Key Players

Meet the people who are shaping the future of the communities they live in while inspiring everyone they meet along the way. Though their stories are all different and their backgrounds, histories, hopes and dreams vary, the one thing each has in common is a passion for what they do and their ability to see past themselves for the benefit of others. In the following pages, you’ll meet this issue’s Key Players and get a brief glimpse into their lives. If you happen to run into one of them during your daily routine, take a moment to salute them. They’ve earned it.

Top Toque

“We analyze every dish to see how we can improve it; my sous chefs and I collaborate a great deal on our menus.”

Executive Chef Michael Gilligan has been experimenting with food his whole life. “I used to sit in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked,” he recalls of his early years. “She would give me pieces of dough to play with and I would make them into gingerbread men shapes. Soon, I noticed that after she baked them, they didn’t taste sweet enough, so I sprinkled sugar on them before they went into the oven and added cherries for eyes.” He’s come a great distance from his mother’s kitchen, but still has the creative spark and the willingness to change anything that doesn’t please his palate. In his element at The Rusty Pelican, the Head Chef makes a point of overseeing the creation of each menu item, explaining, “We question everything that we are doing, and strive to be the best for our diners.”

Quick Facts
Childhood traits served him well: “I was a stubborn kid and I never gave up on anything — some things never change!”

In his fridge: “Blue Moon.”

At home, he’s a character: “My daughters’ friends all think that I’m Mr. Noodle.”

Text: Cristina Zuazua; Photo: Chantal Lawrie

Michael Gilligan is the Executive Chef at The Rusty Pelican; 3201 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne; 305.361.3818;

Avid Creator

“Fashion in all its forms has always been my passion; striving to make each event the best possible has always been the ultimate challenge.”

The world is made up of many forms of art, and no one understands this better than Ashly Alvarez, Production Director & Freelance Hairstylist at Ashly’s Hands. “For me, style has always been the key — be it hair, fashion or choreography,” she says. “Production directing combines all this and more, and when I came to that realization, the beast was born!” Since beginning her career in hairstyling, Alvarez has branched out to organizing events, which enables her to use her design skills in a variety of ways. “It’s like putting on a play,” she explains. “After all the coordination, seeing an event come together is like seeing the curtain come up on a show, and I love seeing the end result!” Her view of the future is clear: She wants to continue innovating in the event planning arena while providing unique experiences for her clients.

Quick Facts
When she’s off the clock: “I go dancing — it’s a great way to blow off steam!”

She always perseveres: “I was incredibly stubborn as a child, and that has stayed with me…and benefitted me when it comes to my career!”

Her words of wisdom: “Never leave room for a gray area!”

Best (and worst) habit: “Being a perfectionist…it’s a double-edged sword, but I always want to know things are done right.”

Text: Cristina Zuazua; Photo: Chantal Lawrie

Ashly Alvarez is a Production Director & Hairstylist at Ashly’s Hands; 954.699.5576;

Graphic Identity

“We care for our clients’ brand identity and work together with them to achieve their goals.”

For Martha Duran, President of creative powerhouse Allied International, Inc., innovation is the key to her design philosophy. “I love working closely with our clients to define their needs is the first step,” she says. “The fun part is translating our concepts into concrete results that give our customers the graphic identity needed to differentiate themselves in competitive markets.” But her artistic streak doesn’t stop there…for the past 3 years, she’s also been involved, along with longtime friend and partner, Tita Navia, in Mishky, a Colombian jewelry company that was born with the goal of helping single mothers care for their children while being able to work from home. Duran sums it up by saying, “I love what I do on both fronts — and there’s always been more to business than simply earning a living.”
Quick Facts
Caffeine in her veins: “I drink way too much coffee — it keeps me going!”

If she weren’t running her own company… “I’d be traveling in search of new ideas and trends for my jewelry line.”

Guilty pleasure: “Sleeping late on weekends.”

Text: Cristina Zuazua; Photo: Chantal Lawrie

Martha Duran is President of Allied Int’l, Inc.; 247 SW 8 St., Ste. 405; 786.395.7299; &