The only possible role Michael Rosenberg might enjoy other than marshaling public opinion is appearing as a concert pianist on stage at the Arsht Center.
Instead, he became a successful business entrepreneur and a civic activist bent upon “making wrong things right.”
His dream of potential fame as a classical artist began during a Kentucky boyhood when he “enjoyed” taking piano lessons while other kids played baseball. Pursuing a career in classical music, the new president of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in music.
He next secured a master’s degree in Performance Presentation at the University of Miami, teaching up to 40 budding keyboard students each week while writing his own music and diligently practicing.
“Then, one day, it hit me,” he admitted with a sheepish smile. “I wasn’t going to become a Rachmaninoff. So I began working in advertising that came about from New York contacts I made, trying to sell songs I’d written.
“I’ve had over one thousand rejections but I still write songs on my sevenfoot Steinway,” he added. “They’re all slanted for a pops market. As slanted for a pops market. As a lounge pianist for two years, I must have memorized over a 1,000 pop tunes.”
Diligently practicing classical works one afternoon at a UM Music School studio, the time arrived to give up his half-hour when a voice student he knew “only casually” walked in and said, “I have the studio next. Your time is up at 1:30.’ I looked at my watch and told her, ‘I have two more minutes.’”
The voice student became Mrs. (Nancy) Rosenberg, an elementary music teacher for the past 34 years who plays clarinet in the Greater Miami Symphonic Band. The Rosenbergs have two daughters — Rachel, a school reading specialist and wife of CPAMarc O’Connor, parents of Braden, age one, and Dare Rosenberg, pursuing an acting and voice-over career in New York.
Tracing his lineage to a Polish grandmother and parents who left New York City for the town of Mt. Sterling (pop. 5,000), Rosenberg today owns and manages ImagineYourPhoto, a flourishing graphics company manufacturing more than 3,000 advertising specialty products from T-shirts to tote bags.
“Luckily, Nancy puts up with my sticking for detail,” Rosenberg said, freely confessing that he’ll “protest what others will not.” Not long ago, he argued that a popcorn sign at an AMC theater offering “Free Refills” for buckets shouldn’t deny a second refill (“It was a long movie,” he laughed).
“But that wasn’t the point. The sign should have said ‘Free Refill — without the ‘s’,” he declared. Rosenberg took his complaint to a corporate level.
“Do you know what? Every sign in every AMC theater got replaced,” he said with a triumphant grin. “Just think, I caused a giant theater chain to correct something, just by speaking up.”
Such determination motivated him to lead an investigation into potential water shutoffs to customers (himself included) for suspiciously high bills.
He currently continues a four-and-onehalf- year battle with county water officials over a $450 three-month billing.
Badgering for answers eventually caused the Miami-Dade County Commission to change the water billing policy to credit up to 50 percent of unusually exorbitant charges.
When the county’s Animal Service Shelter was overrun with strays, Rosenberg adopted a kitten, watched it die in four days from a shelter-borne disease. His protest resulted in taking up the cause to save euthanasia-bound animals by creating a Pets Trust to finance better housekeeping at shelters.
“I love asking tough questions,” he added. “One of the best things about KFHA is having government officials address problems directly to the people,” Rosenberg said. “When you tally the vote total for most county elections, Kendall averages 25 percent of that vote,” a clout he said will eventually lead to new incorporations.
“KFHA can lead the way but residents must attend the meetings and study issues to become accurately informed,” said Rosenberg, whose equal concerns for the community led to organizing a KFHA fundraiser for the FoodShare program and a Christmas party for children of migrants.
“People can change things, once they get involved,” he concluded.