Women of Influence: 6 Women Shaping Miami's Future Right Now

By Patricia Tortolani. Photography by Camilo Rios. Shot on location at Carillon Miami Beach | May 2, 2018 | People Feature

Trailblazers, power brokers, mentors, moms. Meet six fierce females whose extraordinary style, enterprise and values define our city today.

ALEXA WOLMAN
A LAWYER AND PHILANTHROPIST, WOLMAN SITS ON THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE PAMM AND THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

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YOUR PERSONAL STYLE IS AMAZING. TELL US ABOUT IT.
I believe that self expression is an integral part of empowerment, and the way I have always naturally expressed myself is through my fashion and beauty choices. This is who I’ve always been. My mother really fostered this philosophy in me by encouraging me to always look and dress however I felt happiest. She even went to bat for me in elementary school over some of my hair color choices.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE ‘POWER DRESSING’ IN 2018 AND BEYOND?
There is no specific dress code for power these days, as evidenced by the various icons we see on the internet and in the media. We all find power in different aesthetics, so whatever brings a person confidence and joy is powerful.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MIAMI ART SCENE. WHAT DROVE YOU TO BECOME SO INVOLVED?
We live in Miami at a time when art is everywhere and the community has really embraced and been so supportive of its artists. Thanks to some visionaries like Franklin Sirmans at the PAMM and Silvia Karman Cubiñá at The Bass, who have really gone out of their way to feature Miami artists in the museum setting, and gallerists like Nina Johnson and Anthony Spinello who have promoted Miami artists and designers on the world stage, Miami artists have begun to flourish.

WHAT ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS ARE CURRENTLY INSPIRING YOU?
Agustina Woodgate, Emmett Moore and Katie Stout, who use accessible objects and often a sense of humor in their work. The world can be such a serious place that it is important to find comedy in things to subvert the inherent negativity in certain subject matter.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILANTHROPY PHILOSOPHY?
I think it is as important to preserve the history of Miami as it is to invest in its future.

DAVINA ARYEH
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER WITH THE LATIN RECORDING ACADEMY—WHICH PRODUCES THE LATIN GRAMMYS

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TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE PHILANTHROPIC INITIATIVES YOU’RE INVOLVED WITH.
I have the privilege of working closely with the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, which is committed to the mission of giving back to our communities through music-related initiatives. Since its creation in 2015, the foundation has awarded $2.5 million in scholarships, and continues to positively change lives a cross the globe through music.

GENDER DIVERSITY IN THE LATIN MUSIC INDUSTRY BECAME A BIG FOCUS LAST YEAR. WHAT IS THE LATIN RECORDING ACADEMY DOING TO CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN?
I am extremely proud to work for the Latin Recording Academy, where 24 out of 29 employees are women, four out of the seven top executives are women, and our board of trustees president is a woman— from those few examples you get a glimpse of the type of inclusive work environment we cultivate.

Last year I had the privilege to spearhead a truly exciting and rewarding initiative we launched during Latin Grammy week called Leading Ladies of Entertainment. Our inaugural class of Leading Ladies represented top media executives, a sound engineer, a talent manager, a song writer and a record label executive, to name a few. It was important for us to not only show and honor the success of these talented professionals, but to also highlight to the future generation of girls hoping to enter the industry that there are many different ways to make a career around your passion, ranging from artistic routes to those in technology helping lead the industry into the next stage.

THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN. DO YOU HAVE A MANTRA FOR 2018?
To enjoy the moment and try to look at life through a lens of gratitude. If we can shift our mentality to understand that even the simplest of things we enjoy on a daily basis are blessings, it is easier to focus on the positive and continue to grow and learn.

DARA SCHOENWALD
ENVIRONMENTALIST AND CO-FOUNDER OF VOLUNTEER CLEANUP

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YOU LEFT CORPORATE AMERICA TO BECOME AN ECO-ACTIVIST. WHAT INSPIRED THAT MOVE?
As I matured, my priorities shifted—I felt a stronger obligation to apply my skills and background in anthropology toward making meaningful change in the world. VolunteerCleanup.org and Woosh Water were both side hustles during my last two years at Sapient that inspired me, gave me a great deal of fulfillment and a renewed sense of motivation. Each of those simultaneously started to take off in a bigger way, and I faced a crossroads where I knew that I had to go all-in and make them my main pursuits, in order to see what could be possible if I did.

TELL US ABOUT WOOSH WATER.
Woosh is a network of smart, connected water bottle refill stations that provide ultrapurified, chilled, great tasting water at a fraction of the cost of bottled water, and in a healthier and more environmentally friendly way. After seeing all of the plastic bottles we gathered on shoreline cleanups, I entered and became a winner in The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge competition, receiving a grant to put a proof concept water bottle refill station in a park. The publicity from that led me to connect with Itay Tayas- Zamir, CEO of the Israeli startup Woosh Water, and we decided to partner together to bring their innovative service to Miami Beach. Three years later, we have finally launched in Miami Beach with 17 stations!

WHAT ARE CHANGES EVERYONE CAN ADOPT IN ORDER TO LIVE A MORE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE?
As a general principle, just use less: Skip the straw at restaurants and bars; eat less red meat; practice smarter energy use, at home and while commuting

HOW CAN PARENTS PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS BEHAVIOR IN THEIR CHILDREN?
Get your children outdoors, onto the water, into the ocean, or to the beach. People protect what they love, so the earlier you can instill that love for nature, the more likely they are to grow up to become stewards of the environment.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO GO IN MIAMI TO FEEL CONNECTED TO NATURE?
I’m blessed to live on Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach, and taking time out to experience the sunset has become a daily ritual.

LAUREN BOOK
BOOK IS A STATE SENATOR IN FLORIDA REPRESENTING BROWARD COUNTY’S DISTRICT 32 AND THE FOUNDER OF LAUREN’S KIDS, A NONPROFIT THAT EDUCATES ADULTS AND CHILDREN ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE.

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YOU’VE JUST COMPLETED THE 1,500-MILE WALK IN MY SHOES TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT. TELL US ABOUT IT.
This was our eighth year doing the walk, and it’s been an incredible journey. There are families that we have known since the beginning and new families; it has just been so remarkable to watch healing in action. And for the first time, I had my two kids on the walk with me.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL ISSUES FACING YOUNG WOMEN IN SOUTH FLORIDA?
The pressures to be perfect, and how social media feeds into that is very interesting. We want to make everything seem perfect, and it’s not. You didn’t wake up this way and neither did I, and that’s okay.

SOUNDS LIKE YOU SPEAK FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
We moved to Tallahassee for my first legislative session two weeks after my kids were born. I never missed a day. I never missed a vote. Did it suck? Yes. Did I suffer from postpartum depression? Absolutely. Did I look like a hot mess 90 percent of the time? Yes, m a’am. But I was there.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT YEAR?
Walking away from [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School] before we went to the vigil, one of my colleagues said to me, ‘Can you imagine if nothing is going to change?’ and I just thought that that wasn’t acceptable. We came a long way banning the sale and possession of bump stocks and raising the age to purchase a weapon from 18 to 25. But the number-one most important thing that those kids and the families talked to me about was tearing down Building 12 and building a memorial, and we will be able to do that.

YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO SO MANY. WHO INSPIRES YOU?
People take Lucille Ball for granted. Not only was she hysterically funny, but she innovated television; she made networks hire her husband. Looking at her and how she did things—not taking herself too seriously and being so graceful—is certainly something that I aspire to be.

PAT BOSCH
DESIGN DIRECTOR, PRINCIPAL OF THE MIAMI OFFICE OF PERKINS+WILL

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YOUR PRINCESS NORA UNIVERSITY IN SAUDI ARABIA IS A GAME CHANGER FOR MUSLIM WOMEN. TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT.
The buildings are veiled, strong, empowered, interconnected, environmentally responsible, flexible, adaptable and ready for the future. Like the women [I met in Saudi Arabia], the buildings have a protective, layered facade surrounding an interior that is vibrant, transparent and dynamic.

WHAT DESIGNER FROM THE PAST DO YOU LOOK UP TO?
Lina Bo Bardi, the brilliant Italian-Brazilian modernist architect. She practiced during a period that was dominated by greats like Oscar Niemeyer, but she remained fearlessly independent, with her own voice and agenda, creating some of the most iconic buildings and publishing one of the most influential design magazines of her time. She was unapologetically a brutalist and brought boldness to her designs and to her writing.

IS THERE A DREAM PROJECT THAT YOU HAVE YET TO GET OFF THE GROUND IN MIAMI?
The Institute for Research and Education of Resilience and Environmental Effects of the Americas. Located in downtown Miami, it could become an epicenter of innovation, global conferences and informatics for all climate-based needs and challenges that our industry and society need to address.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING FEMALE ARCHITECTS?
I’m the daughter of two architects, and I never saw my mother achieve less than my father. However, I now see many of the same struggles that she did encounter, and silently plowed through. For example, we operate in a business ruled by opinion and by creative and strategic thinking. Yet women’s strength, passion and fearlessness are often mischaracterized as negative traits, becoming miscategorized as ‘pushy,’ ‘opinionated’ or ‘emotional.’

HOW DO YOU EMPOWER WOMEN TO LOOK PAST THAT?
The most important force comes from within, by believing in yourself, your vision and your voice.

CAROLINA GARCÍA JAYARAM
PRESIDENT & CEO, YOUNGARTS

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AS THE LEADER OF YOUNGARTS FOR TWO YEARS NOW, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS?
Far from owning any YoungArts a chievements on my own, it is comprised of a passionate and dynamic staff and board of directors who I am honored to lead in furthering our mission. But if I had to pick some highlights, I would say observing my first master class with the legendary Bill T. Jones, when a group of young dancers and choreographers imagined the vast universe of possibilities for themselves as artists because Bill T. helped them see it.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST ABOUT MIAMI?
The seemingly boundless possibilities and tolerance for experimentation and risk. I feel that the people here, so many of us immigrants and children of immigrants, embrace the unknown and have the capacity to welcome newness in ways I haven’t seen in other American cities.

HOW ARE YOU SEEING YOUTH ACTIVISM COME THROUGH ARTISTICALLY?
Art is a powerful way for us to understand our history, and our youngest artists have the fresh eyes, pure hearts and guts to tell us the truths we need to hear. At times of great upheaval and seismic shifting like we are experiencing now, it is no surprise that more art is emerging, and that social practice is being embraced as its own medium. Activism and the arts are seen—with youth as their messengers—as a beacon that will guide us through this incredibly challenging time.

HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD CHANGED YOU?
How hasn’t it changed me? One way is that I feel a far greater responsibility to leave something of value behind for my children and their peers. Any contribution I may have made to the world, through helping give artists a greater shot, is a gift for generations to come and, most importantly to me, for my own sons.

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