Helping People

Five community leaders to be honored on Nov. 12

David Lawrence Jr. will be presented with the James W. McLamore Outstanding Volunteer Award at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon on Nov. 12.
David Lawrence Jr. will be presented with the James W. McLamore Outstanding Volunteer Award at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon on Nov. 12. Alex Gort

One has dedicated herself to diabetes research.

Another is intent on donating half of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

And a third has made a big difference in early childhood education.

Sonja Zuckerman. Jorge Pérez. David Lawrence Jr.

The three individuals will be honored on Nov.12 as part of the 29th annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon, to be held at Jungle Island. They, along with Macy’s and the Miami Foundation, will be honored for their work in giving back to the community.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Miami Chapter will recognize the five. The AFP began National Philanthropy Day in 1985. Today, the day is celebrated around the world.

Here are the honorees:

Sonja Zuckerman

Born in Cairo, Zuckerman came to the United States in 1941. Five years after her arrival, she became an American citizen.

“When they declared me as an American, I figured I am now going to try and do something for America,” she said. “And I figured, I am very good as a speaker, so I’ll go into fundraising.”

She has dedicated more than 40 years to the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). She serves as the life chair of the annual Love & Hope Gala and is a national board member. During her tenure, Zuckerman has helped raise more than $50 million for diabetes research.

“There was really nothing in Miami for diabetes,” she said. “And somehow, I got involved through some families that had a problem with diabetes. I myself and my family do not have diabetes. But I got involved and started the Diabetes Research Institute.”

Zuckerman will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her efforts.

Jorge Pérez

Born in Buenos Aires to Cuban parents, Pérez has helped shape Miami’s landscape by his philanthropy.

He donated $40 million in cash and art to the Miami Art Museum, renamed the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which opened in December 2013. He has also committed to The Giving Pledge, a campaign launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, in which he will donate 50 percent of his wealth to charity.

“Giving does feel good,” he said. “We are part of the lucky few that have the capacity to give. After you have enough for yourself and your family, you have an obligation to the community.”

Pérez will receive the Outstanding Philanthropist Award.

David Lawrence Jr.

David Lawrence Jr. moved to Miami from Detroit in 1989. He had been executive editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press before becoming publisher of the Miami Herald. After retiring in 1999 — with 35 years in the daily newspaper business — he left publishing to focus on children’s education, particularly among young children.

Lawrence is president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and “Education and Community Leadership Scholar” at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development. He leads The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment and decision-making.

Lawrence will be presented with the James W. McLamore Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Macy’s, Miami Foundation

The two organizations being honored for their efforts are Macy’s, which will receive the Julia Tuttle Award for Community Involvement/Corporate Citizenship, and the Miami Foundation, which will receive the Outstanding Grant Maker Award.

For the last five years, Macy’s has served as the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade’s Premier Partner. Its contributions have helped saved the lives of many women and young girls in Miami.

Nationwide, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s Inc. — including the Macy’s Foundation — gave more than $26 million to nearly 6,000 nonprofit organizations in 2013.

The Miami Foundation, meanwhile, has helped hundreds of people create legacies by establishing custom, charitable funds. The funds have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, and provided food and shelter for the hungry and homeless.

Donors gave more than $44 million in 2013 to the foundation. More than $170 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded in the foundation’s 47-year history.

“When we use our resources and our leadership ability, we can have an even greater impact and partner with other folks who are also doing work in those areas,” said Charisse Grant, senior vice president for programs.

Karelia Martinez Carbonell, an AFP board member who chaired the awards selection committee this year, mentioned that most honorees are first-time honorees, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“For the past 29 years, the community has gathered to recognize and celebrate the who’s who of Miami philanthropy and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy has made to our lives, our community and our world,” Carbonell said.

If you go

National Philanthropy Day luncheon: 11 a.m., Nov. 12, Jungle Island. Tickets are $75. Email