2013 Journalists & Editors Workshop: Panelists Bios
Program Manager in Human Trafficking for the International Rescue Committee (IRC Miami), Regina began her career at the IRC in 2005. In 2009, she was hired by the Florida Department of Children and Families as the Refugee Services’ first statewide human trafficking coordinator where she was responsible for facilitating and addressing human trafficking initiatives, developing and implementing human trafficking curriculum and training programs, as well as coordinating strategies with other local, national and international organizations and governments. Prior to rejoining the IRC last year, Regina worked as an independent consultant offering technical assistance on human rights issues and also completed graduate coursework on Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University.
Calderón Rodríguez, Mirta
Professor in the Department of Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra in Santo Domingo. Mirta Calderón Rodríguez is a Cuban-Dominican journalist based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her exceptional reporting has exposed the challenges facing women and their families before, during and after the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Mirta is currently a correspondent with the Dominican news agency SEMLAC (Servicio Especial de Noticias de la Mujer de America Latina y el Caribe), which published her chronicles about Haiti as well as other work. She also serves as the chief editor for the Journal of Communication and is the editor of A Primera Plana, an online magazine dedicated to promoting gender equity in the mass media.
She has spent her adult professional life focusing on gender: in Cuba, she co-founded the Women Communicators Association and in Santo Domingo she has been a core member of the Dominican Journalists Network with a Gender Perspective, as well as a founding member of the international branch of the network. Mirta is a skilled trainer, organizer, and advocate who has worked with youth, women’s and grassroots groups across the region. Her decades-long "heart walk,” and her efforts to bring women’s experiences and activism to life through her writing have helped raise awareness among policy makers and disaster reporters about the critical need for a gendered lens to promote social justice in disaster response and recovery.
Associate Professor at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Chávez teaches courses on the press, society and government in Latin America, and on the sociology of journalism. His research focuses on models of access to information, accountability and transparency related to the news media in Latin America. Most recently, his research, done in conjunction with Mexico’s largest media group, Grupo Reforma, has analyzed the role of community participation in editorial decision-making and has illustrated how a shifting model of journalism is empowering civil society and improving media accountability. Dr. Chávez has published several articles and books, has received numerous awards in recognition of his work and serves as a regular commentator for national and international news organizations.
Associate Professor at FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and in 1995 founded, at FIU, the first Spanish-language Journalism Master’s Program in the country. A native Argentine, he is a veteran foreign correspondent who served as the executive editor of one of the Argentina’s leading newspapers Buenos Aires during the country’s military dictatorship. Dr. Diament is an award-winning playwright, and in 2000 was honored with an invitation to become one of only 40 permanent members of Argentina’s National Academy of Journalism.
Garcia, Lt. Eric
Lt. García joined the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) in 1995 and was promoted through civil service ranks to Lieutenant in 2003. His experience in police management and operations includes a range of investigative and uniformed police assignments. In September 2004, he was assigned to the Special Victims Bureau/Sexual Crimes where he is responsible for and provides direct supervision to the Sexual Assault Investigations Section as well as the Specialized Sexual Investigations Unit (SSIU). The SSIU investigates cold cases, cases referred by the Department of Children and Family (DCF), and the Internet Crimes against Children Unit (ICAC) cases. Lt. Garcia holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Policy & Management from Florida International University.
Assistant Professor of broadcast journalism and SJMC Internship Coordinator. A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, she earned a Master’s from USC where she was also a fellow at the Center for International Journalism. Before joining FIU in the fall of 2007, she spent more than two decades as a broadcast journalist for both English and Spanish-language TV, producing for the Washington bureaus of NBC-Telemundo and Univision, PBS, CBS and ABC affiliates in Boston and as an executive producer with CBS-TeleNoticias in Miami.
Mesa arrived in Miami from Cuba, via Spain, in 1989, and began her career at CVAC as an intern from Florida International University in 1992, where she has been employed for the last twenty years. She currently oversees the domestic violence programs for Miami-Dade County including the Coordinated Victims Assistance Center, the Domestic Violence Outreach Units, the Shelter for Battered Women, Safespace and Inn Transition which a transitional housing program for victims of domestic violence, among others. Ms. Mesa is a national and international speaker who raises awareness about violence against women and who has received numerous recognitions such as The In the Company of Women Award from the Miami-Dade Commission on Women in 2012, The Peace at Home Award from the Governor of Florida in 2005, and the Women of the Next Century in 2000. She has dedicated her career to helping victims of violence and to changing the delivery of services. Ms. Mesa currently chairs the Domestic Violence Oversight Board, and is the founder and Chair of the Latino Alliance against Domestic Violence.
Interim Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at the School of International and Public Affair and Associate Chair and Professor in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, she is the author of The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy (Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2012) and The United States and Cuba: Intimate Enemies (Routledge, 2011). In 2001-2003, Dr. Pérez-Stable chaired the task force on Memory, Truth and Justice, which issued the report, Cuban National Reconciliation. From 2004-2009, she served as Vice President for Democratic Governance at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Chair and Associate Professor at FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. An experienced journalist specializing in broadcast and digital journalism and multimedia production, after earning her law degree from Rutgers University School of Law and before joining the FIU faculty in 1999, Professor Ponte was a producer for NBC News, CBS News and Telemundo Network. She has received several awards, including a national Emmy in 1996, and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1981.
Dean and Professor at the FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication. A native of Brazil, Reis came to the US for graduate studies, earning a Ph.D. in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon. Reis is a veteran journalist and academician who worked in Brazil for more than eight years as a newspaper, TV and magazine reporter and editor; in the US, Reis worked as a copy editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as an ASNE Fellow. He joined the California State University System in 1997 where he taught news writing, research methods, global news media, media ethics, mass communication theory and digital journalism, among other courses. Currently, his work focuses on science & environmental journalism and features a study abroad to the Amazon. Dean Reis has published extensively in academic journals and books.
A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience in television including anchoring, reporting, writing and producing for the nightly newscast, prime-time news specials, breaking news events and prime time news magazine shows. Winner of eleven Emmy awards, eight for news-oriented specials and three for investigative and feature reporting. She has conducted investigative reports on childhood prostitution in Costa Rica, and on live land mines left behind in Nicaragua after the Contra Wars in Central America. Over the last nine years, Teresa has carried out extensive investigative reports on the unsolved murders of over 300 women in Juarez, Mexico. After the stories aired, “key” individuals involved in the cases were fired from their posts, threatened with their lives, or died mysteriously. In 2008, she published the book, The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border.
Rodríguez, Maria Clara
Education and Outreach Program Supervisor for Kristi House, a non-profit organization providing services to sexually abused children and to child victims of sex trafficking. Originally from Colombia, Maria Clara came to Miami in 1997, earned a Master’s in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University, and has worked at Kristi House since 2001. Currently she leads the organization’s funding initiatives and supervises the center’s outreach and prevention programs, working closely with Miami Dade County Public Schools. She regularly holds training sessions for therapists, psychologists, law enforcement, case managers, teachers, counselors, and other professionals who deal with abuse and trafficking, and has been a featured speaker at local and national conferences, and a guest consultant on CNN, Univision and Telemundo.
Rubio Rivera, Susan J.
Executive Director of M.U.J.E.R., Inc, she leads the Homestead-based non-profit’s efforts to provide crisis counseling, domestic violence relocation aid, emergency financial help and emergency legal support to adult victims of sexual battery, assault, or domestic violence. In addition to providing oversight of daily crises and emergencies (mostly affecting South Florida’s migrant farmworker community), Susan also directs M.U.J.E.R’s outreach and educational programming.
A 2012 Stanford Knight Fellow, Judith Torrea, is an award-winning independent investigative blogger, journalist and author based in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She has spent most of her twenty-year career covering the Mexico/US Border, with a special emphasis on women’s rights issues, including femicides, human trafficking and sexual violence. A pioneer in conflict-zone reporting, Torrea has penned her own blog, "Ciudad Juarez, in the Shadow of Drug Trafficking,” from the most dangerous city in the world since 2009.
In 2010 her blog was recognized with the Ortega y Gasset Award, considered "the Pulitzer of Latin America and Spain," and in 2011 she won Deutsche Welle’s Bob's award for the Best of Online Activism, also known as the "the Oscar of blogs." Torrea’s work shines the spotlight on some of the most dire human rights cases in Ciudad Juárez and analyzes the impact that the war against drugs has had on marginalized and poor communities.
Her book ¨Juárez en la sombra¨ will be published soon in the United States. It was released in Latin America and Spain in 2011.
Founder and Director of SOL Media Network & Resources, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to mobilizing the community in the battle against human trafficking. Jorge is also the founder of the Life of Freedom Center, the first walk-in center to offer support and restorative programs for female survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The center works closely with front-line providers to offer victims free access to peer advocates and mentors, along with specially developed support programs that address the traumatic impact of abuse in a survivor’s life. Jorge, his wife and son live in Miami Beach, close to where his mission takes him.
Villar, Maria Elena
Assistant Professor in the Department of advertising and Public Relations in FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Dr. Villar’s research focused on culturally competent communication for social and behavioral change, and strategic communication for diverse audiences.Throughout her career, she has focused on a range of topics, from social determinants of disease and health, family and youth violence, mental health and drug abuse, infectious diseases, evaluation of program outcomes, and community coalitions for social change. A peer-reviewed author, Dr. Villar currently teaches courses in communication theory, research methods, multicultural communication, and advanced seminars in strategic communications and was recognized by FIU as a 2012 Top Scholar for her scholarly contributions. In addition to her work at FIU, she oversees all social marketing, branding, stigma reduction and internal communication activities for the community organization FACES, Families and Communities Empowered for Success. For her work, she received the 2011 Gold ECCO (Excellence in Communication and Community Outreach) Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.