The 2009 Top 20 Professionals Under Forty

We scoured The Magic City to bring you what we deem to be the next generation of business leaders at the tip of the Sunshine State. These young professionals represent a variety of industries and excel at their respective crafts with superior sophistication and their own unique blend of style and savvy. They are at once inspirational and successful and all have managed to seamlessly balance their careers with their personal lives while continuously giving back to the community that has helped mold them into who they are. Without further ado, flip this page to meet this year’s Top 20 Under Forty.
Text by Jorge Arauz Photos by Jose Amigo Timepieces provided by TechnoMarine Special thanks to Green Grass in Brickell for providing STUDIO & wardrobe changes | July 10, 2018 | People

Raffi Anac, 26
CEO & Property Manager
Anac Solutions
Raffi Anac is an ace when it comes to property management, even if it means this Argentine of Armenian descent has to travel all over South Florida putting out fires in between meetings to make sure owners and tenants stay satisfied. “I’m way too hyper to just sit an in office all day,” he says. “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Chanel Caton, 29
Membership Director
The Havana Club
As the first and last stop for the exclusive members of one of Miami’s most private clubs, Chanel Caton does not take her role lightly. “In business, passion always comes first,” she says. “Once you’re passionate, you have a burning desire to succeed naturally, and any trial-and-error experiences you need to go through will be worthwhile and somewhat enjoyable!”

Candace D. Vassillion, 37
Wealth Advisory Group
Northern Trust
If anyone understands the power of business, the intricacies of negotiation and the importance of savvy investments, it’s Candace D. Vassillion. “From an early age, I sold lemonade, car washes and outdoor plants to my neighbors — I even recruited friends to help me with my projects,” she says. “Today, on a much larger scale, I strive to understand my clients’ financial goals and dreams and make them happen with integrity, determination, enthusiasm, and most importantly, results!”

Carlos F. Junco, 36
Corporate & Securities Group
Bilzin Sumberg
When one of Carlos Junco’s clients called for him through reception and was told he was no longer with the firm, the client immediately rang Junco’s cell phone. “I promptly called the receptionist to see if she knew something I didn’t — I still tease her about the mix-up to this day,” he laughs. “I try to devote a good amount of time to business development — fortifying relationships with existing clients and building relationships with prospective ones.”

Antoine Bona, 31
Director of Watch Division
Essence Corp.
If time is of the essence, just give Antoine Bona a second and he’ll create the perfect moment. “The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my profession is gaining credibility in a trade that is dominated by seasoned gentlemen,” he says. “By immersing myself with watch knowledge for the Haute Horlorgie brands I represent throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and traveling non-stop to build a network, I’ve successfully overcome this obstacle while remaining humble, transparent and results-driven.”

Jenny A. Nieveen, 35
President & CEO
Open Hearts College
Meeting a true visionary at a time when it seems every good idea has already been thought-up is rare, but Jenny A. Nieveen is the exception to the rule. For 20 years, she has been providing her international pupils the opportunity to excel both personally and professionally through language. “We are planning to expand our efforts by opening additional language schools throughout South Florida and implementing pathway programs with well-known universities,” she says. “We are proud to instill in all of our students a passion for international cultural appreciation.”

Kenneth A. Coto, 36
Int’l Financial Advisor
Merrill Lynch
Catering to clients all over the world is no easy feat, but Kenneth A. Coto manages to balance it without a hitch. “My morning and evening hours are devoted to clients in the Philippines, while mid-day and afternoon hours are devoted to clients in the U.S., Caribbean and Central America,” he says. “Having someone trust you with their money is the biggest compliment they can pay you, no matter what part of the world they’re in!”

Isa Zapata, 30
Founder & CEO
Isa Zapata, Inc
For artist Isa Zapata, the saying “Home is Where The Heart Is” takes on exceptional meaning through her line of home décor and accessories for kids featuring the creative characters she brings to life through her work. “If I don’t have a paintbrush in my hand, I’m working on marketing my business and coming up with new ideas,” she says. “Currently I’m working on setting up ‘Isa’s Corner’ in select showrooms and boutiques throughout South Florida so my work can make as many families as possible smile!”

Andres del Corral, 28
Development Associate
Rilea Group
Andres del Corral’s most rewarding professional role has been his involvement in the development and evolution of the city he calls home. “I’m proud of promoting a real mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly environment with One Broadway and 1450 Brickell,” he says. “I know the 14th Floor Sky Deck of 1450 Brickell, with its peaceful garden and expansive view of Biscayne Bay, will most definitely become one of my favorite places in the city!”

April Donelson, 29
Dir. of Sales & Marketing
Welcome Channel
When it comes to multi-media, muti-tasking and multi-sensory experiences, April Donelson is multi-faceted. Providing entertaining visitor programming for 25 of the most exclusive hotels and resorts in Miami & The Beaches, just one look at her company’s offerings will leave you hooked. “I love being involved in promoting all the amazing things our world-class city has to offer,” she says. “I love contributing to my community and making a positive impact on those who live and visit The Magic City!”

Jaret Davis, 34
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
As a shareholder of what many have ranked as the #1 corporate law firm in Miami, Jaret Davis is surprisingly grounded. “A typical work week is atypical,” he laughs. “One of the most memorable instances I’ve ever experienced was when a global announcement was sent out declaring that I had been made a shareholder…receiving congratulatory emails from the West Coast all the way to England can be quite a humbling experience!”

Dean Dupit, 27
Web Developer
Ayura Media Works
Let’s face it: When it comes to business, the quality of your website is just as important as the firmness of your handshake. But who has the time to discover the most effective web trends and programming techniques through all the tech-head jargon out there? Dean Dupit does. “I’ve built my personal passions and career around new technologies, web applications, open-source networks and digital initiatives,” he says. “I think I speak more programming languages and computer codes than there are actual spoken languages in the world. I guess you could say I’m nano-lingual!”

Tony Roberts, 30
Advisory Services Manager
Grant Thornton
When one works for a company that has built its reputation on accuracy and accountability, it’s hard to be anything but a perfectionist…and Tony Roberts is no exception. “Sometimes my biggest challenge is realizing there are other ways to do things — not just my way,” he says. “I always advise young professionals to ask what is required to move to the next level — sometimes the goals you’re working toward may not necessarily be aligned with the expectations of your superiors.”

Mario Cristobal, 38
Head Football Coach
FIU Athletics
When Mario Cristobal leaves his cozy condo in Brickell for the adrenaline-pumping football field, he welcomes the challenge with open arms. “During season I work 7 days a week, 18 hours a day — I light my hair on fire at 5 a.m. and water it down at midnight,” he says. “I have a responsibility of making sure that my student athletes leave FIU as educated, accountable, responsible and disciplined members of the community — champions on the field, in the classroom and in life.”

Gia Oliver, 35
Fortune Int’l Realty
Maintaining a strong hold as a top producer in a real estate market that’s highly unpredictable and always changing is not something that many realtors can brag about, but Gia Oliver has been able to accomplish this while helping more than a dozen friends successfully transition into the business. “Nothing is a waste of time,” she says. “The effort you put in will eventually come back and help you to succeed.”

Emiliano Lorenzini, 34
Financial Advisor
Morgan Stanley
In the current economic crisis, achieving financial freedom is a godsend for many. For Emiliano Lorenzini, helping his clients preserve their wealth is all in a day’s work. “My day starts at 4 a.m. researching the markets and related trends before I arrive at the office at 8:30 a.m.,” he says. “As a kid, I dreamed of rescuing people as a fireman. Today, I enjoy rescuing clients from making big mistakes when investing their money in the market.”

Andres Hernandez, 31
Andres Hernandez Studio, Inc.
Not many photographers can brag about shooting a Victoria’s Secret runway show with exclusive backstage credentials, but Andres Hernandez was able to experience this last year when Glamour Latinoamerica contracted him for the project. “I’ve come a long way from my first photoshoot when I had to borrow a friend’s camera because I didn’t have one,” he recalls. “I tripped during the shoot and accidentally smashed it…it was the first camera I ever bought!”

Leonor Mendoza, 39
Dir. of General Real Estate
R3 International Realty
When it comes to the always dynamic and often erratic world of real estate, Leonor Mendoza has one thing on her mind. “Deals, deals, deals,” she says. “Whether a client is looking to buy, sell or lease, I guide my team to make sure their needs are met as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Erik Wesoloski, Esq., 34
Wesoloski Carlson, P.A.

If relief in the midst of the toughest bear market since The Great Depression is in order, Erik Wesoloski is your man. “My clients vary from humble school teachers and firemen to powerful developers facing crumbling empires,” he says. “Many people tend to react to financial distress with the ostrich effect, that is, they stick their heads in the sand, do nothing and hope it will just go away. I step in, pull their heads out of the sand and counsel them to resolve their financial problems.”

Marcia Martinez, 31
VP & Partner
Zakarin Public Relations
The media is in love with Marcia Martinez, and her high-profile clients are thrilled with the exposure they’ve received in multiple platforms as a result. “I wake up and go to sleep with my BlackBerry next to me,” she says. “From landing dream clients and meeting with top editors and reporters around the world, to brainstorming the perfect pitch and attending extravagant grand openings, there’s never a dull moment in my life — and I’m always available.”