By Nancy Dahlberg
Felice Gorordo announced today he is stepping down as CEO of eMerge Americas to take on a role at World Bank. However, the transition will be a smooth one: He will hand the reins to Melissa Medina, the co-founder and president of the technology organization.
Gorordo, who has held the CEO post for five years, will be the U.S. Alternate Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He was nominated by President Joe Biden for the position and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a two-year terms. He will also be on the board of the World Bank. Gorordo previously held posts in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve and work alongside Manny and Melissa Medina over the last five years in helping build out our tech ecosystem,” Gorordo said in a statement. “Together with our partners, I believe we have forever changed the course of history of South Florida and undoubtedly established it as a global hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. I’m more bullish than ever on what the future has in store for eMerge, and excited to see Melissa take our platform and ecosystem to the next level.”
Medina takes over after having worked side by side with Gorordo for the past five years, and she has been involved in the leadership of eMerge since day one, when her father, serial tech entrepreneur Manny Medina, founded the organization and together they launched the first eMerge Americas conference in 2014. At the time, Miami was not known for tech, and Manny Medina said he wanted the conference to help put Miami on the map among tech hubs, alongside Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, and also become a leading tech hub for the Americas.
It’s an understatement to say the Miami metro area has made great strides since then toward that goal, ranking number 23 in the world in this year’s ecosystem report by Startup Genome. That work started by eMerge Americas, Knight Foundation, Refresh Miami, Endeavor Miami and other organizations a decade ago was of course super-charged by the great migration of funders and founders during the pandemic recruited and welcomed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and his Venture Miami team.
In her new role as CEO, Melissa Medina builds upon the eMerge Americas mission of creating a diverse, inclusive and “uniquely Miami” tech ecosystem as the organization continues to propel South Florida’s tech innovation and facilitate connections between investors, corporate executives, government leaders and entrepreneurs.
“Today is a bittersweet day for me in that the reality has hit that the day to day work with the most incredible business partner comes to an end, but I will take all that Felice and I have done together and use that as a driving force to continue to build something I am incredibly passionate about,” said Medina.
The eMerge Americas conference itself has grown every year, from 6,000 attendees that first year to more than 20,000 at the 2023 conference in April. What’s more, in the past five years under Gorordo and Medina, eMerge has grown into a year-round platform that also offers new investor summits, startup pitch competitions, innovation challenges, hackathons, roadshows, masterclasses, webinars and other events. eMerge also launched and established the “eMerge Insights” reports that track venture activity and trends and the “eMerge Membership Program” to help deepen networks among founders and investors.
“Next year marks a very special year for us at eMerge as we celebrate 10 years and my commitment to the eMerge team and community is to make it the most meaningful year ever. We have so much to celebrate – not only a decade of the work eMerge has done, but a decade of exponential growth and expansion throughout our entire ecosystem,” Medina continued. “I am here for all of it and am excited for what the future holds.”
Diane Vidoni will remain Chief Operating Officer and oversee the ongoing business operations of the company, expanded growth opportunities and overall event planning. The 10th anniversary eMerge Americas conference will be held during Miami Tech Month on April 18 – 19, 2024, at the Miami Convention Center.
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on X @ndahlberg and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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