Ralph Roca '88 | President
A 1988 Columbus graduate, Ralph is D.R. Horton’s Division President for Southeast Florida which comprises Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. He has been with the company since 1993, where he began as an assistant superintendent and has continued to rise through the ranks. In his more than two decades with D.R. Horton Inc., the largest public homebuilder in the country for 14 consecutive years, Roca has accomplished many of his professional goals.
During his tenure, he has doubled the number of D.R. Horton communities; increased year-over-year sales; and kept D.R. Horton at the forefront of Florida’s homebuilding industry by embracing innovation while remaining dedicated to D.R. Horton’s timeless commitment to genuine quality. His future goals for his division include continuing to meet the demand for quality family residences and continually evolving lifestyle demands of Florida’s current and future homeowners.
Roca attended FIU’s School of Engineering, earning a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Construction Management. He was born and raised in Miami to Cuban-born parents and has two sisters and two brothers. Rafael has been happily married since 1996 to his lovely wife Elena Roca and together they have five wonderful kids, Elena, Ralphy, Carlos, Justin, and Mia. Rafael and Elena will have at least one of their boys in attendance at Christopher Columbus High School for 11 consecutive years.
Ralph has served on the Columbus Alumni Board for more than 5 years and is an integral member of the community. His community service has included the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and serving as Head Coach for the Kendall Boys & Girls Club tackle football team. Rafael also spends much of his family time coaching his kids in various sporting activities; and he enjoys fishing, skiing, and most of all, being with his family and friends.
Andres Alfonso '01
A 2001 graduate, Andres is a Certified Public Accountant and the corporate Controller for the investment firm Gencom Corporation. For the past 15 years, Andres has been dedicated to providing accounting services to various firms and has become an experienced accountant. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from Barry University.
Daniel A. Brea ‘95
A 1995 Columbus graduate, Dan is a Vice President and Portfolio Officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management. He works directly with individual clients to ensure that their overall investment and wealth management objectives are met. This includes establishing investment objectives, implementation of an investment strategy, and ongoing monitoring of strategy to ensure it remains within the client’s overall goals. He has built his career at BNY Mellon over the past 13 years, focusing on high net worth clients with over $2 million in liquid assets. His services include Financial, Retirement, and Estate Planning. Dan holds an undergraduate degree with a dual major in International Finance and Marketing from the University of Miami. He earned his MBA from the University of Miami with a specialization in Personal Financial Planning, and is a CFP® professional. Dan was recognized in Poder Hispanic Magazine in their “20 Under 40 Corporate Rising Stars” list in June of 2013.
Ernie Castro '87
A 1987 Columbus graduate, Ernie Castro is an industry veteran who has spent his entire career in the adult beverage business. He is a Florida native and a graduate of Florida International University. Ernie joined the Coastal Wine & Spirits family in December of 2004 as the Director of Chain Strategy and then transitioned into Vice President of Trade Development for spirits. He helped lead various changes in commercial strategy and provided our sales teams with greater insight and visibility into our systems and models. In addition, he played a major role in the supplier NGG ways of working transition and has taken the role of a mentor and coach. In 2011 he was promoted to Vice President / General Manager – Chain Division where he was challenged to build a World Class selling organization. In March of 2016, Ernie Castro was promoted to Executive Vice President / General Manager Florida, tasked with leading the Coastal Division. His goal is to help mold people for both personal and professional growth.
Ernie is married with 3 children. His eldest son, Ernesto, graduated from Columbus in 2013, while his youngest son, Francisco, will be part of the 2021 graduating class. He enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends.
Armando Cosio '88
A 1988 Columbus graduate, Armando “Kiko” Cosio is Owner and President of KAR & Larrabee Mechanical Contractors. A commercial HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) company with full-service Engineering, Construction, Building Management Solutions and Service divisions. KAR and Larrabee is headquartered in Miami, Florida with offices in Orlando and Tampa, servicing Central and Northern Florida.
Michael Dominguez '89
A 1989 Columbus graduate, Michael “Mike” is the National Brand Manager for Shaw-Ross International. Mike has over 18 years of experience in sales and marketing. For the last 12 years, he has specialized in brand development and distribution for the wine industry. He holds a bachelor’s in economics and international business from Florida International University.
Santiago Eljaiek '91
A 1991 Columbus graduate, Santiago is the founding and managing partner of Marin, Eljaiek & Lopez, PL., a full service law firm with offices in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. He serves as the head of the Transaction Department for the Firm and focuses his practice on commercial and residential real estate, mergers and acquisitions, asset based and structured lending and general corporate agreements. He received his Bachelors of Science, with honors, in Business Administration and Management from the University of Florida and received his Juris Doctorate degree from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. Santiago also serves as outside general counsel for a variety of profit and not-for-profit Corporations and Condominium Associations. He is a member of the Florida Bar, Business Law and Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Sections, Dade County Bar Association and Cuban American Bar Association.
Avian Guerra '04
A 2004 Columbus graduate, Avian is the General Manager of La Caja China. A family owned business known for their unique cooking style, Avian’s family is the creator of the wooden box that roasts any type of meat conveniently and deliciously. It is most popularly known as the Chinese Box and has been featured on the Food Network and has won the approval of Barbeque Chef Bobby Flay. He received his Bachelors of Science from Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management.
Nelson Hernandez '03
A 2003 Columbus graduate, Nelson Hernandez is a Wealth Advisor with Coral Gables Trust, dedicating his time to helping clients obtain a comprehensive understanding of prudent wealth management concepts. Engaged in the community, Nelson is a gubernatorial appointee to the South Florida Regional Council and a Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners appointee to the Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County which approves millions of dollars for affordable housing projects throughout the county. Also involved in philanthropic organizations, Nelson is an executive board member of the United Way of Miami-Dade County Young Leaders Society and regularly volunteers throughout the community. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. Nelson is also very involved with Leadership Florida; a graduate of their Connect Florida leadership program and member of Leadership Florida’s statewide Finance Committee. Attached to his second alma mater, Nelson is a member of the University of Miami Citizens Board. He is also a founding Board Member of the Columbus Accounting & Financial Executives “CAFE” alumni organization. In 2012, Nelson was named one of Florida State University’s “Notable Alumni” – an award commemorating alumni for significant contributions to their professions, communities or alma mater.
Nelson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics & Political Science from Florida State University and his Master in Business Administration degree from the University of Miami, focusing in finance and accounting.
Antonio Lowery '06
A 2006 graduate, Antonio is a dedicated and compassionate police officer with Miami-Dade Schools. In his current role, he connects with our communities to educate and empower youth. Antonio graduated from Rutgers University in 2011 with a degree in Criminal Justice and minor in Africana Studies.
Alvaro Luis '89
A 1989 Columbus graduate, Alvaro is the Senior Vice President for Ocean Bank, the largest independent, state-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Florida. He is a seasoned banker with over 20 years of experience in the financial sector. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida International University. Alvaro also dedicates much of his free time to young children by coaching in three different youth leagues. Currently, he resides in Miami with his wife Ivette and his three children Alvaro Javier [AJ], Carolina and Vanessa .
Danny Martinez '89
Danny Martinez has over 25 years of banking experience. Prior to joining Professional Bank, Mr. Martinez worked for financial institutions such as Citibank, Union Planters Bank-Private Banking Division and Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Co. where he served as a Senior Vice President and Market Manager formulating relationships with high net worth individuals and families as well as professionals within the legal, accounting and medical communities. A native Miamian, Mr. Martinez serves on the Board of Directors at Christopher Columbus High School, St. John Neumann Catholic Preparatory School, South Florida Banking Institute, where he served as past President, The Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) Pro Bono section and the Sebastianstrong Foundation, which raises awareness and funds to help find a cure for Pediatric Cancer. He is also a past board member of the Miami Dade Chapter for Rebuilding Together, Amigos for Kids and a past member of the volunteer committee for Mercy Hospital. Mr. Martinez attended Christopher Columbus High School and then Nova Southeastern University where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. As a key member of the Executive Management team at Professional Bank, Mr. Martinez shares responsibility for the daily management of the bank. In addition, he oversees the Marketing Division, Probate and Guardianship Department and Branch-Private Banking area along with an emphasis and focus on client and community relations.
Rudy Puig '90
A 1990 Columbus Graduate, Rudy is President of Dade Federal Security, a family owned company that has been providing Security to South Florida businesses for over 37 years. He also has owned four Cold Stone Creamery stores, and is currently owner of the Cold Stone Creamery in South Kendall. He served on the Franchise Board of Directors for 5 years, representing all the stores in the Southeast United States and Puerto Rico. Rudy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Central Florida. He also continues to volunteer as a coach at Kendall Boys & Girls club where he has coached for over 10 years.
Jose "Juice" Rodriguez '78
A 1978 Columbus Graduate, Jose “Juice” is the Controller for a Property Management firm based in Miami. He has managed various real estate portfolios all over the country, specializing in commercial and residential properties. Prior to working for this property management company, Jose was employed by General Electric and American Express as a financial auditor and Regional Controller. Jose graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA from Barry University. He currently resides in Coral Gables, Florida and is also involved with various organizations that are researching to find a cure for cancer.
Raul "RJ" Sanchez de Varona '81
A 1981 Columbus graduate, RJ Sanchez de Varona is the principal at MEC Development Associates. MEC is co-developer of Cassa Grove; and is currently structuring several other Cassa projects in Broward and Miami-Dade. Additionally, MEC has developed a strategic alliance with a very successful national hotel development and management company. That alliance is currently brokering the sale of a property servicing Miami International Airport, and jointly planning the development of a four star property on North Bay Village. RJ is a part of the Real Estate Committee of The Underline Project, participates in the Mentoring Program of the University of Miami School of Business, is a member of the Columbus Builders Alliance and an active participant of the Columbus Mentoring Program, and very active in the MAST Academy PTSA as a Board member. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in International Finance and Marketing (1984) and subsequently a Juris Doctor degree (1989) from the University of Miami.
Carlos Somoza '89
A 1989 Columbus graduate, Carlos is an attorney and international tax principal at Kaufman, Rossin & Co. He has served clients in the private and public industries, advising them in the areas of international taxation, taxable acquisitions and tax-free reorganizations, IRS litigation and related tax compliance. Carlos also provides estate planning and pre-immigration planning for foreign, high-net worth individuals. Carlos earned a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Florida International University, and a Juris Doctor and LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Miami (specialization in international taxation). He is licensed to practice law in Florida and in the United States Tax Court. Carlos is involved with the Florida International University Honors College, serving as the Vice President of its Honors College Alumni Board and serving as Treasurer of its Community Advisory Board. He received a F.I.U. Torch Award awarded to outstanding alumni. In addition, he is involved with the Miami-Dade Legal Aid “Put Something Back” program, offering legal and tax services to indigent clients.
Kevin Testa '95
A 1995 Columbus graduate, Kevin is the Managing Partner for Grain & Barrel Spirits. Grain & Barrel Spirits is a craft spirits company focused on the creation of truly innovative new products and redevelopment of historically significant brands. Prior to Grain & Barrel he spent 2 and a half years at Diageo managing innovation and emerging brands across several States in the United States. Diageo is a multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London, England. It is the world's largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine. Prior to working for Diageo, Kevin spent 13 years with the E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest winery in the World, as well as a leading producer of spirits, in various positions around the World. Kevin graduated from the University of Florida with a BSBA degree, majoring in Finance. As well, he has a MBA from Wake Forest University. He currently lives in South Miami with his wife Carly, and two boys Nico and Luca.
Alexander Wethy '10
A 2010 Columbus graduate, Alexander Wethy is the General Manager of Global Distributors. Global Distributors is a food manufacturing and distribution company that has served South Florida for over 25 years. Global Distributors specializes in the manufacturing of popular Latin products such as croquetas and empanadas. Alexander earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Florida State University and his master’s degree in Data Science from Northwestern University.