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Goodbye, sun. Hello, snow. Miami Foundation CEO steps down for Denver gig

Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation, speaks during an event at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center on June 2, 2017.
Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation, speaks during an event at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center on June 2, 2017. rkoltun@miamiherald.com

Miami Foundation president and CEO Javier Alberto Soto is leaving Miami — and he’ll need a warmer wardrobe where he’s going.

After a decade leading the Miami Foundation, Soto, 49, is stepping down to take over as head of The Denver Foundation. Both foundations focus on fostering community engagement.

In an interview, Soto stressed that Miami “will always be home,” but that the professional and personal opportunities presented by The Denver Foundation were too good to pass up.

“I remain attached here in a very deep way,” he said. “But I was at a career inflection point, thinking about what to do next, what the next challenge might be, and this checked all the boxes.”

When Soto took over the foundation in 2009, he was charged with filling big shoes. Ruth Shack, former county commissioner and sponsor of its 1977 Human Rights Ordinance, had run the foundation since 1985.

During his tenure, Soto presided over the advent of Give Miami Day, which now consistently raises millions within a 24-hour period for area causes. He also created My Miami Story, billed as “a countywide conversation about who we are, where we’re going and what we can do to get there.” He has boosted assets from an estimated $130 million to more than $330 million.

“During his 10-year tenure, the Foundation has experienced significant growth that has positioned the organization as a vibrant philanthropic and civic leader in our community,” Miami Foundation chairman Richard Giusto said in a statement. “With a strong leadership team, staff and board, we are excited about building on our past success for an even stronger future.”

Soto said he does not see his departure as part of any local brain-drain trend. Just the opposite, he says: Miami can now rank itself among cities like New York that see top talent frequently come and go.

“I think all places of great global prominence have that kind of influx,” he said.

The Miami Foundation says a search is now underway for Soto’s replacement.

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