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Left to right: Wayne Davis, Board Chairman of MDCC, looks on as Betty T. Ferguson is congratulated by MDCC President Eric Knowles and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert on her award.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOWARD LEVY PHOTOGRAPHY

Staff Report

MIAMI – “I challenge each and everyone here tonight to remind ourselves why we are here. We are here to make a better tomorrow for those who are yet to be born, for those who are less fortunate,” said G. Eric Knowles, President and CEO of Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce to the sea of guests at the 12th Annual Holiday Gala held on Dec. 2 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.

Over 700 hundred of Miami’s power players in politics, business and philanthropy attended the black-tie gala hosted by Honorary Gala Chairman Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and Gala Chairman Alvin West to honor the efforts of business professionals who make a difference in the lives of South Floridians daily.

This year’s top honors were bestowed upon some of the community’s most wellrespected residents. They included: former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson with the H.T. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award; Matt Haggman, candidate for US Congress, Florida District 27 with The Citizen of the Year Award; Lydia Muniz, CEO of Big Brother Big Sister with The Distinguished Service Award; and seasoned actor, writer, film director, and entreprenuer Elijah Wells with the David Fincher Young Innovator Award.

The evening started with a reception featuring DJ Tillery James and ended with thoughts from Knowles.

“As we look around this room, a room of diversity, (there are) different languages, different ethnicities, different religious beliefs, different hopes and different dreams,”

Knowles said. “Yet we have one common dream to make South Florida a better place for all of us and especially for our children and their future; a room that makes MiamiDade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties all that we are … we are South Florida. And, as we embrace the South Florida multicultural her award. business community, we embrace one another’s differences and our commonalities.”

Other distinguished elected officials in attendance were Miami-Dace County Commissioner Jean Monestime, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Public School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, City of North Miami Mayor Dr. Joseph Smith, City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, City of Miami Gardens Councilwoman Felicia Robinbson, City of Opa Locka Commissioner Matthew Pigatt, City of North Miami Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime, Former State Senator Dwight Bullard, and City of Miami Gardens Vice Mayor Erhabor Ighodaro.

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