14 Apr OUR MOMENT: THE NEXT CHAPTER OF YOUR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Editor’s Note: After an eight-month national search, The Miami Foundation Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Rebecca Fishman Lipsey as president and CEO. Here, Rebecca shares what’s on her mind as she becomes the fourth president of the $350 million+ community foundation serving Greater Miami. She will assume the role June 1, 2020.
The last 12 years of my life have been the opening paragraph of a love letter to Miami. On June 1st, I can’t wait to start writing the next paragraph with you. Truth is, The Miami Foundation is the reason I chose to stay here, to raise a family here, to build a social impact accelerator here, to step into public service here. So while this is a new beginning, it also feels like a homecoming.
Whether I realized it or not, the Miami story has always been in my blood. I am the proud granddaughter of refugees who survived solely through the generosity of others when they fled to this country with nothing. It is a restitution of sorts to live and lead in a city whose legacy is so intertwined with the story of immigrants. I began my career in a classroom in Harlem, New York, where I became a teacher, a forever-learner, and an advocate for equity. My road to the 305 happened by chance, or perhaps fate, when Teach For America asked me to lead their region in Miami. It was easy to fall in love with a city so ripe for innovation, with an ever-growing family of local changemakers ready to step up.
I remember sitting across the table from Ruth Shack during my first week in Miami, asking for her mentorship and support. Years later, my predecessor Javier A. Soto became a mentor as well, and eventually a friend and partner in community impact. I built Radical Partners with their voices in my ears, focused on scaling solutions to the issues that matter most to the future of Miami-Dade County. It is an honor to bring perspectives from all of the innovators, neighborhood heroes, policy leaders, partners, investors and donors I have worked with in my last chapter to an incredible next era for The Miami Foundation.
We may not know each other yet, but this is a moment where all of us need to stand together like old friends. As we navigate what is arguably the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, our true selves will come to light: how generous we are, how unified we are, how willing we are to see each other in this time of vulnerability. All of the issues that matter most to the future of our region are facing acute need, from health to food access, economic opportunity to housing affordability, environmental resilience to cultural vibrancy through the arts. Now more than ever, we must know what we stand for, and we must stand together.
This is the kind of moment that community foundations are made for. The Miami Foundation wields the strength of an anchor institution with the agility of an innovation hub. We are able to mobilize and bring together the power of philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, residents, neighborhood heroes and elected officials. As we work to protect our health, our families, and our community, we must understand the long arc ahead and leverage our power with fearlessness.
It is a critical time to step up as the fourth president of The Miami Foundation. But the truth is, this work isn’t about me. It is about the power of three million voices – Miamians working together to accomplish what each of us could never accomplish alone. This chapter will be about Jeanne, who after 10 years of homelessness, retrofitted a bus to bring showers to those living on the street. It’s about Reverend Tinsley, who feeds 5,000 people in Homestead to ensure they stay self-sufficient. It’s about Keon W. in Overtown, Jenny Lee in Hialeah, Sandy in Little Haiti, Linda in Miami Gardens … It’s about every single one of us identifying the issues that matter most to us, and investing of ourselves to build a more equitable and resilient Greater Miami together.
Please join me in co-authoring what comes next. This is our moment, and I can’t wait to get started.
Rebecca Fishman Lipsey is the incoming president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.
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