Miami Dade College to Induct 10 Successful Leaders into its 2020 Alumni Hall of Fame

Miami, Feb. 11, 2020 Miami Dade College (MDC) will honor a new class of high achievers at the 18th annual MDC Alumni Hall of Fame dinner, Tues., April 14, at 6 p.m., at the Hilton Miami Downtown. The event celebrates outstanding MDC alumni who are civic and business leaders while raising essential funds for student scholarships and support.

Honorees are recognized for their career accomplishments and positive impact on their communities and MDC. Since 2003, more than 350 alumni have been inducted, representing many industries from health care and public service to communications, architecture and engineering, to name a few. The MDC Hall of Fame is the signature fundraising event of the Miami Dade College Foundation.

The 2020 MDC Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are:

ACCOUNTING 

Joseph M. Palmar 

Chief Executive Officer

Palmar Forensics

Joseph M. Palmar is a certified public accountant, fraud examiner and financial forensic expert and founder and CEO of Palmar Consulting Group. With more than 30 years of accounting, finance, audit and forensic experience, Palmar has served as CFO of several organizations, including Fisher Island/Island Developers Ltd. He has received a special commendation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for outstanding assistance in fraud investigation. Palmar is a member of the Florida and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy. In addition to his associate’s from Miami Dade College, Palmar holds a bachelor’s from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s in accounting from Florida International University. In 2019, he and his wife, Leslie, created the Joe and Leslie Palmar Educational Fund, providing scholarships to MDC accounting students.

BANKING

Enrique Villaronga

Head of Residential Lending Operations

BAC Florida Bank

Enrique Villaronga is the head of residential lending operations at BAC Florida Bank, where he oversees all aspects of residential operations. His career includes 35 years of varied management experience in banking and residential lending. Prior to BAC Florida Bank, he held management positions at U.S. Century Bank and TotalBank, where he established and grew the residential mortgage lending division by approximately $100 million, year over year. Villaronga also managed a residential portfolio of over $700 million at Ocean Bank. He currently serves as a board member for Centro Campesino Farmworkers Center, Inc. Villaronga holds an associate’s in Business Administration from Miami Dade College.

BUSINESS 

Yolanda Valencia

HR & Corporate Philanthropy

Galleria Farms

Yolanda Valencia is head of human resources and corporate philanthropy for Galleria Farms, a leading grower, importer and distributor of premium, fresh-cut flowers to mass market retailers and supermarkets nationwide. In 2017, Galleria Farms funded two MDC scholarships supporting veterans and students pursuing studies in supply chain management. Before joining the company in 2015, Valencia was a senior director of human resources with the Miami Dolphins. Valencia holds an associate’s from Miami Dade College, a bachelor’s from the University of Miami, and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

EDUCATION

Cynthia Garcia-Valdes

Principal

Glades Middle School

Cynthia Valdes-Garcia has been the principal of Glades Middle School since 2013. Before joining Glades, she served as an administrator at Miami MacArthur Education Center for nine years, where she held the roles of assistant principal and principal. Prior to that, Valdes-Garcia spent nearly 12 years in the classroom as a teacher at William Turner Technical Arts High School. In addition to an associate’s from MDC, she received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She was the 2019 recipient of the Leadership Award from State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. and is a member of the National Secondary Principal Association, Dade Association of School Administrators, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, National At-Risk Education Network and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal’s Center Member Network.

FUNERAL SERVICES

Eric Maspons Jr. 

Funeral Director and President

Maspons Funeral Home

Eric Maspons Jr. is the president of Maspons Funeral Home, which he and his brother opened in Miami with their grandfather, the late Leopoldo Rivero, in 1997. Maspons has been a licensed funeral director for over two decades. In addition to a mortuary science degree from Miami Dade College, he earned a bachelor’s and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami, as well as a medical degree from the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. Maspons is a native of Miami and has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits and charities across South Florida, including St. Brendan High School and Miami Dade College Board of Funeral Directors.

HEALTH CARE

Jorge Dominicis

Chief Executive Officer

Wellpath

Jorge Dominicis serves as the chief executive officer for Wellpath, a company offering localized, high-quality health care to vulnerable patients in challenging clinical environments. Before joining Wellpath, Dominicis spent 10 years as the president for GEO Care, helping the company increase its revenue six-fold. He also served 14 years as vice president of corporate affairs at Florida Crystals Corporation. Dominicis has served in various public and government policy positions in Florida, including the St. Mary’s Medical Center Governing Board. In addition to an associate’s from MDC, he holds a bachelor’s in business administration, finance and international business from Florida International University.

LAW

Michael Lozoff

Partner/Chair, Credit Union Practice Group

Shutts & Bowen LLP

Michael Lozoff is a partner in the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen LLP. He is a member of the Financial Services Practice Group and chair of the section’s Credit Union Law Group. Lozoff has over 30 years of experience providing legal advice on a broad spectrum of matters from regulatory compliance to operational policies and procedures. He has been recognized as a top lawyer in finance by South Florida Legal Guide and currently serves as counsel to numerous credit unions in the U.S. After graduating from MDC in 1963, he became involved in the civil rights movement and worked for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a community organizer. Lozoff holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

MUSIC 

Rudy Sarzo

Bassist

Rudy Sarzo is an internationally recognized professional recording and performance artist with a career spanning more than 40 years. Sarzo has played with well-known heavy metal and hard rock acts including Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult and others. As a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band from 1981-1982, he toured the world in support of the Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman records. From 1982-1985, Sarzo recorded the multi-platinum Quiet Riot albums, Metal Health and Condition Critical. He was also voted the No. 1 bassist by Circus magazine in 1983.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Delma K. Noel-Pratt

Police Chief

Miami Gardens Police Department

In April 2017, Delma Noel-Pratt made history after the City of Miami Gardens appointed her its first female police chief. An accomplished police executive with over two decades of law enforcement experience, Noel-Pratt began her career as a public service aide for the City of Miami Police Department in 1989. In 1993, she transitioned over to the Miami-Dade Police Department, where she trained and graduated as a police officer and moved up the ranks to direct multi-agency/entity operations. In addition to an associate’s from MDC, Noel-Pratt holds a bachelor’s and legal assistant certificate from Barry University, and a master’s from Lynn University.

REAL ESTATE

Andres Asion

Broker and Founder

Miami Real Estate Group

Andres Asion has been at the forefront of the South Florida real estate market for more than 20 years, specializing in all aspects of high-rise development sales. Before founding Miami Real Estate Group in 2008, Asion served as vice president of sales for Fortune International Group, where he was involved in the sale of more than 39 developments, surpassing the $10 billion mark. Through the Andres Asion Foundation, Asion is actively involved with Amigos for Kids, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Overtown Youth Center. He is also a past president of the Miami-Granada Rotary Club.

About Miami Dade College Foundation

Founded in 1965, Miami Dade College Foundation raises essential private funds to support scholarships, academic programs and support services so MDC students have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. MDC Foundation also supports world-class arts and cultural programming at MDC that enriches the community. In 2018-2019, MDC Foundation distributed more than $15 million to benefit the students and programs of MDC. Known as Democracy’s College, MDC changes lives through accessible, high-quality teaching and learning experiences that prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce. Miami Dade College is the largest degree-granting institution in the nation. The college’s eight campuses offer more than 300 distinct degree pathways including several baccalaureate degrees in biological sciences, engineering, data analytics, information systems technology, education, public safety, supervision and management, nursing, physician assistant studies, film and others.  For more information, please visit MDCFoundation.com.

MDC Foundation contact: Chloe Medina, digital marketing manager, 305-237-3247, cmedina2@mdc.edu.