I hope your new year is off to a great start! As we head into 2016, I wanted to share some highlights of 2015 with you.
On a personal level, Mari and I are grateful for the many blessings from our Lord – especially Mia, Matias and Marcel, who continue to grow and learn and blossom.
Professionally, building upon almost 20 years of experience in city management and urban revitalization, in 2014 I opened Rosado & Associates, my own urban planning and economic development strategy firm. The company recently celebrated its 1st anniversary! Thanks to the various local governments, universities, nonprofits, and foundations that have placed their trust in me.
This year also has brought some rewarding professional recognition. I had the pleasure of serving on three teams that earned Best-of-Florida awards from the American Planning Association. Locally, the housing policy/affordable housing course I co-designed with the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement was recognized as the best innovation in Housing & Affordability in Miami-Dade. Finally, given the common challenge of traffic congestion, I was thrilled that my submission “Top Them Off!”, in partnership with County Commissioner Xavier Suarez and with design support by prominent architect Bernard Zyscovich, was selected by the Miami Foundation for a Public Space Challenge Grant Award. The project will result in an iconic new bus shelter for Downtown Miami, hoping to inspire improved transit conditions community-wide.
2015 was a phenomenal year on the educational front as well. I completed my PhD in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first Ivy League university. My dissertation – on urban redevelopment processes throughout the US – is on track to be published as a book in the coming year. I’m also excited to be heading into my 3rd year of teaching Local Government and Economic Development courses for FIU’s Executive Masters of Public Administration program.
As you know, civic pursuits are incredibly important to me. After serving 8 years on the Board of Directors of the FIU Alumni Association, I have accepted an invitation to join the FIU Honors College Board to help guide its direction. I will continue my service on the Board of Friends of The Underline, hoping to make the nation’s largest under-rail park/trail project a reality in the next few years. Through the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund I will keep helping Hispanic entrepreneurs grow their businesses in Greater Miami, while through Miami-Dade County’s Public-Private Partnership Task Force I’m helping to harness the best of the public and private sectors in order to address major local needs.
The end of 2015 was particularly special to me. I grew up playing in some of Miami’s best parks, including the popular Douglas Park on 37th Avenue. The park was closed in late 2013 for remediation of contamination, but progress had stalled…until now. Joined by 50+ neighbors at a recent city commission meeting, I had the opportunity – thanks to Mayor Tomas Regalado and new City Commissioner Ken Russell – to urge the city to undertake the clean-up and reopening of the park. The county and city are now starting the remediation process, and the park should reopen in about 12 months. (Visit http://bit.ly/1kfddTq for the Miami New Times’ coverage of the issue.)
Finally, just in time for Christmas, a group of friends and I announced the launch of the Abuelos Foundation; the organization will help needy senior citizens in our community with important home renovations – including installation of ADA ramps, energy efficiency upgrades, painting, and planting of fruit and vegetable gardens – that will make their lives easier, safer, and more affordable. Our tri-generational foundation involves our parents as well as our children, teaching our kids to appreciate seniors and to love public service. The first several homes will be repaired through a grant we received from the Awesome Foundation and Akerman law firm.
This year promises to be very special, and I hope we will get to share many moments together. From my family to yours, have a safe, healthy, happy, and fun 2016!
Ralph Rosado, PhD, AICP
Candidate for City Commission – Miami District 4