Cultural Embrace

This year’s Outstanding Latino Visionaries of Key Biscayne share how their culture and heritage has helped shape their careers, philanthropic pursuits, world view and dreams for the future.
Words // Bianca Sproul | Photos // Edward Leal | August 28, 2023 | People

Best Life

Although Morgan Duzoglou-Mariotti didn’t always know she was destined to be a Certified Professional Life Coach, her entrepreneurial spirit, diverse career quests and life experiences ignited her mission to help others realize their full potential. As a Songwriter, Author, Owner of a martial arts academy and 5th Degree Black Belt Sensei, she used her gift of words and teaching to publish Life Quest: A Transformational Journey. “I’m extremely proud of my background,” she says, referring to her Venezuelan ancestry. “I attribute a lot of who I am today to the strength, values and work ethic of my family members before me.” She reminds others to trust themselves: “If you have the advantage of having a balanced mind, body and soul, there is little that you can’t accomplish.”;

Deliciously Determined

Before landing in Key Biscayne, Peruvian attorney-turned-culinarian Chef Miguel Hernandez launched gastronomic projects in Peru and Chile, including acclaimed Italian restaurant Osteria Convivium and Mercado de Pilar, an immersive food hall experience. His latest venture, The Key Market is a Peruvian deli/bistro offering grab-and-go as well as sit-down dining options for lunch and dinner. In all of his projects, Chef Hernandez supports the OLI Foundation in Peru, which works on development initiatives with a sustainable impact on health, education, environment and empowerment. “To be Latino is to be born with an unbeatable desire to improve, to be driven, to put in the hard work,” he says. “We add dedication and affection to everything that we do.”;

Inspired Storyteller

As an award-winning Children’s Book Author, Journalist & Talent Agent, Lana Montalban infuses her Argentinian heritage within her unique bilingual children’s book, Lullaby: Canción De Cuna. Told from the eyes of a Ukrainian child living under Russian invasion, the book is illustrated by an artist in Kiev, with all proceeds going toward helping children in Ukraine. Montalban believes that the diversity of Latino culture provides a superpower in understanding the differences in others. “In every Latin country we have completely different music, food, words to name the same things, and the list goes on,” she says “Being immersed in the culture opens up your mind to the differences and to being more accepting.” Besides her work as an author, she represents hundreds of actors, models and voiceover artists through her agency Best Florida Talents. Volunteering is also a big part of her life, regularly contributing to orphanages, trap-and-adopt non-profits and the Lighthouse Cottage at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. For the next generation of Latino leaders, she offers some sage advice: “Earn a good education, learn teamwork and find something you’re passionate about,” she says. “And, most importantly: Network!”;

Lifestyle Curator

As the Director of Hispafest and The Bright Foundation, Nubia Abaji is passionate about promoting immigrant and multicultural artists while fostering initiatives for democracy and human rights in Latin America. Hispafest, taking place annually during Hispanic Heritage Month in September and October, celebrates the diversity and cultural roots of many Miami-based and visiting artists. The Bright Foundation offers free cultural activities throughout the year. “The cultural mix of the city has motivated me to exalt the pride of who we are with a level of warmth and closeness that transcends borders,” she says. “It allows us to integrate into a new multicultural reality within this great nation that opened its doors to us.” Having left Venezuela 10 years ago, she feels personally motivated to promote the various immigrant and cultural groups of Miami through the visual arts. “It’s important to never forget your roots,” she says. “Always be proud and honor your contributions.”;;

Crafting Greatness

From developing groundbreaking innovative campaigns as Co-Founder, President & Creative Chairman of Republica Havas to crafting novel beers with The Tank Brewing, Luis Casamayor mixes his culture with every aspect of his professional career. The serial entrepreneur took his marketing experience at Republica Havas and partnered with Tank Brewery founder Carlos Padron to amp up local engagement. “Republica is a multicultural advertising agency specializing in the Latino culture, while the brewery also caters to those who appreciate our culture,” he says. Beer aficionados might notice that Tank Brewery’s selection is a nod to many Miami and Key Biscayne landmarks and -isms — El Farito, La Playita, Freedom Tower and the low-calorie Lo-Ca. “Living as a Latino in the U.S. gives me the opportunity to live life at 200%,” he says. “I get the best of all worlds — 100% of my Latino roots and 100% of the American Dream.”;;