South Florida

Miller siblings receive United Way’s top philanthropy award

The three Miller siblings — Stuart, Jeff and Leslie Saiontz — are getting United Way's highest honor, the Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. From left to right: Jeffrey Miller, Leslie Miller Saiontz, Stuart Miller.
The three Miller siblings — Stuart, Jeff and Leslie Saiontz — are getting United Way's highest honor, the Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. From left to right: Jeffrey Miller, Leslie Miller Saiontz, Stuart Miller. el Nuevo Herald

For the three siblings receiving United Way of Miami-Dade’s most prestigious honor, philanthropy is a family tradition.

Jeffrey Miller, Leslie Miller Saiontz and Stuart Miller received the Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy from the Miami-Dade United Way Wednesday evening. Their parents, Sue and the late Leonard Miller, who founded Lennar Corp., received the award in 1996. (Sue Miller also received the national Tocqueville award in 2012.)

“Each of them would qualify for the award in their own right,” said Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO of United Way of Miami-Dade, adding that this is the first time the award has gone to siblings. “These are three siblings who share characteristics of giving, volunteerism and leadership, and it made sense for us to celebrate the notion of generational commitment to community.”

Stuart Miller, CEO and board member of Lennar, chairs the University of Miami Board of Trustees and is heavily involved with steering the university into its next era of leadership, post-Shalala. He has served on the board of Alonzo Mourning Charities, the Overtown Youth Center and as chair of the Dolphins Cycling Challenge benefiting the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Under his leadership, the Lennar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Lennar Corporation, also has made significant investments in the community.

Leslie Miller Saiontz, a business owner, real estate professional and community activist, chairs the board of Teach For America Miami-Dade, where she is passionate about education equality, and has established a thriving Saturday mentorship program. She also is committed to improving the lives of women and children through her advocacy work with United Way’s Women’s Leadership. She has helped lead trips to Washington to advocate for high-quality early education.

Much of her involvement in education has been from the ground up, she said. The Saturday mentoring program at Holmes Elementary involves high school student mentors from Gulliver Preparatory and Northwestern High School as well as TFA volunteers. “We started out with six kids, but now we have a few hundred kids that show up. At Holmes Elementary, it’s a bonus. If you are good, you get to go to Saturday School,” she said. “I’m working with United Way right now on a summer school for this group. We will have six schools involved this summer; within two years, we will have 20 schools involved.”

Jeffrey Miller, who credits his mother with instilling a passion for philanthropy into her family, is a longtime South Florida investor who serves as chair of Breakthrough Miami, a non-profit organization that provides enrichment activities for motivated students and encourages them to attend college. Under his guidance, the organization has expanded to become the largest program in the Breakthrough collaborative. He became interested in Breakthrough through his work as chairman of the board of Ransom Everglades. In 2014, he co-founded Beacon College Prep, a nonprofit elementary charter school in Opa-locka, now K-2 but adding a new grade each year. “I think this will show quality education can thrive in the inner city on the same budget that public schools are working with,” said Jeffrey Miller.

“We’ve all come to the same conclusion that better education in our community through whatever avenue we choose to help is going to make the greatest impact,” he said. He first got interested in education philanthropy through the Council for Educational Change that his father headed. “Whether through the university, or Ransom Everglades or Teach for America or any of the other programs we are a part of, we just think that is where it all starts in terms of bolstering and making this community better.”

Leslie Miller Saiontz adds, “We all realize we can’t do everything … so the question is, who can we trust to identify and support all the groups we can’t support through the initiatives we are doing? That is where United Way comes in. They cover us. They make us whole. … We are really blessed to have United Way as that constant for all of us. How lucky for the community and how lucky for us.”

The Tocqueville Grand Reception brings together about 400 of Miami’s most generous givers who contribute $10,000 or more annually to UnitedWay. The 766-member United Way Tocqueville Society contributed more than $20 million to support the Miami-Dade community through United Way during its last campaign, representing 40 percent of the overall annual campaign.

Longtime generous contributors, the Millers are members of United Way’s Million Dollar Roundtable. In 2004, the Millers made a historic $100 million gift to the University of Miami’s medical school, which was renamed in honor of their late father the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

“It would be hard to think of another family that has done so much for the community. And they are so personally involved. … I know from personal observation they really work hard at everything they take on,” said Sue Cobb, a past recipient of the Tocqueville Award. “Miami is very fortunate to have this family.”

Past winners

Past recipients of the United Way Miami-Dade’s Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy include:

Florence and Sheldon Anderson

Honorable Sue and Honorable Chuck Cobb

Conchi and Tony Argiz

Colleen and Richard Fain

Cesar L. Alvarez

Liz and Adolfo Henriques

Kirk Landon

Honorable Steven J. Green and wife Dorothea

George Batchelor

Teresa Zubizaretta*

Jayne and Leonard Abess

Honorable Paul Cejas

Rosa and Carlos M. de la Cruz

Leonard* and Sue Miller, and Ed Ansin

James Batten*

Don Shula

Gloria and Emilio Estefan

*deceased

Source: United Way Miami-Dade

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