Faculty Feature

FIU names Agatha Caraballo inaugural director of Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership

FIU has named Agatha Caraballo director of the newly launched Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.  

The Ferré Institute, created with a $2 million gift from the Maurice A. Ferré Foundation, will honor the legacy of the former Miami mayor and address critical matters of preparing diverse leadership for public service, increasing civic participation for a stronger democracy and promoting social justice.  

Caraballo, an associate teaching professor and assistant chair for the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the Green School, has an extensive record of organizing events and activities related to public service and leadership and has been recognized for exceptional teaching, mentorship and service. She has served nationally with the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and is a past President of the ASPA South Florida Chapter. 

Caraballo also directs a leadership studies certificate program at FIU and is affiliate faculty in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program, as well as the inaugural director of teaching for the Black Faculty Association at FIU. She contributes to the university’s Equity Action Initiative as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Execution Team. 

“Dr. Caraballo’s extensive public service, academic background, leadership abilities and understanding of Ferré’s legacy provides her with the tools to build and strengthen FIU’s Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership,’’ said John F. Stack, Jr., founding dean of the Green School. “We are excited to see what she will bring to this important new institute at FIU.’’  

Caraballo was named a Legacy Miami “40 Under 40” and has received the FIU Top Scholars Award for Dedicated Mentoring; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Service Award; the Donald Stone Service to ASPA Award; and the NASPAA Pi Alpha Alpha Advisor of Excellence Award, among others. Her online classes have received Quality Matters certification, a nationally recognized benchmark for high quality distance education. 

She has served as conference co-chair for the Florida Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Summit, the ASPA South Florida Annual Best Practices Conference and the regional Southeastern Conference for Public Administration. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Science in Communication from FIU and an Associate of Arts in Communication from Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California, where she was raised. Her professional background is in higher education, nonprofits and leadership development.  

“I am grateful to have been selected to lead the new Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership, and like Mayor Ferré, I am dedicated to public engagement, community infrastructure and social justice, while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion,’’ Caraballo said. “It is truly an honor to be selected by FIU to lead the effort to continue his legacy. I look forward to working with students, faculty and the greater community to examine a wide range of issues that he focused on during his distinguished public service career.’’  

The Ferré Institute will be housed in the new SIPA Phase II building of the Green School, currently under construction, and will have a dedicated reading room. The Ferré family has pledged to raise additional funds for the institute, totaling $5.5 million, which will benefit FIU’s Next Horizon campaign.