Speakers

Keith R. St. Clair

Founder of St. Clair Collection
Keynote Speaker

Keith R. St. Clair was born in London, England and became a U.S. citizen in 1991. He started his business career in the U.K. in the late 70’s with real estate developments in England and Spain. In 1984 he assumed the position of Chairman & Managing Director of Sol Holidays. He developed the company into a major tour operator over the following 6 years when the operation was sold to a public company.

In the 90’s St. Clair moved to the United States and in 1998 created a holding company for the consolidation of travel service distributors and operators in the U.S. market. In 1999 he acquired the American Express operation in Central Florida, Bon Voyage Travel, and the largest Carlson Travel franchise in the USA, Around the World Travel, headquartered in Coral Gables, FL. It became the companies DBA and under St. Clair’s control and leadership acquired 18 additional significant travel distribution companies throughout the U.S., creating Florida’s largest independent travel distribution company and a top 10 national enterprise with annual revenues of US$600M.

Most recently, Mr. St. Clair and his development group purchased the iconic ESJ Towers Resort located in Isla Verde Beach, outside of San Juan, P.R. Within six months of acquiring ESJ, St. Clair rebranded the property as ESJ Azul, including an extensive renovation of the property and a new marketing and distribution plan that has exponentially increased sales and added additional revenue streams.

He is taking that same model of success and expanding it across the Isla Verde area, igniting a much-needed renaissance that will increase tourism and create thousands of well-paying jobs with plans already in the works to build two more iconic resorts in Isla Verde, the ESJ Jade to be open in 2019 and the ESJ Noir to start renovation construction on January 2019. In mid-2018 Mr. St. Clair founded the St. Clair Collection integrating Maré Hotel (formerly ESJ Azul), Jade, Noir, and Zafira as part of the Collection.

He and his development group are building RKA the first film studio that will provide City Facades, Sound Stages, a Visitor’s Center with a Film Museum and an area for Film Festivals facilities. The film studio will be located at the Puerto Rico Convention Center District, this project is expected to be completed by 2022.

Given Mr. St. Clair’s dedication to Puerto Rico and his vision for the future, he became a proud resident of Puerto Rico through Law 20/22 in 2015 and is already implementing additional development plans in Vieques and Cayey to further his mission and vision for Puerto Rico. Mr. St. Clair holds a degree in Education from Birmingham University, U.K and a second degree in Business from The Open University, U.K.

Steve Glickman

Founder and CEO of Develop LLC
Keynote Speaker

Steve Glickman is the Founder and CEO of Develop LLC, an advisory firm exclusively focused on building and supporting Opportunity Funds and the broader Opportunity Zones (OZ) marketplace.  He is also the Co-Founder, and former CEO, of the Economic Innovation Group, the bipartisan organization that was the chief architect of the $6 trillion OZ program.

Steve previously served in the Obama Administration as a senior economic advisor at the National Security and National Economic Councils, where he managed international trade, investment, manufacturing and small business issues.  He was also Chief of Staff for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the Department of Commerce.  Prior to the Administration, Steve served in legal roles on Capitol Hill, the Department of Justice and the Democratic National Committee. 

Steve received his B.A. and M.A. from Georgetown University, J.D. from Columbia Law School, and LL.M. from the London School of Economics.  He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown, and serves on the Board of The NewDEAL.

 

Steve’s work has been featured in the Atlantic, AP, Bisnow, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Impact Alpha, Inc., LA Times, Marketplace, NY Times, NPR, Politico, San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Vox, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

 

María de
los ángeles Rivera

Partner Head of Tax and IBC Director
Keynote Speaker

Experience

Mrs. Rivera has over thirty-three years of experience in public accounting.

Sector experience

In her role as tax partner, she serves clients in various industries, with a focus on those in hospitality and manufacturing.  Mrs. Rivera assists clients with decisions related to tax applications and audits and helps business clients and their owners to lessen corporate, individual, estate and gift taxes. She is responsible for the administrative aspects of the Tax Department and coordinates the technical tax trainings of the tax department professionals. In addition, she is member of the firm’s Executive Committee.

Professional qualifications and memberships

Mrs. Rivera is a summa cum laude graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and holds a master’s degree in public accountancy from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Professional affiliations and memberships

Member of the Tax Committees and the Business Women Networks of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and the Puerto Rico State Society of Certified Public Accountants.  Also an active member in Ellevate – Puerto Rico Chapter.

In 2017 she was awarded by the Woman Who Lead organization as “Executive Woman Leader”.  In 2015 she was recognized in the International Accounting Bulletin Power 50 list, among most influential people in the global accountancy profession.  During September 2014, she was recognized, for her outstanding services, as a “Distinguished CPA” by the Puerto Rico State Society.

She participates in the Continued Educational Program of the Puerto Rico State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.  On June 2012, María was awarded by the Puerto Rico State Society as one of its distinguished colleagues and to whom the Accountants’ Week was dedicated.

Community involvement

She was the Treasurer of Fundación Dar a not-for-profit organization. 

Presentations and publications

Among Mrs. Rivera’s publications are numerous tax articles written for local newspapers and magazines.  She is an active correspondent of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) for Puerto Rico.

Languages spoken

Spanish and English

 

Yvette T. Collazo

SBA Director Puerto Rico

Yvette T. Collazo was appointed District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands District Office on February 25, 2013.

As District Director, Ms. Collazo is responsible for the delivery of the agency’s financial assistance, business counseling, entrepreneurial training, and federal contracting programs throughout Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

Previously, Ms. Collazo served as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE’s EM) in Washington,

DC, leading the Office of Technology Innovation & Development.

Ms. Collazo holds a Master of Science in Environmental Management from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.

James Austin

Chief Financial Officer
Keynote Speaker

James Austin has dedicated his life to enriching lives and communities from a global perspective. James focus has been to provide communities with financial knowledge and create tangible solutions that provides economic changes. James is well-versed in the subject matters of finance, governmental accounting, project management and community development.

In 2014, James received a prestigious honor by receiving a Proclamation from the Atlanta City Council for his entrepreneurial efforts.  This devoted effort to increasing his prowess in business was honored by allowing him to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Morehouse College as a honor graduate. Shortly after, James served as the Chief Financial Officer for two public school districts and managed budgets over 50 million dollars combined. Also, he has led stringent Federal, State and local audits and understands the complexity of compliance.  In his tenure, he led the finance counsel in constructing an 18 million dollar building project and oversaw all funds in relationship to the completion of the building.

James has led a bond offering of 7 million dollars and oversaw several construction funds amounting to more than 15 million dollars. In addition, his stewardship gained the attention of Moody’s through bond issuances and the district was graded with Aa2 credit rating.

As a devoted servant, James has volunteered over 500 hours of community service and has been awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Award through the office of President Donald Trump. In addition, James is a devoted father and active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He volunteers on the board for several organizations and is revered as a Renaissance Man.

Frank Austin

Community Developer and Real State Investor
Keynote Speaker

Frank Austin is committed to empowering the underserved communities around the world.  Frank works to strengthen the community by developing neighborhood revitalization strategies, informative workshops, development opportunities and other service opportunities within this community development sector.  His passion is primarily associated with caring for underserved groups as it relates to socioeconomic status.

  In 2015, Frank became the 22nd man in the nation to receive the iconic “Iron Eyes Cody Award” presented by Keep America Beautiful.   As a dedicated Community Developer and real estate Investor in blighted communities, Frank continues to strive for excellence as a perpetual task.  Based on Frank’s zeal for service, he was awarded the prestigious Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis National Noble Prize Award for Outstanding Public Service benefiting Local Communities. Practically, he has over 25 years in entrepreneurship and he understands the value of a successful business implications on communities. This experience has led Frank to lead communities through economic changes and provide cutting edge strategies to decreasing unemployment rates in communities.Not only has Frank dealt with community development, real estate and project management he also has a passion for holistic care and concern for his fellow man. 

As a hands-on leader in multiple communities, Frank continues to broaden his horizons by seizing every available opportunity to help those in need.  Customarily, distressed communities trigger the fight in Frank to aid by teaching the people to fish as opposed to giving them a fish. Frank is a devoted father and has volunteered his time and services to the community and local boards. As a result, he has earned the respect of the President’s Office by receiving the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Award.

Marcelo Salas

NES Financials Vice President
Guest Speaker

Marcelo Salas is NES Financial’s Vice President of Business Development for the East Coast, supporting our EB-5, Opportunity Zones, and private equity divisions. To this role, he brings nearly two decades of financial services and commercial real estate experience, including positions at some of the top firms in the finance sector. Marcelo’s fund administration and fintech expertise now serves him daily in his client interactions, where he specializes in facilitating tailor-made solutions to complex institutional needs.

Ian Ross

Founder and Principal at Somera Road, Inc.
Keynote Speaker

Ian Ross founded Somera Road Inc. in 2014 to take an entrepreneurial and creative approach to value-add, opportunistic real estate in non-core markets. Previously, Ian was a Managing Director at Triangle Capital Group, a firm he helped develop shortly after its inception. At Triangle, Ian managed the Acquisitions and Asset Management units, focusing on the purchase of hard asset real estate, non-performing loans, and securitized mortgage products, as well as the conception and execution of value-add business plans. Ian sourced, underwrote and structured investments, in both the CMBS and CRE arenas, and focused on the development of strategic relationships, firm oversight, and risk management.

Prior to joining Triangle, Ian spent two years working as an analyst for Jefferies & Company in its Investment Banking Division where he focused on raising both debt and equity, as well as providing advisory services for companies in the financial services and real estate sectors. Ian initially began his professional career working on Morgan Stanley’s CMBS origination and securitization platform.

Ian received an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and graduated with honors from Emory University with a Bachelors in Business Administration. Ian serves on Manhattan’s Community Board 5 and sits on the Public Safety & Quality of Life, and Transportation & Environment committees. Additionally, Ian is the Founder and Chairman of The Asperger’s Awareness Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that strives to raise awareness and funding for high-functioning forms of Autism.

Manuel A.J. Laboy

Secretary of Economic Development and commerce of Puerto Rico
Keynote Speaker

Licensed professional engineer with over 20 years of experience solving problems, adding value and achieving results. Industries include manufacturing, chemical production, life sciences (pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices), construction, public utilities, renewable energy, healthcare, technology and government. Strong capability for managing technical and non-technical projects, tasks and activities. Highly skilled in analyzing processes and systems to improve efficiency and productivity.  Successful track record in formulating business and project strategies as well as driving execution from planning to implementation to project close-out. Proven ability to lead teams and manage change. Demonstrated success in combining managerial and technical skills to achieve continuous improvement goals.  Firm believer in creativity, innovation, sustainability, and long-term growth based on effective leadership, cross-functional and multi-sectorial collaboration, learning and cooperation.

Giovanni Mendez

Corporate and Tax Attorney
Guest Speaker

Giovanni Mendez has extensive experience as a corporate and tax attorney, including compliance, financial reporting, tax preparation, and regulatory matters. Admitted to the Puerto Rico Bar and United States Tax Court, Giovanni has advised clients at both the State and Federal levels. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications firms, financial services companies, e-commerce, technology and software companies, private equity investors, blockchain technology companies, and high net-worth individuals.

Scott Fuller

Capital United CEO
Guest Speaker

Scott co-founded and currently acts as the CEO for EB5 United.  EB5 United works with U.S. developers to help structure EB-5 transactions.  EB5 United has office locations and human resources in Los Angeles, Denver, New York, Seattle, Vietnam, S Korea, China, India and Brazil. 

Since 2011 Scott has been directly involved in raising more than $460M through the EB-5 Program.  Scott and EB5 United are currently the General Partner of the New Commercial Enterprise involved in the Four Seasons Resort in Puerto Rico, and 9 Orchards, a boutique hotel located in New York City.  Both Projects are currently under development.   Scott also raised all the EB-5 funds, co-developed, and has an ownership interest in a 225-room Marriott Residence Inn, Pearl District, Portland, OR, and co-developed on behalf of EB-5 investors the 399 room Courtyard/Residence Inn, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.  Scott is a General Partnership and has an ownership interest the LA Live hotel, along with other partners including Philip Anschutz, AEG Companies.

In 2017 Scott co-founded Capital United, a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC. 

Capital United focuses on cross-border transactions with foreign nationals seeking U.S. based assets.  Capital United also pioneered the EB-5 Redeployment Marketplace, partnering with NES Financial.  This marketplace connects qualified NCE investors with high-quality investment opportunities, designed to satisfy USCIS requirements for redeploying EB-5 investment capital. Comprehensive by design, the EB-5 Redeployment Marketplace covers the critically important areas of underwriting approval and due diligence of investment opportunities, as well as independent third-party investment advisory and fund administration oversight.

1987 Scott started his career with CBRE, after graduating from the University of Oregon (’87) with a B.S. in Finance.  He previously sat on the board of the Sage School, Sun Valley, ID.   Scott is married with 5 kids ranging from 21 to 9 years old.

Ing. Dennis G. González Ramos

Subsecretario de Programa Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery

Guest Speaker

Ing. Dennis G. González Ramos, estudió Ingeniería Civil en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez y posteriormente hace una Maestría en Gerencia de Ingeniería con Concentración en Gerencia de Construcción de la Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico.  El Ing. González tiene varias certificaciones tales como: Corredor de Bienes Raíces, Inspector Certificado así como otras relacionadas al campo de la construcción y al manejo de programas federales.

El ingeniero González tiene más de 15 años de experiencia en el campo de la ingeniería donde ha   sobre 1,500 millones dólares en Proyectos de Construcción destacándose exitosamente en Proyectos de Vivienda Pública, en la industria Hotelera, The Mall of San Juan, Hospitales, entre otros.

Desde el 2016 hasta el 2018 ocupó el puesto de Subsecretario del Departamento de la Vivienda del Gobierno de Puerto Rico.  Actualmente, ocupa el puesto de Subsecretario de Programa Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) cuya responsabilidad es administrar, desarrollar e implementar la asignación de 19.9 billones de dólares para la reconstrucción del país tras el paso de los Huracanes Irma y María.

Alberto Bacó Bagué

Founder & General Director, Partnership for Modern Puerto Rico

Guest Speaker

Bacó Bagué is the Founder and General Director of the Partnership for Modern Puerto Rico, a forum that promotes authentic connections among passionate leaders and influencers. PMPR works through co-investment, macro project promotion, deep dive thought processes, and high-level networking to become a catalyst for change and lead Puerto Rico into the future.

Bacó Bagué is an attorney, CPA, and entrepreneur, with a successful career in company turnarounds and restructuring. During his career, Bacó Bagué has distinguished himself as an active supporter of the development of the venture capital and private equity industry in Puerto Rico and has held senior management positions in both the public and private sectors.

In the public sector, Bacó Bagué has been Executive Vice President, President and Chairman of the Board of the Economic Development Bank and the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico.  For four years, he directed the economic development strategy and execution as a cabinet level Secretary. Under his guidance, Puerto Rico’s economy embarked on a journey into a second grand transformation, where knowledge and service impact and strengthen all industries. Key initiatives included:

  • Laws 20 and 22 program
  • Parallel 18 startup accelerator
  • Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust
  • Aerospace cluster consolidation with the promotion of Honeywell
  • Creation of a sector with the promotion of the MRO
  • Reversed negative trend in tourism
  • Cannabis industry
  • Promotion of international offices
  • Medical tourism

Prior to his appointment, Bacó Bagué has held several leadership positions within the private sector, including CEO of Marvel and Bohío International, and Board seats with W Holdings and Assurant P.R., among others. He has held several positions within international accounting and law firms, and currently directs ABB Capital LLC, which specializes in strategies for growth, governance and turnarounds.

Bacó Bagué graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He also holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Puerto Rico. He is an active member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and, at a local level, has held all head positions, including Chapter Chairman.

Daniel Topple

Banking Group Head / Senior Vice President

Guest Speaker

A graduate of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University, Daniel is a Senior Vice-President and Banking Group Head for CB Private & Commercial Banking, a division of Customers Bank.  Based in New York City, Daniel has nearly twenty years of experience within the private and commercial banking fields, focusing the last few years on specialized banking solutions for “outside the box” industries, such as EB-5 and, most recently, Opportunity Zones. 

Customers Bank is a community-based, full-service bank, serving private banking and commercial clients through offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major metropolitan areas throughout the United States.  Customers Bank is ranked by total assets in the top 2% of all banks in the United States and has been consistently ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 Largest & Best Banks in America.   

Ella Woger

Chief Operating Officer

Keynote Speaker

Ella Woger-Nieves is the Chief Operating Officer of InvestPR, a non-profit organization created by law tasked with attracting new businesses and capital investment to the Island. Along with its diverse eleven-member Board, Ms. Woger-Nieves was brought on to lead the start-up of the organization and currently leads InvestPR’s vision to become a transformational and results-oriented accelerator of economic development in Puerto Rico.

A Puerto Rico native, Ella brings 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and management consulting to the table, having counseled an array of leading public and private sector clients and worked with Fortune 500 companies in strategic sectors like financial services and life sciences.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Ella began her career at multinational corporations with marketing and strategy consulting roles at Ernst & Young and Johnson & Johnson. Since then, she has put her experience to work for Vision-to-Action, a boutique management consulting firm in San Juan and Miami, where she worked hand-in-hand with Puerto Rico’s main economic development agencies, including the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, to jumpstart projects in key sectors.

Most recently, she was a director at the Collage Group in Washington, D.C. where she led market research and counseled clients on engagement strategies targeted to the fastest-growing consumer segments in the U.S. marketplace. Ella recently moved back to the Island to take on this role and is thrilled to be a part of the rebuilding of the Puerto Rico economy in order to set our Island on a path of growth and prosperity.

Katherine Breaks

Tax Managing Director

Guest Speaker

Function and Specialization

Katherine is a tax managing director in KPMG’s Tax Credit and Energy Advisory Services  practice where she advises companies on federal tax incentives.  She also advises companies on the impact of federal tax legislation and associated guidance.  Katherine joined KPMG in 1998.

Education, Licenses & Certifications

    • BA, Yale University
    • JD, New York University School of Law
    • District of Columbia Bar Association
    • American Bar Association
    • Former Chair of the Capital Recovery and Leasing Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association.
    • Vice Chair, Tax and Accounting Committee, Solar Energy Industry Association

Professional and Industry Experience

Katherine is a founding member of KPMG’s Tax Credit and Energy Advisory Services practice where she advises clients on federal income tax credits and other incentives.

Katherine coauthored Opportunity Knocks under Tax Reform, February 19, 2018, about the new Qualified Opportunity Zone program.

Katherine was a featured speaker on Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ) at a recent QOZ Forum sponsored by the Illinois governor’s office on October 11, 2018.

Recent projects have included:

  • Evaluating whether a particular building or business is located in a qualifying census tract for purposes of the Qualified Opportunity Zone program.
  • Providing advice on the requirement that a qualified opportunity fund must purchase qualified property from an unrelated person after 2017.
  • Providing advice on what gains are eligible for deferral under the Qualified Opportunity Zone program.
  • Providing advice on the “testing period” for purposes of determining whether at least 90% of the assets of a qualified opportunity fund are invested in a qualifying zone business.
  • Providing advice on the threshold of investment needed to constitute a “substantial renovation” under the Qualified Opportunity Zone program.

Fergus Campbell

Managing Director of Somera Road Inc.

Guest Speaker

Fergus serves as Managing Director of Somera Road Inc. helping oversee all aspects of the business. Prior to joining Somera, Fergus was a Senior Associate at NorthStar Asset Management Group, Inc. (a predecessor to Colony NorthStar, Inc.). At NorthStar, Fergus focused on large portfolio acquisitions across all asset classes and jurisdictions. He spent time in New York, Luxembourg and London, running all aspects of the investment process. He has extensive experience purchasing and financing real estate, having closed over $5 billion of transactions.

Fergus is concurrently completing his MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and received his BA from Dartmouth College with a major in Engineering Sciences

Denisse Flores

Partner, TAX at PwC

Moderator

Denisse Flores-Caldera is a partner at PwC US and leader of the San Juan Tax Practice. PwC is the largest accounting firm in Puerto Rico. Denisse is a proven leader and highly respected member in the broader Puerto Rican business community. She has significant experience in Puerto Rico, US and international tax matters and regularly advises clients spanning across a wide array of industries, including private equity, alternative investments, manufacturing, and financial services. Denisse primarily focuses on both inbound and outbound Puerto Rican and US federal income tax matters and has significant experience in cross border tax structuring issues. Denisse has more than eighteen years of tax consulting and compliance experience and is considered a leader in the business community. She also devotes time advising and promoting various PR incentives Acts, including the Export Services Act (Act 20), the Individual Investors Act (Act 22), the International Insurance Center Act and the International Financial Center Regulatory Act, as well as US Incentives Programs such as the Opportunity Zones. She began her career in PwC Mexico and later moved within PwC to San Juan and New York City focusing on, amongst others, global cross-border tax matters for multinationals and asset management clients.

Denisse is a CPA and former president of the Puerto Rico CPA State Society, one of the most prestigious business organizations in Puerto Rico, where she has held a number of leadership roles and continues to be actively involved. She also is the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico – affiliate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She was a participant at Genesis Park – PwC’s global leadership program.

Denisse regularly speaks at tax conferences and seminars, and is the author of various articles. She earned an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters in Tax (MST) from Bentley University. Denisse also is in the process of completing a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Puerto Rico Law School (expected May 2019).