Senior-level hires and promotions for the week of February 6, 2017

Santa Maria
Santa Maria


Viviana Santisteban joins MBAF as director of human resources. She previously was vice president of human resources for Amerikooler Inc. Santisteban has a bachelor’s from Hood College in Maryland.


At AutoNation:

▪ William “Bill” Berman has been named president and chief operating officer. He was executive vice president and chief operating officer. Mike Jackson will continue as chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

▪ Marc Cannon has been promoted to executive vice president. he was senior vice president, communications, public policy and chief marketing officer. He is a graduate of the University of Miami.

▪ Donna Parlapiano also has been promoted to executive president. She was senior vice president, franchise operations and corporate real estate. She has an MBA from the University of Denver.


At Northern Trust, in the Brickell Avenue office:

▪ Rick Fernandez has been promoted to managing director of one of the wealth advisory teams. Fernandez, a CPWA, has a BBA from Florida International University and an MBA from the University of Virginia.

▪ Xavier Martinez has been hired as senior portfolio manager within the wealth advisory team. He most recently was chief investment officer for Coconut Grove Bank. Martinez, a CFA, has a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Tulane and a J.D. from Duke.

Emma Pacetti has joined TotalBank as senior vice president and director of banking centers. She previously spent 10 years as vice president and sales manager for Citibank, N.A., Miami. Pacetti has a BBA from FIU.


Melissa Rosado has been named chief operating officer of JAG Insurance Group, based in Miami. Most recently she was vice president branch manager for Regions Bank. Rosado has a bachelor’s in hospitality management from FIU.


J. Thomas Cookson has joined the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen as a partner in its corporate practice group. He concentrates his practice in structuring and negotiating complex business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, debt and equity financings, and securities offerings. Cookson was previously of counsel with Akerman in Miami. He received his bachelor’s from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from the College of William & Mary.

At newly opened Diaz-Balart Law in Miami:

▪ Daniel L. Diaz-Balart is a partner. He’ll provide legal representation in several practice areas, including criminal defense, personal injury, business and tax matters. Diaz-Balart was previously a trial lawyer at Leesfield Scolaro, P.A., and before that, was an assistant state attorney at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. Diaz-Balart has a bachelor’s from the University of Central Florida and a J.D. from Florida State University.

▪ Cody F. Aldridge is also a partner. He focuses his practice in the areas of general business transactions, taxation and other business areas. Aldridge, a CPA, was previously at Kaufman Rossin. He has a BBA from American University; and a master’s of taxation and a J.D. from UM.

Bradley Houser has joined the Miami office of Holland & Knight as a partner. He was previously at Akerman, where he chaired that firm’s Miami corporate practice. Houser has a bachelor’s from Drake University, and an MBA and J.D. from the University of Iowa.

Neal McAliley has joined Carlton Fields as a shareholder in its Miami office. He is a member of hte firm’s national trial practice business litigation subgroup. He was previously at White & Case. Before that, he was a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice. McAliley has an A.B. from harvard and a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley.

Peter L. Meltzer has been named partner at Miami-based Pathman Lewis, LLP. He joined the firm in 2011 as an associate. His practice areas include real estate transactions, real estate litigation, foreclosures, community association law and civil litigation. Meltzer has a bachelor’s from Brandeis and a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University.

Alan C. “A.C.” Nash has been elevated from associate to shareholder at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. He is based in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office, where he is a member of the casualty department. Nash, who joined the firm in 2010, focuses his practice on the defense of claims made and suits brought against the insured and businesses in product, automobile, commercial, liquor liability, construction and premises liability matters. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and a J.D. from FSU.

Victor Petrescu has been named a partner at Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider + Grossman LLP, based in Miami. Petrescu, who was an associate in the firm, focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation. He has a law degree from UM.


Scott Sherman and Ben Mandell are co-founders and managing partners at newly formed Tricera Capital, based on Brickell Avenue, which is focused on value-add, urban retail investments in the U.S. Sherman was previously vice president of acquisitions at Thor Equities, focusing on urban retail and mixed-use assets. Mandell was managing director at RKF, where he specialized in investment sales, tenant and landlord representation.


Craig Witt has been named executive vice president of worldwide sales at MotionPoint and will be based at company headquarters in Coconut Creek. The company offers services for website translation, localization and optimization. Witt previously was executive vice president of global sales at Version One, an enterprise software company. Witt has a bachelor’s in accounting from Millikin University in Illinois.

Chris Fleck was promoted to vice president and technical fellow at Citrix, which he joined in 2003. He previously was vice president, emerging solutions at the company. Fleck has a bachelor’s in engineering from New York University and an MBA from Union College.

This column lists high-level promotions of senior executives at the director level and above who are based in South Florida. These announcements, which also are at, are for full-time, paid positions. Send items, including previous job; educational background; and jpegs of head shots, to

See past senior-level hires and promotions in South Florida for 2017:

▪ Jan. 2, 2017

▪ Jan. 9, 2017

▪ Jan. 16, 2017

▪ Jan. 23, 2017

▪ Jan. 30, 2017

Mover’s spotlight

Name: Eric E. Santa Maria

New position: Partner at Verdeja, De Armas & Trujillo, LLP.

From: Director in the firm’s tax practice. He will be based in Coral Gables.

Also: He previously worked at Paul A. Garcia, P.A. in Coral Gables, and before that, in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ financial services tax practice.

About the firm: The CPA firm provides professional service to more than 1,500 national and international organizations. It has five partners and more than 35 employees. The firm has offices Weston and Islamorada as well as the Gables.

Education: Santa Maria, a certified public accountant, has a bachelor’s of accounting and a master’s in taxation from Florida International University. He is accredited in business valuation (ABV) and certified in financial forensics (CFF) from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and he is a certified acceptance agent (CAA) of the Internal Revenue Service.

Professional affiliation and honors include: Treasurer of the Association of Latino Professionals for America. He volunteers for the March of Dimes and is on the March for Babies family council. He has also been a member of the AICPA CPA Ambassador Program (2013) and the board of the Cuban American CPA Association.

Best advice he ever received: Sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

Choices for Spotlight are made from promotions sent to