Executive Vice President, Economic Development
James Kohnstamm is an experienced economic development professional who began with the Miami-Dade Beacon Council in 2008. As Senior Vice President in the Economic Development Department, Kohnstamm consults with local, national and international business leaders on the economic trends and attributes of Miami-Dade County and develops customized services to expanding and relocating business to facilitate job generating investments. With a focus in the Aviation industry, Kohnstamm has directly managed over 100 economic development projects that have generated over 4,700 jobs and $1 billion of investment for Miami-Dade County. Clients include: Amazon, The Boeing Company, Brightstar, Cable & Wireless Communications, Cosentino, Deloitte, LAN Cargo, Ryder System, Telemundo, Univision, and UPS.
Prior to joining The Beacon Council, Kohnstamm worked for The University of Miami School of Education and was a high school English and History teacher. A Seattle native, he holds a MA degree in International Administration from The University of Miami and a BA in Anthropology from Connecticut College.
Senior Vice President, International Economic Development
Mr. Sacasa leads the Council’s International Economic Development team overseeing all international recruitment, incoming delegations, and the International Committee resulting in substantially increasing the number of completed job-generating business projects.
Prior to his current role, Mario served as Consul General of the Republic of Nicaragua in Miami with Jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. From 1995 to 1997, Mario Sacasa was also Dean of the Miami Consular Corps. Under his leadership the Consular Corps strengthened its institutional relationship with Florida’s authorities at all levels, as well as with the Greater Miami Area’s Chambers of Commerce, Offices of Tourism and Economic Development Organizations.
Mario has also been active in the Private Sector in the areas of Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Urban Development. Prior to that, he was part of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, D.C., where he started his career as a Loan Operations Officer.
Mario remains active as Associate Member of the Miami Consular Corps, and currently serves as Treasurer of the Corps. Mario also participates in numerous other business and cultural organizations and has written a variety of articles on socio-political issues, especially on Latin America and the Caribbean.
Awards & Recognitions
He has received numerous recognitions including the Keys to Miami-Dade County and the City of Coral Gables; the Consular Corps of Miami; Special Decoration from the Ruben Dario Association in Chile the Ruben Dario Cultural Institute in Miami and several Bi-National Chambers of Commerce
Sacasa holds a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies and Development Banking and a Bachelors in Foreign Service and International Economics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Economic Development and Urban Initiatives
Sheri Colas-Gervais serves to stimulate job creation, investment, and prosperity building; with a focus on our small to mid-sized businesses and urban communities. Activities include business assessments and assistance in the areas of start-up process, site selection, access to capital, tax incentives, talent pipeline, procurement, business continuity, and guidance to business resources; across industries. Included are initiatives modeled for sustainable inclusive prosperity building.
Colas-Gervais’ track record includes growth achievements in both the entrepreneurial and corporate sectors in the U.S. and in the Caribbean. Sheri held national and regional leadership positions for Fortune 500 corporations and brings P&L management expertise for business development, brand management and strategic planning; with extensive background in the consumer products and manufacturing space. Prior to joining the Beacon Council, Colas-Gervais served as general manager and principal for SCG Group, a business growth consultancy servicing small businesses and initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to entrepreneurship, Ms. Colas-Gervais worked for global consumer products corporations, on beverage brand portfolios. Sheri is bi-lingual and bi-cultural, with a long history of international engagement.
Served consecutively as a judge for the annual Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge
Served consecutively as panelist for the Goldman Sach’s 10K Small Businesses program since its inception Miami.
Colas-Gervais is committed to her profession while passionate about education as she is personally supports youth scholarship and entrepreneurship in underserved communities.
Sheri Colas-Gervais earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute, and holds an undergraduate degree from Marquette University.
Creative Design Liaison
Diana Londono is the Creative Design Liaison at Miami-Dade’s Beacon Council.
Previously, Diana served as Manager of Foreign Direct Investment at Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI), the state’s principal economic development organization. In this role, Diana managed the FDI portfolio for The State of Florida. She led the international business development and recruitment efforts for the state with support from 10 international offices serving many markets. Diana first joined EFI as Stakeholder Engagement Manager where she supported the economic development partners from all regions and counties in the state, enhancing partnerships on the local and state level. Additionally, she planned and executed all Board of Directors and committee meetings for EFI.
Diana also held a position at Americas Society/Council of the Americas in Miami. This organization focuses on fostering dialogue on economic, political and social issues in the Western Hemisphere.
Diana graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Vice President, Innovation, Economic Development
Christine Johnson is charged with leading recruitment, retention, and expansion efforts for the technology and innovation sector. Her work involves supporting the entrepreneurial landscapes by leveraging resources and brokering relationships to foster the community’s growth. Ms. Johnson’s career spans more than 10 years furthering local and national entrepreneurial ecosystems, including a significant stint as a team member in various capacities at the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) – one of the nation’s leading technology-based economic development organizations and funders of seed/early-stage companies, as well as the south’s most active startup investors.
Ms. Johnson has been seen and heard on multiple outlets and forums, including National Public Radio (NPR), WPFW 89.3 FM (DC), The Mario Armstrong Show on Sirius/XM Radio and WYPR, Miami Herald, SxSW, Washington Business Journal, National Summit on Building 21st Century Urban Innovation Ecosystems at Rutgers University, Google Tech Inclusion Summit in Washington DC, and Black Enterprise. She was voted one of the Top 10 Most Powerful Women in DC Tech Startup Community in 2012.
Christine is a Member of the Technology Advisory Group for Miami Downtown Development Authority, and the Technology Advisory Committee for Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, as well as Board of Advisor for Manifezt Foundation. Past appointments include: Board Member, The Association for Women in Communications South Florida Chapter; National Advisory Board, Digital Harbor Foundation; Ambassador, Emerging Technology Center (ETC) Incubator; Advisory Board, The America21 Project; and National Advisory Council Member, National Association for Blacks in Bio (NABB).
She holds a B.A. from Notre Dame of Maryland University, a private, woman’s university in Baltimore, MD.
In addition to being passionate about her work in the entrepreneurial community, she is a published poet, champion of the healing arts, and former member of an Afro-Cuban folklore dance company.
Vice President, International Economic Development
Stanley Rigaud is responsible for attracting job-generating business investments to the Miami community and maintaining an active working knowledge of the economic trends of Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida. He leads Miami-Dade Beacon Council’s efforts in helping to create a business climate that encourages the promotion and growth of the Trade & Logistics industry in Miami-Dade County. Stanley works closely with the volunteer-led Trade & Logistics Committee to create opportunities for industry growth through its three subcommittees focused on Education, Innovation and Marketing. Committee meetings typically include 50+ industry professionals from a cross-section of Miami-Dade’s thriving and dynamic trade and logistics industry.
Prior to his current role, Stanley spent 25 years at FedEx leading multi-functional teams that provided integrated logistics solutions for FedEx customers with high-value products and complex supply chain requirements in both air and ground operations.
Stanley also previously served as Director of Development for Rebâti Santé Mentale, an international non-profit organization dedicated to bolstering the continuity of care to underserved populations with different levels of mental health needs in Haiti and the United States.
Stanley is currently a Board Member for Rebâti Santé Mentale dedicated to strengthening capacity and awareness of mental health issues for underserved communities. Stanley also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Little Haiti EcoDistrict committed to urban development and rooted in Equity, Resilience, and Climate Protection for sustainable neighborhood development. Stanley is also a Year Up South Florida mentor to disconnected young adults seeking to navigate new experiences and shape their careers.
Awards & Recognitions
Stanley received the prestigious “Outstanding Service Award” during his tenure at FedEx for his extraordinary measures to assist an American couple traveling to China to adopt a little girl after their passports and visas were destroyed.
Rigaud holds a Master’s degree in Global Governance and a double-major Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Florida International University (FIU).
Director, Economic Development
Sam Blatt is an Economic Development Director for the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, serving in that role since August 2019. In his role as Director in the Economic Development Department, Sam is focused on increasing quality jobs and investment in Miami-Dade County through business attraction, retention, and expansion efforts.
Prior to his tenure at the Beacon Council, Sam was the Economic Development Manager for the City of North Miami, Florida. As a leading millennial economic development professional, Sam is focused on adapting the economic development field to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.
Sam is an active member of United Way of Miami-Dade, the County’s largest charity organization. He serves on its Public Policy Committee to promote United Way’s policy priorities at the Local, State and Federal levels. Additionally, Sam is a member of the Young Leaders Executive Committee, the leadership arm of United Way of Miami-Dade’s Young Leaders, a group focused on engaging Miami’s under 40 professionals in the charity’s good works.
Awards & Recognition
Sam has received numerous recognitions for his work in the economic development field. In 2019, he won the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) Young Economic Development Professional of the Year award. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognized Sam as the Small Business Advocate of the Year for the entire State of Florida, as well as the South Florida region in 2018.
Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University, and is expected to complete an MBA from Johnson & Wales University in December of 2019. In 2018, Sam earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), the professional designation for economic developers. At the time of his certification, Sam was the youngest person to have ever earn the CEcD designation.