable development contributions to the economies of Brazil and Florida.


Mayor 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.

In one of his first actions as mayor, Buckhorn created a diverse panel of local business people and community activists to help reshape how City Hall does business. The results are tangible: a one-stop shop permitting process, better online accessibility to city services, and increased efficiencies, resulting in saved taxpayer dollars.

Under Buckhorn, the city is smarter about how it does business. Despite facing continued economic challenges, rising health care, personnel, and fuel costs, he has balanced the budget year after year while making strategic investments and without raising property taxes.

In efforts to re-center our city around the Hillsborough River, he has heavily invested in augmenting our pattern of urban, riverfront parks. From securing a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to complete the Tampa Riverwalk to striking a partnership with Bright House Networks to provide free WiFi along the riverfront, Buckhorn sees the waterfront areas as setting Tampa apart from other cities, and continues to look for ways residents and visitors can enjoy an active, vibrant riverfront.

Mayor Buckhorn is reshaping the places we live in today, but his work does not begin or end with the physical. A safe city thrives, and Buckhorn has continued to support both Tampa Police and Tampa Fire Rescue, opening three new fire houses and working with our first responders to keep crime falling. In 2012, Tampa became the largest city locally in Central Florida to establish a Domestic Partnership Registry, setting the tone regionally for equality. From embracing new ideas like Food Trucks to strengthening our neighborhoods through programs like Neighborhood University, he has set the stage to make Tampa into a more competitive city.

As mayor, Buckhorn serves on several boards and governing authorities including the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority and the Tampa Port Authority. From 2011- 2012, he was also a fellow for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use.

Previously, Buckhorn served as the Special Assistant to former Tampa Mayor Sandra Freedman, and in 1995, he was elected Tampa City Council. In 2003, Buckhorn joined the Dewey Square Group, a nationally known public affairs company, until he opened Buckhorn Partners, a public affairs firm based in Tampa, in 2007.

Buckhorn, 58, graduated from Penn State University in 1980. He is married to Dr. Catherine Lynch Buckhorn, and they have two daughters, Grace and Colleen.

Chieko Aoki

Chieko Aoki is President and CEO of Blue Tree Hotels & Resorts, which she founded in 1997. Today, Blue Tree manages 24 hotels in 20 cities and employs  almost 3,000 professionals. Beyond her storied career in the hospitality industry, Mrs. Aoki also contributes towards the development of economic and cultural relations between Brazil, United States, Japan and the rest of Latin America, and she is active in philanthropic and social activities to which she contributes fundraising and resources. 

Throughout her international career she has had a series of professional appointments in the USA, Asia and Europe. She began working in 1982 as the Marketing and Sales Director of Caesar Park São Paulo, eventually being promoted to the role of President of Caesar Park Hotels & Resorts and Westin Hotels & Resorts, one of the oldest and most traditional hotel chains in the USA. She is known in Brazil as the first lady of Brazilian hotel management for her innovation and talent, and is recognized as a benchmark of excellence in the sector. 

Ranked by Forbes magazine as one of Brazil's most influential and powerful businesswomen, Mrs. Aoki participates in many industry and government organizations, such as the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL), the Business Leaders Group (LIDE), the Brazil-Japan group of São Paulo's State Industry Federation  and several other entities linked to tourism. In 2006, she was elected President of LIDEM, the Group of Leading Businesswomen.  She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Brazil-Florida Business Council, Inc.

Mrs. Aoki received her law degree from São Paulo University in Brazil and attended Executive Management programs at Sofia University in Japan and Cornell University in the USA.

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