Our Team

ImageDr. Howard Frank is the Director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center and joined the FIU Public Policy and Administration Department in 1988. During his 30 years at FIU, Professor Frank has held several administrative positions, including Director of the Institute of Government. He has written or edited three books, and numerous journal articles and research monographs including articles in collaboration with others and focused on public administration and macroeconomic issues, municipal capital investment, retirement and pensions, homeland security financing and the economic crisis of 2008.

From 2004 to 2018, Professor Frank served as Academic Director of the Washington Mandela Fellows Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. He has been Director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center since 2010 and Chair of the Public Policy and Administration Department from 2013 to 2021. Professor Frank views the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center as an anchor for informed policymaking throughout Southeast Florida. He has been active in the Center’s Training Institute.

Dr. Frank has taught and mentored many of the area’s leaders and has provided policy guidance to several area agencies, including South Florida Workforce, the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the Ann Storck Center, and the Miami-Dade Housing Finance Agency. Recent studies and research efforts include Resilient 305 Building Prosperity Collaborative, Covid at the Two-Year Mark: Taking Stock of the Economic Trajectory policy briefing, Labor Force Participation: A Major Obstacle to Rebuilding the Post-Covid-19 Economy, the Transportation Landscape of South Florida (2017), etc.
Professor Frank earned his Ph.D. from Florida State University and has lived in Florida since 1982.

Phone: (954) 438-8613
Email: howardf@fiu.edu

ImageDr. Maria Ilcheva, Research Professor, Associate Director of Planning and Operations serves as a subject matter expert in data analytics and behavioral research. Over the last fifteen years, she has worked on various economic development, social and behavioral projects, which examine quality of life issues through community indicators such as education, transportation, economic opportunity and resilience. Most of the projects she leads include comprehensive data analysis and community engagement. Some of her recent research projects include the 2020 Miami-Dade County Community Needs Assessment, the Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Sector in Miami-Dade County, Make It Miami Manufacturing Report, Small Business, Big Impact, and the Miami-Dade Status of Women reports.

Dr. Ilcheva leads the Census Information Center at the Metropolitan Center, one of 59 such centers established by the U.S. Census Bureau for the dissemination of information and data produced by the Census Bureau to underserved communities.

Dr. Ilcheva is an instructor at FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs specializing in Russian politics, European politics, comparative politics, international relations and research methods. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations from Florida International University.

Phone: (954) 438-8352
Email: milcheva@fiu.edu

ImageDr. Ned Murray, AICP, Associate Director is a leading expert on economic and housing market issues in South Florida. He has authored many of the landmark affordable housing needs studies including the leading studies for Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Monroe Counties. He was also the Principal Investigator on the Broward County Housing Linkage Fee Nexus Study and Rental Housing Study for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Dr. Murray has recently completed and presented Housing Market Update and Municipal Scorecard studies for Palm Beach and Broward Counties and the South Florida Workforce Housing Needs Assessment. Dr. Murray developed the “Municipal Scorecard for Affordable Housing Delivery©” model which was used to evaluate affordable housing performance in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

Dr. Murray also has over twenty years of professional urban planning experience, including 12 years as a former Director of Planning and Development in Massachusetts. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Murray has authored and presented numerous papers on economic development, affordable housing and urban planning, including articles published in Economic Development Quarterly (EDQ), the Economic Development Journal, the Journal of Public Affairs Education and the Council for Urban Economic Development’s Commentary.

Phone: (954) 438-8603
Email: murrayn@fiu.edu

Image Britney Broxton, Research Analyst, is a double FIU graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Arts double major in English with a concentration in Linguistics and Public Policy and Service and two undergraduate certificates in Leadership Studies and Professional and Public Writing in 2022. Britney finished her Master of Public Administration with a certificate in Homeland Security and Emergency Management through FIUs Accelerated BPPS/MPA Degree Pathways program in 2023. She holds memberships in Pi Alpha Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa.

At the Center, she has assisted in the development of several gender equity reports for the City of Miramar, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County by collecting data, writing, editing, and designing data visualizations. Her focus on gender equity has continued into two other studies on local government efforts for the elimination of gender disparities and the motherhood penalty. Britney also assists in the facilitation of interviews, focus groups, and in-person outreach for various projects. Her current position is supported by her past experiences as an undergraduate writing tutor at FIU's Center for Excellence in Writing and as an intern for the US Office of Personnel Management.

Email: bbroxton@fiu.edu

ImageVictoria Lerma, Research Specialist assists Primary Investigators in coordinating research activities as well as preparation and dissemination of research reports to stakeholders including local government officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations. She is a three-time FIU graduate with master's degrees in Business Administration and Political Science as well as a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science. She has also completed the Google Data Analytics Certificate.

Her experience includes economic development and housing studies for various South Florida counties including the Miami-Dade Workforce Housing Needs Assessment, as well as market research and quality assurance including secret shops at Miami International Airport and Miami-Dade County’s 311 information line. Furthermore, Ms. Lerma has experience with focus groups and surveys with both young and adult residents of Miami-Dade County. Ms. Lerma is a previous small business owner with experience working with companies in Brazil, Spain and Italy. She speaks Spanish, English and Italian.

Phone: (954) 438-8655
Email: vlerma@fiu.edu

Image Lilliam Jarquín, Research and Outreach Coordinator assists Primary Investigators in coordinating research activities and preparing research reports as well as overseeing the Center’s digital marketing efforts, such as managing all social media outlets and updating the Center’s website with news features and original content. She has experience conducting quality assurance research, community outreach and engagement, conducting focus groups, survey development and interviewing, and creating data visualizations for the Center. Some recent projects Lilliam has worked on include the United Way Veterans Housing Needs Assessment, Advancing Cities-Resilient 305: Lessons Learned at the Three-Year Mark, and the City of Boynton Beach Community Needs Assessment.

Lilliam is a two-time FIU graduate, with a Bachelor’s in International Relations and Political Science, and certificates in Latin American and Caribbean studies and National Security studies. She also holds a Master’s in Global Affairs where she successfully defended her capstone presentation, an analysis of cross-sector partnerships through corporate social responsibility investment opportunities.

Lilliam is a native Miamian, fluent in Spanish, with a professional background ranging from nonprofit grant management, to general operations management, to customer service. She enjoys spending her free time binge watching true crime documentaries with her four-year-old mackerel tabby.

Phone: (954) 438-8656
Email: jarquinl@fiu.edu

ImageAlexander Almanzar, Research Coordinator leads the research team in much of the Center’s data collection and analysis efforts. He has a background in political science and legal studies with a B.A. from Florida Gulf Coast University. Since joining the Metropolitan Center, he has conducted research initiatives dealing with affordable housing, economic development, and racial/ethnic equity. Much of his research prior to coming to FIU focused on civil rights, elections, representation, and the American legal system. Having worked for law firms, immigration offices, private businesses, and public institutions, Alex brings an open and adaptable mindset to every endeavor that The Center undertakes.

As The Metropolitan Center’s research coordinator, Alex helps develop conceptual and strategic approaches for the various data challenges the Metro Center tackles in its projects. Some recent projects Alex has been a part of include the Boynton Beach Community Needs Assessment, the Broward Equity Studies, and the Broward County Housing Needs Assessment. Alex has experience in extensive primary data collection like surveying and interviewing, secondary data collection / analysis, narrative development, and GIS analysis.

Having spent most of his life in the South Florida region, Alex speaks fluent Spanish and is immersed in the culture and policy issues endemic to the region. In his free time, he enjoys reading, catching up on shows, and thrifting.

Email: aalmanza@fiu.edu

ImageFola Orindare, Office Manager has been with FIU since 2015. She is the Office Manager for the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center where she provides day-to-day administrative and operations support for the center. She has held office support positions at the FIU Small Business Development Center team as well as the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus library. Prior to joining FIU, she worked in the call center industry for several years with extensive background in customer service, operations management, human resource management as well as budget and finance administration.

She was born, raised, and educated in Nigeria. Fola has a Bachelor’s degree in English and professional certification in project management and human resources.

Phone: (954) 438-8657
Email: oorindar@fiu.edu


ImageDr. Yongqing (Carrie) Cong, Research Assistant Professor, facilitates the data analysis for various projects at the Metropolitan Center. Currently, she is dedicated to the development of algorithms for Hispanic and gender identification, which promises to enhance the data analysis of forthcoming projects. In parallel, she is initiating innovative methods for presenting analysis results and visualizations, ushering in the latest data analysis technology, tailored for practitioners. Dr. Cong holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from Florida International University. She has authored several influential journal articles and presented numerous papers at professional conferences, with a focus on public pension reforms and public finance. Dr. Cong is also a recent graduate of FIU, having attained a master's degree in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, specializing in the business analytics track. Her mastery encompasses data analysis using Python and R, data visualization with Tableau, data management with SQL, big data analysis, and machine learning. Dr. Cong is a previous Assistant Professor of Public Administration at Jilin University, one of China's top 10 universities. She offered a spectrum of courses, spanning from Introduction to Public Administration, Public Finance, to Principles of Economics, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Cong also served as an instructor at FIU, teaching Applied Statistics for Policy and Management and Applied Research Methods.

Email: ycong@fiu.edu

Graduate Assistants


Research Assistants

ImageKezia Moros-Achong, Research Assistant, is a graduate of FIU Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs' Master of Arts Global Affairs program with an International Crime and Justice track. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clark University and an Associate of Arts from Broward College. Kezia believes in the power of understanding the past and how studying its global effects can help future generations.

Previously Kezia has worked with FIU Law’s Balanced Justice Project as a Legal Research Intern and Miami Dade County Public School Board District 9 Member Luisa Santos in her Office Fellowship as a People Operations Team Co-Lead.

Email: kmorosac@fiu.edu

Antwan Kelly, Research Assistant.

Email: akelly@fiu.edu

ImageAndrea Sandoval Perez, Research Assistant, is a current senior undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Sociology and Latin American & Caribbean Studies at FIU. She is passionate about using social research to improve opportunities in disadvantaged communities and aspires to have a career in applied research.

Andrea has roots in Mexico and is interested in border communities, Latin American migration, and urban sociology. On her free time, she enjoys reading and watching football (soccer).

Email: andsando@fiu.edu