Constance Collins, J.D., President and Director, is the President and Executive Director of the Sundari Foundation, Inc. dba Lotus House, a non-denominational 501c3 public charity. She is also the President of Lotus Endowment Fund, Inc., a 501c3 foundation organized and operated to support the Lotus House and other initiatives of Sundari Foundation. A lawyer and former businesswoman prior to founding Lotus House, she serves the Foundation as a full time volunteer, overseeing the development, operations, programming, services and growth of Lotus House, in addition to other initiatives of the Foundation and Lotus Endowment. Additional initiatives of the Foundation include: Lotus House Thrift, LLC, operating a donations center and job training programs; and Lotus Wellness Center, LLC, a free health clinic offering women’s wellness exams and screenings to uninsured, indigent women. She is now spearheading the redevelopment of Lotus House to double capacity as Lotus Village.
Ms. Collins’ work on behalf of the Foundation is preceded by over twenty-two years of business, finance, real estate and legal experience. She served as the chief operating and financial officer, general counsel, and co-founder of a full service real estate investment advisory firm, Urban Investments Advisors, LLC (and its predecessor Starwood Urban Investments) and real estate holding company, Starwood Urban, LLC, and its subsidiaries, responsible for the management and operation of a national commercial real estate investment portfolio, overseeing growth and value-added strategies, development, financing, accounting, and reporting for portfolio revenues, until the successful disposition of those investments in 2005. Prior to Starwood, Ms. Collins was in private law practice, representing institutional investors and lenders in structuring, negotiating and documenting real estate, business and financial transactions, credit recovery, litigation oversight, and repositioning of investment properties. She graduated Order of Coif with a Juris Doctorate Degree from University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, Colorado, and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
Lotus House honors include: 2014 All Star Award – Innovation by Switchboard; 2014 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award by Unites States Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; “Best Charity” by New Times 2013; 2013 Community Spirit Award from the Commission on Women; 2012 Outstanding Service Excellence Award from the American Society for Public Administration – South Florida Chapter; Neighborhood Builder Award of the 2011 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative of Bank of America; Leave a Legacy 2010 Donor Next Door award presented by the Health Foundation of South Florida; 2010 Unity Award by Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund; 2010 Health Care Hero Award by Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; “Best of Miami Shelter” by New Times, 2010; 2010 Woman of Vision Award by the Weitzman Institute; 2008 Local Hero Award by Bank of America; 2007 Honoree, Women Who Make a Difference by Junior League of Miami, Inc.; 2006 Commendation For Women Builders of Communities and Dreams, National Women’s History Month, by the City of Miami and Miami Commission on the Status of Women; and 2005 and 2006 Networking Deal of the Year for Sundari Foundation, by Miami CREW, for Lotus House.
Cynthia Bell, RN, BSN, is Vice President and Director. She has leadership experience in medical, psychiatric and school nursing transitioning 15 years ago to a more health and wellness model. She has been trained as a Lifestyle Educator in health and wellness, in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and as a Spiritual Director. Her passion has been serving with Lotus House to encourage and uplift the women and children and connect Lotus House with resources from faith-based organizations. She has served as Resource Coordinator, Volunteer and Lotus House Board Member for over 10 yrs. She initiated a once a month Book Give-Away Day where high school students and volunteers come to read to the children, and the children can take a new book to keep. To see a life heal and change keeps her returning time and again.
Cynthia’s commitment to the community at large led her to collaborate with a team of women to implement retreats in South Florida female prisons called Kairos. Today these retreats are held in 36 states and 10 foreign countries.
On a personal side, some of her most profound experiences is when she was partnering with her husband in their residential center reintegrating men and women released from prison; facing the challenges and joys of journeying with their profoundly handicapped son and living with her biracial family (husband, daughter and son) in Liberty City, developing life-long friendships and support. Her path has taught her time and again that we are all in this together, we are all connected and collectively with unconditional love we can make a global difference for all underserved.
Kim Abreu, Treasurer and Director, is the Senior Client Manager for Commercial Real Estate Banking for southern Florida. She has been with the bank for 23 years and has provided project financing in excess of $4 billion, capital markets expertise, and global cash management to some of the nation’s largest real estate developers and investors. Kim is a native Floridian, who holds both a BS and an MBA degree from University of Florida as well as SEC Series 7 and Series 63 securities license. Kim is an active board member of Carrfour Supportive Housing and serves as the Chair of the Construction and Development Committee. She is an active board member of Lotus House and serves as Treasurer and on the Finance Committee. She is an Advisory Board Member of ULI SE Fl/Carribean and serves on its Management Committee.
Anna Frusciante, JD,. Secretary only, Not Director
Julie Petricone, Director, is a highly accomplished operations executive with a proven track record of achievement in inventory management, pricing, financial analysis, purchasing, technology transfer, training and development, and strategic planning. Mrs. Petricone worked as the Executive Vice President for All Interior Supply Inc. She created a top acquisition target for United States Gypsum and its subsidiary, L & W Supply, by developing the business into a best-in-class building materials distributor. She served as chief operating officer prior to L&W Supply’s purchase of the company. Mrs. Petricone graduated from the University of North Carolina with a B.S., Economics, with Highest Honors. Mrs. Petricone is a proud member of the Board of Directors for the Sundari Foundation, Inc., dba Lotus House, Lotus Supporting Foundation, Inc., and the Lotus Endowment, Inc.
Cobi Lazcano Moon, Director, is a retired City of Miami Firefighter/Paramedic. She spent 30 years serving the citizens of Little Havana, Liberty City and Overtown. She was one of the first female firefighters hired by the City (3rd to be exact!). Cobi is a BLS instructor and has provided CPR and AED training to the Lotus House staff. Cobi has remained involved with the fire department through her Union, Local 587, and teaches yoga at the firefighters Benevolent Hall. She is working on her 200 hour teacher training with the goal of providing yoga to firefighters as a means of stress relief, dealing with PTSD and overall health and fitness. She has an AS from MDC in pre-nursing.
Antonia Wright, Director, explores the various politics and comic facets of contemporary life through a multidisciplinary practice that blurs the boundaries between live performance, video, photography, sculpture, poetry, and perception. With extreme attention to esthetic quality, her work brings everything to the body to create powerful visual metaphors that at times appear ambivalent but are never obscure. Wright acknowledges the layers of societal taboos and barriers between her artistic choices, and pointedly pushes them into the public realm for the viewer to examine and assimilate. Antonia Wright graduated from the New School University in New York City with an MFA in Poetry as well as at the International Center of Photography. She has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and has been awarded artist’s residencies both nationally and internationally. Exhibitions include shows at Pioneer Works (New York), The Faena Arts Center (Buenos Aires, Argentina), The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, The Cisneros-Fontanals Foundation (CIFO), Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Spinello Projects (Miami, FL), Luis de Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Aeroplastics (Brussels, Belgium), The National Gallery of Art (Nassau, Bahamas), and Ping Pong (Basel, Switzerland). In April 2012, she became the first artist-in-residence at the Lotus House Shelter for women and children in Overtown, Miami. Wright’s work has been presented in publications including The New York Times, Artforum’s Critics’ Picks, Art In America, New York Magazine, Daily News, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and The Art Newspaper.
Martin Z. Margulies, Director, is a man with a passion for art, a fact that influences every facet of his life. A graduate of the Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania, and a successful developer of South Florida luxury real estate projects for the past 45 years, he began collecting in 1976 with the purchase of a work by Isamu Noguchi, and has gone on to build one of the major collections of contemporary art in the world today.
Consistently named to lists such as the ARTnews 200 The World’s Top Collectors, and the top 25 photography collectors in the world, the Margulies Collection is considered by curators, critics, artists and dealers as one of the most important collections of its kind. Focusing on seminal works by important artists, the collection includes European Modernism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, Conceptual, Arte Povera, Video, Vintage and Contemporary Photography, and Installation Art.
Mr. Margulies is deeply involved in the nation’s visual arts community. He is a Grand Founder of the Lowe Art Museum of the University of Miami. He has served on the Collector’s Committee of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He served on the Board of the International Sculpture Center in Washington, D.C. and received a Doctorate of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa from Florida International University, Miami. Mr. Margulies also served as a board member of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Commission and on the Board of Trustees of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. He was named by the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City as a distinguished leader of the global art community, citing his role as a collector, philanthropist and enthusiast whose long standing commitment to contemporary arts and artist’s best reflects the New Museum’s belief that contemporary culture is a vital part of life. In April 2013, Margulies received the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art.
While many of the paintings and smaller sculptures in the collection are displayed throughout his own home in Key Biscayne, Florida, the Margulies Collection of photography, video, installations and larger sculptures has been housed since 1999 in a 45,000 sq. ft. retro-fitted warehouse in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. It is frequently used as an educational venue for local and out-of-town groups studying the visual arts. The purpose of The Warehouse, according to Mr. Margulies, is to bring together cutting edge work by both established and emerging artists, and he is well known for acting as a highly knowledgeable “tour guide” for visiting school groups.
The father of four children, Mr. Margulies is recognized as a dedicated community activist, with a longstanding commitment to the welfare of underprivileged youngsters. He funded $2.5 million for the construction of the Overtown Youth Center in downtown Miami. The 18,000 sq. ft. facility provides much needed social, recreation and educational programs, including computer classes, sports and arts and crafts. Margulies has also been a major contributor to the Lotus House Shelter for Homeless Women and Children also in Overtown. He provided funds for the shelter to expand and provide services to pregnant women and their newborn infants and recently he established an endowment which will allow the shelter to continue to provide for poor, disadvantaged and distressed women.
In 2008, the Margulies Collection published a beautifully illustrated hardcover book, The Martin Z. Margulies Collection: Painting and Sculpture. The 350 page volume offers an overview of the Margulies’ painting and sculpture collection widely considered by critics, curators, artists and dealers as one of the most extensive and renowned contemporary art collections in the world. Commentaries written by Margulies and his longtime curator Katherine Hinds, about why and how certain works were added to the collection give the readers insight into the heart and mind of a collector. Also included are introductory essays by Newsweek critic, Peter Plagens and well known writer and curator, Klaus Kertess. All proceeds from book sales and admission to the Warehouse support the Lotus House Shelter for Homeless Women and Children.
The Martin Z. Margulies Foundation was organized 35 years ago with the mission to provide arts education free of charge to the public. Believing that education can help break the chain of poverty the philanthropy and programming of the Foundation focuses on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The foundation has made major gifts benefiting: Miami Dade College; Florida International University; University of Florida; University of Miami; Cornell University; ICA Miami; The Overtown Youth Center; The Lotus House Shelter for Women and Children; The Overtown Optimist Club; Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY (Promised Gift); The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, NY (Promised Gift); New World Symphony.
Dr. Kathryn Villano, M.D., Director, is a third generation Miamian and graduated from Ransom-Everglades. She attended Wesleyan University and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She has been involved with the Lotus House since before it opened. In addition to serving on the boards of the Sundari Foundation, Inc. and the Endowment Fund, she provides acupuncture to guests and teaches a cooking and nutrition class.
John Sumberg, Director, managing partner at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP, served as the Real Estate Group chair for over 20 years, and has been practicing in the area of commercial real estate for over 40 years. He routinely handles all types of complex real property transactions and has represented clients in a wide variety of matters involving commercial and residential properties, including regional malls, mixed use, entertainment and resort facilities, shopping centers, office buildings, condominiums, condominium/hotels, hotels and apartment complexes, community developments, golf courses, marinas, industrial properties and large tracts of undeveloped land. In the corporate area, John provides counsel to a variety of closely held businesses including family businesses, representing clients in asset and stock purchases, corporate acquisitions, joint ventures, partnership formations and general corporate matters.
John has received Chambers USA’s highest ranking in Real Estate since the publication’s inaugural year in Florida and has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for over a decade. In 2014 and 2015, John was selected as one of the South Florida Business Journal‘s Top 100 Power Leaders.
Dr. Gordon Miller, M.D., Director, is an ophthalmologist in Miami Beach, Florida and is affiliated with Mount Sinai Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Dr. Miller completed Medical Center and finished Medical School at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, he did his internship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Jacobi, and his Residency in Ophthalmology at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He has received awards for Super Doc, ACS Fellow, and AA Fellow.
Debi Braman Wechsler, Director, was raised in South Florida. She currently chairs her family’s foundation and serves on the boards of several other local organizations. She is the capital campaign co- chair for the University of Miami Hillel. She has 4 kids, 3 living and working in the Miami area and the other away at college. She and her husband Jeffrey live in Coral Gables.
Cathy Leff, Director, is President of Leff Initiatives, LLC, a boutique consulting firm specializing in projects that combine cultural strategy and urban initiatives.From 1997-2014, Leff was director of The Wolfsonian-FIU, a museum and research center dedicated to promoting the study and appreciation of modern visual and material culture. She launched its first generation: taking a then-unknown, private collection to building what is now an internationally acclaimed public institution. Representing Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. in negotiating the gifting of his collection and museum site to Florida International University, she secured ongoing funding and increased the museum’s intellectual and cultural output, its real estate holdings, collection, and endowment. She oversaw the exhibition, educational, and research agenda. From 1989-2014, she also was responsible for The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, a scholarly publication dedicated to late 19th to mid-20th century visual culture.
Faith Xenos, CFP, Director, is the co-founder of Singer Xenos. Since then, Faith’s approachable demeanor and sharp mind have yielded a loyal following. As the firm’s Chief Investment Officer, she heads the firm’s investment research team in evaluating securities and determining appropriate asset allocation models for client portfolios. She is also responsible for managing the firm’s operations.
With the understanding that women face unique financial challenges, Faith started the Women’s Financial Services division for Singer Xenos, offering innovative strategies to help secure the financial futures of women.
Faith is also the President of Physician’s Investment Advisors, an independent insurance firm specializing in creditor protection for high-risk physicians and other professionals. She received her Certified Financial Planner™ designation in 1989. Faith has authored several articles for South Florida Business Journal, The Miami Herald, and Coral Gables Gazette, and has been profiled in Working Woman, Florida Trend, Miami Today, Daily Business Review and Miami Business. She serves on the board of numerous community and charitable organizations including the Women’s Cancer League, Project New Born, Voices for Children, and Audubon of Florida. Faith has also been recognized for her generosity and philanthropic efforts in South Florida.
Highly interested in culture, Faith is a world traveler, a collector, and a restorer of historic old Spanish homes. She is an active supporter and patron of the arts.
Lisa Romano, Advisory Director and Alumna, is a proud Lotus House alumna. She is a mother of two and currently resides in Miami Beach. She is an advocate for women and children experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade County.
Miroslav “Misha” Mladenovic, P.E., Director, is a well-established engineering professional in the South Florida community. As president of M2E Consulting Engineers, a full service boutique- engineering firm, he directs and supervises the construction litigation support and quality control functions of the firm. His hands-on approach to resolving construction issues such as definition of scope of development, defective work, delay analysis and budgeting disputes have earned Mladenovic and his firm an impressive roster of national and international clients, such as the Related Group, Lennar Homes and Gazprom. M2E Consulting has been elected Engineering Company of the Year by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Top 25 Engineering Firm by South Florida Business Journal and Best Engineering Firm by Daily Business Review. M2E was also winner of the Best Places to Work in South Florida in its category. Misha’s expertise and team experience eventually elevated the firm to perform work nationally and also internationally with capital projects in Central America (high rise development in Bolivia) and Europe (500m Euros Gazprom Headquarters in Belarus). In addition to his duties in the firm, Mladenovic acted recently as the Vice President of Development for Cabi Developers during its expansion in Florida, Nevada and Texas, with projects ranging from a regional mall to a 2 million square feet mixed use urban development. Real Estate development is not new to Mladenovic, who is also a licensed RE Sales Associate. He used to be Executive Vice President of DCOM Development, who developed the La Tour project, the first new high rise on Miami Beach back in 1995 after almost 15 years of non-building on the Beach. The success of that project earned Mladenovic the respect and credibility to subsequently consult with most major developers in the area, in various complex construction matters, from acquisition and feasibility, through construction and closeout. Mr. Mladenovic holds a Master in Electrical Engineering and Communications, and speaks seven languages. He is a registered professional engineer in several states, and certified by the National Council of Engineers and Examiners. Misha is also a licensed General Contractor in the State of Florida, and teaches seminars for attorneys and construction professionals. Misha’s civic engagement parallels his professional career. He was a Board Member of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the Brickell Area Association, and the Wings Program of AMI Kids, a non-profit. In his community, he was the first vice- chair of the Coral Gables Green Task Force and Secretary of the Gables Cinema, and is currently volunteering his and his firm’s expertise in the certification and renovation of the Lotus House Thrift Store, where employment and counseling will be offered to victims of domestic abuse. His civic and charitable dedication earned him a nomination in March of Dimes’ Star finalist selection. A devoted father of three, Mladenovic is also committed to his ethnic community; he spearheaded the construction of the St Simeon Christian Orthodox Assembly Hall in North Miami, and is currently the qualifying contractor and engineer of record of the erection of the church itself.
Honorable Chris McAliley, Director, is a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. She was appointed to this position on March 25, 2004. She was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1957. She received her B.A. degree from Tufts University in 1979, after studying oversees for a year (1977-1978) at the University of Madrid’s Instituto de Cultura Hispanica. She then earned her J.D. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1983.
Judge McAliley began her legal career in 1983 as an associate for the law firm Gallop, Dawson & Clayman. In 1985, she became a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Stanley Marcus. The following year, she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. She held this position until 1995, serving as the Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section from 1992 to 1995. She then worked as counsel to the firm Coll, Davidson, Smith, Salter & Barkett, P.A. until 2000.
Lisa Bergstrom, Advisory Director and Alumna, is a Lotus House alumna. Lisa came to the Lotus House in 2009 and was here for 18 months. Prior to Lotus House, Lisa had struggled with addiction, in and out of the foster care system, shelters, group homes, juvenile halls, and other institutions. Having lost touch with family and loved ones, Lisa felt alone and that she had nothing to look forward to in life. “When I came to Lotus House I gained a family. Lotus House helped me get my life together. They convinced me that I am worthy to live life as a productive member of society and I am not a bad person. I am in recovery and have been clean for 4 years. “I am truly a living miracle!” Lisa is now a proud board member of the Sundari Foundation, Inc. and an active advocate for women and children experiencing homelessness in Miami Dade County.
Mark Tamis, Director, is the senior vice president of Hotel Operations at Royal Caribbean International. Tamis will further the global cruise line’s commitment to deliver outstanding vacations to almost four million guests per year. He will have oversight of the line’s hotel services, food, beverage, entertainment and private destinations, and will report directly to Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.
A 25-year travel industry veteran, Tamis most recently served as senior vice president, Guest Operations with Carnival Cruise Lines. Prior to joining Carnival, Tamis served as chief operating officer of The Setai Hotels and Resorts. He also served as area vice president for Ian Schrager Hotels, which later became Morgans Hotel Group, overseeing the operations of well-known hotels such as the Delano, Shore Club and Mondrian South Beach. He later was named executive vice president for New York-based Ian Schrager Company including development of the EDITION brand, a joint venture between Ian Schrager Company and Marriott International. After graduating from Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Tamis began his career with Four Seasons Hotels. During his 15–year tenure there, he earned awards and accolades as a senior-level manager, including the prestigious AAA 5 Diamond Award at properties in Newport Beach and Santa Barbara, Calif., and Nevis, West Indies.
Tamis is actively involved in a wide range of civic and community service organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Special Olympics. Married with three children, Tamis and his daughter Isabella founded www.dadsforgiving.org, an organization that encourages fathers to volunteer with their children to benefit their communities.
Maria R. Millares, CPA, PFS, Director, is the founder of Millares & Company, PA, which opened its doors in 1983. She has over 35 years of public accounting and tax experience and for 30 years has been focusing on the needs of high net worth individuals and their companies. She has expertise in the areas of personal and corporate income taxes and accounting, estate and income tax planning, investment advisory services, personal financial planning and the complex issues of family wealth. Maria is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).
Rai Johnson, MSW, CAP, Advisory Director and Alumna is the Health and Wellness Director and a proud alumna of Lotus House. She is responsible for a full complement of holistic health and wellness programming at Lotus House, including arranging women’s wellness exams, health care referrals, health and wellness education, art, yoga, dance, meditation, and countless other enrichment activities and field trips. Ms. Johnson also leads our substance abuse recovery support groups at Lotus House. Ms. Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Science, dual concentration in Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health Counseling and holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Barry University. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP) and HIPAA Privacy Associate. Certifications include: Trauma Incident Reduction, HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing, and Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) Trainer. Ms. Johnson serves as the volunteer coordinator of the free health clinic operated by Lotus Wellness Center, LLC, in cooperation with the DOCS Program of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Tadd Schwartz, Director, is a veteran public relations counselor with nearly two decades of experience in media relations, marketing, digital media, and strategic communications, Tadd has created successful campaigns for regional, national and multinational companies and organizations.
Respected by clients and journalists for his industry knowledge, resourcefulness, and grasp of the national and regional media landscape, Tadd plays an active role in partnering with clients to achieve their business goals and raise their community profile.
Prior to founding Schwartz Media Strategies in 2005, Tadd was a partner at Miami-based rbb, where he led the firm’s corporate and real estate practices. He previously held an executive position with the Florida office of Weber-Shandwick, one of the world’s largest public relations agencies. He also worked on the staff of Florida Senator Bob Graham in Washington, D.C.
Tadd is active in several organizations, including Developing Minds Foundation, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Miami Art Museum. He serves on the board of directors for City Year Miami and Friends of WLRN, Miami’s NPR affiliate. A native of Miami, Tadd earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.
William Real, Director, is the founder and CEO of Civic Construction. Through Civic Construction and as a state certified general contractor, I have been serving our customers for the past 22 years as a construction professional. Dedicated to serving our customers through quality, competitive pricing, accountability and professionalism. At Civic Construction our goal is to become a single source service company for the development industry. Participating and partnering with our clients in all aspects of development from its conceptual idea through its final realization.