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About the Founders

The Spark that Ignited Catalyst Miami 25+ Years Ago


We have always been a people-centered organization
that believes all communities deserve to thrive.


Our founders were a group of people who were involved with many organizations, like the League of Women Voters and the Lutheran Ministries, and who understood the power of a unified community voice in ushering more prosperity and power into communities suffering from the lack of them. They were like you and me, community members with a big vision, committed to building people power, who got better at working in and with the community, using innovative programs and advocacy tools that have transformed Miami for future generations.

We honor the work of our founders by continuing to blaze the trails they ignited more than 25 years ago.


Betty Metcalf*

Laura Atkins

Bobbie Brinegar

Modesto Abety

Carol VonArx

Norma Lemberg*

Daniella Levine Cava

Olga Conner

Esther Castiglio

Paul Hunt

Gail Neumann*

Santiago Leon

Jacqui Colyer

Shirley Aron*

Joanne Hayes*

Terry Coble*

Judith Bunker

Valorie Greenfield




The Human Services Coalition (now known as Catalyst Miami) was founded more than 25 years ago, in 1996, by a dynamic group of community leaders with big hearts. Each one brought a unique set of skills and contributions to the table. What united them was a desire to see more communities empowered and able to prosper.

As the Human Services Coalition evolved and over time became Catalyst Miami, the love and vision that brought our founders together helped give voice to ideas, programs, policies, and leaders that continue to transform Miami for future generations. Each of our founders was dynamic in their own way. Together, they built a best-in-class organization reflective of their purpose, agility, innovation and love and respect for community values that animate the pulse and ethos of Catalyst Miami today.

Our reason for being has been clear from day one. Our founders were all thinkers with big hearts. Their vision for the community involved taking measured risks, improving access, leveraging networks and building coalitions. Intuitively, our founders knew from day one that amplifying community voices and advocating for community-led collective action would result in transforming Miami, one community at a time.

Today, Catalyst Miami continues to be one of Miami’s biggest champions, advocating for communities, innovating solutions, and building people power so that everyone can thrive.


Our family started big, and has only grown in 25 years. Find out how you can join the Catalyst Miami family today and blaze trails for a robust and resilient Miami community.

If you’re interested, read more about our first 25 years here.