Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?


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Event Date: 
Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 8:00am to 3:00pm
Tickets: $50.00 per person

Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?

With sun-soaked beaches, colonial charm and a rhythm all its own, Cuba and the Caribbean Islands have long fascinated American travelers and investors alike. Recent policy changes have enhanced U.S.-Cuba relations and opened doors to the nearby island, creating opportunities for economic development, travel and more.

A special seminar, “Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now?,” is set for Feb. 22 at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and will cover topics important to investors and anyone with an interest in Cuban and Caribbean affairs.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes a bipartisan panel discussion with Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who serves Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which includes the Florida Keys, and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands. The panel will be moderated by Ben White, a CNBC political correspondent and journalist from Politico.

Vicki Huddleston, a retired U.S. ambassador and diplomat, and Stephen Kay, director, the Americas Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, are among the featured speakers as well.

Registration and coffee start at 8 a.m. USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Karen Holbrook and David Kotok, Cumberland Advisors’ chief investment officer and a GIC Board member, will provide welcoming remarks.

Cuba and the Caribbean: What Now? is a presentation of the USF Sarasota-Manatee, Cumberland Advisors, the Global Interdependence Center (GIC), the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Research One and USF World.

Lunch is included.

Session topics include:

  • US Administrations & Cuba
  • Economic Recovery in Cuba and the Caribbean
  • Doing Business in Cuba
  • Hurricanes and the Caribbean

Click here to register.



8:00 – 8:30 a.m. | Registration and coffee

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. | Welcome Remarks

  • Karen Holbrook, Regional Chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee
  • David Kotok, CIO Cumberland Advisors and GIC Board Member

8:45 – 9:30 a.m. | Keynote – US Administrations & Cuba

  • Vicki Huddleston: US Ambassador, retired; former Principal Officer, US Interests section in Havana – Myths, Contradictions, and Lies: Bush, Obama, Trump

9:30 – 10:45 a.m. | Economic Recovery in Cuba and the Caribbean     

  • Jorge Duany, Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University – The Development and Current Status of the Non-State Sector of the Cuban Economy
  • Eugenio J. Alemán, Director, Senior Economist, Wells Fargo Securities, Latin Connection Executive Advisor
  • Sara Banaszak, Exxon Mobil: Oil, Gas and Electricity in the Caribbean Economies
  • Moderator: Mark Abbott, Managing Director, Raymond James Financial

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. | Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | Doing Business in Cuba

  • Collin Laverty, Cuba Educational Travel – 21st Century Cuba: Challenges and Opportunities
  • David Seleski, President and CEO, Stonegate Bank – S. Business Opportunities in Cuba in Today’s Regulatory Environment
  • Moderator: Stephen J. Kay, Americas Center Director, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. | Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Hurricanes and the Caribbean

  • Bob Bunting, CEO Waterstone Strategies Inc. – How Cuba saved Florida and the Southeast U.S. from a Category 5 Knockout
  • Luke Bencie, Managing Director for Security Management International, LLC.: The Future of Economic Espionage: Preparing for the Worst
  • Moderator: Bob Harrigan, Chief Meteorologist, WWSB ABC

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. | Political Keynote(s)

  • Stacey Plaskett, Member of United States Congress serving the US Virgin Islands
  • Moderator: Ben White, Chief Economic Correspondent, POLITICO

3:00 p.m. | Conclusion


University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Selby Auditorium
8350 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34243

Plan your trip to Sarasota using GIC’s blog posted by Jill here.


Event Location

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018 City: Sarasota, FL Download iCal



Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett serving the US Virgin Islands

They are part of a bipartisan congressional panel for “Cuba & the Caribbean: What Now?” Rep Carlos Curbelo, whose district includes the Keys, which bore a direct hurricane hit, is joined by Virgin Islands Rep Stacey Plaskett, another area of the U.S. that suffered substantial storm damage.

Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett
Member of United States Congress serving the US Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett is the Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the United States Virgin Island’s at-large congressional district. She is an attorney who has practiced law in New York, Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands.

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Congressman Carlos Curbelo
Florida Congressman

Born to Cuban exiles that fled Fidel Castro’s regime in the 1960s, Carlos Curbelo is a father, husband and former small business owner who has dedicated his life to serving his South Florida neighbors. Carlos grew up in Miami and attended John G. DuPuis Elementary and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School before graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

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Mark Abbott
Managing Director, Raymond James

Mark Abbott is a Managing Director at Raymond James; he is responsible for the firm’s European businesses including equity research, asset management and wealth management.

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Eugenio J. Alemán, Ph.D.
Director and Senior Economist at Wells Fargo

Eugenio J. Alemán is a director and senior economist at Wells Fargo. He forecasts national, regional, and international economic trends.

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Luke Bencie
Managing Director, Security Management International (SMI)

Luke Bencie is the Managing Director of Security Management International (SMI) and the author of “Among Enemies: Counter-Espionage for the Business Traveler”, “Global Security Consulting: How to Build a Thriving International Practice”, and “The Clandestine Consultant: Kings, Sheiks, Warlord and Dictators.”

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Robert F. Bunting
CEO, Waterstone Strategies Inc.

Mr. Bunting is a scientist, serial entrepreneur and educator and walks easily between private enterprise, government and academic spheres making him a true “bridge” person. He is the CEO of Waterstone Strategies; a business-consulting firm that assists its early stage high technology clients plan and executes their business and funding strategies. Waterstone has helped its clients in securing over $300,000,000 in new capital.

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Jorge Duany
Director, Cuban Research Institute and Professor, Florida International University

Dr. Jorge Duany is the Director of the Cuban Research Institute and Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University. Born in Cuba and raised in Panama and Puerto Rico, Dr. Duany previously served as Acting Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.

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Bob Harrigan
Chief Meteorologist, WWSB ABC

ABC 7’s Chief Meteorologist Bob Harrigan has been forecasting Sarasota-Bradenton weather for 33 years. Bob has a unique perspective on Hurricanes. He was able to experience the power of these storms close up. In 1996 he flew into the eye of a 115 mph hurricane named Bertha aboard the famed Hurricane hunter aircraft. In 2004 he boarded NOAA's hurricane hunter aircraft, the P3 Orion, and flew into an even stronger storm named Ivan.

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Karen Holbrook
Regional Chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee

Karen A. Holbrook, Ph.D., is the Regional Chancellor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, following a year as the Interim President for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Before assuming the position at Embry-Riddle she worked as a higher education consultant and the Senior Advisor to the President at the University of South Florida, where she was, until recently, the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation then Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and International Research.

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Vicki Huddleston

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and later held the same position at the Department of Defense. She led American diplomatic missions in Mali, Madagascar, Cuba, and Ethiopia. She was Director of U.S. policy toward Cuba at the Department of State and later Chief of our Diplomatic Mission in Havana before it became an embassy. In Haiti, she was Deputy ambassador and later Chief of Party for a USAID Value Chain project. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and as a Congressional Fellow worked on the staff of former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru and worked with housing cooperatives. Vicki is currently a consultant with Transnational Strategies Group. Vicki’s opinion pieces on Cuba, Mali, and Ethiopia have appeared in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post. She co-authored “Learning to Salsa – New Steps in U.S.- Cuban Relations.”  Her book Our Woman in Havana: A U.S. Diplomat’s Chronicle of our Long Struggle with Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” Vicki is a popular speaker at foreign affairs groups and universities, recently participating in the Colorado World Affairs Week, Meridian International Center, the Montana and Cleveland Councils on World Affairs, the Naples Yacht Club, and the Air Force Academy.

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Stephen Kay

Stephen Kay is the center director of the Atlanta Fed’s Americas Center. Dr. Kay is part of the financial markets team. His research focuses on political economy and public policy in Latin America. His articles on pension reform in Latin America have appeared in the Journal of Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy Journal, Journal of Aging & Social Policy, Journal of European Social Policy, Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, International Social Security Review, Latin American Politics and Society, Social Security Bulletin, and the Atlanta Fed’s Economic Review. Dr. Kay is a coeditor of Lessons from Pension Reform in the Americas (with Tapen Sinha, Oxford University Press) and an author of Social Security in Latin America: Pension Reform and the Challenge of Universal Coverage (with Carolina Felix and Tapen Sinha, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). He has testified twice before committees of the United States Congress on pension reform in Latin America. Dr. Kay received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California and his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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David Kotok
CIO of Cumberland Advisors

David R. Kotok cofounded Cumberland Advisors in 1973 and has been its chief investment officer since inception. He holds a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in organizational dynamics from the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Collin Laverty
President, Cuba Educational Travel

Collin Laverty is president of Cuba Educational Travel, which offers curated travel to the island for bar associations, business groups, companies, think tanks, trade groups, and universities,. He is also a senior partner at Havana Strategies, a boutique consultancy offering assistance to U.S. companies operating in Cuba or hoping to enter the Cuban market.

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Dave Seleski
Founder and President and CEO, Stonegate Bank

Mr. Seleski is the founder and the current President and CEO of Stonegate Bank.  Stonegate Bank was founded 2005 and is a $3.0 billion Bank headquartered in Pompano Beach, Florida.  The bank has 23 offices located in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee and Hillsborough Counties.  Mr. Seleski most recently served, since May 2002, as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southeast Florida division of Florida Bank, N.A., until its sale in July 2004 to The South Financial Group, Inc. 

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Selby Auditorium
USF Sarasota-Manatee
8350 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34243
United States

Presenting Organization

Presenting Name: 
Cumberland Advisors, GIC, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, & the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Presenting Phone: 
941-926-6279 x335
Presenting Email:
Presenting Additional: 

Please register & purchase tickets online through USF:


USF Sarasota-Manatee

Please register & purchase tickets online through USF: