Announcing the 2023 Alumni Award Winners

Irving X. Chan Gomez wins Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Steven Keats wins Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award

Announcing the 2023 Alumni Award Winners

March 27, 2024

Each year, the UF Center for Latin American Studies recognizes two alumni whose service, leadership, and accomplishments positively reflect the goals, principles, and philosophy of the Center. The 2023 Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner is Irving X. Chan Gomez (MDP 2016; LAS/TCD certificates) and the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award winner is Steven Keats (Latin American Studies certificate, 1977).

Both Irving and Steve will be attending the Center's alumni engagement events in Gainesville on Monday-Tuesday, April 1-2, to meet with current students and lead career readiness workshops. Learn more about the events here: Day 1 | Day 2.

Steven Keats

Steven Keats is the Vice President of Kestrel Liner Agencies, which offers a shipping network by sea, land, and air from over 100 countries to and from the Caribbean Basin and Latin America. Steven is the Caribbean shipping specialist and oversees the American side of the operation.

Steven graduated from the University of Florida in 1977 with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a certificate in Latin American Studies. He has worked in the shipping business since he graduated and accumulated extensive experience working in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Steven has said that one of the life lessons he learned at UF was to seek mentors. Now in the position to serve as a mentor himself, Steven has fulfilled this role to the students of the Center many times over. He has actively participated as a guest speaker in Latin American business classes, volunteered at business and career events, and provided internship opportunities for UF students since the early 2000s. He regularly serves as a mentor for UF students and helps them with job placement and career advising, through the Center as well as the Career Connections Center. Steve also has shared his insight and career advice at non-UF venues to promote UF, LAS, and careers in logistics and to help others pursue their dreams. He has loaned his collection of rare maps from the 15th-17th centuries to the Center for an exhibit, and assisted with organizing Center events in Miami. He is a regular donor to the Center’s activities and serves as the President of the Alumni Board.  

For his consistent dedicated support to the Center for Latin American Studies across many years and through myriad avenues, we’re thrilled to recognize Mr. Steven Keats with the Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award. Congratulations, Steve!

Irving X. Chan Gomez

Irving X Chan Gomez graduated from MDP in 2016, earning his degree as well as the Certificates in Latin American Studies and Tropical Conservation & Development, and the minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Nonprofits.

He was hired immediately by B Lab, the nonprofit network striving to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. Based first in New York City and then in Philadelphia, Irving served first as Strategic Growth and Impact Management Associate (2016-2017), then was promoted to Global Network Development and Innovation Manager (2017-2021), and promoted again to his current position as Strategic Partnerships and Global Growth Manager.

Irving is the leading force behind strategic partnerships at B Lab Global, nurturing and managing key partnerships, for example with Fairtrade International, YPO, We Mean Business Coalition, and Nasdaq. These partnerships have fostered the improvement of B Lab standards for business across core areas like living wages, human rights due diligence, and climate action. He has led the development of a joint guide for business to strengthen their environmental and human rights due diligence, and the integration on Nasdaq’s OneReport platform, announced on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square in New York City. Irving also brokered the partnership with the Centre for Impact Investing and Practices (under the Temasek Trust) to establish a Centre of Excellence in Asia, a first of its kind, and the establishment of a new partner to lead efforts in Japan. These partnerships also ensured connected panels at COP26 (Glasgow, UK) and COP27 (Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt), around the role of stakeholder governance and business action to solve the climate crisis.

Irving has managed the transition of B Lab towards a comprehensive global model, including the design of a Global Vision, Theory of Change, and an evolved global governance model (with increased decisionmaking and representation from underrepresented regions (Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and Asia). He has developed a growth framework and roadmap for Early Stage Markets in Asia and Africa, leveraging the experience from markets in Latin America. He has led the engagement across core teams to optimize standards and products (Sustainable Development Goals [SDG] Action Manager and B Impact Assessment, Version 6) for global markets, including its translation into 4 languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian).

Additionally, Irving is the host of the ‘Forces for Good’ Podcast. His podcast is the Webby People’s Voice Award Winner for Best Series in Public Service and Activism, and is currently nominated for the Community Voice Award at The Anthem Awards under the Sustainability, Environment & Climate - Podcast or Audio category. He is the Arts Committee Chairperson and Curator, for the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. Previously he volunteered for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia, and mentored youth with the Brotherhood Sister Sol in New York City. 

For his remarkable early career accomplishments in addition to his service to his community, we are thrilled to recognize Irving X. Chan Gomez with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Congratulations, Irving!

Special thanks to Mary Risner, Glenn Galloway, and Andy Noss for assistance with the awardee biographies

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