Ruth Shack Awarded Miami’s Cultural Champion Award

Reception Hosted by Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust


Long-time friends, elected leaders, arts and community luminaries all gathered on a chilly night on the beautiful terrace of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust’s headquarters in Coral Gables to honor one of Miami’s cultural icons, Ruth Shack. The Miami’s Cultural Champion 2016 Award was presented by Gibraltar's Chairman and CEO Adolfo Henriques at a private event and honored Shack for her pioneering leadership that championed a cultural evolution.

Miami Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava presented by a proclamation declaring February 9 “Ruth Shack Day.”

“When I first came here 33 years ago - I admired her from afar and then a dream came true. I got to know her know her and now I count her as a dear friend and mentor,” said Levine Cava.

Members of the awards committee shared their “Ruth Shack moment,” ranging from when they first met her, to marking pivotal moments in their careers, and seeking her insightful advice.

“Ruth Shack’s leadership contributions are far reaching, to national and international levels,” said Adolfo Henriques. “Cultural pioneers like Ruth Shack paved the way. Presenting Miami’s Cultural Champion Award to Ruth means so much to so many, including national arts leaders, international philanthropists, artists, performers and cultural visionaries. Her accomplishments are legendary,” said Henriques.

Ruth Shack and Adolfo Henriques
Ruth Shack with Adolfo Henriques


“Thank you for all each of do in this community. I love working side by side with you and I look forward tomorrow and the next fights,” said Shack as she accepted the award.

The Cultural Champions series of annual events began in 2012, with national and international media coverage praising its singular theme of recognizing cultural pioneers who created the foundation for artistic growth at the community level.

Ruth Shack’s pioneering cultural highlights offer a glimpse into a time-line that shaped and defined today’s Miami. She was elected to the Metro-Dade Commission (now known as the Miami-Dade County Commission) in 1976, 1978 and 1982. These years – 1976-1986 - are recognized as pivotal to the area’s growing prominence, and many of the era’s most important cultural milestones were championed by Ruth Shack.

She led the charge amongst her fellow Commissioners to approve Christo’s Surrounded Islands project that shined the global spotlight on Miami as an arts destination. She sponsored the County’s first historic preservation ordinance, and urged reconsideration by municipalities to recognize the value of their historic resources, including South Beach’s Art Deco District. In addition she has been recognized for her commitments on human rights by the LGBTQ Task Force and her works in the arts by the Knight Foundation, among many others.

Along with her late husband Richard Shack, she has supported, through the 60 years during which she has lived in Miami, many emerging artists and served on Boards of nascent artistic organizations and community art centers. Together they developed one of the area’s most significant art collections.

Shack served as President of the Dade Community Foundation, now known as The Miami Foundation, from 1985-2009 where she spearheaded the campaign to foster philanthropy and charitable giving by developing a permanent endowment to meet Greater Miami’s emerging charitable needs.

A portrait of Ruth Shack by Martin Kreloff, 2016, was unveiled at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Onelia Collazo Mendive is the founder and publisher of GablesCentral.com, a news and culture website covering Coral Gables. She has covered the City of Coral Gables in print and online publications for almost a decade. She has particular interest in the Golden Gate and MacFarlane Homestead Historic District of Coral Gables. Onelia has covered the internet industry since 1999 and has worked as a web editor for various websites. She has covered the arts and cultural scene in Miami since 2007.

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