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.
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
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 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 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
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
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.
Banking Group Head / Senior Vice President
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.
Chief Operating Officer
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.
Tax Managing Director
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.
Managing Director of Somera Road Inc.
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
Partner, TAX at PwC
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).