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Rasha Cameau: As it was in the beginning...

Staff Blog

Anyone who has worked for now-Mayor Daniella Levine Cava knows that, at some point, you might be asked to attend a community meeting without quite understanding why. When this happened to Rasha Cameau, Catalyst Miami’s first paid employee, she was especially confused since she typically handled internal organizational matters only.

Rasha doesn’t recall that first external meeting, but she knows for certain that Daniella’s gentle push encouraged her to go far in her career. Today, Rasha is executive director of the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency. But back in 1995, Rasha was underemployed and finding her way.

Daniella, founder of the Human Services Coalition of Dade County (now known as Catalyst Miami), brought Rasha on board in 1996 and assigned her the daunting task of organizing and managing the feisty startup. Rasha began as a temporary employee but soon made herself indispensable. At Catalyst, she discovered her knack for building systems and processes from scratch, and handled all operational and internal systems, including payroll, health insurance, grant implementation, business processes, and more. Rasha would turn grant deliverables into actionable steps that staff could implement and execute. In Rasha’s words, she “made everything smooth” so that Daniella and the rest of the team could go out and do the work.

Rasha eventually became Catalyst’s Deputy Director of Administration, not leaving the organization until 2004. She counts working at Catalyst Miami as one of the most memorable experiences of her life, both personally and professionally. She remembers having lots of retreats—some to relax and others to do the hard visioning work—and encourages the current Catalyst community to do the same: “What we do is serious, so take care of yourself and take time to relax together,” Rasha stressed.

Rasha recalls that Catalyst Miami grew quickly, constantly coming up with new programs and services to meet whatever issues Miami-Dade’s low-wealth families were facing. Today, Rasha is one of Catalyst’s longtime donors. In 2019, Rasha purchased a table of seats at Catalyst’s annual Imagine Miami fundraising luncheon. She invited former staff members to attend so they could see their part in Catalyst Miami’s legacy.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see the big picture of what Catalyst has accomplished,” said Rasha. “The style may have changed, but the message and the work are the same. You can’t see the light when you’re in the day-to-day tunnel, but this work is so impactful.”

Rasha loves supporting Catalyst Miami because she says Catalyst does what no other organizations do.

“Imagine you are on a riverbank when suddenly babies start showing up, floating downstream on the current,” Rasha said. “Most nonprofits will jump in and save the babies. Catalyst will go upstream to find out who is dropping babies in the river.”

“Twenty-five years later, we are still the change agent of Miami-Dade County,” Rasha added. “We meet the need, fill the gap, evaluate what else is needed, and then transition or evolve as necessary. After all this time, I’m still so proud to be a supporter.”


Catalyst Miami is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2021. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to keep us going strong for the next 25 years. Donate here. Or consider supporting us at our signature annual fundraising event, Imagine Miami, on September 29, 2021 at Casa Florida.


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