Who We Are
Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. Engage Cuba is working to expand our coalition of support throughout the country, while also facilitating relationships between U.S. businesses and Cuba and lobbying Congress to lift the embargo.
After 55 years, the embargo has decidedly failed U.S. businesses, American interests, and the Cuban people. It’s time for a new approach. Engage Cuba is the only organization whose primary focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy.
What We Do
Advocacy: We are a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to our advocacy efforts. We have the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy.
Access: We navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations and facilitate customized trips to help organizations and businesses engage with Cuba. We host events on Cuba-related issues and business opportunities, including briefings with U.S. and Cuban government officials.
Policy: We provide timely and insightful updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts.
State Outreach: We recruit top business and civic leaders to galvanize local support in key states such as Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Minnesota.
Engage Cuba brings over 50 years of experience in advocacy, politics, and public affairs.
James Williams, President
James Williams is President of Engage Cuba, the leading coalition of private businesses and companies working to lift the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. Williams is an experienced public policy advocate and political strategist who, prior to Engage Cuba, led a successful national campaign to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. Prior to founding Engage Cuba, Williams was the Director of Public Policy of Trimpa Group, providing strategic consulting on state and federal government relations, political campaigns, and philanthropic giving.
Before joining Trimpa Group, Williams served as a consultant to the Bonner Group, a leading fundraising consulting firm in Washington, DC, where he oversaw major donor relations and political fundraising. Previously, Williams coordinated partnerships and fundraising for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an international public policy and grantmaking institution dedicated to improving transatlantic relations. Williams also worked for the John Kerry for President campaign.
LUKE ALBEE, SENIOR ADVISOR
Luke Albee, described as “the Dean of Senate Chiefs of Staff” by Politico, has served as chief of staff to Senators Mark Warner (2009-15) and Patrick Leahy (1993-2004), directing a broad array of legislative, policy, political and communications activities for both Members. From 2004 to 2008, Albee was a Principal at Ricchetti, Inc., a Democratic lobbying and consulting firm. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Vermont.
Steven Law, Senior Advisor
Steven Law has held a number of high-level positions in the executive branch, Congress and public advocacy organizations. He served as deputy secretary of labor in the Bush Administration, chief legal officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and chief of staff to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. Law helped manage the Bush Administration’s response to the West Coast Ports shutdown, was a policy leader on Trade Adjustment Assistance, and served on the board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Law is currently the president and chief executive officer of American Crossroads and the Senate Leadership Fund.
Ariel Pereda, Chair, Engage Cuba Business Council
Mr. Pereda is President of Pearl Merchandising and Distribution (PMD). For the last decade, Florida-based Pearl Merchandising and Distribution has been the pioneer in exporting US government-licensed and permissible brand name food commodities to Cuba. The company is currently the exclusive distributor in Cuba for many of the top U.S. food, beverage and consumer goods companies. Ariel I. Pereda leads PMD with a dedication to supporting companies looking to grow and develop their products and services in Cuba. Pereda’s expertise in navigating the intertwined commercial and political landscape has resulted in tangible success for consumer goods companies, many of which had not previously entered the Cuban market.
Addie Bryant, Chief of staff
Adelina "Addie" Bryant leads Engage Cuba's state outreach program and day-to-day organization activities. Addie's past experience includes serving as a staff member in both the Texas House and the Texas Senate and serving as a member of the press and legislative staff for U.S. Senator Mark Warner. Addie worked on U.S. Senator Tim Kaine's successful 2012 campaign and served as Research Director for Senator Warner's successful 2014 re-election campaign. From 2008 to 2010, Addie served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador working on projects to improve education and public health. She is also a proud alumna of AmeriCorps VISTA in East Los Angeles. Originally from Texas, she holds a BA in Government from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia.
Michael Maisel, Director of External Affairs
Michael Maisel is Engage Cuba's principal liaison to the Cuban Embassy in Washington and manages relationships with members of the Engage Cuba Business Council. Previously, Michael worked at The Huffington Post Media Group, where he oversaw the “90 Miles” op-ed series about U.S.-Cuba relations. Also at Huffington Post, he was part of Arianna Huffington’s executive team and wrote for HuffPost World. Prior to working at Huffington Post, Michael held several prestigious internships, including his time at the White House, Fulbright, and the Council on Foreign Relations. An NYU valedictorian, Michael studied international relations and wrote his senior thesis on U.S. policy toward Cuba, which was published in the Journal of Politics and International Affairs.
MADELEINE RUSSAK, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Prior to Engage Cuba, Madeleine worked as the Deputy Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia for over two years. In this role, Madeleine promoted Senator Warner's legislative priorities through strategic messaging and local and national media relations. Additionally, Madeleine managed Senator Warner's social media accounts and digital communications, producing and editing broadcast quality content that aired on television news stations throughout Virginia. Prior to Senator Warner's office, Madeleine started her career in political press and communications working in the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Madeleine received a BA in Political Science at the University of Southern California.
Liana Pardini, Director of Operations
Liana Pardini came to Engage Cuba from Senator Mark Warner’s office, where she worked on the Senator’s team as his Executive Assistant and previously, Deputy Scheduler. Prior to working in the Senate, she was a government affairs fellow at Small Business Majority, a business management consulting firm, and a scheduling assistant for former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Liana received a BA in both Political Science and Art History from the University of San Diego.
GABRIELLE JORGENSEN, POLICY & COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE
Gabrielle Jorgensen brings prior experience in research and political advocacy, primarily focused on U.S. engagement with the United Nations and European Union. Before starting her career at Engage Cuba, she held several internships and research positions with NGOs, working on issues such as UN Security Council reform, lobbying in the European Commission, and voting systems in international fora. While in undergrad, Gabrielle spent time abroad studying U.S.-EU relations from the U.K. perspective. Originally from New Jersey, she holds a BA in Foreign Affairs and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia.