Rebecca Fishman Lipsey wants to get all Miamians thinking about changemaking – and made it her job to mobilize them. As the executive director of Teach for America in Miami-Dade, she tripled the size of the organization, pushing to close the education achievement gap. Her firm, Radical Partners, accelerates the local social entrepreneurship scene. When thousands of Miamians pledged to take transit on Public Transit Day in December, Rebecca helped drive the movement.

Ruth Shack, president emeritus of The Miami Foundation, always helped pave the way for emerging leaders, whether through the Miami Fellows or as a mentor. In Ruth’s honor, we annually recognize an under-40 leader who exhibits her same qualities – ethical leadership, dedication and service to Greater Miami – with the Ruth Shack Leadership Award. Rebecca, a Miami Fellows Class VI alum and this year’s Award honoree, embodies all of these while drives change around the causes she cares about every day – and inspires others to do the same.

Rebecca calls herself an unabashed cheerleader for Miami. “I fell for the energy of this city,” she said. “Miami’s story hasn’t been completed yet, and there’s something really magnetic about a story being written now, and by anyone who wants to be a part of it.”

With this in mind, Rebecca launched Radical Partners’ Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a three-month intensive professional development program for leaders of organizations that solve important civic issues. Graduates of this program include many of our community’s most celebrated young leaders, all part of a peer network Rebecca has established to help scale and sustain the impact of their work.

“I want to identify issues that matter to the future of the city and engage people in those issues,” she shared. “I want people to identify the issues that matter to them, activate around them and help strengthen the city.”

In October 2014, she spearheaded the first 100 Great Ideas campaign, inviting anyone to share their thoughts on the future of local libraries. Since then, the campaign has covered two more issues – improving the Miami International Airport and the future of Miami-Dade’s public transit system. From the most recent campaign, Public Transit Day was born, making public transit a key issue for local leaders to address, spurring thousands of residents, including elected local officials, to take public transit. Rebecca also serves Miami’s youth as the youngest member in history of the Florida State Board of Education, where she adds a powerful and important voice for education reform.

Vance Aloupis, CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida and 2016 Ruth Shack Award honoree, summed it up well when he submitted Rebecca’s nomination: “A characteristic of great leadership, in my humble opinion, is an individual’s ability to step outside of his/her comfort zone and continue to inspire passion, engage others and create change. Rebecca has done that – over and over again.”

Roshni Neslage is communications assistant at The Miami Foundation.


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