Thursday, August 21, 2014
The Daniella Levine Cava I KNOW PERSONALLY. By Geniusofdespair
I talked to a friend in Homestead yesterday and she said her friends knew nothing about Daniella Levine Cava so how could they support her for her candidacy in District 8? My friend said: "She had to come meet them." Like they all knew about Lynda Bell when they voted for her? Come on, gimme' a break! To humor my friend, I decided to write a bit about Daniella's background from my journey with her over the years.
Daniella Levine founded the Human Services Coalition of Dade County (HSC) in 1996. It is now renamed Catalyst Miami and it is still running but without Daniella's leadership. It has a staff of about 30 people (I was at the office a few times and saw them all buzzing about but I forget why I was there). Her non-profit filled a niche, it was created to meet the needs of families and communities. Her goal, as I saw it, was to make life easier for people, like trying to move low income people to the middle class by working with diverse groups such as the Chamber of Commerce (ick), and other such groups. Not an easy task.
According to Huffington Post on her self-created non-profit: "In 16 years the organizational has evolved to serve as a hub for innovation in health and human services and an incubator for new approaches to community and economic development. The nonprofit's major initiatives include the Prosperity Campaign and Imagine Miami which have received national recognition from groups including the U.S. Treasury, Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Ford Foundation. New programs include the Nonprofit Leadership and Training Institute and ReServe. The organization employs 30 with a budget over $2.5 million from a mix of public and private sources."
In other words Daniella was working out of the box trying to make the County a better place for its citizens. She worked on child abuse, with immigrants, created new jobs, etc. She is a consensus builder. She even worked with the likes of Natacha Seijas on Social issues, that is someone Katy Sorenson could never work with.
I told you all previously that I knew Daniella for years before she initiated this run for District 8. My take on her was that she was a kind and gentle woman, easy to laugh, but a take-charge leader. I was impressed with her speaking ability and the success of her programs. I went to one of her workshops at Miami College. About 150 citizens were there. She led the meeting. I was hardly a blip on her radar screen at that time because she moved so fast and furious towards her goals and I was doing my thing...don't even remember what that was.
I was at her house once. She was holding a meeting about who remembers what, keeping her big dog at bay and getting her family situated with about a dozen people in her living room. She was a multi-tasker. What I think is, she is a born leader. Her programs helped everyone in the county but because her office was on the East Side of the City of Miami, most people did not get to know her work in District 8 but the results of it were there. She didn't advertise, she just got things done. She worked with the clergy, I remember that. She had a meeting with pastors and priests from all these denominations that I was at. She tried to get different groups to operate as one, to get things done.
I remember Professor Gregory Bush, a historian at the University of Miami, saying to me at yet another meeting when I first saw her, "That is Daniella Levine Cava, she is very powerful." Then I heard her speak and I knew why. She was brilliant. She was articulate and she offered solutions to whatever problem we were discussing. Aren't you sorry my memory is not better? Ask me who is on a Campaign Finance report and I can tell you, but this kind of stuff I forget because I am an activist on so many issues -- always putting out fires -- I never remember what issue I am working on. But Daniella and I were often putting out the same fires, that is why we always ended up in the same room. I know Daniella's character, and it is squeaky clean and devoted to doing good. Sort of like mine except I am not squeaky clean and although devoted to doing good by writing this blog for 7 years and being an activist since 1995 (I can be nasty and a pain in the ass and that is not Daniella by a long shot).
I just know that Daniella won't be beholden to any special interests, she will be beholden to us, the people. Her only mistake, is not knowing me better. But, that might have made her more cynical and who needs that...just you readers. I asked Daniella how she remembered me over the years. She said she thought of me as an environmental activist, knowledgeable and passionate about my issues. She said she was not acquainted with our blog until the last year or two and hadn't realized how political I was.
Here is her official bio (read more). So friend from Homestead, damn it, read the bio and stop asking me what I can't articulate but I feel in my heart. Daniella can't speak to and meet every person in the district, you have to help her do that because you have met her and you liked her. Spread the word.
The dreaded bio, read it:
Daniella has been a tireless advocate for South Florida residents and communities for over 30 years. She has proven business skills as founder and CEO of Catalyst Miami, an organization dedicated to helping Floridians achieve economic well-being and self-sufficiency. As County Commissioner, Daniella will apply her impressive leadership and organizational experience to solve community problems and restore confidence in local government.
Born in New York City, and raised across North and South America, Daniella’s family stressed giving back and working to create equal opportunity. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and graduate degrees in law and social work from Columbia University. Daniella came to South Florida in 1980 to join her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, a Miami native, who returned home to join his father in medical practice.
Daniella served special needs children and immigrants at Legal Services of Greater Miami, then represented children in the child welfare system as Associate and Legal Director for the Guardian Ad Litem Program.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Daniella was recruited to create a new intake system for child abuse cases with the Department for Children and Families (DCF). Her efforts were concentrated on the neighborhoods of County Commission District 8 where she helped restore the lives and homes of those devastated by the storm. Due to her success with this special assignment, she was promoted to Manager for Foster Care, Adoptions and Child Welfare Legal Services.
In 1996 Daniella founded Catalyst Miami to help low- and middle-income families through education and advocacy. Catalyst is an innovator in health and human services and an incubator for new approaches to community and economic development. As president and CEO, Daniella managed a staff of 30 and a budget of over $2.5 million from a mix of public and private sources, growing during an economic downturn and recognized through countless awards for innovation and impact. Catalyst Miami “offers a smorgasbord of services in areas such as financial assistance—from how-to’s on taxes and home ownership to healthcare,” wrote the Miami New Times. “It’s a one-stop shop for people looking to pull up to the middle class…”
At Catalyst Miami, Daniella launched the Prosperity Campaign in alliance with the business community, Chambers of Commerce, United Way, and local banks. The Prosperity Campaign helps people increase their income and savings, and has brought in hundreds of millions in income tax credits and other programs, money reinvested in the local economy. Catalyst helps approximately 5,000 people each year to become more self-sufficient.
Daniella has helped thousands improve their standard of living and enter the middle class. She has created hundreds of jobs through programs such as Public Allies, ReServe, and internships throughout the nonprofit and government sectors. Hundreds of new civic leaders have graduated from Catalyst’s programs, including new immigrant leaders in Homestead. These graduates are now active members of school, community and civic life.
Ann Kimble came to the Catalyst Miami seeking tools to advocate for the disabled. After her Catalyst training, Ann started her own business for transportation for the disabled. She received grant funding, worked with commissioners, and mastered the legal issues to help disabled drivers. “Daniella planted that seed in me, that we can help ourselves,” Ann says. “Catalyst has the classes to teach us how to better our lives. They’ve given me so much that I can’t give them back enough.”
Daniella has served on the Florida Bar Committee on Legal Needs of Children; the boards of League of Women Voters, Orange Bowl Foundation, North Dade Medical Foundation and the South Florida Health Information Initiative. She’s won awards from the Red Cross, American Society for Public Administration, ACLU, FIU, National Council of Jewish Women, League of Women Voters, People for the American Way and American Association of University Women. And she was selected as one of 11 “leadership fellows” by the International Women’s Forum in 1999.
Daniella has been a trustee-level member of the Greater Miami Chamber for over a decade and a member of the Steering Committee for One Community One Goal. She also serves on two economic development advisory boards at Florida International University and the community healthcare advisory board at University of Miami.
Daniella and Robert raised two children, Eliza and Edward Cava, in Miami-Dade, supported by strong networks of friends, families and co-workers. They welcomed Fanny, Daniella’s beloved mother in law, and countless interns, family and friends to live in their home. Daniella is poised and excited to apply her extensive and effective experience for the benefit of our entire county, growing jobs, developing effective programs and responsibly managing public funds.