Meet the Staff

Michelle PalacioMichelle Lorenzo Palacio, Vice President of Governmental Relations

As Vice President, Michelle is responsible for providing strategic leadership for all aspects of Governmental Relations. Michelle began her FIU career in November 2004, serving as Director of State Relations and then later as Assistant Vice President of Health Policy and Governmental Affairs for the Academic Health Center. She has been a key member of FIU’s governmental relations team, responsible for seeking state funding for the university, as well as seeking state approval and funding for the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, and leading an increasingly active state substantive agenda. Before coming to FIU, Michelle was a Governmental Relations Consultant for Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., a diverse commercial law firm with more than one hundred twenty five attorneys practicing in offices throughout Florida, in New York City, Nassau, Bahamas, and Prague, Czech Republic, plus affiliated offices in France and Israel. Prior to that, she worked as the Chief Legislative Aide for Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio when he served as Florida House Majority Leader in the Florida Legislature. Early on in her career, Michelle coordinated numerous political campaigns in South Florida. In 2008, Michelle was featured as an “up-and-comer” in South Florida New Establishment Magazine. Michelle earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Florida International University. She is currently a board member of Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services. Email Michelle at:

Carlos BecerraCarlos A. Becerra, Assistant Vice President of Federal Relations

Carlos Becerra represents the university's interests before Congress, advances our research agenda with federal agencies and manages our presence in the nation's capital. An FIU alumnus, Carlos brings over 15 years of experience advancing public education in urban cities and leveraging relationships to achieve intergovernmental collaboration in the public sector. At the National League of Cities, Carlos assisted mayors in acquiring federal resources to support youth employment strategies. Previously, he served as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Miami-Dade School Board, managing policy development, media outreach and served as a liaison with other elected officials. He has extensive experience in grassroots campaigns, having helped manage six local races. Carlos has been advancing FIU's agenda since serving as two-term student body president and later, leading alumni relations and annual fundraising. In those roles, he led student and alumni advocacy campaigns for the establishment of a College of Law and approval of intercollegiate football. Email Carlos at:

lynne-shawLynne Shaw, Assistant Vice President, Health Policy and Governmental Affairs

Lynne plans and coordinates governmental relations activities on legislative and governmental matters related to healthcare issues. Lynne also provides advice and technical analysis on budget, education, and other issues impacting FIU. Prior to joining FIU, Lynne worked for the Florida House of Representatives for almost 17 years. During her tenure, Lynne held a wide variety of positions. As Deputy Staff Director for the Health and Human Services Committee, Lynne was a chief policy advisor on healthcare and health insurance, including Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Lynne has substantial knowledge of Florida’s appropriations process from serving as legal counsel for the Appropriations Committee and serving as the Staff Director of the Finance and Tax Committee. Lynne also served as the Staff Director of the Insurance Committee and of the Judiciary Committee. Earlier in her career, Lynne worked as a Florida Assistant Attorney General specializing in complex tax litigation. Lynne earned a Bachelor of Arts from Florida State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law. Email Lynne at:

Chris Cantens Chris Cantens, Director of State Relations

Chris is responsible for the coordination of governmental relations activities at the state level, establishing and maintaining key legislative and governmental contacts to further the university’s goals, and serves as the university's liaison to state government.  His career in government began in 2010 while working for the Miami Dolphins as a staff assistant for the Government Affairs and Public Relations departments. In 2011, Chris worked on the special election campaign for State Representative Jose Oliva.  Chris went on to work as a legislative aide for Representative Oliva for the next four years. Chris is an FIU College of Business alumnus. He went on to earn a Master’s of Science from Florida State University in 2010. Email Chris at:

Ethan Starkey Ethan Starkey, FIU/CHLI Internship & Career Success Manager

Ethan is responsible for ensuring career and internship success for both FIU Students & Alumni in Washington, DC, while also maintaining the special partnership FIU has with the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI). His involvement in student success hinges on the long-term commitment FIU has made to increase the base in Washington, DC by placing FIU students and alum into federal agencies and national partners. He currently holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Telecommunications from Bowling Green State University, and a Master’s of Science in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University. Coming to Government Relations from Student Affairs, he brings a lot of experience in creating and expanding experiential learning programs, as well as supporting college students in their day-to-day life and pursuit of their academics. Email Ethan at:

Ana HerreraAna Herrera, Chief of Staff

Ana graduated from FIU with a degree in Political Science. She earned a Masters of Arts degree in Political Management from George Washington University in 2000. Prior to joining FIU, she worked in the Government Relations department of a local hospital. Now, as part of the FIU Governmental Relations team, she assists and facilitates the department with initiatives designed to promote the University in coordination with county and municipal governments. Email Ana at:

Katerina L. SanchezKaterina L. Bryant, Governmental Relations Liaison, Health Affairs

Katerina began her career in governmental relations as an intern on Capitol Hill and working on various political campaigns. Prior to coming to FIU, she worked as a Staff Assistant for U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart’s district office and as a Field Director for Mayor Carlos Gimenez mayoral campaign. Katerina graduated from FIU with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2011 and a Master of Public Administration in 2013. Currently, she represents the interests of the FIU Academic Health Center as well as assisting the Vice President of Governmental Relations in the overall daily functions and long term projects of the office. Email Katerina at:

Kerry BallKerry Ball, Senior Administrative Assistant/Office Manager

Kerry began working at FIU in 2000, with the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. She joined the office of Governmental Relations in August 2003 and is currently working towards a degree in Liberal Arts at FIU. Kerry assists the vice president and directors with coordination of federal, state and municipal projects, coordinates travel plans, and develops agendas for the vice president and directors. She also processes all office management functions, such as contracts, purchase orders and subscriptions. Email Kerry at:

Tomas Alcala

Tomas E. Alcala, FIU Federal Relations Intern

Tomas Alcala is a Miami, Florida native and a graduate of Florida International University. He earned his degree in Communication Arts with a minor in Political Science in 2015. During his time at FIU, Tomas served as the Student Government Speaker Pro Tempore and Senator of the College of Architecture + The Arts. He also worked as a fiscal assistant in the Activity and Service Business Office on the Modesto A. Maidique campus. As a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tomas served on several philanthropic committees including his role as the Relay for Life Committee Chairman. In the summer of 2014, he served as an intern for Congressman Joe Garcia’s district office. Tomas was the executive producer of the Anthony Calatayud Show on 880 AM The Biz, which is a late night radio sports talk show. Tomas enjoys spending time with his family and friends, playing sports, and learning about American politics.