Adis Vila




Over a 30-year career, Cuban born Adis María Vila has held executive positions in business, government, and higher education in general management, business development, policy development and implementation, government, public and regulatory affairs functions, and diversity and inclusion. She has been a corporate executive, government official, academic administrator, professor of international law and international business, and practicing attorney.

A Certified Diversity Executive, Vila was the first Chief Diversity Officer at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Vila is a professional speaker on leadership, organizational culture, cross-cultural management, and diversity and inclusion. Highly regarded for her high energy, motivational, and inspirational presentations, Vila’s customized talks engage professional audiences, C-level executives, and university students alike because her content is valuable and style authentic.

As Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Agriculture (COO), Vila led a department with more than 2500 employees and a budget larger than $1 billion. Vila served as CEO of Florida’s Department of Administration (Secretary), a department with a budget of $750 million and 500 employees responsible for health care administration, labor relations, and retirement benefits for more than 125,000 employees statewide. Vila began her government service as a White House Fellow, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service.

Vila was Nortel’s Vice-President of Government Affairs and Regulatory Policy for the Caribbean and Latin American (telecommunications), and Vice President for International Business Development for Vigoro since acquired by IMC Global, Inc. (chemicals; fertilizers). Vila is fluent in English, Spanish, and French and conversational in Portuguese and German. A financial expert under SEC Regulations and NYSE Rules, Vila holds the highest corporate governance designation of Board Leadership Fellow from the National Association of Corporate Directors. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Rural Telephone Bank and the UBS Global Asset Management Advisory Board. She is an active member of Women Corporate Directors, the Latino Corporate Directors Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Women’s Forum.

A member of The Florida Bar and the Washington DC Bar, she earned a law degree from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida, a Diplôme in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a BA in Mathematics from Rollins College.

Vila was named one of Hispanic Executive’s Leading Latinas in 2018. She was honored with the “Woman Trailblazer” Award, Dorothy Height “Hats Off to You” Award, and “Women of Distinction” Award by The University of Akron, Girl Scouts of Colorado, and Delta Sigma Theta, respectively. Her work at the Air Force Academy was recognized with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, the “Dare to Dream Award” by the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, and an INNOVATION Award by The Diversity Journal.

Keynote Presentations

Creating an Inclusive Organizational Culture is Everyone’s Business
This presentation will examine organizations as open systems including what this means for the leadership of the organization and for stakeholders, including employees. The talk will examine systems, processes, and talent development. The talk will emphasize employee engagement as a means to develop an inclusive organizational culture and minimize turnover, especially turnover of diverse employees. Explore questions such as such as how does one lead an organization to ensure that the organization does not stop with recruiting a diverse work force; but rather that leaders and all persons receive intercultural competency training since inclusion does not happen by accident. It is no longer enough to treat others as you would like to be treated. An inclusive organization treats others as THEY would like to be treated and is concerned that all its members are engaged. The talk will review real-world efforts by select organizations.


  • Understand where you are on the journey to a more inclusive team.
  • Build the business case for a Diversity & Inclusion strategy that works.
  • Learn how to create a practical plan for an inclusive culture where everyone succeeds.
Reinventing Yourself: Live a Purposeful Life of No Regrets
In an informative and motivational keynote address, Vila embraces change and challenges and encourages her audiences to approach life and work with energy, enthusiasm, and focus in order to live a life of no regrets.

As a political refugee who fled Cuba after the revolution, Adis Vila was raised by a single mom with little formal education. She overcame economic hardship through hard work and persistence earning multiple degrees and at 27 was selected a White House Fellow, the premier leadership program in the United States. Her uplifting story is a story of resiliency, adaptability, and success. She has reinvented herself multiple times reaching c-level positions in government, business, higher education and the independent sector. Twice confirmed by the US Senate and once by the Florida Senate, Vila began her career as a practicing lawyer and subsequently as a policy maker, government executive, international business executive, academic administrator, professor, professional speaker, and independent director. Through stories she shares her successes and failures demonstrating with energy and humility how you can reinvent yourself in order to live a life of purpose and passion.

Hispanic Heritage Celebration
Vila, a Latina of Cuban ancestry, builds on the theme identified by DEOMI and delivers an informative, motivational, and inspirational talk that addresses the profound and positive influence Hispanics have had on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. Vila uses examples of Latinos from various backgrounds including her own as a Cuban refugee to bring to life the multiethnic and multicultural customs of Latinos’ rich communities to underline the contributions of Hispanics and share their contributions to our national character.

Adis Vila Testimonials

“I had the pleasure of hearing Adis Vila’s keynote address at the Chubb Leader Board Invitational. Adis is an inspirational leader and speaker. She left the entire audience energized and ready to tackle new challenges. She didn’t ask us to conquer the world on day one, but rather to conquer one or two discrete challenges at a time. She made everyone in the room feel like success was well within reach. More importantly, she gave us practical advice and tips to ensure that success becomes a reality even as the bar for attaining success continues to move and change over time.”
Patricia Miller Steis. Managing Director, Marsh USA

“This lawyer, businesswoman, and academician offers insights with perspective. I have known her since she was a Rotary Scholar, a White House Fellow and a member of the Reagan Administration’s State Department. I personally organized speaking engagements for her during the Reagan years and she not only impressed every group I ever engaged for her, but positively impacted my career for having introduced her. Adis is “Aces in the hole”. Book her to present any subject in which she professes acumen and she will exceed your expectations.”
Joseph Fila , Broker Associate at Advantage Realty

“Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Adis Vila speak to a large, diverse group of students as the finale to Clemson University’s Hispanic Heritage month. As the saying goes, Adis “had us at ‘Hello.’ Her engaging speaking style is at once personable and authoritative. Her judicious use of facts and examples kept us grounded in the real world. But most important of all, her compelling personal narrative was one that each of us – regardless of background – could relate to and identify with. I was particularly glad that she left time for questions – and there were many. Clearly, her audience members were inspired by her achievements and her example. Adis has already made a difference in her storied career, and the story is far from over.”
Lee Gill, Chief Diversity Officer, Clemson University