Friends & Sponsors Spotlights

Friend of the Month: Asha Elias

Asha Elias planted roots in Miami in 2001, where she’s raising her 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. She’s a longtime fan and more recent Friend of the Fair, and also a soon-to-be-published author – her first novel, Pink Glass Houses, will be released June 2024.
Congratulations on the book – that’s so exciting! How did it come about?
I began writing the book when we went into quarantine, …

Sponsor Spotlight: William Johnson/PEN America

William Johnson is the director of PEN Across America, an initiative that provides resources to PEN America communities nationwide so they can carry forward the organization’s mission of defending and celebrating free expression. PEN Across America is a sponsor of the Miami Book Fair-produced Little Haiti Book Festival, which takes place annually in May.

Tell me a little about PEN America. …

Sponsor Spotlight: South Motors

Jonathan Chariff is the CEO of South Motors, which has been supporting Miami Book Fair since 2011! He recently sat down with us to share his thoughts on the country’s largest and most beloved celebration of books and literature.

Why does South Motors support Miami Book Fair?
Reading opens our minds and hearts to new possibilities, and Miami Book Fair does a fantastic job engaging our community – especially our children. …

Friend of the Month: JJ Schmidt

JJ Schmidt is a longtime Friend of the Fair. Born in Los Angeles, he moved with his family to South Florida at the age of 2 so we’re claiming him as one of our own. After 30-plus years in corporate America, he completed his doctorate at FIU’s school of business in 2021 and now works as an independent consultant. He also teaches as an adjunct at a couple of universities. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Hannah Matheson & Four Way Books

Hannah Matheson is the senior editor at Four Way Books, an indie, New York-based publishing house celebrating its 30th year that’s focused on releasing 18-20 poetry, short story collection and novella titles each year. (Poet and longtime Friend of the Fair Michael Anna De Armas is on its board.) Originally from Texas, Matheson – who started out at Four Way as an intern – recently sat down with us to talk about, …

Friends of the Month: Candis & Guy Trusty

Candis and Guy Trusty – she’s an attorney, he’s a commercial real estate broker specializing in the hotel industry – have been sharing their thoughts and opinions on the books they read with each other ever since they were growing up across the street from one another in Virginia. They came to the Magic City after Guy was tasked with helping to open up the Omni Hotel in downtown Miami in the late 1970s. …

Friend of the Month: Connie Goodman-Milone

Philly native, poet, and writer Connie Goodman-Milone lives in Miami with her husband David – they met-cute at a bookstore! – and their two cats, Ursa and Maya, named for Maya Angelou. She’s been involved with the Junior Orange Bowl Creative Writing Contest for many years and is its past chair emeritus, and devotes much of her time to serving as a patient care volunteer with VITAS, …

Sponsor Spotlight: Dionne Polite & AARP

Dionne Polite is director of state operations for AARP’s Florida team, which she joined after spending six years in the organization’s New York office. A Broward County resident, she recently welcomed grandchild Josea – her first! – in December.

AARP first became involved with Miami Book Fair in 2020 – what compelled you to come back as an even bigger supporter in 2022? …

Friends of the Month: Anne Jackaway & Pete Ferrero

Architect Anne Jackaway and attorney Pete Ferrero are both longtime fans of Miami Book Fair. She’s attended every Fair since its inception in 1984; he’s been going for years and became an official Friend of the Fair in 2022. “I snuck in all the other years,” he said, laughing. The two of them met at Book Fair 2019 and have been an item ever since. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Rudy Fernandez, University of Miami

Rudy Fernandez is the executive vice president for external affairs and strategic initiatives and chief of staff at the University of Miami. He and his wife, Jennifer – they met when both were working at UM; she’s since moved on to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital – have four children, twin teenage daughters and two young sons.

Are you a Miami native?
No, …

Friend of the Month: Erin Marcus, M.D.

Boston-area native Erin Marcus’ path to becoming a doctor was somewhat circuitous. A history major who loved biology, she was a reporter for several newspapers in New England before heading to med school. Once there she kept her journalist skills sharp with stints as a science reporter in between semesters, and took a year off to be a reporter at The Washington Post. …

Friend of the Month: Michael Blades

Michael Blades hails from Indianapolis and has lived in Key West since 1991. He and his wife, Katheryn Kilroy, are longtime Friends of the Fair who’ve been enjoying the annual event for more than 20 years. Michael works for the nonprofit RPM Nautical Foundation, which locates, studies, and protects maritime heritage, primarily in the Mediterranean.
How did you learn about Miami Book Fair?

Sponsor Spotlight: Madeline Barrios, Jackson Health System

Madeline Barrios has been with Jackson Health System for 15 years, where she currently serves in the communications and outreach department as the associate director for community outreach and special events. She was raised and educated in Miami – as was her husband – and is a proud mom to two teenage boys.

Jackson supports a lot of organizations in Miami – how did Book Fair get on that list? …

Friend of the Month: Barbara Gutierrez

Barbara Gutierrez is the associate director of communications and public relations at the University of Miami. She’s also a staunch advocate for Miami Book Fair.
What does your day to day look like at UM?
I’m basically a writer. We have an on-campus newsletter, which I call a newspaper because we put it out daily; that’s very rare in the academic world. …

Friend of the Month: Merle Saferstein

Merle Saferstein is a longtime Friend of the Fair who has called Miami home for 50 years. She’s also an avid journal writer who recently released the book Living and Leaving My Legacy Vol. 1, comprising excerpts from the 359 journals that she’s kept since 1974.
How old were you when you first began journaling and how did you start?
I started journaling, …

Sponsor Spotlight: David Whitaker, GMCVB

David Whitaker was named president & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau last July, a full circle moment for the GMCVB lead, who left the agency in 2007 after 17 years to boost tourism in Toronto and then Chicago before making his way back to the Magic City.

When did you first learn about Miami Book Fair?
I started at GMCVB in 1990, …

Sponsor Spotlight: Julie Katz, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

Julie Katz is a lifelong Miami resident who came back home after college and founded Everybody Wins! South Florida – now known as Read to a Child – a children’s literacy and mentoring organization. She currently works in community relations and corporate responsibility at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

How does the hospital’s commitment to literacy mirror our own?
Nicklaus has long recognized that literacy is really important to a child’s growth and development, …

Friend of the Month: Danielle Calleja

Native Miamian Danielle Calleja is an associate director of investor relations at Carlyle Aviation, providing support in fundraising and investor communications. She relocated to Paris for about a year to study 19th-century French literature in pursuit of her graduate degree before returning to the Magic City.
You’ve been going to Book Fair events for years – what’s the first one you can remember attending? …

Friend of the Month: Ana Veciana-Suarez

Ana Veciana-Suarez lived in South America as a young child but has called Miami home most of her life. The syndicated columnist and former Miami Herald features writer has been a journalist for nearly 40 years.
How did you first learn about Miami Book Fair?
I think anybody who’s interested in books and has lived here most of their life has heard about it. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Dale Webb, Chapman Foundation

A Georgia native, Dale Webb relocated to Miami as a teenager. Through the Chapman Foundation, she and her family – who can claim several generations of newspaper owners and publishers – are longtime MBF supporters with a focus on children’s and youth programs.

How did the Chapman Foundation come to be a Miami Book Fair supporter – what about our work at the time most resonated with you and the foundation? …

Friend of the Month: Drew Bunker

Attorney Drew Bunker was born and raised in Ohio, moved to Miami seven years ago, and now calls Miami Beach home. He became a Friend of the Fair in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since.
How did you first hear about Miami Book Fair?
Through my friends, also transplants, who had been in Miami a little bit longer than me. They were big Book Fair fans – we all love to read – and they’re the ones who told me about it. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Annie Garcia, T-Mobile

T-Mobile has a stated commitment to building stronger, more equitable communities, and to supporting youth – how does your support of Miami Book Fair align with those goals?
At T-Mobile, we believe that access to education is access to opportunity. In addition to providing free (Wi-Fi) hot spots to eligible K-12 students through our Project 10Million, we want to be a part of initiatives that align with these beliefs. …

Friends of the Month: Rosanne & Ben Shore

Rosanne and Ben Shore met when they were teenagers, and a year after they married relocated to Miami, where Rosanne attended law school and Ben did a pediatric residency at Jackson.
You’re from Toronto, Rosanne, and Ben, you’re from Philadelphia. How did you meet?
B: We met on a ski trip when I was 18 and she was 15. My girlfriend had just dumped me and I met Rosanne walking down a hallway in the hotel. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Marya Meyer, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade

Marya Meyer grew up in Wisconsin, spent 10 years in Spain after college, and now calls Miami home. The interim director of The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade – whose mission is to address the most pressing issues affecting women and girls in our community – sat down with us to talk about serendipity, women writers, and the critical importance of visionary conversations. …

Friend of the Month: Bonnie Schwartzbaum

Chicago native Bonnie Schwartzbaum came to Miami 41 years ago, where she’s currently the director of the Jewish Community Services kosher food bank – you can read a great story about her work there in this month’s Biscayne Times – and she is active in many community-serving organizations. She’s been a Friend since 1986.
How did you first learn about Miami Book Fair? …

Friend of the Month: Karen Decou

Karen Decou relocated to South Florida from Pennsylvania in 1993 – and immediately felt the loss of the expansive wealth of cultural institutions that had been at her fingertips as someone living in the City of Brotherly Love and just 90 minutes from Manhattan. But when a new friend and fellow Philly transplant introduced her to Miami Book Fair, she began to feel at home. …

Sponsor Spotlight: Green Family Foundation

Kimberly Green was born and raised in Miami, and through the Green Family Foundation has been a longtime and significant supporter of Miami Book Fair, as well as other vital cultural institutions in the Magic City.

How did the Green Family Foundation come to be a Miami Book Fair supporter?
How my family originally got involved came from the fact that we attended Book Fair; …

Sponsor Spotlight: Brian C. Perlin

Native Virginian Brian C. Perlin came to Miami to earn his undergraduate and law degrees at UM, and decided to stay put. He established his namesake firm 36 years ago in Coral Gables, where he lives with his wife, Wendy.

How did you initially come to be a Miami Book Fair supporter?
I was hanging around Books & Books, met Mitchell Kaplan, …

Friend of the Month: Marcia Dunn

Marcia Dunn attended the very first Fair in 1984 and has been a Friend for many years. The Albany, New York, native – who relocated to Miami as a newlywed in 1962 – is committed to encouraging a love of literature and reading, especially in children.
You’ve been going to Book Fair since its start – how did you hear about it? …

Friend of the Month: John Sennetti

John Sennetti, professor emeritus at Nova Southeastern University, has been arranging his November work and retirement schedule for 20 years to attend Miami Book Fair with friends and relatives.
What makes MBF so special?
It’s an adult Disneyland of stories and ideas presented by authors we likely have not yet read – and may not even read afterward – but attend anyway, …

Sponsor Spotlight: Pérez Family Foundation

Belissa Alvarez, director of The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, was born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents and grew up in New York. She’s lived in Miami for 16 years, where she’s dedicated to uplifting the collective community through strategic philanthropic efforts.

The Foundation supports Miami Book Fair’s Emerging Writer Fellowships through its CreARTE initiative, which launched in 2019 – tell me about that decision. …

Friend of the Month: Michael Anna de Armas

Patron of the literary arts, poet, mom – Michael Anna de Armas finds what feeds all three of those loves at Miami Book Fair, so it’s no surprise that she’s a Friend of the Fair!
When did you become a Friend of the Fair?
I think I started in 2017, and it was Lisa Better who first told me about the Friends, …

Sponsor Spotlight: South Motors

Jonathan Chariff is the CEO of South Motors, which has been supporting Miami Book Fair since 2011! He recently sat down with us to share his thoughts on the country’s largest and most beloved celebration of books and literature.

Why does South Motors support Miami Book Fair?
Reading opens our minds and hearts to new possibilities, and Miami Book Fair does a fantastic job engaging our community – especially our children. …

MBF Sponsor Spotlight: Global City

Brian Pearl is a principal and co-founder of Global City Development, where part of his day to day focuses on discovering new opportunities for the nonprofit side of the firm, which is a longtime supporter of Miami Book Fair. The Billings, Montana, native has called Miami home for 20 years.

How long has Global City been a Miami Book Fair supporter and how did that come about? …