Get Inspired: American Dreamers & Bios


To view the 2017 Keynote & American Dreamer Awardees, click here!


2016 Keynote & Awardees:

Mike FernandezMiguel “Mike” B. Fernandez
 | MBF Healthcare Partners
Serial Entrepreneur and 2016 Entrepreneur Summit Keynote Speaker (Video)

Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez currently serves as Chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, L.P., a private investment firm located in Coral Gables, Florida.  The firm focuses on investing in healthcare service companies nationwide.  He is married to Constance Fernandez and has five children.

He has been the Founder and/or majority shareholder of 25 healthcare related companies.  Most of these companies have been acquired by publicly traded companies.  Among these enterprises are Physicians Healthcare Plans, CAC Medical Centers, Prescribit Rx, CarePlus Health Plans, Navarro Pharmacies, Medical Specialties Distributors, Hospitalists of America and Simply Healthcare Plans.

Mr. Fernandez serves on the Board of Directors of Mednax (NYSE: MD) and on the Georgetown University MSFS Board of Advisors. He has served on the Boards of the United Way, the University of Miami, Sylvester Cancer Hospital, and others.  Mr. Fernandez has been frequently honored for his business acumen.  He has been recognized dozens of times with business and community awards.

He was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa by St. Thomas University.  The degree recognizes outstanding achievements as a humanitarian, business leader and philanthropist.  He also received an Associate in Science, Honoris Causa from Miami Dade College.  He completed a 508 mile walk from France and Spain multiple times, in order to raise funds for a variety of children’s causes.  Over the past 20 years, he has contributed in excess of $100 million to charitable causes.

His book, Humbled by the Journey: Life Lessons for My Family…And Yours, tells the story of how he came to the U.S. at the age of 12 penniless and built dozens of successful companies while creating tens of thousands of jobs.  He has spoken at three dozen universities over the last nine months including Georgetown University, University of Michigan and our own, Miami Dade College.


Brian BrackeenBrian Brackeen |

Brian Brackeen is the Founder of Kairos, a innovative facial recognition company that graduated the NewMe Accelerator’s 2nd class. The Kairos API are helping companies everywhere to change the way they interact with their employees, patients, and customers. Kairos makes face recognition and emotion analysis easy for developers and marketers. What if you could pay for a coffee with your smile? What if one glance was enough to skip the line at JFK? What if your smartphone knew when you were lonely or frustrated? That’s what Kairos is helping their customers achieve.

In his role as CEO Brian has managed explosive growth at the firm, raising over 5 million dollars in venture capital and hiring some of the best talent in the world. Kairos recently acquired IMRSV (pronounced “Immersive”), making Kairos the only facial biometrics company in the world offering both facial recognition and emotion analysis tools for developers.

Prior to Kairos, Brian cut his technological teeth at Apple in Cupertino California. As a Sr. Project Manager / Architect he designed solutions that managed Apple’s workforce across the globe including Apple’s interests in Hong Kong, Rome, London, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, etc.

Before Apple, Brian held Senior positions at IBM, Comcast, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, General Motors, PetSmart, Scottrade, and others. His specialty is helping companies to create a positive culture, utilize technology to manage your workforce effectively, and helping companies large and small navigate robust growth and international expansion.

Dawn Headshot - CroppedDawn Dickson | Flat Out of Heels

Dawn W. Dickson is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in marketing and business development. She launched three successful cash flow positive companies since 2002, more recently she founded Flat Out of Heels, LLC, the creator of the innovative Flat Out rollable flat and Solutions Vending International (SVI), the creator of the Flat Out rollable shoe vending machine. She launched the companies in April 2011 after identifying a need to create a product to provide women with convenient relief after hours of wearing high heels.

As an entrepreneur she has won several awards and accolades for business plan and pitch competitions such as the Tech Cocktail Pitch Competition in Miami in June 2014;  and 2nd place and $25,000 in the national SBA InnovateHER Business Challenge in 2016, to name a few. Dawn and Flat Out of Heels/SVI were featured in countless media outlets including,,, Rolling Out, The Miami Herald, Women’s World Daily, and the CNBC/Yahoo series ‘The Biz Fix’ with Marcus Lemonis in May 2014.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Dawn received her B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Ray Miller Institute of Change and Leadership; A graduate of the United Way Project Diversity; a member of Miami Young Professionals Network; a member of the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce; and she currently sits on the board of Miami based non-profit Fashion Inspires More and the Nelson Foundation where she continues her life’s passion of working with women and minority entrepreneurs to start/scale their small businesses.

Dawn remains a constant community advocate, donating proceeds from Flat Out of Heels purchases to several causes locally and nationally including her most recent involvement with the Lotus House, Miami Dade Public Schools Project Upstart, Miami Homeless Trust, to name a few. She has been recognized for her involvement and commitment to sustain awareness about philanthropy by becoming an award recipient of the IUPUI Millennium Scholarship for Philanthropic Studies. Additionally, Dawn was selected to participate in the NewME Accelerator program in San Francisco and recognized as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurs on the rise.

 Armando LeightonArmando Leighton, Jr. | CRS Jet Spares, Inc.

Armando is Founder and CEO of CRS Jet Spares, a global aftermarket supplier of parts for Private Jets. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his family moved down to South Florida and he attended Hialeah Miami Lakes High School and Miami College where he earned an Associate of Science in Marketing and Management and an Associate of Arts Degree in Business. His entrepreneurial spirit and love of aviation were sparked at the early age of 13 when a neighbor inspired him to work after school and during holidays at his aviation company. He jumped at the chance to earn $1.50 an hour in the shipping and receiving department where he began his 40+ years experience in the Aviation Industry.

In 1982 at age 23 and a total of $2000.00 in savings, Leighton established Corporate Rotable & Supply out of his family garage. He focused on the well-known Rockwell Sabreliner series jet which was flown by the Army, Navy and Fortune 500 companies. Discovering an untapped supply of parts and his ability to speak intelligently with pilots and mechanics, allowed his new company to thrive in a market that was dominated by the aircraft manufacturer. Within 3 years the inventory grew to fill the shelves in the garage. Soon CRS once again outgrew its warehouse and a quantum leap was made in 1991 to a 43,000-square-foot-facility where today the CRS Group of companies operate under one roof which include subsidiary FAA Repair Station, Thrust-Tech Aviation. Providing ample room for growth and housing one of the world’s largest privately-owned spares inventory, the new headquarters helped to position CRS as a premier supplier of quality spares in the industry.

Mr. Leighton serves on the boards of the Community Foundation of Broward – Arts Committee Chair, WPBT- Channel 2, Broward Workshop and Pine Crest School. He is a past Chair of Jack & Jill Children’s Center and Gilda’s Club South Florida.

Rene Ruiz.cropped
Rene Ruiz
 | Rene Ruiz Designs

Rene Ruiz strikes a balance between old-world craftsmanship and modern glamour by blending Miami’s sultry sexiness with graceful elegance. He succeeds in fusing the region’s beauty and diversity with his inspirations for the international social set from Los Angeles to Palm Beach and Zurich to Ontario.

Ruiz was born in Cuba, immigrated to the United States at an early age and settled in Miami, a place that was very influential in his formative years. He earned a degree from the International Fine Arts College in Miami. Soon thereafter, he honed his skills during apprenticeships throughout Europe, where he learned the art of couture first hand.

After opening his first atelier in the fashionable South Florida enclave of Coral Gables in the 90s, Ruiz quickly became the go-to designer for celebrities and socialites. His eye for high-quality fabrics and personalized attention to the creation and tailoring of each garment has created an international following for his luxurious, original and sophisticated designs.

Ruiz’s designs fill a void in the luxury market with a collection that reflects not only his talent and standard for quality, but also a city and culture that are gaining momentum as the next international fashion capital. In blending his own inspirations with Miami’s rich cultural heritage in his artistry, Ruiz is also known for creating his own fabrics to accentuate the meticulous detailing which inspires sensuality for the modern woman.

Felipe SommerFelipe Sommer | Nearpod

Felipe is the President and COO of Nearpod.  Realizing his passion for technology and education and that he is a true philanthropist at heart, in 2012,  he co-founded Nearpod, a mobile platform that empowers educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world.

Prior to Nearpod, Felipe worked more than 10 years in management consulting for financial services and start-ups at Accenture. In 2004, Felipe founded Livin’ Interactive which focuses on custom experiential marketing solutions. He obtained his Bachelor’s in economics from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business.


Tesone Hi Res.CROPPEDSion Tesone | TISSINI

Sion is President and founder of TISSINI, now his second national platform company focused on offering Hispanic women the opportunity to earn extra income via a simple direct sales model. The company offers stylish jewelry at an affordable price and aligns with his personal mission to empower Hispanic women by creating sustainable, for-profit, social enterprises.

Prior to founding TISSINI, Sion was co-founder and President of America Sunshine, a direct sales company that he quickly grew to over 30,000 active independent salespeople nationwide, almost all of them Hispanic women. He sold the company in 2012.

Sion arrived to the U.S. from Colombia in 1992 at the age of 16. He holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky and completed Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program. His core expertise includes the following for the U.S. Hispanic Market: Strategy and partnerships, Brand development, Marketing and Venture Capital investing.


Tom Hudson - NEWTom Hudson | WLRN

In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization’s news engagement strategy.

Prior to that Hudson was the co-anchor and managing editor of Nightly Business Report on Public Television. He also served as the host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated financial television program “First Business.” Tome also held numerous other roles, including but limited to serving as a general news as anchor, reporter, manager and talk show host in several markets covering a wide variety of stories and topics.

Tom has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work. He has served as a member of the adjunct faculty in the Journalism Department of Columbia College Chicago and has been a frequent guest on other TV and radio programs. He is also a frequent guest speaker, appears weekly on KNX-AM/Los Angeles for commentary on the investment markets and writes a weekly column for the Miami Herald and the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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