In The Magazine

Miami’s Inclusion Infusion

Saturday, November 18, 2017

In this, her reincarnated column, Contributing Editor Debbie Bancroft will introduce readers to fascinating denizens of AVENUE. Her first subject: Anthony Shriver of Best Buddies.

What brought you to Miami originally? How long have you been there? What changes have you seen-for the better or worse?

I originally came to Miami in 1992 because the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities gave us a grant to run Best Buddies [the global movement that advocates and acts on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities] on a state-wide basis. I had just come out of college and I thought that was a big deal, so I figured I would come to Florida and do a really great job for two years and then move back to Washington, D.C. While in Miami, I met my wonderful wife Alina, and of course everything changed. I ended up staying in Miami and it’s been a great step in the right direction for Best Buddies in terms of creating its own identity and personality, and sort of being a big fish in a smaller pond. This city is completely different from when I first moved here. There was not much of an art or cultural scene, no Art Basel, there was no Adrienne Arsht Center, there was no Museum of Contemporary Art. I think the city has developed into a more mature, broader-thinking one that is more intellectual, more cultural and really a world-class city.

What changes do you see in terms of who is moving there, real estate development?

I’m not in the real estate business, so I will give you my views on this from an amateur perspective. Clearly the market has transformed dramatically since 1992. You would not even recognize Downtown Miami, both as an urban environment to live in—it’s bustling with corporate offices, renowned restaurants, culture—it is a complete 180. The same can be said for the Omni/Midtown area. All of these advancements and developments have really made Downtown Miami a place where people can live and work and enjoy the cultural scene that South Florida has to offer. The development of Miami Beach has been nothing short of amazing and has transformed, since the late ‘80s, early ‘90s from a sleepy retirement village to an international, vibrant city, an incredible community to live in. A lot of areas throughout South Florida have completely changed their profile and a lot of that has been driven by the real estate boom.

Does your family like visiting there?

My [extended] family loves it here. What’s not to love about South Florida for vacation? It’s an incredible place to come and I’m an incredible person to visit! I’m a wonderful host and they love it.

What are Best Buddies newest initiatives?

Best Buddies focuses on inclusion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome and our biggest focus is on jobs, jobs, jobs for people with special abilities! We have an incredible Jobs program that works to secure employment for this population, that will allow them to earn an income, pay taxes, and continuously and independently support themselves. Eighty-one percent of the developmentally disabled do not have a paid job. These are individuals who are talented, capable, hardworking and ready to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Hiring these individuals is also a smart business choice and it is my hope that CEOs and business leaders here in South Florida and all across the world will step up and hire people with special abilities. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Are your kids involved?

I have five beautiful children and all of them have been involved with Best Buddies practically since birth. They volunteer and travel with me around the country to our national Best Buddies events. I am incredibly grateful that my children are involved with Best Buddies and have made the mission their own. It is such a blessing to be able to share my passion for service to others with my family.

Do you see your leadership being carried on by the next generation?

I started Best Buddies when I was in my early 20s and I look forward to watching a whole new generation of young leaders step up to the plate and guide us toward a society that respects, values and celebrates everyone for their unique abilities. I have complete faith that the next generation of leaders will do just that.

How have you seen Miami Art Basel evolve? What are the most exciting new elements of it?

Art Basel has been tremendous for the culture of our city. It’s incredibly exciting that our city hosts such a world-class event for artists, collectors and people interested in the arts, whether it be contemporary art or art in general. I think it’s phenomenal for our city. I am thrilled by Art Basel’s growth over the years and super excited that it’s right here in our own backyard. 


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