He's Miami's civic 'Godfather'. Now he's getting one of the city's highest honors

Adolfo Henriques has chaired or served on the board of most of Miami's civic organizations.
Adolfo Henriques has chaired or served on the board of most of Miami's civic organizations.

Adolfo Henriques has been described as Miami's "Godfather," "Ironman," and the lead in a future remake of "Moon Over Miami." And that was just in a single 2014 video tribute prepared by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce

Though he has never been elected to public office, few have loomed larger over Miami in recent decades than Henriques. Name a Miami civic organization, and the odds are he has chaired it or served on its board: Florida International University, United Way of Miami-Dade, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitor's Bureau, and the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council to name a few.

On Saturday, the Miami-Dade Beacon Council — which he has also chaired — will bestow Henriques with the Jay Malina Award for business and civic impact.

Born in Havana, Henriques, 64, emigrated to Florida and obtained his BBA from St. Leo University north of Tampa and earned a Master's in Accounting from FIU in 1976.

In 1999, the Miami New Times named Henriques "Best Local Boy Made President," after he took over what was then Union Planters Bank. Before the age of 50, he had also served as chairman of the Financial Emergency Oversight Board for the city of Miami when the city's finances melted down, chaired the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and chaired the Beacon Council itself.

While he has made his living primarily as a banker — he recently chaired Gibraltar Private Bank — Henriques has kept a keen eye on civic matters, including affordable housing and culture. He currently serves as vice chairman of real estate development giant Related Group.

"When the Beacon Council judges evaluated this year’s Jay Malina Award candidates, they were looking for someone who shared Jay Malina’s vision and commitment — characteristics that are easy to talk about, but much harder to put into action year after year," the Beacon Council said in a statement. The award is named for the late Jay Malina, who led two successful international firms and many local civic concerns, including the Beacon Council.

"The judges heard from the banking community, the commercial development community, from civic organizations, the arts community. Everyone agreed not only does this year’s recipient have a generous heart, is a business and financial genius, is empathetic to the needs of his community, but is also a kind person."