The Silver Circle recognizes individuals who have worked with distinction in the television industry within the Suncoast Region of the State of Florida, the State of Louisiana, the Mobile, Alabama-Pensacola, Florida television market as well as Puerto Rico for a quarter of a century or more, a significant part of which was done in the Suncoast Region. Silver Circle members are honored for more than their longevity — they are honored for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting standards of achievement we can all hope to emulate. These honorees also give back to the community as mentors, educators, and volunteers.
THE 2024 SILVER CIRCLE HONOREES
Pembroke Pines, FL (March 2024) – The Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is pleased to announce the 2024 Silver Circle honorees. The annual recognition is given to individuals who have worked with distinction in the television industry within the Suncoast Region, which includes the State of Florida, the State of Louisiana, the Mobile, Alabama-Pensacola, Florida television markets, as well as Puerto Rico. More details to come.
Anchor, WBBH-NBC2 News, Ft. Myers-Naples, FL
Kellie Burns has been keeping viewers informed at the anchor desk for WBBH-NBC2 News in the Fort Myers- Naples television market for more than 30 years. Her journey of journalistic excellence began in 1994 at WBBH, climbing the ranks from reporter to weekend anchor, to become one of the primary news anchors within two years.
Kellie holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science from SUNY Geneseo. Her passion for broadcasting ignited at 9 when she was chosen for the acclaimed children’s program “Action News for Kids”.
Kellie’s commitment to excellence has garnered her many accolades, including over a dozen Regional Edward R. Murrow awards, Florida Associated Press awards, and Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists Awards, alongside two Emmy nominations. From covering international events like the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and changes in Cuba and several Democratic and Republican National Conventions, her dedication to asking questions and informing the audience knows no bounds.
Beyond the newsroom, Kellie is a tireless advocate for the community, devoting countless hours to charitable endeavors including Golisano Children’s Hospital, Kids Minds Matter, The Heights Foundation, Community Cooperative Ministries, and The Neighborhood Health Clinic. She serves on the boards of Canterbury School and the Uncommon Friends Foundation.
Kellie splits her time between Fort Myers and Chicago with her husband Ed and their blended family, including son Jack, daughter Elle, and bonus daughter Kara.
In recognition of her contributions, Kellie has been honored as one of the “2010 Power Women in Lee County” by Florida Weekly Newspaper and named one of “Southwest Florida’s 47 Power Players for 2010” by Gulfshore Business Magazine. Her legacy as a “Woman of Initiative” and “Gulfshore Life Woman of the Year” in 2000 continues to inspire future generations of leaders.
Creator & Series Producer, Changing Seas, South Florida PBS, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Alexa Elliott is the Creator and Series Producer of Changing Seas, a marine science series produced at South Florida PBS. Now in production of its 16th Season, episodes have featured a large variety of topics and locations, ranging from research during the high Arctic’s polar night to American Samoa’s resilient coral reefs. The series has aired on 95 percent of PBS stations and in more than 39 countries.
Alexa began her broadcasting career in 1996, at public radio station WMKY, in Morehead, Kentucky. Upon moving to Florida in 2000, she spent time working at public media stations WUFT and WGCU Public Media before joining the staff of South Florida PBS in 2006.
Alexa has received numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Communication Award presented by the National Academy of Sciences, twelve Suncoast Emmy awards, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, the 2011 Miami Today Gold Medal Award, multiple Florida AP and SPJ awards, and others. Her work has also been shown at 23 film festivals around the world.
In addition to her day job, Alexa serves on the Board of Directors for the Ocean Media Institute, which creates and distributes media that promotes public understanding of ocean science and conservation. She also served two terms on the NATAS Suncoast Chapter’s Board of Governors.
Alexa has two degrees in Broadcast Journalism – a B.A. from Morehead State University and an M.A. from the University of Florida.
Assistant News Director, WSCV Telemundo 51, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Maria Kapetanakis is an eight-time Emmy® award-winning journalist and Assistant News Director for WSCV Telemundo 51. Maria holds a pivotal role in the success of Telemundo 51, the #1 South Florida station regardless of language. Her strong editorial direction, leadership, and motivational skills have proven key to the team’s daily success throughout the years. She is a true leader and trailblazer at Telemundo 51. She joined Telemundo 51 in 1991 and has more than thirty years of television news experience.
Maria started her journalism career in radio. She was a news anchor at WINZ and also worked at the Miami Herald before joining WSCV Telemundo.
Throughout her time at WSCV, Maria has covered local, national, and international stories for the station and while there are many highlights in her storied career, some of her more memorable accomplishments are in her role as a special projects producer. She produced the stations’ coverage of Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the US, the United Nations’ 50th Anniversary two-hour live special, the UNESCO Conference in Paris, and a humanitarian station drive “Niños del Basurero”, for the children of Nicaragua living in the city’s trash dump, just to name a few.
Maria is a graduate of the University of Miami earning a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. She has extensive leadership, coaching skills, and team management training from organizations like the Poynter Institute and NBC Universal.
Maria’s extensive knowledge of South Florida’s Hispanic community, leadership skills, and ability to motivate and engage others has contributed to Telemundo 51’s continued success in the market, as well as to her successful broadcast television career.
Retired Senior Reporter and Producer, Telemundo 31 NBC, Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL
Homan Machuca began his career in broadcasting at Nuevo Continente of Bogota. He also worked at various networks in Colombia.
Homan received his degree in Journalism and Communications at Colegio Superior of Telecommunications and the University of América in Bogotá.
Homan relocated to the United States in 1984, where he was employed with different networks including radio and television. Homan was the first Latino to transmit via satellite for the NASA space shuttle launches with United Latin Television to stations in Latin America and Europe.
Homan retired from Telemundo 31 NBC, as a Senior Reporter and producer of Enfoque.
In 2019, Homan was recognized in Congress, by the House of Representatives as a distinguished journalist in Florida. In 2014, Homan won an Emmy® Award. He was awarded six Paoli Awards.
In 2008, he was awarded the Don Quijote Award for Professional of the Year.
For the transmission of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986, he was awarded the “Reportaje del Año” with United Press International (UPI).
Homan is working as the CEO of HMAC Productions. He continues to report and perform voice-overs for different organizations.
He volunteers by covering stories for COAMED, a group of doctors who travel to different countries assisting communities with their medical needs. He is also a board member of Whipping Childhood Cancer.
He currently resides in Florida with his wife Dawn Machuca. They have three children, daughter Elaine, son Timothy, and daughter Nathalie.
Anchor, WSVN-7, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Eight-time Emmy® award-winning journalist Belkys Nerey has been a TV junkie her whole life. It’s no wonder she grew up to be a main anchor, and host of her own cooking show, at one of the country’s most dynamic television stations.
Infinitely watchable, Belkys is one of those few personalities who genuinely project. Whatever ‘It’ is that propels a TV personality and draws audiences to them, Belkys clearly possesses.
Born in Havana and raised in Long Island and Hialeah, she’s an FIU graduate, who started her television career as a reporter for South Florida cable station Dynamic Cablevision. She was a “one-man band” for two years (shooting her own video and editing her own stories), before heading for Connecticut to take a job as a general assignment reporter for WTNH-8, the ABC affiliate in New Haven. From there it was home to Miami’s WSVN-7 where she’s been since 1994.
During her tenure at the Miami Fox affiliate, Belkys has covered major national and international news stories and co-anchored the pop-culture-driven Deco Drive. Now you can catch her anchoring the 5,6,10 and 11 pm newscasts, alongside Craig Stevens. When she’s not on the set she’s in the kitchen, hosting her popular “Bite With Belkys” cooking segments and her Emmy® nominated 30-minute “Bite” specials.
In her spare time, she loves to travel which is how she met her husband, Demetri Mouratis. He sat in the seat next to hers on a trip back from Greece. Together they enjoy spending time with friends and family and they support several local charities.
Anchor, NBC 6 News, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Trina Robinson is an Emmy® award-winning journalist. She currently anchors the NBC6 News at 7 pm, co-anchors the NBC6 News at 11 pm, and hosts “Money Chat” on the station’s streaming platforms.
She joined NBC6 in 1999 and has become one of the station’s most visible and versatile journalists, proving her talents to South Florida viewers as an experienced anchor, reporter, meteorologist, talk show host, and breaking news specialist.
Robinson also hails as the first African American to ever hold a TV weather position in South Florida and has garnered three Emmy® awards for reporting and one Green Eye Shade Award for Investigative Journalism.
As part of the award-winning NBC6 Investigators team, Robinson demonstrated her commitment to excellence in journalism when she uncovered an underground network of women illegally giving and receiving silicone injections. The investigation led to a number of arrests of unlicensed medical practitioners, garnering national and international attention.
Robinson received a liberal arts degree from the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, a graduate degree in Journalism and Public Affairs from the American University in Washington, D.C., and did her coursework in Meteorology at Mississippi State University. Most recently, she received an MBA from Western Governors University in Utah.
Robinson, who comes from a family of six children, says one of their favorite pastimes was to gather together to tell elaborate and colorful stories. Little did she know that concocting tall tales would later help her relate the stories of real people with compassion and caring.
Vice President and General Manager, WVUE-TV, New Orleans, LA
WVUE-TV’s Mikel Schaefer is a 40-year New Orleans television veteran earning multiple Suncoast Emmy® awards, including Station, News, and Overall Excellence.
Schaefer’s journalism career began writing for newspapers at Chalmette High and the University of New Orleans. He started his broadcast career in May 1984 as an overnight assistant at WWL-TV, before spending 11 years as a sports producer. In the mid-nineties, he jumped to news as weekend assignment editor then assignment manager, executive producer, and assistant news director.
While covering numerous hurricanes throughout the decades, nothing compared to Hurricane Katrina. Schaefer played a critical role, helping guide weeks of non-stop coverage, all while trying to rebuild a newsroom and his own home. The team was honored with a duPont, Peabody, and National Murrow for their coverage. During that time, Mikel also authored “Lost in Katrina,” which chronicled the destruction of St. Bernard Parish.
In 2008, Mikel left WWL to become the WVUE News Director. For the next 13 years, Mikel led WVUE from third to first place, and the station was honored with two duPonts, a Peabody, 16 National Murrow’s – including one for Overall Excellence – and dozens of Suncoast Emmy® awards. Broadcasting & Cable named him News Director of the Year in 2013. Schaefer’s 37-year news career ended in 2021 after becoming WVUE’s Vice President and General Manager. In 2023 WVUE was honored with a Suncoast Emmy® for Overall Excellence.
Mikel has been happily married to Jaye for the past 30 years and has two sons, Connor, and Aidan.
Retired Chief Photojournalist, WTSP-TV, Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
Gene has been viewing life through a lens since he first picked up a camera in high school in Miami. Before pursuing a career as a television photojournalist, he was a radio disc jockey in Brunswick, Ga. Two years later, Gene returned to Miami and worked as a news anchor and producer at a news/talk radio station.
With that news background and his passion for photography, Gene transitioned to television photojournalism. He started as a soundperson for the NBC affiliate in Miami before moving to Fort Myers, Fl., as a photojournalist at WBBH/NBC. Two years later, he settled in Tampa Bay. Gene spent 37 years at WTSP/CBS as a photojournalist and chief photojournalist. He traveled the world shooting and editing stories from across the United States to Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. Gene has also worked on two independent documentaries.
During his career, he was named Florida Photographer of the Year, received over 30 regional Emmy® awards, and numerous Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, and Edward R. Murrow awards.
Gene has a radio/television broadcast degree from the University of Miami. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and son. At times, they trade the beaches for the mountains of North Carolina to enjoy cooler weather and beautiful hikes.
Celimar Adames Casalduc
Senior News Anchor, TeleOnce, Puerto Rico
Celimar Adames Casalduc is a reporter with over 30 years of experience in television media in Puerto Rico. A Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Recently earned a Juris Doctor degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law. Her first experience as a reporter was at the news agency Associated Press (AP). From there she joined Channel 4 where she took her first steps in the world of telecommunications. Those first years were a great learning experience in the area of news production, eventually landing a position as a producer on “Prime Time” news edition. However, her passion for journalism and reporting led her to become a reporter once again. She has covered news sources from the Governor’s office at La Fortaleza, the Legislature, the day-to-day government and economic affairs, as well as community issues.
In 2001 she became the female news anchor for “Noticentro” on Channel 4, a position she held for 18 years. As a reporter and news anchor, she has witnessed the country’s history. Disasters and tragedies like hurricanes; the great economic crisis and the country’s unprecedented bankruptcy. Primaries and elections as well as events that have brought happiness and pride to the country. She has interviewed governors, dignitaries, and figures of world transcendence like President Barack Obama and the Supreme Court Justice of the United States, Sonia Sotomayor.
Celimar is currently the news anchor for three editions at “Las Noticias de TeleOnce”, a news project that embraces investigative, social, and community journalism.
She has been married for 29 years and is a mother to three daughters whom she describes as the most important project in her life. Family has been a fundamental foundation in her career and decisions that have led the way to reaching professional success.
For her investigative work, Celimar has been awarded on multiple occasions, local awards like the “National Journalism Award” from the “Asociación de Periodistas de Puerto Rico” (Puerto Rico Journalists Association) and the Award for Journalism Excellence from the Overseas Press Club. She is also a multi “Emmy® Award” winner from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; as well as recognition from the “IRIS Awards” from the “Alianza Informativa Latinoamericana” (Latin-American Information Alliance).
In the past few years, she has also proudly become the voice for women’s equality in the media communications industry.
José E. Esteves Montesinos
News Senior Reporter, Telemundo Puerto Rico
José was born on May 6, 1950, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Antolino Esteves and Carmen Montesinos. He studied at Colegio Espíritu Santo in Hato Rey and the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus.
In his youth, he was an outstanding volleyball and basketball athlete in different categories.
He worked at several radio stations across the Island. He has an extensive 44-year career as a journalist, having worked at all television stations. For 32 years he has worked as one of the most prominent reporters at Telenoticias, Telemundo of Puerto Rico.
In his extensive career, he has carried out international coverage in Africa, Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, several Caribbean islands, the United States, Nicaragua (Sandinista Revolution Triumph), El Salvador Civil War, Dessert Storm, Brazil-Colombia (Street Children), Central American and Pan American Games (PR, Cuba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic), Haití Earthquake (which claimed 200,000 lives) and Earthquakes in México.
Over the years, he has received dozens of awards and recognitions from various journalism organizations, such as Overseas Press Club, ASPPRO, and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Suncoast Chapter.
He is married to Migdalia Pérez and has a daughter, Cristina Esteves Wolff who is a lawyer and currently pursuing doctoral studies.
Senior Television Executive, Independent, Puerto Rico
With a career exceeding 34 years, Rebeca has held pivotal roles. Though Rebeca started in the advertising industry, she soon transitioned into broadcast news, which seems to be what runs through her veins. She was an assignment editor and producer for Teleonce (WLII) from 1993-2000. Following her work at Teleonce, her passion for the public sector directed her towards WIPR-TV, where she became Special Assistant to the President, managing all aspects of production and research for special events and new programming. This included all production aspects and the development of two new daily magazines. She was also the Executive TV Producer for the Emmy award-winning Puerto Rico Jazz Fest 2003 and 2004 music specials.
At WIPR-TV, Rebeca later became News Director, leading an award-winning newsroom with a staff of 52 communications professionals, overseeing two daily newscasts and a weekend analysis show. From 2006-2009, she was the Operations & Production Vice President, responsible for the daily operations of two television and two radio stations. Her responsibilities included broadcasting and programming operations, content development, local and national production, education and outreach, and special projects efforts.
In the private sector, Rebeca was the Executive Producer for Las Noticias Univision, where she supervised all news productions and personnel, as well as content supervisors and News Desk directors. Most importantly, she was in charge of special projects (such as the interview with U.S. President, Barack Obama) and the creation, development, and production of investigative content.
Being ahead of her time, in 2012, she joined GFR, the largest news conglomerate on the island, as General Producer for GFR Media Productions, providing audiovisual content creation for GFR’s brands and private clients. GFR Media Productions later became Rendija Fija, LLC where Rebeca became the Director of Production producing audiovisual content for clients such as Claro, GFR Media, Grupo Ferré Rangel, AT&T, HITN, Pepe Abad, Fundación Tribunal Supremo, RSM, and others.
As a member of the Suncoast Chapter, ever since Puerto Rico became a part of the Chapter, Rebeca has been invaluable in the judging process, an active member in Puerto Rico, and a former regional VP.