Having recently moved to South Florida from Michigan, Michael Finney is diplomatically reluctant to pick a favorite part of Miami, saying the whole place has wowed him.
“Miami-Dade has so much character and opportunity,” he said. “I am looking forward to getting to know all the different neighborhood jewels.”
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As part of getting to know the lay of the land, the new President and CEO of The Miami-Dade Beacon Council has been busy meeting with local movers and shakers. Finney said Virginia Jacko, CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, has inspired him as a fellow Miami transplant who took on a leadership role here.
“The work she is doing is simply amazing,” Finney said, noting Lighthouse’s groundbreaking programs for visually impaired as well as sighted children at its Little Havana campus. “I am so impressed with her background and professional experience, and the success she has had leading Lighthouse for the Blind since landing in Miami.”
Michael Finney on the work-life balance
Finney’s position with The Beacon Council comes after a 30-year career in economic development. While he made the move to the Sunshine State this summer, Finney’s wife, Gina, a human resources director for a college in Detroit, has been shuttling back and forth and will make a permanent move in December.
“She loves gardening, the arts, and landscape design,” Finney said. “I love to play golf, chess and am a fan of Dancing with the Stars.”
Work and play is something Finney knows how to balance. The father of three sons has made his family a priority throughout his 30-year economic development career. And he said he continues to do so, even as the young men he and Gina raised are spread around the country: in college and working in Michigan and Seattle.
“We all enjoy traveling, and that makes for great family time,” Finney said. “We shared recreational activities together and apart.”
How to make a difference in the community
Back in Michigan, Finney served as senior adviser of economic growth to Gov. Rick Snyder and founded Community Ventures Resources, a social impact consulting team that helps underserved communities.
He said the poverty and need he has witnessed in his lifetime have encouraged him to pursue philanthropic opportunities.
“I’ve volunteered and donated to organizations. I support everything from established scholarships to Big Brothers Big Sisters and United Way, to name a few,” Finney said. “I think it’s an opportunity for me to give back, and I believe the best way to have a social impact is for us to really help others.”