Countdown to the 2016 Apogee Awards: Top HR executives

The countdown to the 2016 SFBW Apogee Awards has began!

On Oct. 27, at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, SFBW magazine will recognize distinguished leaders who hold positions in the C-Suite of companies.

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Here are the biographies of the HR Executive honorees:

Senior HR Executive Miami-Dade: Viviana Santisteban, AmeriKooler, Inc.

Viviana Santisteban

Viviana Santisteban

Santisteban has more than 20 years’ experience in human resource management and heads the HR team for an innovative and progressive manufacturing company, overseeing benefits administration, talent acquisition, employee relations, career development, legal issues and more.

She develops organizational strategies by identifying and researching issues; contributing information, analysis and recommendations to organizational strategic thinking and direction; and establishing HR objectives aligned with the organization’s goals.

Her background includes leadership roles in hospitality and manufacturing industries in the United States and abroad (Mexico, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico). She has worked for such companies as Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Biltmore and Nobu Hospitality. She started her career in HR with Burger King.

Santisteban is a graduate of Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She was a member of the South Florida Hospitality HR Association for 20 years and served as a director for 15 years. She has also been a member of the Greater Miami Society for Human Resources Management.

Senior HR Executive Broward: Denese Edsall, Broward College

Denese Edsall

Denese Edsall

Edsall is executive director for human resources, having joined the college in March 2007 and serving in her current capacity since 2010. She is a member of the senior leadership team, responsible for all aspects of human resources as well as significant strategic initiatives related to talent management.

Before joining Broward College, she was a human resource manager for the city of Hollywood and a compliance officer in the Broward County Office of Equal Opportunity.

Edsall earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Washington University in St. Louis, and both a master’s and a doctorate in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University. She has held a Florida Supreme Court certification in mediation, and she teaches courses in dispute resolution. She is also a member, and club president, of Quota International of Fort Lauderdale; a board member for Bit-by-Bit Therapeutic Horse Riding Center; and previously served on the board of directors for OneCommunity in Fort Lauderdale.

Senior HR Executive Palm Beach: Ellen Finnerty, Vitacost

Ellen Finnerty

Ellen Finnerty


Finnerty has more than 20 years’ experience in human resources, building environments that encourage management and employees to achieve their full potential. She is the chief human resources officer for a leading online retailer of health and wellness products, a division of Kroger.

Previously, she was senior vice president of human resources for First Capital, a specialized commercial finance company providing working capital lines of credit to small- and medium-sized companies nationally. She was also vice president of human resources for Fidelity National Information Services and Palm Beach National Bank and Trust.

She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Florida and is certified by the Society of Human Resources as a senior professional in human resources. She was recognized and awarded the 2010 Woman Extraordinaire by the South Florida Business Leader.

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