📸: Courtesy of Matt Haggman
Hello, Matt! What keeps you busy around the 305?
I lead Opportunity Miami, a platform focused on helping shape Miami’s economic future by imagining what the Miami of 2040 should look like, and figuring out what we need to do now in order to get there. Opportunity Miami is a program of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, where I am an Executive Vice President.
Previously, I was the Miami Director at Knight Foundation, creating and building the foundation’s program focused on developing a tech and startup community in Miami. This included launching Endeavor Miami, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, eMerge Americas, and Black Tech Week, among many others.
Before that, I was a staff writer at The Miami Herald and Daily Business Review, covering legal affairs, real estate, local government and working as an investigative reporter. I’ve always viewed my time following lawyers, developers and local politicians around as my graduate course on Miami.
I had the privilege of being a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than a decade and, several years ago, joined with friends to launch TEDxMiami which continues today under a great group of leaders. I’m also on the boards of New World Symphony and Endeavor Miami.
What is it about Miami that helps you do what you do, or otherwise influences your work?
Miami’s values. Miami is a place with an open mind, welcoming spirit and is ever resilient. I try to bring those values into everything I do.
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
That you can build big ideas here. Miami has a history as a place to rest or get away. It’s much more than that now. And I guess the latest influx of people during COVID illustrates that more and more people feel that way too.
What’s your favorite Miami memory?
The moment I met Danet, who is my wife and best friend.
What’s your favorite local social media account to follow on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc. and why?
Udonis Haslem (@ThisIsUD and @ud40). Is any explanation needed?
Wax poetic for a minute and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
That the city is in constant motion, in a state of ongoing renewal. The Miami we knew a decade ago — even five years ago — is not the Miami we know today. And the Miami five years from now will be different as well. Being able to lead Opportunity Miami in thinking about the Miami of 2040 has emphasized this incredible part of our city’s identity for me once again.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The 16″ Andiamo pizza! And a lifetime seat at the bar at Boia De would be pretty epic too — though hard to pick one meal there!
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Miami day.
Cycling with friends to South Dade and back, jogging through Little Havana, and being at our house in Coconut Grove — seriously, I love just being at home with Danet and our dogs Henry, Abigail and Sophia.
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
Keep looking around the corner. I’ve often heard people say Miami is a small town and everyone knows everyone. Don’t believe it. Keep looking around the corner. You’ll be amazed at what you find — namely, the people you meet and friendships you build.
As part of our On Site series with Opportunity Miami, we’ve been lucky to meet some of the talented Miami leaders shaping the future of agriculture, electric cars, and talent development right here in our own backyard.
What’s a project you’re working on and how can our readers help you with it?
If you care about Miami’s future and want to be a part of shaping it, we need you. Subscribe to the Opportunity Miami newsletter, check out opportunity.miami and follow us on social media @opportunitymia.
You can also subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Share your ideas and solutions about what Miami must do to build the future we want — whether it’s transitioning to a net zero economy, building the most skilled, diverse workforce in North America, or becoming a center of innovation and company-building like no other.
Email us at [email protected], we’d love to hear from you. We launched Opportunity Miami last year with a focus on elevating the ideas and people addressing questions pivotal to our economic future. This is a community platform focused on our future, and we hope you will join in.
That’s a wrap on this week’s Locals to Know, sponsored by Opportunity Miami. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2023.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.