2022 Latin American Studies Alumni Award Recipients

Marcela Andrea Márquez García


Marcela Andrea Márquez García graduated UF in 2017 with a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology and graduate certificates in Tropical Conservation and Development and Environmental Education and Communication. Since her graduation, she has made major contributions to environmental conservation in her home country of Chile and the advancement of women in conservation across Latin America. She is co-founder of the Women in Conservation Network, which has amassed several thousand members and garnered Dr. Márquez an invitation to the 2020 Gender Summit. Through her work at Rio Cruces Wetland Center, Dr. Márquez took the lead in developing an Environmental Education Center and contributed to the drafting of an ecological constitution for Chile.

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Francisco X. Santeiro


Since graduating from the University of Florida in 1977 with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a certificate in Latin American Studies, Mr. Francisco X. Santeiro has built a successful career as a skilled business leader working in Latin America and the Caribbean and contributed to his communities through advocacy and service. Mr. Santeiro worked in international transportation and logistics for over 30 years and retired in the role of Director of Government Affairs for FedEx’s Latin America and Caribbean Division. In addition to leadership within his industry and local communicty, Mr. Santeiro has maintained an active relationship with the Center over the last 20 years, consistently serving as a guest speaker in classes, attending conferences, and consulting on curriculum. In 2021, he returned to the Center for a three-day event in which he counseled students on careers in international trade and logistics.

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2020 Latin American Studies Alumni Award Recipients

Camila Pazos Fajardo


Camila Pazos Fajardo graduated in 2012 with an MA of Sustainable Development Practice and the Tropical Conservation and Development Certificate. Today, she is the Director of Investment Programs at the global nonprofit Echoing Green. In this role, drives the strategy for finding and selecting emerging leaders to join the organization’s community of Fellows, focusing on issues of climate change, education, health, human rights, poverty, and racial justice. Camila leads an inclusive and selective seven-month evaluation process, which results in a recommendation on how to distribute $4 million in funding. Under Camila’s tenure, Echoing Green has invested in organizations such as Emerge Puerto Rico, Urban Oasis, Latin American Leadership Academy, Vida Afrolatina, Low Carbon City, and MicroTERRA.

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Laury Cullen


Laury Cullen works as a researcher at Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ) in Brazil. Laury graduated in 1997 with an MA of Latin American Studies and the Tropical Conservation and Development Certificate. Among a career of outstanding achievements, one of Laury’s most notable is his Corridors for Life project, which works to link four forest corridors across fragmented habitats in the Pontal do Paranapanema. When Laury began at IPÊ as an intern, nine-tenths of the Mata Atlantica had been destroyed. Through the work of the project, Laury facilitated reforestation of private lands by training over 300 farming families in agroecological technologies that improve their land and their livelihoods.

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2019 Latin American Studies Alumni Award Recipients



Dr. Bertrhude Albert received her MA in Latin American Studies and her Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication from the University of Florida. She co-founded the nonprofit P4H Global, formerly known as Projects for Haiti. P4H Global is currently training Haitian teachers in 7 of Haiti's 10 departments and by the end of 2019, they will be operating in all 10 of Haiti's departments. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the P4H team, over 5,000 teachers have been trained across Haiti. Albert has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, including being inducted into the UF Hall of Fame and an International Outreach Award, among others.

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Jorge Piñon received his BA in Economics and a Certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. Piñon’s 32-year career in the energy industry began when he joined Shell Oil Company in 1975. He was appointed President and CEO of Transworld Oil USA in 1989 and President of Amoco Corporate Development Company Latin America in 1991. In 1994, he served as president of Amoco Oil de México and president of Amoco Oil Latin America. In 1997, Piñon received the "Yiacatecutli" award for distinguished service in the promotion of U.S.-Mexico business relations.

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2018 Latin American Studies Alumni Award Recipients



Dr. Kristin Tennyson graduated from the University of Florida with an MA in Latin American Studies in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law & Society in 2009. Tennyson’s work pertaining to the region expands over 20 years and includes multiple positions in the Department of State. Throughout her professional career, Tennyson has held positions such as Assistant Professor at Indiana University Southeast, Intelligence Specialist for the United States Special Operations Command, as well as Foreign Affairs Analyst at the Department of State. As recognition of her work, Tennyson has received four medals of commendation as well as multiple awards.

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Dr. Suzana Padua graduated from the University of Florida with an MA in Latin American Studies with a focus on environmental education in 1991. After her graduation, she returned to her native Brazil and in 2004 she completed a Doctorate in Multidisciplinary studies at the University of Brasília. In 1992, working alongside her husband Dr. Claudio Padua, she founded the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ). The mission of IPÊ is to develop and disseminate innovative models of biodiversity conservation that promote socio-economic benefits through science, education and sustainable business. To this extent, IPÊ created Brazil’s first Professional Masters degree in Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, and also offers an MBA in Social-Environmental Business, which is designed to introduce sustainability as the basis for business professionals.

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2017 Latin American Studies Alumni Award Recipients

Dr. Joe Townsend

2017 Outstanding Alumni Award

Dr. Joe Townsend received his Master’s in Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida. He is an Associate Professor of Biology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the evolution, diversity, and conservation of the amphibians and reptiles of northern Central America, particularly Honduras, and has resulted in 115 scientific publications. Additionally, Dr. Townsend regularly engages in outreach in rural public schools in Western Pennsylvania. He is dedicated to the development and conservation of practitioners in Honduras and is involved in workshops for university students, park guards, and local guides.

Jay Brickman

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

Jay Brickman is the Vice President for Government and Cuba Services for Crowley Maritime Corporation. Mr. Brickman graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in Political Science and Economics and a certificate in Latin American Studies. He completed a Master’s in International Economics and Latin American Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Brickman has spent his entire career promoting business and commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, he has been a pioneer in addressing regional transportation and logistics issues. Because of his longstanding commitment to developing working relationships with Cuba, Mr. Brickman has become a highly respected authority on US-Cuba trade issues.