The Board of Directors is comprised of community members who possess the expertise in areas of business, education, law, school management and governance to effectively manage the corporation.   These professionals are responsible for establishing policies consistent with the schools’ mission. They ensure that the schools’ educational programs and operations follow all statutory and regulatory requirements. Below is a brief overview of each member’s background and contribution through service as a board member.

Rene F. Ruiz, Esq.
Governing Board Chair and President

Rene Ruiz co-founded Sports Leadership Arts and Management Academy Charter School in Miami.
He serves as the corporation’s board chair and president. As such, he helps direct the schools’ growing list of corporate partnerships and supports SLAM’s of its successful model throughout the country.

Mr. Ruiz is a shareholder at the law firm of Stearns Weaver Miller, and is a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. Mr. Ruiz has been honing his craft as a labor and employment attorney in Miami since his admission to the Florida Bar in 2001, at the age of 23.

While in law school, Rene interned with the Honorable Stephen T. Brown and the Honorable Ted E. Bandstra in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Rene also served on the Editorial Board of the University of Miami Law Review.

In 2007, Mr. Ruiz was first included in The Best Lawyers in America as an associate lawyer (one of the very few attorneys to do so in the history of the prestigious publication). The following year, he was voted into partnership at the age of 30.

Mr. Ruiz partners with private and public sector employers to formulate winning strategies for achieving effective labor relations and other business goals. He also litigates wage and hour disputes, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower and harassment cases, and matters arising under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   

Joseph A.“Tony” Mesa, III, Esq.
Governing Board Vice Chair and Vice President

Joseph A. “Tony” Mesa III is the founder and managing member of Mesa Law Firm in Miami, Florida. Mr. Mesa attended Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C., and earned his Juris Doctorate in 2002. Prior to attending Georgetown, he attended Florida International University where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and was a graduate of the university’s Honors College.

Following graduation from Georgetown, Tony worked as an associate in the litigation and trial practice of one of these firms where he gained extensive experience in the area of complex commercial litigation. After several years in practice at this prominent firm, Tony founded Mesa Law Firm. Although he still handles select commercial matters, Mr. Mesa now concentrates his practice on personal injury and wrongful death litigation. Tony has achieved many notable victories for his clients.

Mr. Mesa has been selected for inclusion as a “Rising Star” by Florida Super Lawyers from 2011 – 2017. No more than 2.5% of lawyers in Florida are named to this list. He has also been selected for inclusion as a Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend Magazine from 2010 – 2020 (as an “Up & Comer” from 2010 – 2013 and as a “Legal Elite” from 2014 – 2020). Further, Mr. Mesa. is rated “AV Preeminent” by the prestigious publication Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating available for legal ability and professional ethics.

Throughout his professional career, Mr. Mesa has always placed great importance on community involvement. From his service on the United Way of Miami Dade Board of Trustees and as a United Way of Miami-Dade Young Leader, to his pro bono legal services for Habitat for Humanity, he has made community work part of his mission.

Mr. Mesa considers some of his most important community involvement to be his work as Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for SLAM. As a result of his work and dedication, SLAM has been able to expand throughout the country.

Alina Riveron Lopez
Governing Board Member and Secretary

Alina Riveron Lopez has been in the field of Education since 1999.  She holds a B.A. from Florida International University in Psychology, M.S. from Nova Southeastern University in Elementary Education and an Educational Leadership Certificate from Florida International University. She began her teaching career as an Elementary teacher at Doral Academy Charter School in 1999. She taught for seven years in the public charter school system prior to her first administrative position at Mater Academy East Charter School as an Assistant Principal. While an administrator at Mater Academy East, Ms. Lopez also received her first appointment as Principal of Theodore R. & Thelma A. Gibson Charter School in 2007. In the 2007-2008 school year, she assisted in opening Mater Academy East Charter High School and transitioned from an elementary administrator to a middle and high school administrator. Later in 2009, she had the opportunity to return to Doral Academy Charter Middle and High School, where she had started her teaching career, as an assistant principal.

In 2011, Ms. Lopez was named Principal of Doral Academy of Technology (DAT). During her tenure, she helped develop and implement an innovative and challenging curriculum which focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program included advanced and pre-AP courses in the core and content areas and electives in computer engineering, computer programming, robotics, and video game design. The students competed and placed State and National math and science competitions like Future City and First Lego League. In the 2011-2012 school year, Doral Academy of Technology was ranked the top performing middle school in the State of Florida and has continued to be one of the top performing schools in Florida.
In 2015, Ms. Lopez was named principal of Somerset South Homestead, a charter school in Florida serving student in grades 6-12. By 2019 she was responsible for the program’s expansion to three additional charter schools in Homestead. She is experienced in building a school culture where teachers and staff believe that every individual student is unique and can attain academic success. As a highly effective school leader, Ms. Lopez contributes her expertise in the areas of budgeting, marketing, curriculum and school operations. Serving on the SLAM local school’s boards since its inception, Ms. Lopez is a board member who understands the unique needs of the communities SLAM serves.

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