More than 700 South Florida power players in business, philanthropy and politics attended the event to celebrate the contributions of business and civic professionals in the Greater Miami area. Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. served as the Title Sponsor of the evening’s event. Along with Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD., serving as the event’s Honorary Chairman.
“We are grateful and appreciative of the continued support and generosity of our sponsors, supporters, staff and volunteers who helped make our 14th Annual Holiday Gala our best event yet,” said G. Eric Knowles, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. “It was an honor to celebrate all of our honorees who have served as distinguished leaders in the Miami-Dade community and have made major impacts and differences in the South Florida community and beyond.”
The Caribbean-themed, black-tie event featured a VIP cocktail hour with a live Bahamian Junkanoo Band; Stilt and Carnival Dancers; and live entertainment by DJ Tillery James and A. Randolph.
An audience of South Florida’s top business executives, elected government officials and community leaders celebrated the accomplishments of the following honorees: Al Dotson, Sr. (2019 HT Smith Lifetime Achievement Award), Kenasha Paul (David Fincher Young Innovator Award), Gepsie Metellus (Distinguished Service Award), and State Representative Kionne McGhee (Citizen of the Year Award). There was also a tribute to the late Garth Reeves, Sr. for his contributions to the South Florida community.
Highlights of the evening included the Bahamian Junkanoo leading the guest into the ballroom, along with incredible live auction packages, including flights on Royal Air Maroc, and Crusies on Celebrity and Azamara Cruise lines. Further, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce recognized Al Dotson, Sr. as the 2019 HT Smith Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to an individual whose exceptional lifetime contributions of community leadership and philanthropic endeavors have improved the quality of life for Miami-Dade County residents. The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce also presented a $5,000 check to Florida Memorial University for Hurricane Dorian student relief. In addition a check in the amount of $1000 was presented in the name of the Honorary Chairman Richard Fain to Miami Dade County Foster & Adoptive parents Association.
Knowles closed the evening a profound call to action to all attendees, “We look forward to your continued support and constructive criticism as we grow into this new decade, 2020. Without your input steering us forward we are nothing more than a blank slate. It is your engagement that will propel the Chamber forward to higher heights and deeper seas.” He went on to add, “ We can not move forward by staying tethered to the dock. We must pull in our anchors and sail into the deep waters of advocacy, technical assistance, and financial growth - bringing both small business and corporate America together.”
The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1974, to lead the way toward long-term business prosperity, through advocacy and by proving networking opportunities, resources, and training to men and women in business in South Florida.
About The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce
The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1974 by a group of Black business leaders out of a need for a strong organization that could objectively advocate the needs, of a growing Black business community. To date, the Chamber has been led by four, presidents, David Fincher 1974-1984, Dorothy Baker 1984-2004, Bill Diggs 2005-2013 and current President G. Eric Knowles 2014. Understanding that membership is the lifeblood of the Chamber, they have focused on meeting the needs of the membership by upholding our five pillars of service; access, development, procurement, advocacy and foundation.
For over 40 years the Chamber has driven the evolving landscape of the black business community in South Florida. Through numerous social unrest and a notable decline of several black business infrastructures, the Chamber has been the constant that the people count on to thrive forward and turn the tide. A new energy is being witnessed now, with the emergence of young, talented and vibrant entrepreneurs blazing new trails and creating new and sustainable business. Miami-Dade is the gateway to tomorrow and the Chamber is proud to be the key unlocking and creating opportunities.