The Power Pack: Miami's Most Influential Players

Luis R . R Igual | April 21, 2021 | People Feature Celebrity Power Players

The Power Pack

MIAMI’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PLAYERS PUSH OUR CITY FORWARD ONE POSITIVE ENDEAVOR AT A TIME.


Yolanda Berkowitz PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Yolanda Berkowitz PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Yolanda Berkowitz

There are plenty of Miami women who like to latch the term philanthropist to their names like a string of pearls, but few can actually walk the walk. Yolanda Berkowitz is an altruist through and through. Along with her husband, Jeff, she is involved in multiple charities, including as board member of United Way of Miami-Dade and past chair of the Voices for Children Foundation. She’s also volunteered for more than 20 years with the Guardian Ad Litem Program, which advocates for abused and neglected children. Closest to her heart is the Friends of Miami Animals Foundation (FoMA), a nonprofit Berkowitz founded to improve pets’ lives as well as help low-income pet owners. Follow Berkowitz on Instagram (@mrsyobe) and you might find yourself adopting a furry creature before you know it. WHAT’S NEXT“We will soon be launching the WOW Mobile, a wellness clinic that provides routine vet care in underserved communities,” says Berkowitz. “FoMA donated the vehicle and $500,000 for operating the clinic in the first year, and Miami-Dade approved a grant to fund two to three years of this project. This is going to be a game changer.” fomapets.org


Craig Robins PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Craig Robins PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Craig Robins

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down Craig Robins one bit. As soon as the Design District opened up again, the developer hit the ground running—albeit with a mask over his mouth and hand sanitizer in his pocket. When Art Basel decided to cancel its 2020 edition, Robins’ Design Miami/ team began to work diligently to make Basel’s sister fair more comprehensive than ever before with 10 days of programming that included the neighborhoodwide Design Commission by Great Things to People. He also worked with Louis Vuitton to bring the much-talked-about Adventures of Zoooom With Friends, an installation incorporating LV men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh’s spring/summer 2021 collection, to the District, a move that ensured heavy foot traffic through the end of January. WHAT’S NEXT With the upcoming debut of Major Food Group’s ZZ’s Sushi Bar, which will eventually have a private club component, the neighborhood’s popularity is not waning. “The District shows no signs of slowing down in 2021,” says Robins. “We’re excited to continue blending culture and commerce in innovative ways.” miamidesigndistrict.net


Lee Brian Schrager LEE BRIAN SCHRAGER PHOTO BY MELANIE DUNEA
Lee Brian Schrager PHOTO BY MELANIE DUNEA

Lee Brian Schrager

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival was Miami’s largest event in 2020. This May, it’s poised to be the city’s first major gathering of 2021. Those facts are not lost on founder and director Lee Brian Schrager, who’s gearing up for a much more boutique experience and strict safety practices that include attendees bring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR COVID test within 72 hours before being granted entry. Different or not, Schrager, who last year spearheaded a hospitality industry relief fund that raised millions of dollars for owners of shuttered restaurants, is looking forward to the return of the festival’s BubbleQ event, as well as to catching up with Food Network luminaries like Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri and dozens of others. “We’re going to look different [and] we’re going to feel different, but the message remains the same: to eat, drink and educate,” said Schrager in an interview with CBS-4. “This year we’re tagging on local support because I think this is the year that we really need to give back to the local community.” WHAT’S NEXT Five months after this year’s SOBEWFF serves its last bite, Schrager will do it all over again for the New York City Wine & Food Festival in October. sobewff.org


Daniella Levine Cava DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA PHOTO BY RYAN HOLLOWAY/ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ
Daniella Levine Cava PHOTO BY RYAN HOLLOWAY/ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ

Daniella Levine Cava

Madame Mayor is not a phrase often heard at City Hall, but thanks to Daniella Levine Cava, one more glass ceiling of local politics has been broken. Sworn in on Nov. 17, she is the first woman to head up the Office of Miami-Dade County Mayor and the first Democrat in that role since 2000. As such, Levine Cava oversees a metropolitan government with more than 28,000 employees serving nearly 3 million residents and managing an annual budget of close to $9 billion. Prior to her win over Esteban “Steve” Bovo (after a rather nasty race), Levine Cava served two terms in the Miami-Dade County Commission representing District 8. WHAT’S NEXT Levine Cava has gone on the record saying that one of her main priorities going forward is to help the business sector recover from the COVID-19 epidemic as more vaccinations make the disease a thing of the past. “We need to diversify our economy and pivot quickly to move,” she told the South Florida Business Journal. “That will allow good jobs to come back online.” miamidade.gov


Judy Stein JUDY STEIN PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Judy Stein PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Judy Stein

Odds are the color and silhouette of that swimsuit you plan to wear this summer were decided right here in Miami. The Swimwear Association of Florida’s yearly SwimShow is the largest, longest-running and most important swim, beach and resort trade show in the industry, attracting more than 7,500 fashion industry leaders, consultants, stylists, bloggers and influencers to the city year after year. All that has to do with the efforts of Judy Stein, who serves as SAF’s executive director and founded SwimShow in 1982. “I created SwimShow from the ground up as there was no manual or guidebook of any kind,” she says. “I knew there was unbelievable potential, so I just took the reins and ran.” Simply put, without Stein there would be no Swim Week (the umbrella term to describe all the happenings that take place in this city related to swimwear style every July). WHAT’S NEXT After a cancellation due to the pandemic last year, SwimShow is coming back for its 2021 edition from July 10 to 13. “We are a community that thrives on in-person connection,” says Stein. “Our vendors want and need to physically engage with the buyers who want to touch, feel and see the samples. And nothing beats seeing a model up close and personal wearing the garments.” swimshow.com


Matthew Whitman Lazenby MATTHEW WHITMAN LAZENBY PHOTO COURTESY OF BAL HARBOUR SHOPS
Matthew Whitman Lazenby PHOTO COURTESY OF BAL HARBOUR SHOPS

Matthew Whitman Lazenby

The president and CEO of Whitman Family Development is the fourthgeneration leader in a family-owned business that began developing commercial real estate in the early 20th century. Lazenby represents his company in all development, leasing, operational and assetmanagement issues, and that includes 500,000 square feet of retail space at Brickell City Centre, but he’s most synonymous as the face of Bal Harbour Shops, the center founded by his late grandfather and credited with bringing luxury retail to the Miami area. WHAT’S NEXT The crown jewel in WFD’s portfolio, Bal Harbour Shops continues its evolution, all to enhance the wellheeled shopper’s experience. Plans include the launch of an e-commerce venture, Marketplace, and the completion of a new garage by this time in 2022. And, between now and next year, visitors will see the expansion of a Gucci flagship, a new Ralph Lauren store, a permanent location for Davidor, a Christofle relocation, a remodel of Tod’s and the opening of Maria Tash, as well as the arrivals of restaurants Sant Ambroeus and Abba. whitmanfamilydevelopment.com


Nancy Batchelor PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Nancy Batchelor PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Nancy Batchelor

Her real estate abilities speak for themselves, but Nancy Batchelor is equally passionate about giving back to the community. In collaboration with The Batchelor Foundation, Batchelor holds board positions in some of Miami’s most revered philanthropic organizations, including Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation, the Tocqueville Society with United Way and, most recently, Give A Buck, a fundraising entity that helps special-needs equestrians. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Most recent recognitions include the Junior League of Miami’s Women Who Make a Difference Award and the 2020 Business and Economics Award from the Miami- Dade Parks Foundation. WHAT’S NEXT Looking ahead, Batchelor is eager to move past the days of Zoom meetings and virtual events. As she puts it, “I’m ready to get back out in the community to continue fundraising, ‘friend-raising’ and lending a hand in whatever way I am able.” nancybatchelor.com


David Beckham PHOTO BY DANNY MARTINDALE/WIREIMAGE
David Beckham PHOTO BY DANNY MARTINDALE/WIREIMAGE

David Beckham

As his Inter Miami CF enters Major League Soccer’s second season, you can expect team president and co-owner David Beckham to be in Miami for all the action. Just how serious is Beckham in transforming soccer into a must-see sport in America? Very. In January, he named former Manchester United teammate Phil Neville as the Inter Miami’s new head coach, a move that indicates Beckham’s interest in the type of wins that might eventually entice futbol gods Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior to join him here in Florida. Beckham, who purchased a $19.8 million penthouse in Downtown’s One Thousand Museum last year, has also been at every Inter Miami practice since December of last year. WHAT’S NEXT As of press time, team owners were optimistic about finally agreeing with local government on a location for Inter Miami CF’s state-of-the-art permanent stadium. intermiamicf.com


Archie Drury & Karolina Kurkova ARCHIE DRURY & KAROLINA KURKOVA PHOTO BY JAMES DEVANEY/GC IMAGES
Archie Drury & Karolina Kurkova PHOTO BY JAMES DEVANEY/GC IMAGES

Archie Drury & Karolina Kurkova

Fisher Island’s most photogenic couple, Archie Drury and Karolina Kurkova are committed to wellness and longevity. In recent years, Kurkova has become a voice in the world of holistic wellness thanks to her co-founding of the brand Gryph & IvyRose, a health-oriented line of products for children. For his part, Drury (a former Marine) was instrumental in opening Fisher Island’s first clinic, a partnership with the renowned Dr. Barth Green and the University of Miami. While the 24/7 clinic is private, anyone on Fisher Island can go there in an emergency situation. WHAT’S NEXT Drury hopes to establish a wellness lab as part of the clinic, while Kurkova continues to expand Gryph & IvyRose’s product offerings. As of press time, the couple was expecting baby number three. gryphandivyrose.com


Jackie Soffer JACKIE SOFFER PHOTO BY GIO ALMA
Jackie Soffer PHOTO BY GIO ALMA

Jackie Soffer

As chairman and CEO of the mighty and storied Turnberry, the development company credited with turning Florida swampland into Aventura, Jackie Soffer gets to influence many of South Florida’s most dynamic industries. When it comes to real estate, she is upping the ante with Solé Mia, a 184-acre project in North Miami with 12 residential towers, 500,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and the state’s first 7-acre swimmable lagoon. As far as retail goes, she works diligently with some of fashion’s biggest brands to ensure Aventura Mall keeps growing and enhancing its visitor experience. Along the way, she gets to indulge her love of art by incorporating it in all her endeavors, including Aventura Mall, where works by the likes of the Haas Brothers, Carsten Höller and Louise Bourgeois have as much appeal as boutiques by Louis Vuitton and Gucci. WHAT’S NEXT As Aventura Mall continues to expand and groundbreaking for an 800-key hotel connected to the Miami Beach Convention Center comes near, the Turnberry name is likely to remain in bold print for many years to come. turnberry.com


Edgardo Defortuna EDGARDO DEFORTUNA PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Edgardo Defortuna PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Edgardo Defortuna

“The keys to successful residential real estate development include market knowledge, construction experience and access to plenty of capital. Equally important are ambition and reputation.” Those are words to live by in Edgardo Defortuna’s world, and the mantra to the developer’s business practice. The CEO and founder of Fortune International Group is recognized throughout South Florida, Latin America and Europe as a leader in high-end luxury real estate thanks to his alignment with the world’s top architectural talents—Herzog & de Meuron, Pierre-Yves Rochon, Michele Bonan, Arquitectonica and Carlos Ott among them. Fortune’s various developments include high-rises such as Jade Residences at Brickell Bay, Jade Beach, Jade Ocean, Jade Signature, Auberge Beach Residences & Spa Fort Lauderdale and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Sunny Isles Beach. WHAT’S NEXT “In a time when service, selfcare and wellness are some of the most prioritized luxuries, we are excited to be teaming up with major hospitality brands on our upcoming Pompano- and Sunny Isles Beach-based new developments, which will place a large emphasis on improving the lifestyle of our residents,” says Defortuna. “On the sales front, we are working on new project launches with Related Group, CMC and OKO Group, among others, as we remain bullish on the South Florida market and believe that its robust momentum is here to stay for years to come.” fortuneintlgroup.com


Ryan Shear RYAN SHEAR PHOTO COURTESY OF PMG
Ryan Shear PHOTO COURTESY OF PMG

Ryan Shear

Groomed by PMG founder Kevin Maloney, Ryan Shear is a developer to watch. The PMG managing partner currently manages a portfolio of more than $10 billion worth of real estate assets and oversees developments across the United States, including condo and multifamily projects in Miami, Denver, Phoenix and Orlando. On top of Shear’s to-do list are some rather innovative undertakings that include the national expansion of PMG’s Society Living brand (a rental concept for families), as well as the development of E11EVEN Hotel & Residences (a high-rise that includes the world’s first Chopra Spa & Studio) and Waldorf Astoria Residences (a collaboration with the renowned hospitality brand on the tallest residential tower south of Manhattan, where condos will start at $1 million). WHAT’S NEXT “Within the next year, we are optimistic to announce deals in several major new markets and break ground on Waldorf Astoria Residences, which will transform the Miami skyline,” says Shear. “It’s extremely fulfilling to contribute to my hometown’s expansion with pioneering projects.” propertymg.com


Marcus Samuelsson PHOTO BY MADISON MCGAW/BFA.COM
Marcus Samuelsson PHOTO BY MADISON MCGAW/BFA.COM

Marcus Samuelsson

In bringing Red Rooster to Miami, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson didn’t just want to become part of the city’s culinary scene; he also wanted to bring attention to the cultural heritage of the neighborhood where the eatery is located. “Our goal is to become part of the fabric of Overtown and honor the history of the community,” he told us back in February 2020. “The more we uncovered about the iconic Clyde Killens Pool Hall [where the restaurant is located] and learning it was the place where Sammy Davis Jr., Muhammad Ali, Ella Fitzgerald and others would socialize... we became increasingly honored to carry on the legacy of this great place.” Samuelsson’s elegant homage to Miami’s African American heritage would have to wait due to the pandemic, which delayed Red Rooster’s opening from spring 2020 to this past December. In the meantime, Samuelsson teamed up with Food Rescue U.S. to provide free meals to those affected by the shutdown. The forced delay and Samuelsson’s commitment to helping the community made Red Rooster’s debut all the more delicious. WHAT’S NEXT On May 20, Samuelsson will host a private South Beach Wine & Food Festival dinner at Red Rooster, which, by all accounts, is already one of Miami’s hottest eateries. redroosterovertown.com


Jon Paul Pérez PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Jon Paul Pérez PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Jon Paul Pérez

Although he remains as chairman and CEO, real estate magnate Jorge Pérez named his son Jon Paul president of Related Group in November, a move that’s been in the works since Jon Paul joined the firm in 2012. In his new role, the 36-year-old now oversees South Florida’s most prolific condo builder, which in recent years has grown its mixed-use and commercial divisions, as well as expanded into other parts of Florida, the Southwestern United States and Latin America. In the words of his father, the new Related president will bring “a new way of thinking that will expand the business far beyond anything I could’ve imagined.” In the last two years or so, the younger Pérez has taken the lead on Related projects that include Residences by Armani/Casa, Wynwood 25 and Domio Wynwood. WHAT’S NEXT The sky’s the limit for Jon Paul, but before that there’s the completion of Solemar in Pompano Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Tampa and SLS Tulum. Plus, there’s that much-buzzed-about collaboration between Related and Starwood Hotels & Resorts CEO Arash Azarbarzin to introduce Baccarat Residences to Miami. The 75-story development will house 300 residences and 40 riverfront villas in Brickell. relatedgroup.com


Adrienne Arsht ADRIENNE ARSHT PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Adrienne Arsht PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Adrienne Arsht

Although she no longer lives in Miami full time, Adrienne Arsht’s contributions to the city are as present as ever. The $30 million she bequeathed to what’s now the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts helped the institution usher in a new era of culture for South Florida, and, as of April, the venue was on its way to once again hosting its annual 300 performances of classical music, dance, opera and theater. In recent years, Arsht has turned her attention to global issues and has gone on to establish the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center within the Atlantic Council (for which she serves as executive vice chair). The center’s purpose is to put forth new ideas and policy recommendations regarding Latin America’s place in the world. In 2019, she donated $30 million to help establish the Adrienne Arsht- Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, an organization with an ambitious goal to empower 1 billion people to better themselves by 2030. WHAT’S NEXT With the gregarious Arsht, one never really knows, but one thing is certain: Her causes and endeavors are always interesting. atlanticcouncil.org; arshtcenter.org


Brian Flores BRIAN FLORES PHOTO BY ADAM GLANZMAN/GETTY IMAGES
Brian Flores PHOTO BY ADAM GLANZMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Brian Flores

In the two years that he’s been head coach, Brian Flores has transformed the Miami Dolphins from a team that had lost its identity to one with razorsharp vision. The Fins’ performance last season, a 10-6 record, brought Flores acclaim and kudos from sports media and fans, as well as serious consideration for NFL Coach of the Year honors. This is important not just in football circles but in society as a whole, as Flores is now the fourth Latino in NFL history to become a head coach and the first Black person to hold the head coach position with the Fins. WHAT’S NEXT It’s been many years since the Dolphins have tasted glory when it comes to playoffs, AFC title games and the Super Bowl, but with Flores leading them, those milestones don’t sound so far-fetched anymore. “We’ll take it one day at a time and we’ll try to get better every day, and we won’t leave any stone unturned,” Flores has said. “We’ll do everything possible to bring results to the fan base, to the people in our organization, and that’s important to us. That’s something we talk about on a daily basis.” miamidolphins.com


Don Peebles PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Don Peebles PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Don Peebles

Social conscience and financial gain don’t always go hand in hand, but it’s at the core of everything developer Don Peebles tackles. An author and regular guest on CNN, CNBC and Fox programs, Peebles has served on the National Finance Committee of President Barack Obama and the board of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is also the founder of The Peebles Corporation, the largest Black-owned real estate developer in the country, with projects in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and, of course, Miami, where he recently unveiled the reenvisioned Bath Club, a private social club that dates back to the 1920s and now maintains an “exclusively inclusive” policy of accepting members that isn’t based on wealth or status. “My company engages in affirmative development,” Peebles told Forbes recently, “and this is the main vehicle through which we mandate ourselves to engage a minimum of 30% contracting on all our projects with minority- and women-owned businesses.” WHAT’S NEXT “Looking ahead I am doubling down on development plans in Miami Beach,” he says, “and focusing on my company’s investment fund for minority and women developers across South Florida, New York and Los Angeles.” peeblescorp.com


Dr. Stephen Nimer PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA
Dr. Stephen Nimer PHOTO BY NICK GARCIA

Dr. Stephen Nimer

The battle against cancer has one of its bravest generals right here in Miami. A professor at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, Dr. Stephen Nimer is also the director of the college’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the country’s leading facilities when it comes to researching and treating the disease. Nimer has been recognized multiple times for his efforts (most recently as the inaugural holder of the Oscar de la Renta endowed chair in cancer research) and was instrumental in earning Sylvester a National Cancer Center Institute designation in 2019. WHAT’S NEXT Nimer’s work is never done. He’s constantly developing community programs to battle the illness, including a Little Haiti-based effort to educate residents about cervical cancer in that area, as well as one targeted at Hispanics related to obesity (a risk factor for the disease). As of press time, Nimer (who covers almost 100 miles on his bike every weekend) was training for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge in April, a yearly fundraising bike ride for Sylvester. “Everyone at Sylvester is dedicated to making the breakthroughs that will cure cancer and take care of patients with the most sophisticated techniques and treatments,” says Nimer. “Every day we are developing new, more effective, nontoxic treatments and ways of preventing cancer from occurring in the first place.” umiamihealth.org



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