The Future of Miami with Alberto Ibargüen: Join Us
The outgoing President of Knight Foundation joins us for a conversation on the future of philanthropy, journalism, arts, and, of course – Miami.
Alberto Ibargüen on the future of Miami
Join us for a conversation with the outgoing President of Knight Foundation and former Herald publisher on Miami’s future. Register here.
As Art Basel Miami Beach returns this week, it’s remarkable to think how different Miami was in 2005.
There was no Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, no Perez Art Museum Miami, no Frost Science, and no New World Center. The streets of neighborhoods like Wynwood or Brickell were often dormant at night. Miami Gardens and Doral were two-year-old cities. Art Basel Miami Beach was only three years old. A community with people from so many different places was still finding itself.
It was in 2005 that Alberto Ibargüen left his post as Publisher of The Miami Herald to take the helm at Knight Foundation, the $2.5 billion philanthropy based in Miami that provides grants supporting journalism, arts, and communities across the U.S. It started an eighteen-year journey in which the foundation helped spearhead an arts renaissance in Miami, spurred Miami’s tech community, supported local news organizations across the country struggling to adapt to a digital world, and sought to bolster free expression and democracy at a time of increasing polarization.
In January, Ibargüen will step down as President and CEO. But, before he does, he will join us on Dec. 20 for this month’s Opportunity Miami Conversations on our Future. We won’t be looking back at his years in journalism and philanthropy - though it will surely come up - but instead focus on what’s next. The future of philanthropy, journalism and media, arts and culture, and Miami are all on the table.
You can register here.
SEEING OPPORTUNITY WHERE OTHERS SEE MAYHEM
Opportunity Miami, as the successor to One Community One Goal, is the future-focused arm of Miami-Dade Beacon Council. Its mission is imagining the Miami of 2040 - when the child today will be entering the workforce - and helping our community build it.
The Miami of 2040 is 17 years away. But, in looking back on Ibargüen’s 18 years at Knight, we know big changes can happen over such a time. It was during this time, for instance, that Miami opened homes for major arts institutions at a clip few cities can match. The Arsht opened in 2006, New World Center and the Moss Cultural Arts Center in 2011, PAMM in 2013, Frost Science and the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in 2017, and Rubell Museum Miami in 2019, among them.
Miami was once a city on the brink, a place that was “poised to split apart or to soar,” Ibargüen recalled in 2019 when accepting the Jay Malina Leadership Award from the Beacon Council, an honor named after the person who started One Community One Goal.
It was a city in previous decades roiled by upheaval ranging from the Mariel boatlift and the McDuffie riots to drug wars and the Elian Gonzalez saga. Miami was a place confronted by enormous demographic shifts after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and, for many years, has simultaneously absorbed waves of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean.
But Miami, as it happened, soared. It did so because of visionary, courageous, and tenacious leaders in the community who “saw opportunity where others only mayhem,” Ibargüen said.
“Local talent developed a vibrant downtown, significantly raised the level of our universities and medical centers, and made Miami a cultural destination, a hub of tech entrepreneurship, and a beacon of freedom in the Hemisphere,” said Ibargüen, who arrived in Miami with his late wife Susana in 1995 to lead El Nuevo Herald before succeeding Dave Lawrence as publisher of The Miami Herald, and then Knight Foundation.
A FUTURE THAT’S OURS TO LOSE
But now, at a moment when Miami has captured the world’s attention as an important, emerging global city, where to next?
It’s a future that’s bright, but it’s also one that is “ours to lose,” Ibargüen warned in October.
“Why say it that way?” he said in a speech accepting the Sand in My Shoes Award, presented by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. “Because if we don’t pay attention to issues like sea level rise, housing affordability, a shrinking middle class, and public education to train a workforce that can continue to adapt, we can lose what we’ve built.”
Meanwhile, across the U.S., democracy faces “a major, even existential, threat” due to the decline of local news.
“I am concerned that citizens have lost a general sense of community information and consequent feeling of common purpose, a common set of expectations about what’s happening in our town,” Ibargüen said, whose roles included serving as chair of PBS along with the boards of American Airlines, PepsiCo, AOL, and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
In navigating the way forward, Miami’s great asset - and one that needs to be continually nurtured - is its adaptability.
“The great vitality of our city springs from the adaptability of our people,” said Ibargüen.
“The most successful are the most adaptable,” he continued in his October speech. “Miami, with our diverse, creative, and ambitious population, exemplifies this principle. We are a city of strivers, ingrained with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
This promises to be a candid and thought-provoking conversation about what’s next in Miami. I had the privilege of twice working for Ibargüen, first at The Miami Herald and then Knight Foundation, and am very much looking forward to the discussion. I hope you will join us.
As the future-focused arm of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, Opportunity Miami is a platform for people passionate about where Miami goes next. As always, we would love to hear from you.
If you have a company or entrepreneur to suggest or an idea to share that relates to building Miami’s future, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch our Interview and On Site video series featuring leaders shaping Miami's future. Please also follow us on our social media channels. If you were forwarded this newsletter, you can subscribe by clicking here. And if you are new to Opportunity Miami, you can learn about our mission and work here.
Miami-Dade Beacon Council is hosting a series of events welcoming entrepreneurs to Miami. On Wednesday is a fireside chat with Max Tuchman & reception and on Thursday there are a series of events that you can learn about here.