Miami Fathers in Action, Mayor Carlos A.Giménez and Leaders Honored with Most Valuable Father Award

Fatherhood Task Force declares June Miami "Dad" County Month Saluting Community Dads
By: Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida
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Mayor Carlos A. Giménez
Mayor Carlos A. Giménez
MIAMI - June 12, 2017 - PRLog -- The Fatherhood Task Force salutes the exemplary leaders of Miami-Dade County who have consistently contributed to building our communities and strengthening families. We honor these men as rays of light and hope and declare June Miami "Dad" County Month.

"Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, James R. Haj, David Lawrence, Jr., Vance Aloupis, Lonnie Lawrence, Dr. Wil Blechman, Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky, and Dr. Etiony Aldarondo have been honored by receiving the June 2017 Most Valuable Father Award from the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida," announced Holly Zwerling, President and CEO.

"Our community, civic and educational leaders' character, stellar careers, dedication to being outstanding in their respective fields, and their commitment to the values set forth by The Fatherhood Task Force, has made each individual nominated a clear choice to receive this honor," stated Zwerling. "June is a time to salute all our stellar Neighborhood Dads as well as our community leaders."

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez, has had an illustrious career and the entire community looks to him for guidance and as a role model. A Cuban American, whose family immigrated to the United States in 1960, he is a retired firefighter, and former Fire Commissioner and former County Commissioner. Mayor Giménez is exemplary to his family and to all citizens of Miami-Dade and speaks about his position as a father with pride.

M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, a role model and father figure for the approximately 350,000 students in M-DCPS, the nation's fourth largest school district. He is a nationally recognized expert on educational transformation, finance, and leadership development. "From the impossible to the inevitable, there is only belief, skill and will," is Superintendent Carvalho's motto. He is a Father in Action who is present for all the children he serves.

James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children's Trust, is a career educator and a longtime advocate for children with special needs. After a lauded career serving children and families through the Miami-Dade Public Schools system as a teacher and administrator, Haj took the helm of The Trust in 2015. A great dad who now oversees funding for children's programs, he regularly takes time to read to his children and their classmates at their schools.

Awardees David Lawrence, Jr., Chair of The Children's Movement, and Vance Aloupis, CEO of The Children's Movement are recognized for their selfless dedication in advocating for quality early education, parent and teacher preparation. Mr. Lawrence chairs The Children's Movement of Florida, focusing on making children the state's top priority for investment and decision-making. He was the publisher of The Miami Herald and  had reporting, editing and executive positions at four newspapers. During his tenure as Miami Herald's publisher, the paper won five Pulitzer Prizes. He is the recipient of numerous awards and high honors and the proud father of 3 daughters, 2 sons and 7 grandchildren. Mr. Aloupis, devoted father of 2 girls, joined The Children's Movement in June 2010 after practicing law in South Florida. Having spoken across the state and the country on issues specific to the first five years in children's lives, he uses his energy and tenacity to move the conversation around early childhood investment. He is an advocate for the Fatherhood Reading Squad Program promoting father engagement and literacy.

We honor Lonnie Lawrence, a crime prevention specialist, for his years of keeping our families safe and role modeling good citizenship. A product of Miami's Overtown community, he worked for the FBI and is a veteran of the US Marine Corps. He had a distinguished career in the police department, the M-D Department of Corrections, and the M-D Aviation Department. In his retirement, he devotes time to family and being a strong father figure for community organizations.

Our pioneers in research and scholarship are community leaders and educators who continuously support Fatherhood Initiatives and we commend their inquisitive nature and resilience. Dr. Wil Blechman, a retired rheumatologist, devotes his time to national children's issues. Leaving his medical practice in 1994, he has devoted efforts to representing children's needs to the public and to policymakers. A past president of Kiwanis International, he was instrumental in developing their worldwide program, Young Children: Priority One, focusing on children's brain development from before birth through age five.

A recognized expert and author of 8 books and over 120 articles and chapters on community psychology and mental health, Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky, Vice Provost for Institutional Culture and Dean of The University of Miami, School of Education and Human Development, is honored as a global leader in his field and lauded for his commitment to Community Psychology; Organizational Change for Community Well-being; and Critical Psychology. Dr. Prilleltensky was instrumental in supporting Fatherhood Conferences.

Provost at Albizu University, Dr. Etiony Aldarondo's scholarship focuses on positive development of ethnic minority and immigrant youth, domestic violence, and social justice-oriented clinical practices. A well known academic and author of books and research-related articles, he has won prestigious grants to conduct research. Dr. Etiony Aldarondo's involvement with grass root advocacy organizations and federal government agencies includes strengthening the role of the father in families and communities.

These inspiring nine gentlemen are all fathers who are relentless in their mission and pursuit to being leaders in their fields and role models for the community. They are shining stars and beacons to guide us with their commitment to advocacy in order to improve the conditions of life for children and families.They contribute daily to the academic, social, and emotional success of children.

We applaud the recipients of the Most Valuable Father Award for their passion and example. We celebrate their commitment to their own families, the children of Miami "Dad" County, the citizens of Florida, the nation, and the world.

About the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida (

An advocacy organization with national influence, the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida's mission is to facilitate the involvement of Fathers in children's lives by developing and promoting programs for fathers, grandfathers, uncles and male mentors/role models related to all stages of parenthood. Their Fatherhood Reading Squad trains fathers from all walks of life to read, tell stories and mentor students in Pre-K-12 schools.

The criteria for the Most Valuable Father Award are for fathers and male role models to be involved in their community, in children's lives; support, nurture, interact in their education and activities and be a role model for positive values by guiding and supporting them and the community physically, socially and emotionally.

Contact: Holly Zwerling, LMFT, LCSW, Founder, President & CEO, Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida (, 305.812.4000


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