January Change Maker: Javier A. Soto

January Change Maker: Javier A. Soto

Javier A. Soto, President & CEO, The Miami Foundation // 

What do you see as the greatest policy issues that Miami must address in 2017?
In 2017, significant attention will be paid to transit issues. Explosive growth has impacted the ability to move in the city.

Equally important, but a longer-term issue that Miami is facing is the effect of sea level rise. We have already begun to see issues with this along the coast. We will need massive infrastructure changes in order to address the impact of climate change on the city.

What is The Miami Foundation’s current focus?
In addition to transit and sea level rise, the Foundation has placed an emphasis on growing park space in Miami as compared to other metro areas. All of these issues speak to the resilience of our community.

Our role, particularly with regard to sea level rise, has been as a convener. We have been bringing together local leaders and community members. We have also invited national experts into the conversation.

In our effort to grow park space, we have leveraged our resources to enhance existing, and create new public parks and public spaces. Our hope is that this initial investment will encourage policy makers to support these projects as well.

What’s one of the best things, in your opinion, about Miami?
Miami is full of opportunity. Since the city doesn’t have the long-term history of some older communities, it also lacks barriers that might exist elsewhere. There are ample opportunities here for people to roll up their sleeves and get involved in improving the city.

What are one or two projects on which you are currently working that excite you?
We are working with local governments to implement a strategy for resilience as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. The initiative is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st Century.

The Miami Foundation was involved in the community’s application to join the initiative. We are also bringing together collaborative partners to address the resilience challenges focused on through this project, including flooding and sea level rise, infrastructure failure, affordable housing, income disparity, and transportation issues. The project recently started, and we are very excited to participate.

What’s your advice for the next generation of city change makers?
Around the country, much of the public discourse is not solutions-focused. Make sure that your work is focused on finding solutions to the challenges your community faces.

What should we know about your work that you haven’t yet mentioned because I didn’t ask the right question?
This year the Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary. For Miami, a 50th anniversary is unique, because the city is barely over 100 years old. This milestone is a big deal

This is a chance for us to look back at what we have done, and to look forward to the opportunities that await us.

About the Author

Yes No