Meet The Team

We are a team of marketing professionals, communication specialists, designers, creators and filmmakers coming together as a whole to serve you.

Valerie Ciudad-Real

President | Chief Executive Officer

As president of The Valerin Group, Valerie offers an authentic and refreshing approach to client relations, marketing and communications services. Each member of her carefully selected team possesses a wide range of knowledge and expertise, making Valerin extremely versatile in its service offerings and highly capable of achieving the client’s desired goals and outcomes. Valerie guides the firm’s mission, vision and values by promoting a high standard of excellence, and is actively engaged with and supportive of her team, facilitating creativity and collaboration. With more than 29 years of experience in public relations, marketing, and project management, Valerie realizes the importance of effective community outreach and the power of public participation in ensuring project success. Conscientious, diligent, and genuinely committed to integrity and positive outcomes, Valerie will stick with “Plan A”, and continue in her award-winning role as leading lady of a dynamic team!
Plan B: Actress

William Ciudad-Real, PE

Chief Operating Officer | Senior Business Consultant

William is a strategic, results-oriented professional with over 30 years of AEC industry experience. Through situational analyses and open lines of communication, William guides and facilitates the assessment of organizational strengths and weaknesses; helps to refine goals and objectives; and identifies ways to effectively leverage and maximize relationships, resources and opportunities in helping clients to achieve their organizational goals. Until William opts to pursue “Plan B”, we are confident that he will continue to champion Valerin’s mission by keeping client projects on track to the finish!

Plan B: Race Car Driver

Chuck Thompson

Creative Director

Over the course of his 34+ year career in marketing and graphic design, Chuck has earned multiple gold and silver Addy awards, as well as a Clio award, for his design work. He specializes in both traditional and non-traditional media and has served as creative director and project manager throughout his career. Chuck has a proven track record of success in creating marketing strategies that effectively connect client messages with target audiences through the incorporation of a variety of graphic elements to achieve effective project designs. Chuck’s vast experience and knowledge has taken us to new depths in graphic design and we are happy to report that he has opted for “Plan A”!

Plan B: Scuba Instructor on the Great Barrier Reef

Angel Streeter Gardner

Community Outreach Manager South Florida

Angel is an established communications professional experienced in community outreach and public involvement. Having worked on major infrastructure projects, Angel is adept at providing public information, serving as a media spokesperson and engaging with stakeholders. She is well versed in developing and implementing community awareness plans, organizing public meetings and developing project-specific collateral materials. As a former newspaper reporter, Angel has substantial experience working with public sector entities, community organizations, special interest groups, elected officials and the general public.

Plan B: Best-selling author

Nanea Marcial

Public Relations Specialist | Governmental Affairs

Nanea is a versatile, bilingual communications professional with over 17 years of government affairs and public relations experience in both the public and private sectors. As chief of staff to several members of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives, Nanea oversaw legislative and budget programs at the state and local levels, handled bilingual media and press communications, and consulted on policy and public relations strategies regarding statewide issues. Currently, Nanea serves as community outreach specialist on state and municipal infrastructure, transportation, and planning projects and while she could be on stage realizing her “Plan B”, we are happy that she is using her poise, natural grace, language and choreography skills in connecting Valerin’s clients with their communities!
Plan B: World Famous Flamenco Dancer

Erin Kleinfelt

Communications | Marketing Specialist

Erin Kleinfelt is an experienced public relations, marketing and public affairs professional whose background and experience includes marketing and public relations programming, copy and creative content development, graphic design, and public speaking (as both a trainer and presenter). She has served as a public relations manager for construction and engineering firms and led development of marketing strategies and implementation in print, online and social media. Erin is also experienced with crisis communications and public affairs, having spent time as a public information officer representing the American Red Cross. We are excited for Erin to write her story here at Valerin instead of her “Plan B”!

Plan B: Lifestyle Blogger

Sean McCarty

Communications Specialist

Sean joins Valerin after spending almost a decade in the hospitality industry. Throughout his career he has held multiple management positions with a focus on customer service. He also was responsible for designing, developing and maintaining standard operating procedures as well as training staff members to exceed company expectations. It is his attention to detail and ability to communicate effectively with customers and clients that will be invaluable in his role of community outreach specialist. Sean is a graduate of the University of Florida where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. During his time in hospitality, Sean has grown to be an avid foodie with dreams of becoming a traveling food critic but, until he’s ready to hit the road, we think he has all the right ingredients as a five-star communications professional.

Plan B: International Food Critic

Jim Larsen

Senior Multimedia | Communications Specialist

Jim brings over 40 years of experience in the communications field with special skills to visually support Valerin’s clients’ marketing and public outreach needs. He is an accomplished communicator with strong interpersonal, organizational,  problem-solving, research and writing talents. As a former  television journalist in the Tampa Bay area, Jim spent two decades as an on-air reporter covering headline stories, but his passion has always been behind the camera. He received his training at Florida State University’s film school, and has directed, filmed, produced, supervised, and managed video production projects throughout the state of Florida and the nation. Jim has a unique talent of creating a vision by capturing powerful images that tell our client’s story. His philosophy is always about helping our clients reach their goals by weaving together moving pictures, words, and sound and shaping them into compelling videos that inspire people to act. Most recently, Jim directed “The Skyway Bridge Disaster,” a 60-minute documentary centered on Tampa’s 1980 bridge collapse (now available to rent on Amazon Prime). He also served as a cinematographer for the project. Jim is a Silver Telly award-winner and member of the prestigious Silver Council and has been nationally recognized for  his outstanding creative talents for a variety of videos, special projects, documentaries, public service announcements, and corporate and promotional presentations. Jim’s Plan B is to travel around the world as a professional poker player playing cards at some of the most lavish casinos in the world, but for right now he is “all in” with Valerin!

Plan B: Professional Poker Player

David Herrera

Marketing Coordinator

David brings over three years of marketing experience in the AEC industry. His expertise includes proposal coordination and development, graphic design, social media management, event planning, and copywriting. David is bilingual and helps engage members of the Spanish-speaking community by providing verbal and written translations of various communications materials. He is a graduate of Aurora University, where he was a distance runner on the track and cross country team, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. In his free time, David can be found enjoying nature, whether by playing disc golf at a park, sand volleyball, or at the beach surfing.

Plan B: Professional Athlete

Cynthia McGrail

South Florida Regional Director | Marketing & Business Development

Cynthia brings over 25 years of strategic communications, marketing and media expertise to Valerin. A natural collaborator and connector, Cynthia’s commitment to improving our communities guides her daily work with clients, stakeholders and colleagues. As the Director of Incite Austin, she led an award-winning team that produced hundreds of high impact, public awareness and behavior change campaigns for government and non-profit clients in transportation, healthcare, utilities and education. In her most recent role, Cynthia led marketing and public relations for transportation technology firm Metropia, Inc. and market launches for their mobile app (Metropia) that incentivizes travelers to engage in a variety of mobility options to help reduce traffic congestion in their communities. Cynthia loves to travel and explore destinations near and far and with Valerin projects throughout the state, we can help Cynthia achieve her Plan “B” too!

Plan B: Freelance Travel Writer

Nicole Hawker

Director of Public Relations | Communications Strategist

Nicole is a seasoned communications professional with more than 18 years of experience in the areas of strategic communications, crisis management and public affairs. Her expertise in public information and public engagement spans several industries including water resources, transportation, utilities, infrastructure and real estate development. She has worked with engineering and construction firms, as well as government agencies on projects throughout the state of Florida, guiding strategic public outreach efforts during feasibility studies, siting, permitting and construction. Active in the community, Nicole is an alumnus of Leadership Tampa Bay’s Class of 2007 and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Tampa Class of 2017. Currently, she serves on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Tampa Alumni Marketing Committee and is a volunteer swim coach with Tampa Elite Aquatics.
Plan B: Professional Triathlete

Alice Ramos

Community Outreach Manager Central Florida

Alice is a seasoned communications professional with over 20 years of experience in developing communications and outreach plans, creating and distributing collateral materials, and coordinating and conducting public meetings and special events. Alice is bilingual in English and Spanish and is an accomplished Spanish interpreter. She provides translation services in both verbal and written forms, using her communication skills to broaden and enhance public reach. Valerin is happy that Alice decided to camp out with our team rather than going with her “Plan B”; the journey has been amazing!

Plan B: Full-Time RV’er

Justina Hicklyn

Senior Communications Specialist

As a public engagement, marketing and community outreach professional, Justina has served as a communications manager for a variety of public utilities and transportation projects for clients including municipalities, counties and state agencies. Justina’s professional experience includes marketing, communications and social media planning; copy and website content development; and event coordination. In addition, she was an operations / community outreach volunteer for the Florida House of Representatives, District 84, working with the State Representative, Legislative Aide and Legislative Secretary. Currently, Justina is providing outreach support as a community outreach specialist for FDOT Broward Operations through Valerin’s Districtwide Public Communications for Construction Projects contract in south Florida. Justina is a graduate of Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. While Justina has her sights set on farming, Valerin and its clients are “sow” fortunate to have such an expert in the “field” of harvesting happy stakeholders!

Plan B: Farmer

Eric Trull

Communications | Marketing Specialist

Eric is an experienced marketing and outreach professional with nearly a decade of experience including project management, public speaking, outreach, and engagement and specializing in digital communications. Working in mobility and municipal program operations, he was one of the first in the country to launch and operate large scale smart-mobility systems that have since led to the shared transportation revolution seen in cities across the globe. With his background spanning marketing, planning, and design, Eric is committed to “people-first design”, making communities accessible and enjoyable for all, and his communication tactics echo this philosophy. His work has been recognized in the past, including accolades such as the Transportation Professional of the Year and Bike Advocate of the Year, awarded by the Tampa Bay Institute of Transportation Engineers and Bike/Walk Tampa, respectively. While Eric’s incessant curiosity often leads him to research a variety of subjects, Valerin is thrilled he has chosen to focus his interests and reign in his “Plan B” for the time being!

Plan B: Edutainment Personality

Carlos Garcia

Communications Specialist

Carlos’ professional experience includes providing public relations, community outreach, Spanish translations and project management support for transportation and public infrastructure projects. Most recently, he worked as a consultant for the Florida Power and Light Storm-Secure Underground Pilot Program and was responsible for providing communications and outreach, data management and planning support for construction projects. He has also served as a subconsultant for FDOT Districts Four and Six providing public involvement and community outreach support for planning and design projects. Carlos is a graduate of Miami-Dade College and obtained his master’s in management from St. Thomas University. Outside of work, Carlos enjoys traveling and trying out new eateries. Carlos’ Plan B is to be a Professional Chef, but for now, we are excited to have such a skilled person “cooking” up great work at Valerin!

Plan B: Professional Chef

Dakota Larsen

Multimedia Specialist | Videographer

As a gifted multimedia specialist and videographer, Dakota brings her creative vision and expertise to the Valerin team through video production including research, script writing, filming, and editing to visually support our clients marketing and communications needs. Dakota has a keen eye for capturing just the right image for videos, social media efforts, video brochures, newsletters, and marketing and promotional material. During her career, Dakota has been involved in producing videos ranging from 30 second spots for a national campaign on Alzheimer’s to videos for the Department of Homeland Security. She also was the cinematographer and editor for “The Skyway Bridge Disaster,” a 60-minute documentary that centered on Tampa’s 1980 bridge collapse. Dakota is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Multimedia Studies. While her lifelong dream is to be the next “Amy Heckerling,” director of such classics as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Clueless” we are happy as she “lens” us her services for the time being and puts her Plan B on hold.

Plan B: Film Director

Braedon Lynn

Multimedia Specialist

Braedon is a versatile multimedia specialist with an expansive skillset, from web design, storyboarding, and video production, to VFX compositing, journalism, and audio engineering, all with the goal of ensuring clients receive a high-quality product. With his background in Integrated Public Relations and Advertising from the University of South Florida’s Zimmerman School of Mass Communications, he pursues a goal to aid and inspire those to create and publish only the best materials possible. Outside of his studies and work, Braedon enjoys photography, cinematography and music production. Braedon’s Plan B is to be an award-winning cinematographer and film producer, but in the meantime, we are delighted to have a person so talented with a “grip” in this field!

Plan B: Cinematographer / Film Producer

Cyndi Raskin

Central Florida Regional Director | Marketing & Communications

Cyndi is a storyteller and critical thinker who brings over 25 years of strategic communications, brand development, marketing, media relations and transit leadership experience to the Valerin team.  During her career, she spent over 20 years with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), ultimately leading the Authority’s strategic communications and marketing team. Most recently, as the Director of Commuter Services for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA), she rebuilt the Commute Tampa Bay program, which encourages commuters to choose an alternative to driving alone.  Cyndi is a graduate of Leadership Pinellas, holds a Post-Crisis Leadership Certificate from the USF Muma College of Business, and recently received the 2020 FDOT Travel Choices Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the public transit industry in Florida. She is a graduate of St. Petersburg College where she received an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration/Marketing and an Associate of Arts degree. Cyndi also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities/Literature from Eckerd College. Although Cyndi’s Plan B is to rule Etsy with her own Arts & Crafts Shop, Valerin is happy to have her “glue gun” skills and “crafty” creative instincts to help develop inspiring and engaging public outreach and marketing initiatives for our clients.
Plan B: Craft Queen

Mandee Steele

Director of Strategic Communications | External Affairs

Mandee Steele is a creative and multifaceted business executive and communications professional with a robust career spanning over 20 years. With a strong passion for people, Mandee never meets a stranger and thrives on developing valuable relationships in the private and public sectors. During her career, she has worked in an array of unique fields and industries, including serving as the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s (PSTA) Director of Corporate Partnerships. Mandee excels in strategic communications, external affairs, business development and government relations. She is also an IMDB accredited media talent and has worked for clients such as HSN and Disney. Mandee has extensive experience with on-air media, television, media production and commercial broadcast. She is also a talented voice over artist.

In her free time, Mandee loves traveling and hiking through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. Mandee’s Plan B is to become a country music star, but do not “fret”, Valerin is glad to have her on our team “striking a chord” with the public and private sectors until she can achieve her dream.

Plan B: Country Music Artist

Sandra Mancil, APR

Senior Communications Specialist

Sandra is a highly skilled public relations professional with more than 20 years of experience in providing public information and outreach support. She serves as an effective client representative in communicating with and responding to stakeholder and media inquiries and is committed to delivering results that increase public awareness. Sandra’s genuineness allows her to establish and maintain a positive interface with members of the media and the public and we are pleased to announce that she is not going to pursue her “Plan B”, but rather, has become a part of Valerin’s huddle as a true team player!

Plan B: Sports Photographer

Kelly Hiden

Public Involvement | Senior Communications Specialist

Kelly’s professional career spans three decades and is heavily concentrated in providing public involvement for PD&E, design, and design-build transportation projects. Kelly’s specialized graphic art skills, combined with her careful attention to technical details, allows her to translate complex project materials into information that is clear and comprehensible. She is collaborative and resourceful in the coordination and development of public involvement and outreach programs and initiatives and is intuitive and creative in developing materials that are relevant and effective. Kelly doesn’t have to go with “Plan B” to be in the spotlight – she’s truly a shining star with us!
Plan B: Trophy Wife

Emma Long

Communications | GIS Specialist

As a communications specialist, Emma’s professional experience includes providing public involvement and technical support for transportation projects for municipalities, counties and state agencies. Prior to joining Valerin, Emma worked as a subconsultant for FDOT District Seven where she assisted in organizing historic and current drainage documentation through ArcGIS and other GIS applications. Currently, Emma provides public involvement and community outreach on numerous public utility infrastructure and transportation projects. Emma is a graduate of the University of South Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Criminology. While she may be tempted to rescue every single shelter animal she meets, we are “dog” gone happy to have her as part of the Valerin Team.

Plan B: Animal Shelter Owner

Christine Girardin

Communications Specialist

Christine is a seasoned communications professional with 24 years of experience whose background includes copy and creative content development, public involvement, community outreach, journalism and graphic design. During her career, she has served as a public information coordinator for Florida’s largest water management agency and for major toll road construction projects throughout Florida. Christine also has extensive writing and research experience gained during her time as an award-winning journalist. She specializes in transforming technical information into messaging useful for general audiences. Christine has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Augusta State University, and also has an Associate of Science degree in graphic design and Associate of Arts degree in Communication. Christine’s Plan B is likely to remain a hobby, but it’s one that stokes a sense of creativity and clear communication that she brings to her work at Valerin.

Plan B: Fantabulous Tee-Shirt Designer

Kenny Gil

Web/App Developer | Multimedia Specialist

As a talented multimedia specialist, Kenny brings both creative and technical expertise to support our clients’ marketing and communication needs. Kenny’s role includes developing and designing websites, developing mobile apps, video and audio production, and graphic design. Outside of the workplace, Kenny has over 10 years of music industry experience as a recording studio owner, audio engineer, and record producer for over 70 internationally distributed musical releases. Kenny’s “Plan B” is to be a global music producer and DJ, but until his label skyrockets towards stardom, we are happy he is bringing his cool vibe and “music” to Valerin.

Plan B: Music Producer/DJ

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