Fernandez elevated to executive vice president for external affairs

In leadership changes at the University announced Wednesday, Rudy Fernandez, chief of staff to President Julio Frenk, was promoted to executive vice president for external affairs and strategic initiatives. Additionally, Raena Wright was also promoted. She is now Vice President for Government Affairs and Community Relations.



President Julio Frenk announced Wednesday that his chief of staff, Rudy Fernandez, has been promoted to executive vice president for external affairs and strategic initiatives, effective immediately.

Raena Wright, who led the University’s advocacy efforts in Tallahassee and Washington, DC, was also promoted to vice president for government affairs and community relations.

Fernandez, who recently assumed responsibility for the office of the board, system-wide communications including UHealth, and dotted line oversight of the athletic department on behalf of the president, is senior vice president of public affairs and communications since June 2017. .

As chief of staff, a role he will continue, Fernandez manages the office of the president, as well as the office of the board of directors, and works with the board of directors and leaders throughout the company to develop and implement implement long-term strategies on behalf of the institution.

“Rudy has earned the trust, respect and confidence of the Board of Directors,” noted Laurie Silvers, Board Chair. “His love for this institution combined with his know-how and experience make him the ideal person to lead external affairs and strategic initiatives. Both as president and as a two-time U alumni, I appreciate his dedication to championing our mission.

Frenk, who in his announcement called Fernandez’s role “unique”, said his chief of staff had “performed in an extraordinary way”. He credited Fernandez with creating the public affairs division “to better coordinate all communications and external relations efforts”, while serving as the University’s chief legislative strategist.

“Rudy demonstrated impeccable judgment and a passion for our mission in all areas of the University’s work,” said Frenk. “He took on these responsibilities with skill, enthusiasm and a results-oriented mindset. We are lucky to have him. »

Prior to joining the University in 2007 as Vice President for Government and Community Relations, Fernandez worked in Washington, D.C., for a decade and held several positions, including Special Assistant to the President at the White House of George W. Bush, and roles in the US Department of Transportation, the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, and the Republican National Committee.

Fernandez holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Miami. He is a member of Iron Arrow and the Orange Bowl Committee.

Wright, who has been with the University for seven years, has served as assistant vice president for government relations and associate vice president for state and federal relations. Prior to joining the University, she held various positions in state government, including as a legislative aide to two Florida State Representatives, an analyst for Atty. General Bill McCollum and Deputy Legislative Assistant to the Florida Senate.

“Like all of us who have worked with Raena, we know she is a strong and effective voice for University interests, with a particular focus on public policy,” Frenk said during the announcement. “As Vice President, she will continue to report directly to Rudy, serving as chief strategist in shaping the University’s government affairs program, including but not limited to education appropriations. , medical school funding, community initiatives and policy issues, as well as advocating for other University priorities.

Wright holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in applied American politics and politics from Florida State University.

As for the board office, the University last month announced the promotion of Frances Marine Davis to board secretary and associate vice president for strategic communications.

Davis, a lawyer and Miami native with nearly two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including higher education, has been in charge of presidential communications since joining the University in 2019. In her new role, Davis reports jointly to the Trustees board and to Fernandez. She previously worked at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia, where she oversaw both presidential communications and legal affairs.

In Davis’ previous roles, she served as director of communications at the Florida Department of Education and speechwriter for then-Governor Jeb Bush. She has also served as Director of Florida Public Affairs for FEMA and Senior Policy Advisor for Public Affairs at the US Department of State. A member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia, she earned a law degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a bachelor’s degree in social science from Florida State University.




Shirlene J. Manley