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We Need You To Make An Impact

We need you: To Make An Impact

We take a break from local politics  to focus on something just as important: local philanthropy.
Last week, the newly formed Impact 100 for Men Palm Beach County held its first awards night at Delray’s Arts Garage.
It was a fun and memorable evening. And hopefully, the start of a long history for the nascent group started by my friend Chuck Halberg, a local contractor (we won’t call him a developer..heaven forbid) who spearheaded the group to support non-profits serving children in southern Palm Beach County.
I am honored to be part of the founding board along with a group of truly great guys. Impact 100 was modeled after the wildly successful Impact 100 for Women’s group which I think now gives close to $600,000 a year to local charities.
The concept is brilliantly simple: write one check, attend one meeting and vote to give a big amount to a few non-profits. Repeat year after year and make an impact.
In our first year, we managed to attract 56 men who stepped up and wrote checks for $1,000 plus a fee to the Community Foundation which houses the funds eliminating the need for us to form and administer a 501c3.
While we fell short of our goal of giving away $100,000 we were pleased with our debut and hope to grow each year.

The big winner in our first year was The Miracle League  founded and run by our friends and neighbors Julia and Jeff Kadel.
We’ve written about the Miracle League in this space before. The program allows children with special needs to play the great game of baseball.
It’s an amazing and beautiful endeavor. I was fortunate to be on the City Commission when the Kadel’s approached the City of Delray with the idea of opening the first accessible baseball diamond in Palm Beach County. We provided some seed money along with the county and the league formed at Delray’s Miller Field. It has grown and thrived ever since attracting private philanthropy, grants and scores of volunteers.
The dream now includes creating a boundless playground for children at Miller Park.
The Impact for Men group voted last week to award the Miracle League $50,000 toward the dream after hearing a compelling presentation from Julia.
We were also proud to donate $3,000 each to the amazing Milagro Center in Delray and to Junior Achievement which teaches kids the importance of entrepreneurship.
We are hoping that those dollar amounts increase in subsequent years and that we can make as large an impact as the Women’s group has been able to achieve.
While we live in a community that features great wealth, we are also a community that has overwhelming needs.
Less than a mile from million dollar homes and a rocking downtown there are many people living in crushing poverty.
There is hunger and deprivation in our communities and children and families  who go without.
We are fortunate to have many great non-profits that work hard to address the needs from Family Promise of South Palm Beach County which provides emergency housing to families and the Milagro Center which has a remarkable track record of impacting our most vulnerable children to Delray Students First which mentors and cares for kids looking to break out of the cycle of poverty to the stellar Achievement Center for Children and Families we are blessed with organizations that care and do a great job.
But despite the talent and dedication to making lives better there are unmet needs. And each of the organizations mentioned and many others struggle to raise funds for their critical missions.
I have long felt that while Delray has done a remarkable job revitalizing our city we have fallen somewhat short in our potential to develop a deeper pool of local philanthropists.
Yes, we have many generous people and a few foundations that have been invaluable. But from my vantage point, too many people are sitting on the sidelines, giving “back home” or simply unaware of the needs we have here at home. And this is our home.
While I’m sure there are unmet needs in Boca, from across the border I’ve long admired that community’s ability to raise funds for education, health care and the arts.
I have had the good fortune to sit on many non-profit boards over the years and it’s been a struggle to expand the pool of those who give back.  And so I see many of the same people going to the well time and time again. I’m so thankful for them. But we need more people to give what they can.
Many of the charities in our community are designed to break the cycle of poverty or inspire people to do more and be more.
Whether it’s teaching a child to consider business as a career (Junior Achievement) providing children with an arts experience that may spur a career choice or inspire beauty and understanding (Old School Square, Milagro) or spurring an interest in education (The Delray Public Library, Delray Students First) etc., we have vehicles to transform people. We just need some more fuel.
I’ve enjoyed the first year of Impact 100 for Men. The camaraderie of guys getting together to do good and the emotion of awards night.
I continue to marvel at the leadership and energy of people who step up, like my friend Chuck and many others.
As Uncle Sam might say, we need you to get involved. It really does take a village.

Build A Great City

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.com

The adventure took me to Lake Worth last week.

Thanks to the wonderful Danika Dahl (www.I-Love-Delray-Beach.com) and my friend Greg Rice, I had the opportunity to bring some books and some thoughts to Lake Worth last week.

We had a great discussion about cities, downtowns, economic development and local politics with an emphasis on Lake Worth’s enormous potential. I began by emphasizing that they not me were the experts when it came to Lake Worth. While I have visited the city innumerable times and enjoy the downtown, its restaurants, festivals and beachfront casino and pier, I don’t live and breathe the community like people who live and work there do. But I do think there are some universal truths and principles for community building that can work anywhere if they are tailored to local sensibilities. But when it comes down to it, citizens are responsible for creating the identity, look and feel of their city. And each city should strive to have its own personality and style.

Below are the notes I took with me which framed the conversation. I thought I would share. It was a great night, with lots of intelligent discussion, some super ideas and a lot of inspiration. In an age of social media and technology it’s reassuring to see how powerful it is for people to gather and talk as neighbors with a shared passion for creating a great city. Thanks Danika and Greg for the opportunity. Local blogger Wes Blackman–a  really terrific urbanist himself– did a three part series on the evening that I am very appreciative of. You can find Wes’ blog at http://wesblackman.blogspot.com/.

Forge a Vision–

  • Involve as many stakeholders as possible.
  • Elected officials and property owners must be bought in
  • Begin to Implement immediately; prioritize and get going. If you fail to act, the vision fades and you lose the trust of those who volunteer and care.
  • Celebrate and market the small victories; build momentum because success breeds success.
  • City Budgets should reflect the citizens vision.
  • Stick to the vision: it takes time. Stare down the inevitable resistance and have patience and faith.
  • Remember that visions are living and breathing documents, principles should be stuck to, but good visions grow and are flexible to meet changing times.

Visioning tips:

Each city is different. Build on your strengths and assets. Inspiration can come from local history, local art, local architecture and design, but also embrace new ideas and changing times.

Be mindful of your strengths weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Guard against complacency. Don’t let failures or missteps bog you down, learn and move on. Similarly don’t let success make you smug or lazy.

When elections come, pin down candidates on their views of the adopted vision. Do they see themselves as being responsible to making it happen or are they running to upend the vision?

Require participants to put your city first, ahead of personal agendas, petty feuds and egos. Look for servant leaders and avoid those who think they are the smartest people in the room, regardless of the room they are in.

Remind people immediately when they stray…ignoring problems allows them to fester and grow. Insist that the citizen’s vision be honored. Be willing to fight for it—and count on having to do so.

 

Brand your street/downtown/city

What is your city’s style, what’s its promise, what’s its vibe? Once you identify your brand identity: market, promote and relentlessly work to bring people downtown.

Embrace change, but make sure change respects your city and its history. You can’t stop change, but you can shape it. The best visions and brands embrace the past, the present and the future.

Establish a culture of “how may I help you” versus “watch me stop you”. This does not mean compromising standards but it does mean being business friendly and making an effort to land deals and make things happen. Developers and investors don’t mind tough standards but they do require a fair, predictable and timely process.

A vision begins getting old the moment it’s adopted. Every day it lingers its damaged, every day you don’t talk about it people will fail to understand it. A vision is a flame. It needs to be tended to and you need to constantly educate the community of its importance and rationale. A vision is your best economic development tool, it’s what you sell.

Events are important. They bring people to your city. They allow for people to meet, talk and gather.

Public spaces and placemaking are critical. But they must be safe and active while also allowing for quiet enjoyment.

Culture is important too.–the arts are critical. Residents seek them out and so do visitors and companies.

Make sure elected officials are champions of the vision. They need to see themselves as stewards with a responsibility to make the vision a reality and to protect the vision.

If there is no vision or if the vision is shoved off to the sidelines personal agendas will take over, the vacuum will be filled with politics.

You need a team. The right people on the bus in the right seats. And those people need to be able to work together well. That doesn’t mean they will always agree but it means that they are able to overcome differences, trust each other and feel passionate about the vision and mission. Once a decision is made move on; there will be times you agree and times when you disagree.

Positioning is critical. Where does your city fit in the local and regional landscape? Delray did not want to become Boca—as successful as Boca is. Boynton should not be Delray. But city’s also have to know what is possible. Boynton is pursuing an identity as a city friendly to millennials—with workforce housing, breweries, an arts scene and inexpensive space for new companies. It’s a solid strategy/position because it counters Delray which has become expensive and a place where it is difficult to win approvals.

A good place to start

SWOT Analysis-

  • An old fashioned tool, but a good place to begin.
  • Strengths—What are the best things about Lake Worth?
  • My take: Outsiders view…
  1. A whole lot of amenities for a small city. A waterfront park, a real downtown, great history, two main streets, human scale, charming cottages, relatively affordable, a waterfront golf course, a beautiful ocean front casino, a great pier, some great restaurants, walkable. Engaged community, abundance of creatives. Central location in county, near airport and other cities. Diverse and tolerant.
  • Weaknesses

 

  • My take:
  • Crime, vagrancy, lack of residential density to support local businesses and restaurants, lack of industry, derelict properties, sense that Lake Worth has been on the brink for a long time but never quite gets there, vacancies downtown. Financial struggles, aging infrastructure.
  • Opportunities

 

  • My take:
  • Great wealth east of the bridge that could be attracted to shop and dine downtown, a great “old Florida, laid back unpretentious downtown” that has tremendous appeal, historic buildings ripe for adaptive re-use, add downtown housing and small office, co-working, incubation, emphasis on artists, ability to attract people to close-in neighborhoods through some bold program that would clean up and stabilize neighborhoods and grow tax base.
  • Threats

 

  • My Take
  • Politics that might resist change or risk taking, infrastructure issues.

All in all, a terrific night…next week my trip to Naples 5th Avenue and the power of collaboration.

 

 

 

Moments…Define Leaders

Leaders not only seize the day, they seize the moments.

Leaders not only seize the day, they seize the important moments.

There are so many nuances to leadership that I’m not sure if it’s possible to fully grasp even a fraction of what there is to know about the subject.

But one thing effective leaders seem to grasp is the power of moments.

The best leaders seem to know when to act.

The best leaders seem to know when to compromise.

The best leaders seem to know when it’s the  best time to seize opportunity.

And the best leaders seem to know the precise moment to frame an issue and make a lasting impression.

We have seen it on a national level during moments of crisis when our country seems ready to learn and ready to move.

Today, is just such a moment and I’m hopeful that Washington can overcome partisanship and politics and do something positive in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando. A moment was missed after Newtown, Connecticut and many moments since then. Each time a moment is missed, people lose faith in their leaders.

On a local level, mayors and city council members also are given moments to seize on issues of far less gravity than what occurred in Orlando a few weeks back. But they are moments nonetheless and they aren’t leaders if they don’t recognize them and do something positive with them.

Often they come in the wake of pitched battles, which can be very personal when waged on a local level because we are often debating our neighbors and friends on sensitive issues.

In Delray, the recent iPic showdown provided a moment and so does the immediate battle over special events in Delray and the hiring of a city attorney.

The iPic moment was missed. There was an opportunity  to acknowledge and address the angst over change and development but also to embrace the opportunity to welcome a new company, jobs, investment and the cleaning up of a derelict property. Sadly, it was missed but there’s still a chance to grab an opportunity.

While certain approvals have been granted, it has been reported that a developer agreement that would actually enable the project to proceed remains elusive. Who is helping to make that happen? That’s a moment to be seized and a chance to make a project better by working together. Because once a legislative decision is made, it’s incumbent to make the most of it. Even if you– especially if you– as an individual elected official voted against something. Because unless it’s immoral, dangerous, illegal, discriminatory or unethical– once a decision is made  you are duty bound to accept it if we are to be a society that respects the decisions made by governing bodies. And if we don’t, then those decisions will never be accepted and we will never be able to rely on a governmental action.

As for special events, the city commission made a point. Actually, several: quality is better than quantity, where possible events should be contained and events come with a cost. The event producers get it and they should be credited with stepping up and redesigning and rethinking many long time events. This is the moment where you declare victory, thank people for compromising, credit them for proposing solutions and move on. There are bigger problems to deal with than Garlic Fest, which many would argue does not even constitute a problem.

Like heroin.

I attended a drug task force meeting last week led by the impressive Suzanne Spencer.

It was an extraordinary experience. In the room, were all the major front line players–treatment providers, business leaders, cops, firefighters, code enforcement personnel, hospital officials and legislative aides.

Folks, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. People are dying and it’s not just kids it’s middle age people too. Opioid and heroin Abuse is rampant and scary. And it’s here in our community–and elsewhere too as evidenced by the presence of top-level officials from Boynton Beach and Pompano Beach.

While the stats are depressing and terrifying and the stories of exploitation and death horrifying it was heartening to see grassroots leaders working together.

Information and advice is being shared, people on the front lines seem to be cooperating and they appear to be working on the problem on all ends–prevention, treatment and everything in between. They are leaders seizing a moment.

They deserve our prayers, support, hearts, minds and resources. There are opportunities in crisis and the very best leaders recognize the moment and heed the call.

Delray’s Next Great Street

Delray's Saltwater Brewery is the type of anchor that creates a sense of place.

Delray’s Saltwater Brewery is the type of anchor that creates a sense of place.

Tomorrow night, the Delray Beach City Commission will hear a presentation from a 30 plus member Task Force that spent the last year studying ways to rejuvenate the 4.1 mile Congress Avenue corridor.

I was privileged to serve as the Task Force chairman. It was a gratifying experience to see a large group come together and forge a vision.

The issue is personal to me and many others. It’s a continuation of an effort to get something going on Congress Avenue that dates back a decade to when a commission I served on rezoned and re-imagined the corridor in the wake of an announcement by Office Depot that they were abandoning their Delray Beach headquarters for new digs in Boca Raton.

As I told Lois Solomon of the Sun Sentinel last week http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/delray-beach/fl-delray-congress-avenue-20160303-story.html that’s a call a mayor never wants to get.

But we decided back then to make lemonade out of lemons and worked with the Florida Public Officials Design Institute at FAU to craft a plan for a large portion of the corridor. We moved forward and created a zoning district called MROC, which allowed for a mix of uses, greater densities, the maintaining of light industry and the addition of food, beverage, retail, office and a trolley system to connect workers on the Congress corridor to our downtown.

We were termed out, the Great recession hit and before you knew it a decade passed. This effort is aimed to kick start, update, refine and improve on the vision and subsequent efforts. And thanks to a talented, hardworking and devoted task force with a vast array of skill and experience we think we have something special.

The big ideas are “complete streets”, placemaking, millennial housing, entrepreneurial hubs, connectivity to the downtown, transit oriented development (to take advantage of a nearby Tri Rail station), open space, public art, expedited permitting and brand building to re-position Congress as “Delray’s next great street.”

Delray has a rich history of making key strategic investments in streetscapes that then transform neighborhoods and create value while attracting significant private investment that ends up far outweighing the public’s initial stake. We believe, once the city commits and sends a message that they are serious about attracting investment that the private sector will respond.

Local examples include:

East Atlantic Avenue—a beautification project in the 90s funded by the Decade of Excellence bond spurred the initial revitalization of the central business district. This investment, followed by the 2001 Downtown Master Plan, created one of the finest downtowns in Florida, if not America.

West Atlantic Avenue-The Downtown Master Plan and the CRA’s colossal and ongoing investment and long term focus on the gateway is beginning to bear fruit with projects such as Atlantic Grove, Uptown, the new Fairfield Inn and small business growth on NW/SW 5th Avenue.

US 1—Another result of the Downtown Master Plan which only recently was completed. The beautification and narrowing of US 1 has converted a tired, high speed, unsafe highway into a neighborhood that is aesthetically pleasing with high property values and intriguing business and residential opportunities.

Pineapple Grove—An early 2000s beautification project that was jointly funded by the city, CRA and property owners, Second Avenue has become a beautiful street alive with restaurants, a growing services industry, an emerging fashion industry, food, art and residential uses. The highlight of the street prior was an old tire store and a self-serve car wash.

We believe a similar effort/investment along Congress will yield results in terms of vibrancy, private sector investment, quality of life, tax base, jobs and a sense of place.

In order for cities to be truly successful and to generate the tax base and economic activity needed to

be sustainable, they need multiple districts to perform well.

Delray Beach has been highly successful transforming its downtown into a nationally renowned

destination. The city has also done tremendous work in several neighborhoods and commercial

districts.

But in many ways, Congress Avenue remains the key piece to long term success.

Congress Avenue’s potential for job creation, increased tax base, business incubation, workforce and affordable housing, transit-oriented development and place making should make the 4.1 mile corridor a top priority for public and private sector investment and attention.

The Task Force believes the corridor is a natural complement to the city’s celebrated downtown and in many ways we see a synergistic relationship between our urban core and what we hope will be a dynamic and successful corridor.

Delray Beach has proven time and again, that place making investments yield tangible and intangible returns.

Here’s hoping Congress Avenue becomes the next success story. Our next great street.

A Woman Of Grace

Julia Kadel

Julia Kadel

I believe in serendipity.

So I was having a sad Tuesday—nothing fatal or even particularly meaningful—just the blah’s when I got a Facebook notification from my friend and neighbor Julia Kadel.

Julia and Jeff live around the block from us and their oldest son is best friends with one of our boys. They grew up together. He’s family and we love him.

So just as I was taking a break and reading more bad news about the Middle East over a boring sandwich, I clicked on the Facebook link and saw a link to a video that you can see in this post.

Take a few minutes and watch. I promise you it’s worth it.

Ok, pretty moving wasn’t it? And impressive too.

Julia and Jeff are the founders of The Miracle League, which last year celebrated a decade of ensuring that all children can play baseball regardless of their ability. For over 10 years, the Miracle League Association has made it possible for children all over the country with physical and mental disabilities to achieve the same dream as their healthy peers – to play ball.

The kids play on a cushioned synthetic turf to help prevent injuries, and the league has wheelchair accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to the wheelchair bound or visually impaired. Thanks to the Kadel family, all kids in our community can play the great game of baseball.

A decade ago, the Kadel’s approached the City Commission with a heartfelt and passionate plea to help them create a Miracle League field in Delray Beach. I was mayor at the time and all of us had tears in our eyes when Julia got done speaking. We gave them some seed money and told them we would love to see the Miracle League build a field at Miller Park. Within months I was throwing out the first pitch. The league has been going strong ever since.

With help from private donors, scores of volunteers and assistance from the county and other groups Julia, Jeff, their kids and others have made it happen and brought joy to children and families that simply cannot be measured.

At the heart of the effort is Julia…always Julia.

She’s filled with passion, boundless energy and goodness. She’s just a beautiful person.

A woman of grace.

I stole that term from the Bethesda Hospital Foundation which recently awarded Julia that coveted honor. How fitting– because she epitomizes the word.

Whenever the chips are down or there is need in this community or beyond, the Kadel’s are there to volunteer. When Tropical Storm Sandy devastated Julia’s native New Jersey, she and her family packed the SUV and drove off to help for weeks at a time. Her giving isn’t passive and it’s not for show. It’s from the heart and she’s an example for all of us.

We talk a lot about being a “village” in Delray but frankly sometimes I open my Facebook app with apprehension because parts of the social media landscape can be a sewer full of lies, garbage, petty complaints, threats and various forms of adult bullying. I ignore it. You should too. But social media more to offer;  it’s filled with good stuff too.

I can connect with my cousin in California, my sister in law in Pittsburgh, my high school friends, my favorite elementary school teacher and people that I have worked with throughout my career and it’s a joy to have even a tenuous connection—to see their kids, their dogs, their vacations etc.

And sometimes on a blah Tuesday, a beautiful soul such as Julia can “tag” you and share a video that will make your heart swell because there are people like her in the world doing really good things for other people. Lord knows there’s enough people doing harm in the world.

Watch the video. Give to the Miracle League. Brighten someone else’s day. It’s easy to make it rain in someone else’s life, but it’s also easy to make others smile and much more meaningful to roll up your sleeves and help those who need you.

Thanks, Julia. You are goodness personified and a community treasure.

Visit http://miracleleaguepalmbeachcounty.com/ for more information or to get involved.

Bold Visions Inspire Giving

A rendering of the health center at FAU

A rendering of the health center at FAU

It’s been a good two weeks for Boca Raton’s two universities, thanks to the generosity and vision of Christine Lynn.

Lynn University announced at its annual State of the University address recently that it will build the Christine E. Lynn University Center, a project that begins the final phase of the school’s Campus Master Plan.

 The new building is made possible by a $15 million gift, the largest in university history, from Board of Trustees Chair Christine E. Lynn. Mrs. Lynn’s commitment is a challenge grant that establishes the foundation for others to participate in this momentous project.

This week, Ms. Lynn gave Florida Atlantic University $5 million gift to help construct a building on its Boca Raton campus.

 The Christine E. Lynn Sports Medicine Center will be a treatment center for FAU student athletes within the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence. It’ll include rehabilitation facilities, hydrotherapy treatments and medical exam rooms.

Both Lynn and FAU are growing in stature, importance and reputation thanks in large part to the dynamic leadership provided by its presidents—John Kelly at FAU and Kevin Ross at Lynn. That kind of dynamic leadership spurs excitement and giving. Leadership matters. You can’t succeed without it.

 “The Christine E. Lynn University Center will stand at the heart of our campus and enhance the experience of students, employees and every person who visits,” says President Ross. “We are grateful for Mrs. Lynn’s unparalleled generosity and the role she continues to play in our university’s future.”

The university center’s design is the culmination of years of preparation, beginning with the development of the Lynn 2020 strategic plan in 2005, and the Campus Master Plan, developed with design firm Gensler and approved by the board of trustees in 2009.

 “Our approach is based on Lynn’s core values as a vibrant, energetic campus,” says Gensler Senior Associate Cliff Bollmann. “The goal is to drive energy on campus and create a space where students want to be.”

 The building will encompass student essentials including Lynn’s award-winning 24-hour dining, Hannifan Center for Career Connections, the Center for Learning Abroad, campus store, mailroom, coffee shop, student affairs offices, collaboration spaces and more. Its design includes a large “living room” for informal gatherings and presentations, with expansive glass windows that connect students outdoors with activity occurring inside.

The university center, collectively with future residential spaces including the recently announced Mary and Harold Perper Residence Hall, will bring together academics, housing and the overall student experience to drive engagement and create a gathering place for future generations. The project’s crowning element will be a green space envisioned as a park dedicated to Mrs. Lynn.

The university center is expected to be completed in 2018 and is only one part of Lynn’s bold vision which includes an award winning curriculum and relationships with key partners including that little company in Cupertino– Apple.

At FAU, keep a close watch on the Tech Runway which will nurture start-up companies via funding, mentoring and activities.

The Runway itself is a start-up and I’ve been proud to serve on its advisory board.

Next week, I along with local businessman Connor Lynch and Stacey Halberg of Northern Trust will host a special dinner in Delray to introduce the concept to key leaders. President Kelly and others will be there to share the vision.

Exciting times…indeed. Our local universities are leading the way.

 

 

 

Thanks Joe

Mr. Debonair

Mr. Debonair

Editor’s Note: Joe Gillie officially retired this week as President and CEO of Old School Square. A celebration of his legacy will be held Nov. 7 at Old School Square. To get tickets visit http://delraycenterforthearts.org/

 

I remember the first time I met Joe Gillie.

It was 25 years ago and he was a board member at Old School Square, which at the time was a fledgling experiment in a town trying desperately to change its narrative.

It was 1990 and Delray Beach was a very different place. In March, the city held a landmark election and elected a slate of candidates who promised to reform government, bring stability to City Hall and implement what was being called a “Decade of Excellence.”

The 80s had been a rough decade for Delray, also known as “Dullray” back then. The city had serious crime issues, the downtown had major vacancies and the crack cocaine epidemic had engulfed entire neighborhoods. But there were signs of hope all around. Visions 2000 brought people together, there were plans to reform schools, a new CRA was doing good things, historic districts were being established and the Decade of Excellence Bond passed with huge voter support, promising over $20 million in needed improvements and beautification.

A year later a visionary police chief was hired and a new chamber president too. It was a time of hope and promise and Old School Square was at the forefront of civic endeavors charged with being a catalyst for downtown revitalization.

Two years after I met Joe, he became President of Old School Square. By 1993, he was in charge of our first bid for an All America City Award and when I say he was in charge, he was in charge.

Joe managed every detail using his theatre background to craft a presentation that literally blew the judges in Tampa away. I recently found archival footage of that event and it was remarkable to see our diversity and spirit in action—and it was remarkable to see Joe’s leadership at its most impactful.

He incorporated young and old, black and white, east and west into a team. In baseball they call it clubhouse chemistry; that intangible that makes champions. Joe was the architect of that chemistry and the vehicle was the All America City Competition.

When you view the footage from that event, you see a young Mayor Tom Lynch, civic giants like C. Spencer Pompey, dedicated city staff like Lula Butler and Dorothy Ellington, residents like John Tallentire and Sandra Almy and you just marvel at the energy, spirit, humor and camaraderie. There was trust among neighbors, people loved their city and trusted their local government enough to go millions of dollars in debt in order to achieve a vision.

Old School Square itself was a big risk, and you can see in founder Frances Bourque’s eyes her trust and belief in a young Joe Gillie to pull off a vision that if successful would mark a huge turning point in the city’s rich history.

In hindsight, winning that first All America City Award was the propellant we needed as a community to tell the world that things in Delray were changing and we were serious about lifting up all parts of our community.

Joe Gillie was at the forefront of those efforts. He, along with many many others, helped to win two All America City Awards and we became the first city in Florida to do so.

But Joe was our captain. In Joe, we trusted. He kept this city focused, laughing and moving forward through good times and challenging times.

Joe was a different kind of leader. He wasn’t walled off in some office, he could be found in the trenches, usually with a broom in those early days, but always with a larger than life personality that greeted patrons, promoted shows, programs and classes and always talked up the larger goal which was building community through culture.

We hear, often, how people are replaceable. How no one person is larger than the mission or more important than the enterprise. Part of that old saw is true, except that people are not replaceable.

There will be people who serve as President of what is now called the Delray Center for the Arts and hopefully they will do a great job in the role. But there will never be another Joe Gillie. He’s an original; a Delray original by way of Virginia.

In August, I attended a surprise party for Joe at Smoke. It’s not easy to surprise Joe, but it happened. Many of his friends were there and it was a wonderful night, full of memories and laughs, but with Joe in the room there is always talk about the future.

Joe is departing from his role, but he’s not retiring. He’s a creative force and creative beings don’t stop inventing and innovating. He will act. He will sing. He will write. He will paint and he will continue to be a vibrant and positive force in our community.

During the party a loop of old photos ran on the wall in back of Smoke. Joe looking dapper in a tux. Joe with hair. Joe and me and Gary Eliopoulos dressed as rappers (Joe is the only guy who could get me to do that or to get Diane, my wife to sing Rodgers and Hammerstein songs with localized lyrics at a roast in front of 450 people). Joe made us believe. His time here was magical—pure magic. How lucky we have been.

 

 

FAU Scientists to Study Traffic

FAULOGO

FAU has received a $300,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and a $100,000 grant from the City of Miami Beach to research and test more efficient traffic signals.

Traffic jams not only make daily commutes exasperating, they also contribute to excessive fuel consumption and air pollution. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, outdated traffic signaling accounts for more than 10 percent of all traffic delays. Adaptive traffic control systems or “smart” traffic lights allow intersection signals to adjust to real-time traffic conditions like accidents, road construction and even weather. In the U.S., adaptive signal control technologies have been in use for approximately 20 years, but have been deployed on less than 3 percent of existing traffic signals. Florida, California and Michigan are among the states paving the way to make traffic signal improvements a priority.

Researchers in the Laboratory for Adaptive Traffic Operations & Management (LATOM) in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science have received a $100,000 grant from the City of Miami Beach to test two adaptive traffic signals being considered for one of their busiest corridors in South Beach – Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street). Miami is among the 10 U.S. cities with the worst traffic. In addition, FAU’s LATOM recently received a $300,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to research use of high-resolution data, from signal controllers and detectors, to monitor performance of traffic signals.

“Timing for research in adaptive control systems is right and perspectives are exciting,” said Mohammad Ilyas, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “With better sensing technologies such as wireless communication and personal mobile devices, smarter algorithms, and more processing power, we are moving towards an era of much more efficient, safer and eco-friendly traffic signals.”

These complex systems require extensive surveillance and communication infrastructure to enable connection either among local controllers or between a central system and the local controllers. FAU’s LATOM is a one-of-a-kind simulation lab equipped with software, hardware and institutional capabilities, providing regional, national and international partners with opportunities to develop new and use existing methods and tools to monitor, manage and control transportation infrastructure.

“Congested roads have long been a headache for contemporary cities and we need to look at innovative ways to deal with traffic,” said Aleksandar Stevanovic, Ph.D., PE, director of LATOM and associate professor in FAU’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering. “While better management of traffic signals won’t reduce the number of cars on our streets, we can do a much better job in adjusting signals to work more efficiently.” He adds, “Smart traffic lights are one way to address urban traffic congestion, and if timed properly and continually, they can both reduce traffic delays and improve public safety.”

Conventional signal systems use pre-programmed, daily signal timing schedules. Adaptive traffic control systems on the other hand, adjust the timing of red, yellow and green lights to accommodate changing traffic patterns. Duration of the green lights is usually a result of a complex compromise between the needs of a single intersection and the needs for good connection/progression with other surrounding intersections. Adaptive traffic control systems create such compromising solutions ‘on the fly’ by extensively using wires embedded in city streets, or other forms of detectors, to sense changes in traffic demands and its patterns.

As a relatively new technology, adaptive control systems are still somewhat expensive. Therefore, municipalities often seek advice from experts and research labs to pre-test effectiveness of these systems in the lab environment before the systems are deployed in live traffic.

“In our lab, we are able to work with our partners to model or ‘simulate’ different traffic patterns throughout a day – and on weekends and during various other scenarios – where virtually the same technology that controls traffic in the field is used in simulation to test its effectiveness and reliability,” said Stevanovic.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, on average, smart traffic lights improve travel time by more than 10 percent, and in areas with particularly outdated signal timing, improvements can be 50 percent or more.

For more information on FAU’s LATOM, visit latom.eng.fau.edu

Boca Firm Steps Up With College Scholarship

 

From Left, Robert Barboni, President, Evershore Financial Group, Sean Fallon,  Daniel Zagata, Managing Director.

From Left, Robert Barboni, President, Evershore Financial Group, Sean Fallon,
Daniel Zagata, Managing Director.

Following the tragic death of his father several years ago, Sean Fallon realized that pursuing his dream of securing a college education would be difficult.

But through community support, a supportive family, and hard work, the recent Jupiter High School graduate is attending the University of Central Florida with his sights set on becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

The tension of paying for four years of college became a bit easier recently when a local financial services company stepped up and presented Fallon with a $7,000 scholarship check.

The path to receiving this check was a bit convoluted since Fallon had originally submitted an essay for the national Life Lessons Scholarship, which is given to a student in recognition of “the character and perseverance that so many young people show in the face of adversity.”

While Fallon didn’t win this scholarship, his moving essay recounting the trauma of his father’s suicide was forwarded to Evershore Financial Group, a financial services firm with offices in Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, and Orlando.

“Sean is such an inspirational young man,” said Robert Barboni, president of Evershore Financial Group. “He’s gone through a lot, yet he’s done what he can to take care of his family and is now striving to receive a higher education. We are so glad to be able to give him a little boost along the way.”

The original amount of the scholarship Evershore expected to award was $2,000, however, when Evershore advisors and staff learned about Fallon’s story, they enthusiastically contributed an additional $5,000. When the over-sized check was presented to Fallon, there was hardly a dry eye in the audience at the Wyndham Grand Harbourside in Jupiter.

“I originally thought that the scholarship was going to be $2,000,” said Fallon. “But when they explained that it was actually $7,000…wow. What a surprise. I am so grateful for this opportunity and thrilled that Evershore has provided this scholarship for me.”

Before lunch, Fallon was invited to tell his story to the audience. Many in attendance were in tears as he told his story and he received a standing ovation. Once the applause cleared, Barboni made the emotional presentation.

“The Fallon family has been through an unimaginable tragedy,” said Barboni. “It was with great pride and humility that I was able to meet this young man who is an example to everyone in the audience. I know that I have learned so much from Sean and how he has persevered through these difficulties.”

Barboni was particularly moved by the following passage from Fallon’s essay:

“I know that life is going to be different for me and I know that I am always going to have to work hard. I just am hoping to get some help financially with college. My mom is a teacher and also works after school to help make ends meet. We are surviving and will continue to do so.”

Fallon was joined by his aunt, Lori Hausman, who is a Certified Public Accountant and the inspiration behind him aspiring to enter this profession.

Delray Center for the Arts Names New CEO

Rob Steele

Rob Steele

Bill Branning, Chairman of the Board of the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, today announced the appointment of Rob Steele as President and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit visual and performing arts center that is the anchor of the city’s dynamic cultural community. He succeeds longtime CEO Joe Gillie, whose last day is September 30.

In making the announcement, Branning stated, “Joe took the reins of this organization in its infancy, and under his leadership, developed a cultural center that provides a total arts experience for the community and at the same time, generates continuous economic activity for our downtown. Our nationwide search for his successor aimed to identify a proven leader with the ability build on these successes and raise the Center to even greater heights.  Out of almost 100 applicants, Mr. Steele stood out as the right person with the right skills, talent, experience and energy.  He has a unique background that includes a master’s degree in business administration as well as a successful track record of developing strong non-profit organizations through strategic planning, collaboration, and community engagement.  We’re confident Rob will continue to move the Center forward, and welcome him to the Delray Beach Center for the Arts.”
Steele comes to Delray Beach from Pennsylvania, where he spent the last 10-years as executive director of the Williamsport Community Arts Center, a 2,100-seat, state-of-the-art performing arts center that bills itself as “one of the top venues on the Eastern Seaboard.”
Under Steele’s leadership, the Community Arts Center implemented event analysis and fee negotiation practices, marketing strategies and guest service enhancements that effectively doubled ticket sales in only two years; initiated a community outreach that increased the number of local and regional partners from 10 to more than 200; facilitated a systematic upgrade of all technical systems and protocols; and successfully devised an endowment campaign in 2010 that generated more than $5 million in gifts and bequests.
William J. Martin, Board Chairman for the Williamsport Community Art Center, told the local newspaper that Steele has done an extraordinary job in making it a more “community-minded facility … There’s something going on at the arts center about 250 days a year. It’s a very busy place and I attribute that level of activity to Rob’s initiative and his ability to engage people in the community.”

 

Prior to moving to Pennsylvania, Steele spent five years as executive director of the 576-seat civic auditorium in Tecumseh, Michigan, and had previously been both a successful restaurateur and an executive vice president of a Michigan-based national bank & trust.
“Joe Gillie has been the champion in establishing the Delray Beach Center for the Arts as a premiere arts institution in South Florida,” says Mr. Steele. “My goal is to honor, preserve, and extend the rich traditions he has established.”
“Community outreach and coordinating broad-based collaborations with local organizations has become one of the hallmarks of my career,” he adds. “It is my expressed desire to reach into every corner of the market served by the Delray Beach Center for the Arts to engage new audiences, create lasting partnerships and serve the cultural needs of this vibrant and diverse community.”
“The arts are without question an economic engine, and Delray Beach stands as a magnificent example of this reality,” says Steele. “That is why I am committed to keeping a constant eye on the relationship between what we do on the Old School Square campus and how it can help stimulate the local economy.”