Javier A. Ley-Soto, President

Seasoned general counsel with almost 10 years’ experience managing cases on behalf of large public entities. Strong advocate and advisor to agency leaders and staff with expertise in budget management, handling various aspects of litigation in both state and federal court and overseeing general counsel functions and transactional matters as well as providing effective agency representation and legal solutions.

Giselle Gutierrez, Immediate Past President

Giselle Gutierrez is a Shareholder in Stearns Weaver Miller’s Labor & Employment and Litigation Departments in Miami. Since earning her J.D. from the University of Florida in 2012, Giselle has demonstrated a continued commitment to the development of Florida’s legal community, to giving back to the community at large, and to advancing UF.

In 2023, Giselle will serve as President of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA), a culmination of her 10+ years of service to CABA, continuing to achieve its mission of equality and diversity in the law. In 2022, Giselle served as President of CABA’s Pro Bono Legal Services Board, which passionately provides pro bono representation that changes lives of children and individuals who cannot afford legal advocacy with programs for veterans, human trafficking victims, unaccompanied minors, and more.

Giselle serves on UF’s Law Alumni Council, actively supporting alumni engagement, campus outreach, and fundraising. She’s presented for several years at Judge Paul C. Huck’s Navigator Program for law students. Meaningfully mentoring others through UF connections and CABA is a hallmark of Giselle’s life’s work.

From 2018-2023, Giselle served as a Governor on Florida Bar’s Young Lawyer Division Board of Governors, earning the “2022 Most Productive Board Member” Award.

She’s consistently ranked by leading publications: Best Lawyers:Ones To Watch in America, South Florida Legal Guide’s Top Up and Comers, Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite, and Florida Super Lawyers.

Giselle is a dedicated and proud new mom and a triathlete, completing one 70.3 triathlon and several sprint/Olympic distance triathlons.

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Amanda Fernandez, President-Elect

Amanda L. Fernandez is the Managing Partner at Rivero Mestre. She is an experienced commercial litigator that focuses her practice on complex business matters, securities litigation, and cross-border disputes. She represents foreign and domestic clients across a multitude of industries. She understands her clients come to her when the stakes are high and aggressively defends claims brought against them or pursues claims on their behalf.

Not only does Amanda obtain exceptional results for her clients, but she is also actively engaged in her community. Amanda is the President-Elect of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA), one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Miami-Dade. She is also active in The Florida Bar Business Law Section and is a Past Chair of the Business Litigation Committee and the Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act Task Force. Amanda is also a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Academy (OLLA) Law Alumni Association and has served as a coach for OLLA’s mock trial team.

Amanda received her law degree from Villanova University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in History with honors from Florida International University.

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Jordi Martinez-Cid, Co-Vice President

Mr. Martínez-Cid regularly represents businesses of all sizes in all manner of litigation, both as plaintiffs and defendants. He counts among his clients banks and other financial institutions, media and entertainment companies, healthcare companies, and high-net-worth individualsamong othersin complex proceedings both domestically and abroad. He has worked in-house with NBCUniversal and Telemundo, overseeing a broad range of both domestic and international litigation matters for those entities and their affiliates. He also represents both corporate and individual clients in appellate matters, fraud-related cases, internal investigations, extradition cases, and cases seeking post-conviction relief.

Prior to launching Martínez-Cid Law, Mr. Martínez-Cid was a partner at a premier litigation boutique in Miami. Prior to that he worked at a large international law firm and clerked for the Honorable Federico A. Moreno for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Mr. Martínez-Cid is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he was a Jack B. Tate scholar and a teaching fellow for First-Order Logic. During law school he interned for Miami’s most well-known plaintiff-side firms.

At the University of Michigan, Mr. Martínez-Cid was a member of the Honors Program, a James B. Angell Scholar, a Michigan Community Scholar, and a member of the College of Language, Science, and Arts’ Academic Judiciary Committee.

Haydee Sera, Co-Vice President

Haydee Sera represents municipalities on a broad range of issues such as contracts, elections, ethics, public records, procurement, and sunshine law compliance. In that capacity, Haydee drafts and reviews proposed legislation, resolutions, and agreements on a variety of matters, always with an understanding of the broader implications of her clients’ interests. Haydee also provides counsel to elected officials on legal matters, including compliance with state and local ethics laws.

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Daniel Buigas, Treasurer

Daniel Buigas is a named partner at Lamelas Buigas PA where he focuses his practice on resolving business problems for his clients and litigates on their behalf in Florida state and federal courts and arbitration proceedings.  Mr. Buigas has represented clients in a wide variety of business-related matters, including but not limited to breach of contract claims, commercial lease disputes, real estate disputes, shareholder and partnership controversies, member and manager controversies, business dissolution actions, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits, non-compete agreement disputes, debt and judgment collection matters, trademarks and theft of trade secrets disputes, telecommunications matters, civil RICO claims, fraud claims, breach of fiduciary duty actions, and other commercial controversies. Mr. Buigas is also an active member in his community. He has been serving in the Board of Directors of CABA since 2020.  He currently serves as a member of The Florida Bar’s Code and Rules of Evidence Committee, The Florida Bar’s Mentoring New Lawyers Committee, and The Florida Bar’s Eleventh Circuit Grievance Committee “B”, where he serves as the current chair.

Candice Balmori, Secretary

As the daughter and granddaughter of Cuban political exiles, Candice has a unique appreciation for the critical nexus between democratic institutions and community engagement.  Candice is a municipal attorney with the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole + Bierman where she counsels municipalities on a broad array of matters impacting local governments, including counseling on contracts, compliance with public records, sunshine and ethics laws.  She regularly drafts government contracts and resolutions, tracks legislation, and assists with the preparation and implementation of various municipal regulations.  As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator, and member of the firm’s mediation practice group, Candice is also formally trained with an alternate dispute resolution skill set that she effectively applies to her legal practice.  Candice holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Certificate in Latin American Studies from Harvard University, as well as a Juris Doctorate degree and Certificate in International Law and Comparative Law from Tulane University Law School.  She has been a member of CABA since 2013 and has served on the Board of Directors for the Cuban American Bar Association since 2019.  She has also authored extensive thought-leadership pieces on issues relating to Cuba and the Cuban-American community, as well as participated in numerous panel discussions relating to the same.  As a part of her pro bono practice, Candice assists CABA in the representation of Cuban political prisoners before international tribunals.

Diana Arteaga, Director

Diana Arteaga serves on the Board of Directors for the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA). She cochairs the CABA on Cuba Committee where she has worked collaboratively on projects amplifying the voices of the Cuban people after the July 11th, 2021 protests as well as advocacy on their behalf before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Diana represents Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC. in all aspects of public affairs. She has over 10 years of proven experience in key leadership roles, including foreign affairs, at the municipal, state and federal levels.

Diana serves as Board Secretary for the San Carlos Institute in Key West and is also on the board of The Latin Chamber of Commerce of the United States (CAMACOL).

Emily Balter, Director

Emily is an associate attorney at Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin & Tapanes. As a Miami native, Emily is passionate about her home town and has focused her legal practice on land use, zoning, and environmental matters throughout Miami-Dade County.

In law school, she focused on oral advocacy and local government law. Emily volunteered for the University of Miami School of Law Environmental Justice Clinic, which exposed her to Miami’s unique landscape and politics. Pursuing her interests, she served as a Summer Public Interest Fellow with the City of Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office.  Emily was a judicial intern with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in the Honorable Adalberto Jordan’s chambers.

In the legal community, Emily currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”).  She is also the Editor in Chief of CABA Briefs, which is a digital and print publication that highlights important legal issues and community leaders.  CABA’s leadership and members have recognized Emily’s consistent dedication to the organization in 2019 with the Outstanding Committee Member Award, in 2020 with the Young Lawyer Member of the Year Award, and in 2021 with the Outstanding Member Award.

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Gustavo Ceballos, Director

Gustavo J. Ceballos is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Coral Gables. In this role, he assists the City Attorney and provides legal counsel to city departments with a concentration on land use and development services. He has held this role since 2018.

Prior to joining the City, Ceballos served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Fort Lauderdale beginning in 2016. In this capacity, he was the lead attorney for all land use and zoning matters and served as counsel for the Planning and Zoning and Historic Preservation Boards. Additionally, he also served as a hearing officer and special magistrate for other South Florida municipalities. He previously worked at Greenburg Traurig Miami office in their Land Use and Zoning Group.

Ceballos earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University and a Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law. He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association, Cuban American Bar Association, and Belen Alumni Lawyers Section.

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Patrick Montoya, Director

Partner Patrick Montoya is a lawyer with experience in complex and high-profile litigation. His career philosophy—his continued ambition—is to “Be the lawyer you want for yourself.” Mr. Montoya remains committed to ardently defending his clients and protecting their rights, but nonetheless, he also prioritizes a one-on-one relationship with each person he represents. 

With over two decades of experience in practicing law, Mr. Montoya brings his skill and knowledge to Milberg’s team. Meanwhile, Mr. Montoya’s expertise also includes class action and commercial litigation, products liability, personal injury litigation, aviation law, construction law, and toxic torts. 

In the world of academia, Mr. Montoya has taught at the University of Miami’s Paralegal Program, undergraduate business law, and was a legal research and writing instructor at the University of Miami School of Law. He is also a frequent lecturer for CLEs and authored a book on Florida Evidence and Procedure for ALM Publishing. Mr. Montoya also served as Co-Chair of the Davidson College Alumni Chapter representing the South Florida Region. 

Mr. Montoya then went on to complete his law degree at the University of Miami School of Law, graduating cum laude. While there, he was a member of the Inter-American Law Review and the University of Miami Moot Court Board. 

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Isis Pacheco Velasco, Director

Isis Pacheco Velasco has been part of CABA’s vibrant and dynamic community for nearly 15 years. During this time, she has actively contributed to CABA by participating in various committees, including the Young Lawyers, 5K, Marlins, and AIT Committees. She was honored with the 2023 CABA Co-Chair of the Year Award for Co-Chairing the AIT Committee. She also had the distinct privilege of being selected for the inaugural L.E.A.D. with CABA Program. In 2023, Ms. Pacheco Velasco was elected to the CABA Board of Directors.

Ms. Pacheco Velasco attended St. Thomas University College of Law where she obtained her Juris Doctor Degree. After graduating, Ms. Pacheco Velasco had the honor of serving as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Peter T. Fay, Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Judicial Circuit, which she describes as one of the best experiences of her professional career.  She then continued her studies at the University of Miami, School of Law, where she completed an LL.M. in Real Property Development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, graduating Cum Laude with a double major in Political Science/History and a double minor in French/ Business Law.  During that time, she served as a Congressional Intern for the Honorable Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Ms. Pacheco Velasco is very active in the community. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for St. Thomas University College of Law, as well as the Board of Directors for FACE (Facts About Cuban Exiles), ArtesMiami, and Coral Gables Hospital.

Currently, Ms. Pacheco Velasco is a Vice President of Interamerican Bank, where she handles a variety of matters and continues to draw from her legal education and experiences to contribute to the institution’s growth and success.

Joshua Padron, Director

Joshua Padron is a dedicated trial attorney at the Haggard Law Firm, specializing in plaintiff representation for wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases. Beginning his legal career at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office as a Prosecutor, Joshua transitioned to the Haggard Law Firm to further his commitment to advocating for victims. As a plaintiff’s attorney, he diligently represents clients harmed by negligence, passionately pursuing the justice and compensation they deserve.

Augusto Perera, Director

Augusto Perera, ESQ. is an active member of the Florida Bar and admitted to practice before the United States District Court Southern District of Florida and the Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit. Attended Shepard Broad College of Law and received his Juris Doctor degree in 2014. Dedicated exclusively to intellectual property matters, specializing in trademark, copyright, licensing, and Internet Law, with a focus on new business development.

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Fabian Ruiz, Director

Fabian Ruiz focuses his practice on representing domestic and foreign business, and their executives, in commercial disputes and in the defense of complex labor and employment matters.  This includes litigating complex contractual matters, high-stakes trade secret, non-compete, and unfair competition matters, and defending against whistleblower, wage and hour, and other employment-related claims.

In the employment context, Fabian has experience representing employers and executives in both unionized and union-free environments. He has obtained successful resolutions on behalf of his clients in single plaintiff, multi-plaintiff, and class and collective actions in both state and federal courts, and has also represented clients before federal, state, and local administrative agencies including the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Florida Commission on Human Rights, and the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights. Additionally, Fabian has successfully arbitrated public and private sector labor and employment matters from inception to complete dismissal, including in the media, finance, healthcare, restaurant, food and grocery retail, and construction industries.

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