MEET THE TEAM
MANUEL MICHEL | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Manuel Michel joined the NMB in 2014 as the Executive Director where he is responsible for developing and overseeing strategic goals, plans, and program initiatives that promote higher awareness and consumption of mangos in the U.S. Manuel joins the NMB with extensive background and experience in agriculture and issues that affect the industry including crop production, management, business development, marketing, food safety and government relations. Manuel provided regulatory oversight to several federal government commodity programs as a marketing order specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Order and Agreement Division. Prior to that, he managed quality assurance and food safety programs for L&J Farms and Jackpot in the Salinas Valley of California. Manuel was also a managing associate attorney with the Whittenburg Law Firm in Texas. He has been a member of the Texas State Bar since 2008.
Manuel received a bachelor’s in agricultural business management, a bachelor’s in international studies in agriculture, and a minor in crop science from Oregon State University. He also earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University School of Law. Manuel and his wife have a beautiful young daughter that keeps them moving. They enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.
AMY MERCADO | DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Amy joined the NMB in 2005 as a consultant and in 2006 became the Administrative Coordinator/Operations Manager; she was then promoted to the Director of Operations position in 2012. Amy has been pivotal in the development and growth of the NMB and is responsible for ensuring all organizational effectiveness by providing leadership for the board’s compliance needs, financial functions; and developing, implementing and improving organizational strategies in collaboration with the executive director, staff, and board members.
Amy received an executive master’s degree in business administration from the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University, and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in management from American Intercontinental University. Amy is a wife, mother, and business executive, who enjoys reading and practicing martial arts with her family. She is a resident of Central Florida and has been actively engaged in her community for over 20 years.
DAMARIS GONZALEZ | ACCOUNTANT
Damaris joined the NMB in 2013 as the Accountant where she is responsible for managing and providing guidance in relations to all the financials and accounting controls. Prior to the NMB, Damaris was an Accountant at Liberty Investment Property where she handled the financial reporting for 12 hotels, as well as the parent company’s financials. She also spent 11 years at InCharge Institute where she held the title of Corporate Accounting Manager.
Damaris received a bachelor’s in business from the University of Puerto Rico where she graduated Cum Laude. She also received her master’s degree in accounting/controllership from Strayer University. Damaris came to Orlando, Florida from Puerto Rico in 1998; she likes music, dancing, and eating typical native dishes. She also enjoys reading, and believe it or not, bowling. She is also currently involved as the treasurer at one of the ministries of her church.
ANNA DESCHAMPS-POLONIA | OPERATIONS SPECIALIST
Anna joined the NMB in 2013 as the Executive Assistant where she is responsible for providing support to the Board, Committees, Executive Director and Accountant on several tasks such as nominations, clerical, event accommodations, and accounts payables. She was in the financial industry for 25 years and had started her career on Wall Street in New York City in the Capital Markets division for major international banking institutions such as First Chicago Intl, Natwest Capital Markets and Deutsche Securities. She then moved to Miami, FL and worked as Securities Operations Banking Officer for Coutts USA and Bank Hapoalim B.M.
In her spare time, Anna enjoys listening and dancing to music with over 15,000 songs on her iTunes. She also enjoys reading and watching movies.
VALDA CORYAT | DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
Valda Coryat joined the NMB in 2017 as Director of Marketing where she is responsible for planning, directing and overseeing marketing initiatives for the consumer, retail, foodservice and nutrition programs. As Director of Marketing, Valda manages agencies and staff and collaborates with the management team to maximize the yearly budget and to fulfill the NMB’s mission of increasing mango awareness and consumption in the U.S. Valda joins the NMB with a wealth of marketing experience building brands, launching award winning innovation and activating consumer inspired multi-media campaigns most notably in the Consumer Packaged Goods and Beauty industry.
Valda completed her undergraduate education at Duke University and went on to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business where she earned her MBA. In her spare time Valda enjoys good food, good music and dancing. True to her Caribbean roots, Valda most enjoys beach time, exploring Florida’s coastline with her husband and three children.
ANGELA SERNA | COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Angela joined the NMB in 2014 as the Communications Manager where she is responsible for Public Relations’ communications including trade media, Mango Connection and Crop Report. Prior to the NMB, Angela worked as a marketing intern for a professional camera gear company where she led public relations and sales projects. Angela also worked in retail management and the banking industry for over 8 years.
Angela received a bachelor’s in international business and management from Stetson University and her marketing MBA at Nova Southeastern University. Angela has a passion for adventure traveling, and loves to spend time with family and friends.
MARISSA KHAN | MARKETING MANAGER
Marissa Khan joined the NMB in 2017 as the Marketing Manager where she is responsible for planning, managing, and coordinating marketing and communications programs, including newsletters and social media. Marissa comes to the NMB with over 10 years of experience in executing successful marketing programs across several industries including Events, Non-Profit and Consumer Packaged Goods.
Marissa was born in Trinidad and Tobago, where she completed her bachelor’s in management studies with a minor in Spanish at the University of the West Indies. She is a Fulbright Scholar and completed her MBA in marketing management at The Ohio State University. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys reading and spending time outdoors with her family.
MICHELLE LARKIN | MARKETING SPECIALIST
Michelle joined the NMB in 2017 as the Marketing Specialist, where she is responsible for daily social media monitoring and blog content creation. Prior to the NMB, Michelle worked in marketing and events in the hospitality industry, where she fostered event sponsorship relationships and project managed co-branded marketing efforts.
Michelle received a bachelor’s degree in business communication from Stevenson University in Baltimore, Maryland. When she isn’t busy spreading the mango love, Michelle enjoys knitting warm hats for her friends living up north, volunteering for a local animal shelter, and traveling as much as she can.
TAMMY WIARD | RETAIL PROGRAM MANAGER
Tammy Wiard has joined the National Mango Board as the Retail Program Manager. She will have oversight on the retail marketing team and all of the retail support programs that contribute to year ‘round consumption and growth of the mango category.
Prior to joining the NMB, Ms. Wiard served as the Director of Retail Marketing for the Florida Department of Citrus where she created consumer retail marketing and brand building programs for both the grocery and food service industries, promoting Florida Citrus.
Ms. Wiard spent several years as the advertising director at Albertson’s/Safeway in Northern California with oversight on marketing services and agency management. She was also the senior contact at a retail marketing agency managing multiple client teams across the grocery, drug and building material categories. As a volunteer with the National Training Center, Tammy worked with Olympic track and field athletes in preparation for London 2012.
LEONARDO ORTEGA | DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH
Leonardo joined the NMB in 2007 as the Research Specialist and in 2008 he was promoted to Director of Research where he coordinates all the research activities of the NMB, including production, postharvest, nutrition and consumer research programs. Leonardo is an agronomist with a master’s in animal production and a doctorate degree in agricultural economics. Prior to the NMB, Leonardo spent more than 15 years at the university level in Venezuela teaching and conducting research and extension programs. In his spare time. Leonardo enjoys outdoor sport activities such as hiking, soccer, basketball, volleyball and kayaking.
CARLA SOSA | INDUSTRY RELATIONS MANAGER
Carla joined the NMB in 2013 as the Marketing Intern where she was responsible for creating brand awareness through the increase of followers throughout the different social media sites by sharing valuable mango information. After her internship with the NMB, Carla interned at the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund where she worked in marketing and communications. She rejoined the NMB team in 2014 as the Industry Relations Assistant and was then promoted to Industry Relations Specialist where she is responsible for organizing and coordinating special events on behalf of the Industry Relations Department.
Carla received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from the University of Central Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys running outdoors, playing tennis and crafting.
WANDA RAMOS | RESEARCH ASSISTANT
Wanda joined the NMB in 2009 as an entry level office clerk, supporting the Operations Department and staff for specific projects. In 2012, Wanda transitioned into the Research Department as the Research Assistant where she is responsible with the logistics of projects as well as the processing of reports. Prior to the NMB, Wanda worked in the retail industry as a sale’s professional and customer service clerk. In her spare time, Wanda enjoys volunteering in her community and spending time with her family. She also enjoyed being a host of a radio show.