In what part of town do you live?
Unincorporated Dade, South Miami / Coral Gables area.
How long have you lived in the area?
I was born and raised in Miami. I grew up in Coconut Grove. My husband and I moved to this area in 2010. And then in 2014, we moved to New York for six years and we returned in August 2020 – back to our original house.
What keeps you busy during the week?
Definitely my kids. I also work for Kristi House, I’m the Director of Development. Kristi House serves kids in South Florida who have been sexually abused. We also have two drop-in centers for girls who have been commercially sex trafficked, and we serve about 2,000 children and their families each year and provide lots of education for the community as well as wraparound services for kids who are receiving our therapy. That is my full-time job. I also enjoy working with small nonprofits to help them streamline their fundraising efforts and strategy. I’m also in the process of getting certified as a life coach.
What are drop-in centers?
Drop-in centers are homes that we’ve repurposed to provide home-like services for commercial sex trafficked victims. They receive therapy and home cooked meals. It is a place where they can go to do their laundry and shower. It is a safe environment for them to interact with positive adult role models in their lives. We have one in Homestead and one in the Little Haiti area.
How do you streamline fundraising?
Lots of times, small nonprofits don’t have the ability to have a development operations department. I help them use existing tools to automate their fundraising process so that they can get out there and thank the donors and inspire people to invest in their cause. This way, they don’t have to worry about all of the backend administrative work.
What does it take to be a successful fundraiser?
I’m coming from a place of joy with fundraising and how joyful it can be to connect people who want to give back to causes within our community, larger society, or our global issues. I believe that giving is the same as receiving. When people start to give to others, it makes them feel good. By helping the nonprofits show their impact to donors and really spark joy, I feel is the best way to get everybody involved in the philanthropic process.
We’ve interviewed some people who have said they don’t give money because they don’t feel their money going the right place. How can people evaluate a non profit?
I think that people need to do their research on where it is that they are giving. Most non profits file (IRS) 990’s. You’re able to see where their funding streams are coming from, how they are allocating their money, and what their budget looks like. Find an organization that resonates and you feel good being part of their team.
Where does your sense of service come from?
Definitely my parents. Both of my parents are incredible community leaders. My mom was the Director of the Guardian Ad Litem program for 26 years. My father was a civil rights leader in this community and did a lot to reform the jails. He was a criminal attorney, but from a beautiful humanistic point of view. What I learned from them is that our community is only as great as those who choose to work together.
What do you get out of what you do?
I feel like my purpose is to be a cycle breaker. I choose in my career and also my hobbies to align with that mission of working with programs that help to break cycles of both poverty and violence and help people to live their highest self.
Would you share about how your hobbies relate to cycle breaking?
Yes! Thank you for that opportunity. I have dyslexia. My children have dyslexia and so does my husband. Our whole household is neurodivergent. I believe we are not doing enough to provide the right educational support for kids who learn differently. I’ve become an educational advocate, helping to get structured literacy into the schools. It is kind of a best practice, not just kids with dyslexia. About 20% of the population has some sort of neurodivergence in terms of a learning disability, and there are not enough specialized programs.
When you become an advocate of a cause, do you jump into the fundraising role because it is a strength, or do you help in other ways?
For me, it’s all of those pieces, but mostly it’s policy. Before moving to New York, I was a lobbyist for child welfare for foster care. I really understand the policy changes that can help effectuate larger change. For me, when I look at an issue, I see what organizations are out there. How can I link organizations together? I love connecting different people together to work collaboratively. And, I find out what policy opportunities exist to help advance the work that we’re setting out to do.
How did you discover LNB Grovestand?
When we moved back, I saw several people on Instagram posting about LNB and my brother Miles Black said that I should go. I’m so glad that I did! Our favorite thing to do on a weekend is to come down and get all of our smoothies and then drive around and get lost down in South Dade and explore. We really love what you’re doing.
What do you guys pick up when you come by?
We love the Turmeric Bagels. They’re amazing. During Mulberry season, you carried my husband’s Mulberry jam, which was so fun to see him live out his childhood dream of having jam in a store. And, we love the Rainbow Smoothies. I think the layers and different flavors are really complex and also beautiful. And, so Instagrammable. And those dried starfruit!
When you come down to explore South Dade, have you found any treasures that you can recommend?
The Patch of Heaven tour is great. There’s Paradise Farm. There’s Rincon Cubano down there that’s bomb. And, we just like driving through the crops fields.
What about local restaurants, do you have any regular spots to suggest?
Plant is great, and Sacred Space. I also love Planta Queen. Mamey is great. My favorite restaurant ever is El Rey de Las Frita on 8th street. It’s like original Miami Cuban food. We love Super Subs Etc. On Bird Road.
What is one of Miami’s best kept secrets?
For a long time, everybody would say, Miami doesn’t have culture. But, we have our own culture. We’re a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. I think there’s a comradery that becomes a community when we’re working together.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
I love bubbles. I find that blowing bubbles allows you to regulate your breath. It provides a moment of mindfulness. They’re beautiful, everybody around you, especially children, will smile when they see a bubble – especially if it’s a bubble that they didn’t expect. A splurge would be a big giant bubble machine.
What community groups are important to you that you’d like to promote and share?
Definitely Kristi House. I’m on the board of The Lucy Project, they provide sliding scale tutoring for kids who are dyslexic. The Junior League does important philanthropic work in our community as well as build future community leaders.
Is there anything you’re working on now that you would like to pitch?
I would make a pitch for kindness. I know we’ve had this really long run of the pandemic. I hope we can connect to each other with more kindness and rebuild our community and learn from things that we did during the pandemic. I think we’re going to end up a lot stronger.
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
(KB) How do you infuse so much love in your products?
(A+W) When you see a video of Adena when she was five, handing out tastes of jackfruit, you’ll see it’s the same smile and eagerness to share she has today at the Drive-Through. It’s a lot of fun to share anything that you love yourself, and the people we meet and talk with each week make it fun to keep doing it every weekend.
Do you have a question, challenge, or words of advice for the community?
(KB) How do we ensure that the younger generations have appreciation for how we grow and how we harvest our food as the generations before us?
What have we not talked about that we should have?
Life Coaching. I have a life coach and it changed the way I look at the world. I was able to shift my mindset and look through a more positive gratitude filled lens. I help people reconnect with what brings them joy so that they can be a cause for their life as opposed to an effect to their life. I offer a five week course now that I do one-on-one to help you become a joy seeker. It’s something else that brings me fulfillment to do and help people in this way to change their mindset and change their lives.