Miguel A. Soto-Class
Mike Soto has had a wide range of experience in both the private and public sectors. In the private sector he has worked at law firms in Puerto Rico and the U.S. and in the banking sector as Assistant to the President of a bank in San Juan. He has also worked in the non-profit sector with California Rural Legal Assistance in San Francisco and has been involved with United Way and the Boys and Girls Clubs, where he served as a Board member in Puerto Rico. In the Public Sector he has served as an appointed member of the Policy Group drafting a gubernatorial campaign platform and as Director of Public Policy and Legal Counsel in the Senate of Puerto Rico.
Mike has a B.A. from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University.
He is a past appointee by the Governor of Puerto Rico to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National Service in Puerto Rico and to the Advisory Board of the Department of the Family. He has also been appointed by the President of the University of Puerto Rico to serve on the Board of Directors for the University Press. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Baldwin School of Puerto Rico; the Advisory Council for the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico; and the YouthSave Advisory Board at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. He was selected as an Aspen Institute Ideas Fellow in 2008.
In 1998, Mike founded the Center for a New Economy (CNE), Puerto Rico’s first think-tank. CNE is an independent, nonprofit, research and policy development organization dedicated to promoting innovative economic development strategies. In 2003 CNE received the prestigious Zenith Award for Best Non-Profit from the Chamber of Commerce.
Mike has been a columnist for El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation daily, since 2003. His first book, The Economy of Puerto Rico: Restoring Growth, was published by the Brookings Institution in 2006.
Churchill G. Carey, Jr. Chair in Economic Development Research
Deepak Lamba-Nieves is the Director of Research at the Center for a New Economy. He is currently a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) affiliated to the department’s International Development Group (IDG). His current research interests focus on: the migration-development nexus, transnational migrant organizations, hometown associations (HTAs) and state-society dynamics. Throughout his doctoral studies, he has been conducting fieldwork in Boston, New York City and in the southern region of the Dominican Republic, examining the links between migration, development practices and transnational transformations.
Before joining MIT, he spent close to seven years as Research Director in CNE. While at the Center, he also taught Geography and Planning courses at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras Campus, and also at the Polytechnic University’s School of Architecture.
He completed a Masters in City Planning (MCP) at UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) prior to joining CNE. His Masters work looked at high-technology policy in Puerto Rico and the contemporary economic development challenges in the island. He spent his college days at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Economics and Geography.
Sergio M. Marxuach
Policy Director and General Counsel
Sergio M. Marxuach is the Director for Policy Development at the Center for a New Economy. Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Marxuach served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, under the direction of Milton Segarra. Previous to his service as Deputy Secretary, Mr. Marxuach worked as Special Assistant to Ms. Melba Acosta, former executive director of the Commonwealth’s Office of Management and Budget.
Before joining the Commonwealth government, he was an associate for five years in the New York City law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, where he worked mostly in Latin American and international corporate matters, structuring cross-border capital market transactions, and arranging vendor financing and syndicated credit facilities for U.S. multinational firms.
Mr. Marxuach has a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale University, where he was awarded the Henry Edwards Ellsworth Prize for his Senior Essay. He also has a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from the Graduate School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Associate Executive Director
Nuria Y. Ortiz Vargas is the Associate Executive Director of CNE. Prior to joining CNE, she held various positions in the private, non-profit and government sectors in Puerto Rico. Among them, she was Associate VP of Origination & Structuring at General Electric Commercial Finance Corp., and Fund Analyst at Grupo Guayacán, Inc., a non-profit corporation specializing in private equity fund-of-funds investments.
Nuria has a B.A. in Economics and International Relations from Tufts University and a M.Sc. in Development Management from the London School of Economics. She has a J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico and is a member of the Puerto Rico Bar Association.
Nydia Suárez is the Center for a New Economy’s Senior Adviser in Communications and Public Affairs. She graduated from the Sacred Heart University and worked as a journalist for El Nuevo Día. She was Vice President of a consulting company of public opinion research and, since the 1980’s, she has presided her own Communications firm, working with organizations of social responsibility. She is the author of a book on social and political satire, and Master Coach in Neurolinguistic Programming.
Senior Program Director
Jennifer Wolff is Senior Program Director at CNE. Prior to joining the Center, Wolff was General Manager of Hill & Knowlton Puerto Rico and Vice President of Comstat Rowland, where she developed corporate out-reach and institutional communications projects for a wide variety of companies in multi-national and multi-sectorial environments. She previously labored as journalist, anchor and executive producer of prime-time news shows, specializing in hard-news and investigative reporting, and developing international assignments in Somalia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Cuba, among others. Her work earned her over 25 awards in the fields of communications, journalism, and marketing. She has served in the boards of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico.
Wolff graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University with a double Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and History, and minors in Economics and Computer Programming. Her education included courses in international economics, economic history, political philosophy and sociology from Birbeck College, London University, England and Stanford University, California, USA. She is currently pursuing graduate studies in History at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
Institutional Advancement Director
Cecille Blondet received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico. After graduating from law school she worked at the Office of Legislative Services of the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly, first as Legislative Assistant and later as Director of the Legal Division.
In 1997, she traveled to Africa as part of an international four-person team sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development to conduct a needs assessment of the legislative process in Benin, a former French colony where a democratically based government was just being inaugurated after a Marxist dictatorship of 30 years. She later served as Advisor in Health, Special Communities, and Social Development for the Mayor of San Juan, capital city of Puerto Rico, and as Public Affairs Coordinator, post that she held in the municipality of San Juan until the mayor was elected the first female governor in Puerto Rico, when she went to work for the Governor as head of both, the Press and Central Communications offices.
After her government experience at the legislative and executives branches she focused on higher education at the administrative level and for eight years worked for the President of the University of Puerto Rico as Director of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, in charge of setting the grounds and infrastructure to embark the eleven campuses-wide university in a fundraising campaign that increased the university’s endowment by 262%. She was Director of Development, Communications and External Affairs of Museo de Arte de Ponce, where she combined her experience in government, fundraising and communications with a lifelong passion and enjoyment for the arts.
Institutional Advancement Manager
Mónica Fornaris-Pau is the Institutional Advancement Manager at the Center for a New Economy. She has a B.A. in Criminology and a Masters in Management from the University of Florida. She also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Puerto Rico Bar Association.
Mari Mari Narváez
Social Media Manager and Consultant
Mari Mari Narváez is CNE’s social media manager and consultant. A writer and communicator with more than 15 years of experience in Journalism, Communications, and Contemporary Media Cultures, she owns El atelier, a creative writing and media consultancy agency. Since 2006, she has been a permanent columnist at El Nuevo Día, specializing in Cultural and Gender issues. She is also a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at the Department of History, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, and holds a Master of Arts in Journalism and Latin American Studies from Florida International University. Mari is co-author of Fuera del quicio, among other books, literary essays, interviews, and fiction works.
Carla J. Alonso
Special Events Coordinator
Carla Alonso Vélez graduated from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has devoted much of her life to the administration of institutional projects and the production of events in the areas of Education and Sports. Since the very beginnings of the CNE, she has worked as the concept manager of all its conferences, seminars and public events. Her experience extends to Puerto Rico and abroad.