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Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sarasota, FL

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Event Detail

Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?

Recent changes in US policies toward Cuba have reinvigorated debate over US-Cuba relations. How will these revised policies affect American business, trade and travel, as well as the well-being of the Cuban people? What does the future hold? Please join our leading experts and us as we discuss the state and outlook of US-Cuba relations as well as the impact and economic recovery of the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma.

To help figure out the next steps, GIC in collaboration with USF Sarasota-Manatee, Cumberland Advisors, and The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will host a seminar, “Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?” on February 22, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium.

The half-day session explores the implications of America’s revised Cuba policies and features talks by Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett, Member of United States Congress serving the US Virgin Islands and Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Member of United States Congress serving the 26th District of Florida.

Session topics include:

  • US Administrations & Cuba
  • Economic Recovery in Cuba and the Caribbean
  • Doing Business in Cuba
  • Hurricanes and the Caribbean

Click here to register.

Click here to view a map of USFSM’s campus.


Attendees of Money, Models, and Digital Innovation can receive credit from the following organizations:

  • AFCPE Post Certification (5 credits)
  • CFP Board (5 CE credit hours)



8:00 – 8:30 a.m. | Registration and coffee

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. | Welcome Remarks

  • Karen Holbrook, Regional Chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee
  • David Kotok, CIO Cumberland Advisors and GIC Board Member

8:45 – 9:30 a.m. | Keynote – US Administrations & Cuba

  • Vicki Huddleston: US Ambassador, retired; former Principal Officer, US Interests section in Havana – Myths, Contradictions, and Lies: Bush, Obama, Trump

9:30 – 10:45 a.m. | Economic Recovery in Cuba and the Caribbean     

  • Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University – The Development and Current Status of the Non-State Sector of the Cuban Economy
  • Eugenio J. Alemán, Director, Senior Economist, Wells Fargo Securities, Latin Connection Executive Advisor
  • Sara Banaszak, Exxon Mobil: Oil, Gas and Electricity in the Caribbean Economies
  • Moderator: Mark Abbott, Managing Director, Raymond James Financial

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | Doing Business in Cuba

  • Collin Laverty, Cuba Educational Travel – 21st Century Cuba: Challenges and Opportunities
  • David Seleski, President and CEO, Stonegate Bank – S. Business Opportunities in Cuba in Today’s Regulatory Environment
  • Moderator: Stephen J. Kay, Americas Center Director, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. | Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Hurricanes and the Caribbean

  • Bob Bunting, CEO Waterstone Strategies Inc. – How Cuba saved Florida and the Southeast U.S. from a Category 5 Knockout
  • Luke Bencie, Managing Director for Security Management International, LLC.: The Future of Economic Espionage: Preparing for the Worst
  • Moderator: Bob Harrigan, Chief Meteorologist, WWSB ABC

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. | Political Keynotes

  • Stacey Plaskett, Member of United States Congress serving the US Virgin Islands
  • Carlos Curbelo, Member of United States Congress serving the 26th District of Florida
  • Moderator: Ben White, Chief Economic Correspondent, POLITICO

3:00 p.m. | Conclusion


University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Selby Auditorium
8350 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34243

Plan your trip to Sarasota using GIC’s blog posted by Jill here.

Event Location

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018 City: Sarasota, FL Download iCal


Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett

Member of United States Congress serving the US Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett is the Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the United States Virgin Island’s at-large congressional district. She is an attorney who has practiced law in New York, Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands.

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Congressman Carlos Curbelo

Member of United States Congress serving the 26th District of Florida

Born to Cuban exiles that fled Fidel Castro’s regime in the 1960s, Carlos Curbelo is a father, husband and former small business owner who has dedicated his life to serving his South Florida neighbors. Carlos grew up in Miami and attended John G. DuPuis Elementary and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School before graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

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Mark Abbott

Managing Director, Raymond James

Mark Abbott is a Managing Director at Raymond James; he is responsible for the firm’s European businesses including equity research, asset management and wealth management.

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Eugenio J. Alemán, Ph.D.

Director and Senior Economist at Wells Fargo

Eugenio J. Alemán is a director and senior economist at Wells Fargo. He forecasts national, regional, and international economic trends.

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Sara Banaszak

Senior Federal Affairs Adviser, ExxonMobil

Sara Banaszak has 20 years of experience in the energy sector, spanning public policy, consulting and corporate advisory roles. Currently serving as a senior federal affairs adviser for ExxonMobil in Washington D.C., Sara also held senior adviser roles on the company’s corporate issues teams and with its gas and power marketing division.

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Luke Bencie

Managing Director, Security Management International (SMI)

Luke Bencie is the Managing Director of Security Management International (SMI) and the author of “Among Enemies: Counter-Espionage for the Business Traveler”, “Global Security Consulting: How to Build a Thriving International Practice”, and “The Clandestine Consultant: Kings, Sheiks, Warlord and Dictators.”

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Robert F. Bunting

CEO, Waterstone Strategies Inc.

Mr. Bunting is a scientist, serial entrepreneur and educator and walks easily between private enterprise, government and academic spheres making him a true “bridge” person. He is the CEO of Waterstone Strategies; a business-consulting firm that assists its early stage high technology clients plan and executes their business and funding strategies. Waterstone has helped its clients in securing over $300,000,000 in new capital.

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Jorge Duany

Director, Cuban Research Institute and Professor, Florida International University

Dr. Jorge Duany is the Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University. Born in Cuba and raised in Panama and Puerto Rico, Dr. Duany previously served as Acting Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

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Bob Harrigan

Chief Meteorologist, WWSB ABC

ABC 7’s Chief Meteorologist Bob Harrigan has been forecasting Suncoast weather for 33 years. You can watch Bob’s forecasts weekdays at 5 pm, 5:30 pm, 6 pm, 7pm, and 11 pm.

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Karen Holbrook

Regional Chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee

Karen A. Holbrook, Ph.D., is the Regional Chancellor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, following a year as the Interim President for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Before assuming the position at Embry-Riddle she worked as a higher education consultant and the Senior Advisor to the President at the University of South Florida, where she was, until recently, the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation then Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and International Research.

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Vicki Huddleston


Ambassador Vicki Huddleston was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and later held the same position at the Department of Defense. She led American diplomatic missions in Mali, Madagascar, Cuba, and Ethiopia. She was Director of U.S. policy toward Cuba at the Department of State and later Chief of our Diplomatic Mission in Havana before it became an embassy. In Haiti, she was Deputy ambassador and later Chief of Party for a USAID Value Chain project. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and as a Congressional Fellow worked on the staff of former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru and worked with housing cooperatives. Vicki is currently a consultant with Transnational Strategies Group. Vicki’s opinion pieces on Cuba, Mali, and Ethiopia have appeared in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post. She co-authored “Learning to Salsa – New Steps in U.S.- Cuban Relations.”  Her book Our Woman in Havana: A U.S. Diplomat’s Chronicle of our Long Struggle with Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” Vicki is a popular speaker at foreign affairs groups and universities, recently participating in the Colorado World Affairs Week, Meridian International Center, the Montana and Cleveland Councils on World Affairs, the Naples Yacht Club, and the Air Force Academy.

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Stephen Kay

Stephen Kay is the center director of the Atlanta Fed’s Americas Center. Dr. Kay is part of the financial markets team. His research focuses on political economy and public policy in Latin America. His articles on pension reform in Latin America have appeared in the Journal of Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy Journal, Journal of Aging & Social Policy, Journal of European Social Policy, Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, International Social Security Review, Latin American Politics and Society, Social Security Bulletin, and the Atlanta Fed’s Economic Review. Dr. Kay is a coeditor of Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas (with Tapen Sinha, Oxford University Press) and an author of Social Security in Latin America: Pension Reform and the Challenge of Universal Coverage (with Carolina Felix and Tapen Sinha, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). He has testified twice before committees of the United States Congress on pension reform in Latin America. Dr. Kay received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California and his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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David Kotok

CIO of Cumberland Advisors

David R. Kotok cofounded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its chief investment officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in organizational dynamics from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Collin Laverty

President, Cuba Educational Travel

Collin Laverty is president of Cuba Educational Travel, which offers curated travel to the island for bar associations, business groups, companies, think tanks, trade groups, and universities,. He is also a senior partner at Havana Strategies, a boutique consultancy offering assistance to U.S. companies operating in Cuba or hoping to enter the Cuban market.

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Dave Seleski

Founder and President and CEO, Stonegate Bank

Mr. Seleski is the founder and the current President and CEO of Stonegate Bank.  Stonegate Bank was founded 2005 and is a $3.0 billion Bank headquartered in Pompano Beach, Florida.  The bank has 23 offices located in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee and Hillsborough Counties.  Mr. Seleski most recently served, since May 2002, as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southeast Florida division of Florida Bank, N.A., until its sale in July 2004 to The South Financial Group, Inc. 

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Ben White

Chief Economic Correspondent, POLITICO Pro

Ben White is POLITICO Pro’s chief economic correspondent and author of the “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy.

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