Beyond the neon lights--the leaders changing the face of Miami.

Author:Aguirre, Yolitzma

On July 30th Latino Leaders Magazine headed back to bustling city of Miami and this time we asked the next generation of leaders to pick where they wanted to gather, we wanted to be part of the Miami experience not just visitors. We moved out of our regular Brickell area and headed towards Mid-town to dine at the whimsical and rustic, BOCCE. Far from the sandy beaches there are hidden nooks of culture, wine and expressive art. From Wynwood to Mid-town, this was a different Miami than what tourist will usually hear about. As the leaders gathered and took their seats, one by one, each of them would come to express that same sentiment, a desire to show the world the "other side of Miami."

As the night began we thought the conversation would gravitate to the recent Cuba embargo lift, there had been heated exchange between groups we had previously visited in Miami, however as the next generation took their turn to share their thoughts, most all agreed with one statement made by one leader at the table "We won't ever forget the struggles and suffering but this is a step in the right direction, we are moving forward" with that, we ended the topic of Cuba and moved on to what is needed in Miami for continued growth and success.

Part of the problem the next generation of leaders are facing is the South Beach image, "we have more to offer than late nights, drinking and partying on South Beach." However, because it is such a part of the Miami vibe it is hard to promote an item, such as voter registration, without using the typical "party" theme, this has proven to be frustrating for some, especially since Miami is filled with bright, young entrepreneurs who are leading the way in tech, politics, fashion, film, food, etc. but rarely find the support of funding from the city, as one leader stated "big money doesn't support tech in Miami, we have all the talent but until they invest; it might be 20 years before we see a boom." Why would this take so long you ask? So did we; the answer comes back to the image problem, as explained by the leaders: Miami has big tourist dollars coming in to promote that late night party image of South Beach, which by default also promotes this false image of a transient lifestyle, investors feel talent passes by but doesn't stay permanently.

Luckily for us, the solution and game changers were sitting at that table, ready to take on the challenge, the evolution of Miami, energy shifted as everyone began to talk about the future and the wave of change: "those in positions of political power, don't represent the hopeful conversation of millennials," "if we don't bring more change and community building, we are not going to move any faster," and "there's a bigger entrepreneurial spirit in Miami that I don't think exist in other Latino cities." These leaders are all thriving and fully aware that they are the face of, not only the future of Miami leadership, but also one of the leading cities in the Nation's Latino narrative.

The night ended with a lot of laughing, hugging and new connections made. As we wrapped the session, the leaders inspired not only us, but one another, they left us with this final thought, "let's do it ourselves, let's be the leaders that we wish to see, let's lead Miami." We look forward to coming back and seeing the new ground they have broken in 2016.

Jorge Casariego

Financial Representative

Northwestern Mutual

Jorge Casariego was born and raised in Miami, Fl. The son of Cuban exiles, Jorge has called Miami his home his entire life. He is a graduate of The University of Miami with a double major in Finance and Marketing. While at UM he was a Founding Father of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and remains active as an alumni advisor to the chapter he helped build. Currently as a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual, Jorge partners with his clients to help them create and protect their financial freedom. Jorge has a passion for empowering his clients to align their values with their intentions. He believes that he can make a positive...

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