Rafael Suarez grew up watching fencing in his own home. Both parents were already high caliber national and international fencers when he born. My father, Orlando, began to teach me the sport of fencing at the age of seven, and my passion for fencing started to grow immediately. Being the second generation of highly accomplished fencers, the expectations at home were extremely high. At one point, my two brothers were members of the national team at the same time I was. I had trained and competed all over the world with the best. I am an Olympian fencing athlete. I have won medals at cadet, junior and senior world cups. Also, I was a South American, Centro American and Pan American Champion several times. I am the current USA Vet 40 Men's Foil Champion.
Being in a fencing family, I was exposed from a young age to the teachings of how to be and manage executive positions. Both of my parents were very accomplished as executives in the sport of fencing being Presidents of the Venezuelan Fencing Federation several times. My dad Orlando was also a President of the South American, Centro American, and Pan American Confederation, Secretary of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee several times, and a member of the FIE Executive Committee for 12 years.
Having all this fencing background and my drive to help bring greatness to the Gold Coast Florida is one of the main reasons I am serving as Chairman. Above all, I have the most respect for our athletes, who are paramount to our organization. I strongly believe in our athletes, and I know what they can do at a competitive level.
I am running for re-election as Chairman of the Gold Coast Florida Division to provide continuity of leadership and proven administration. My passion for the sport of fencing gives me a tremendous drive to excel.
As a Chairman of the Division with my team members Marta, Eugenio and Delainy, we had:
Improved our Bylaws
Created an Operating Manual
Created a new non-profit organization in the state of Florida
Applied for the 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt
Created a new division website
Enforced the USFA rules at division tournaments and clubs
Opened communication to club owners, coaches, and any member of the GCD
Increased the revenue stream for the Division
During the last few months, I contacted club owners to give information about the SBA Grants and Loans available for small businesses to weather the crisis. I want them to know that I was there to help them through these challenging times. As a club owner myself, I can understand very well their points of view and concerns during this pandemic.
As a chairman of the Gold Coast Florida, the top priorities now are:
Help all the clubs to continue their operations
Increase the number of competitive members
Bring national events to South Florida
Involvement with the GCD, USFA, NCAA, Bout Committee, and International:
For the last 15 years, I have been involved with the GCD division as a club owner and a member of the GCD Executive Committee several times. I am the founder and owner of Masters Fencing Club. The club has made a tremendous impact in South Florida. The club has raised the bar of foil fencing in the state of Florida. Masters' philosophy is based on the Olympic spirit of excellence, hard work, and competitiveness. The club has numerous national and international medals holders. Last but not least, it has a long list of fencers who were and are competing at the NCAA.
At a USFA level, I was a Men’s Foil Athlete representative for 6 years. Also, a member of the Collegiate/Scholastic committee for several years.
At the NCAA, I have been a referee of many men’s foil finals at the Ivy League Championships (Round Robbins), ACC Championships, St Johns meet, and University of Pennsylvania meets for the last 7 years.
At a Bout Committee Chair, I have been a member of numerous tournaments in USA, as well as international tournaments.
At International tournaments, I have been chef de délégation several times.
Born in a family of fencers, and having all my life involved in it, I have a vast resource of contacts all over the world who I can call at any time to resolve any issue. These has been done many times over during my life. The relationship with the National office and the Board has been exceptionally good. I have participated in division officer meetings at USFA national events where we discuss relevant information and plans about our division. The USFA has given us resources that we communicate to the clubs immediately for their benefits.
Rafael holds a dual master's degree. He earned an Executive Master in Finance from IE Business School and a Master de Empresa (MBA) from IE University in 2011. He holds a BBA in Finance and a minor in Real Estate from Florida Atlantic University.
For the last four years, I have been involved with IE Club in Miami, helping with the expansion plans and building a network of high-profile contacts and resources.
As my professional work background, I am an accomplished executive with an exemplary record in financial and investment management, coupled with a strong involvement and leadership role in operations for global financial services, sports industry, and aerospace manufacturing companies.
As a final word, I am personally committed to doing everything I can to help our clubs and fencers through the upcoming months in the best way we can. The key to our success in this coming season is having our clubs stay open, following strong and safe health rules. I will support our athletes in their return to competitive fencing. The GCD Board and I are working on a strategic recovery plan to help everyone rebound from the impact of Covid-19.