The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce presented two individuals and one organization with the Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Award of Excellence for the first time at Jungle Island during the Chamber’s monthly Trustee Luncheon on September 3, 2014. In addition to the presentation of the awards, the program featured a keynote presentation by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen.
The new award, presented by The Allen Morris Company, aims to recognize the outstanding achievements of an individual, an organization, and young leader who have made significant contributions and set standards for the development of Miami’s central business core’s economy, culture, promotion, education, beautification and preservation. This award, decades in the making, channels the pioneering spirit of Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., a spirit that helped paint the skyline we see in downtown today. The 2014 Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Award of Excellence recipients are:
- Individual: Former Mayor Manny Diaz was first elected City of Miami Mayor in 2001, having never before held elective office. He was reelected to a second term in 2005, and was chosen to lead the United States Conference of Mayors as its president in 2008. Mayor Diaz developed a vision for Miami as an international City that embodies diversity, economic opportunity, effective customer service and a highly rated quality of life. To achieve this goal, he re-engineered Miami government from top to bottom. During his two-term tenure, Diaz was recognized for completely transforming the City of Miami, and for many nationally recognized innovative programs in the areas of urban design, sustainability and green initiatives, education, infrastructure investment, affordable housing, law enforcement, poverty and homelessness, and arts and culture. He serves on a wide range of commissions, task forces, and cultural, educational and volunteer boards and has received almost 100 awards and recognitions. Mayor Diaz served as a Resident Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2010, and is the author of his recently released book, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time.
- Organization: Miami Dade College is the higher education institution with the largest undergraduate enrollment in America, with more than 165,000 students. It is also the nation’s top producer of associate in arts and science degrees and awards more degrees to minorities than any other college or university in the country. The college’s seven campuses and two major outreach centers offer more than 300 academic pathways leading to baccalaureate degrees, associate in arts and science degrees and numerous career training certificates leading to in-demand jobs. In fact, its academic and workforce training programs are national models of excellence.Downtown Miami has been transformed by Miami Dade College. The Wolfson Campus opened in 1970 by holding classes in the storefronts of downtown. With the completion of the campus’ first permanent facility in 1973, Wolfson catalyzed a downtown renaissance by hosting all manner of civic and cultural discourse. It is the only comprehensive urban campus in the City of Miami, capitalizing on its unique geographic resource by offering programs in banking/financial services, business, computer technology, paralegal studies, architecture, economics, hospitality management, engineering, the arts, humanities and social sciences.
- Young Leader: Brian Alonso, Vice President of La Epoca Department, follows his family tradition by carrying La Epoca Department Store through its 49th year in Downtown Miami. He is joined in this effort with his brother, Randy Alonso, and his Uncle, Pepe Alonso. Founded in Havana, Cuba in 1885, the city’s third-largest department store was confiscated by the Castro government in 1960. Five years later it reopened in the heart of Downtown Miami. Brian became involved in 2005, when La Epoca moved from its original location in the Alfred I DuPont Building to the Historic Walgreens building, where it stands today. La Epoca continues to grow and lead the revitalization of Flagler St. It most recently launched a new concept store in Downtown Miami’s Central Business District — Lost Boy Dry Goods. In addition to their stores, Brian is passionately engaged in the Greater Miami and Downtown Miami communities. He is President of Dade Heritage Trust, Co-Chair of the Flagler Street Taskforce of the Downtown Development Authority, and a board member of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust as a nominee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. These civic engagements are working to end homelessness in our community, preserve and appreciate our historic places, and revitalize historic Flagler Street.
The 2014 Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Award of Excellence is made possible by presenting sponsor: The Allen Morris Company; sponsors: Miami Downtown Development Authority; Chapman Partnership; Center for Social Change; and Lydecker Diaz.