After more than a quarter-century of service as CEO of United Way of Miami-Dade, Harve A. Mogul announced last fall that he would be stepping down and would transition to a new leadership role focused on fund-raising and building United Way’s endowment.
Last month marked another large milestone in Mogul’s long, storied career that began with serving in the Peace Corps and as a Baltimore public school teacher. In June, hundreds of civic leaders gathered for United Way’s final annual meeting under Mogul, lauding his leadership. The board also announced United Way’s final grants for its 2017 fiscal year.
The grants brought United Way’s 2017 investment in community programs to $34.1 million. That includes $23.8 million in support of 117 local programs that move the community forward through education, financial stability and health, coupled with an additional $10.3 million directed by contributors to support nonprofit programs of their choice in Miami-Dade. The funding for these grants comes largely from local individuals who contribute through workplace drives, as well as from corporations and foundations.
Last week, United Way announced that banker and civic leader Maria C. Alonso will take over as president and CEO in August. “Maria’s knowledge of the community and our United Way position her for great success as our new CEO,” Mogul said in a statement. “Maria inherits a team that is recognized across the country for its excellence. Working hand-in-hand with these talented professionals, I know Maria will build on this organization’s already strong track record and continue to guide it forward.”
The Miami Herald recently spoke with Mogul, 74, about his views on United Way’s impact, his career, philanthropy and a changing Miami.
Q. As United Way wraps up its fiscal year, what does United Way bring to the community besides funding?
A. We’re focused on improving the education, financial stability and health of our community. That’s how we build community, and we do it in a number of ways — by investing in high-quality local programs, advocating for better policies, partnering with local organizations, engaging people in being part of the solution.
We want to help people lead better lives while at the same time transforming our systems of caring, because that is truly the only way we are going to effect real, lasting, long-term change. Our world is too complex, the needs too great, and the funding is limited, so we can’t tackle these issues in a vacuum or in silos.
We strive to make systemic change through what we call “collective impact” — working together with myriad partners on shared goals to improve our neighbors’ lives today and for generations to come.
Q. Tell us about one or two of the new programs that United Way has created recently.
A. We launched several new initiatives, but two stand out as they are both wrapping up their first year.
United Way Mission United addresses the unique needs of veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life. By connecting veterans and their families to the right agencies and programs, we are helping them feel empowered and valued. We want Miami’s estimated 62,000 veterans to know that they can count on us.
The other program offers opportunities to at-risk youths to see and realize the possibilities. Perhaps Eduardo Padrón said it best at a recent Tocqueville Society breakfast: “Talent is universal; what isn’t universal is opportunity.”
A group of volunteers focused on our work in education helped to create the United Way Youth Institute, which is a year-long program focused on empowering 20 youths from some of Miami-Dade’s toughest neighborhoods. These high school students took part in leadership and service learning trainings, explored colleges and careers, held discussions to tackle tough community issues like youth violence, learned why education, financial stability and health are crucial to a strong community and paid it forward by developing their own service learning project to help younger children deal with anger and conflict.
Q. How has the viewpoint of the philanthropic world changed over the years that you have been in Miami?
A. With the internet and so many social platforms, we’ve seen the rise of hundreds of nonprofits. While it has made philanthropy more accessible to millions of people, which is great, I do worry about donor fatigue, about people investing in what they like or what is trendy versus really understanding what is in the strategic best interest of the community.
Q. Are donors more sensitive now on accountability?
A. I think everyone’s paying attention to how they are investing their money — whether it be for one’s own benefit or the benefit of the community. When you are focused on system change, it’s hard for contributors to see the immediate impact of their giving, and that can present challenges. If we are really going to improve our social condition, we need to have patience and be willing to stay in the game for the long haul.
It’s that ongoing tension between treatment and prevention. Do we give the man a fish, or do we teach him to fish? We need to stay focused on how our money is really changing the world around us.
Business is business, and nonprofits need to be held at the same standards as for-profit entities. … We might not yield dividends, instead, we produce ROI by improving people’s lives. And, as government funding for social services continues to shrink, the role of the non-profit has never been more important.
Harve A. Mogul, United Way of Miami-Dade CEO
Q. How is being CEO of a nonprofit different from a for-profit?
A. Business is business, and nonprofits need to be held at the same standards as for-profit entities. We have investors, a board of directors, a business plan, quarterly and annual reports, staff development plans, clients to serve, products and services to offer, etc… We might not yield dividends. Instead, we produce ROI by improving people’s lives. The measures of success are different, but the fundamentals are the same. And, as government funding for social services continues to shrink, the role of the non-profit has never been more important.
Q. Looking back, what do you think are your greatest accomplishments within United Way?
A. A few things come to mind. I’m most proud of the incredible team of professionals and volunteers I work with every day and the culture we’ve built together, building the trust and respect of the community.
I’m also extremely proud of our United Way being able to influence change… Raising the quality of early education is a perfect example of this. Since the ’80s, we’ve supported early education, and 10 years ago, we established the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education — a place where teachers, administrators and parents learn evidence-based practices so they can help wire young children correctly, so they can be successful in school and in life.
All in, we’ve directly impacted nearly 15,000 local children [and] trained 33,000 early-education professionals who have influenced thousands of more young children. We’ve elevated the services at 1,280 centers, and with our partners, we successfully advocated for $100 million to benefit young children in Florida.
Q. And what about your accomplishments outside of United Way?
A. Hands-down, being dad to Elliott and Maxwell.
I wish we could get past our silos, check egos at the door, share resources and work much more in concert with one another on a shared vision for our future.
Harve A. Mogul, United Way of Miami-Dade CEO
Q. What do you wish you could have accomplished but didn’t?
A. I wanted to be a astronaut, but that ship has sailed. In all seriousness, I wish we could get past our silos, check egos at the door, share resources and work much more in concert with one another on a shared vision for our future.
Q. Miami has so many newcomers who aren’t really familiar with United Way and other philanthropies. How do United Way and other nonprofits engage them?
A. We reach out, we connect, we invite them to break bread and get to know our volunteers and staff who can speak to the beauties, intricacies and challenges of our community.
The most effective philanthropies are accountable, have an established vision, are innovative, have amazing volunteers and staff, know when to lead and when to follow, and are flexible yet steadfast in their core values.
Harve A. Mogul, United Way of Miami-Dade CEO
Q. What are the characteristics of the most effective philanthropies, in your view? What’s in their toolbox to be most effective?
A. Do the right thing for the right reasons. The most effective philanthropies are accountable, have an established vision, are innovative, have amazing volunteers and staff, know when to lead and when to follow, and are flexible yet steadfast in their core values.
Q. What do you see as Miami’s greatest challenges going forward?
A. We should all be proud of the emergence of Miami as a world-class community. In the final analysis, such achievements will not endure without all of our neighbors having a chance to participate in our community’s advancement. With 58 percent of households in Miami-Dade being in poverty or one emergency away from falling into it, we have lots of work to do, together. Think of past natural disasters — when we rally together around one issue, we share the experience, we build community and we do great things.
Q. Tell us something many people may not know about you?
A. I like the creative experience of taking photographs.
Q. What advice do you have for your successor?
A. If it’s not broken, fix it anyway. The job is to help our neighbors in this town be better. All our accomplishments, every single one is a product of us — our volunteers, our staff, our partners, our supporters. Embrace the notion that United Way is led and belongs to the community.
Also, get to know your amazing staff and culture. Know that you have inherited a healthy, strong organization with 200 people that share a healthy dissatisfaction with the accomplishments of the past.
Q. And what’s next for you, Harve Mogul?
A. I’ll still be here, doing what I love the most, fundraising. I’ll focus on building United Way’s endowment, manage key donor relationships, and provide advice and counsel when needed.
Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg
Harve A. Mogul
United Way Career: United Way of Miami-Dade president and chief executive officer since Jan. 1, 1991. His United Way career began in 1973 and included work in Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Winston-Salem, NC. Member of the United Way Worldwide Professional Council and the United Way of Florida Board.
Community involvement: Trustee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; member of the Orange Bowl Committee, the Miami-Dade County Public School Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council and Florida International University School of Business Center for Leadership Advisory Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree and a master’s in social work and community planning, both from the University of Maryland. Honorary doctorate degree from Johnson & Wales in business administration.
Honors: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Sand in My Shoes Award. Recipient of United Teachers of Dade Champions of Public Education, Temple Israel’s first Joseph Narot Award for Community Service, the Miami Coalition of Christian and Jews Humanitarian Award, Mercy Hospital’s Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh Humanitarian Award, United Home Care’s Claude Pepper Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.
Family: Lives in Coral Gables; has two sons: Elliott, who is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maxwell, a student at Our Pride Academy and a Special Olympics medalist at the national level and in Florida.