Leadership Spotlight: Gerald K. Schwartz

Gerald K. Schwartz

Miami Beach native Gerald K. Schwartz, otherwise known as Jerry Schwartz, attended Central Beach Elementary School, Ida M. Fisher Junior High and Miami Beach Senior High. At Beach High he was an exceptional batting practice pitcher, French horn player, and first man on the golf team for three years who lost to former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin for Senior Class President. He attended Emory University where he met his beautiful wife Debby, and graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. Since that time, when not otherwise involved in community activities, he has practiced law with offices in Miami and/or Miami Beach. Jerry’s participation in community activities has been extensive, beginning with his involvement in the Miami Beach Optimist Club in 1967 where he served as President from 1973 to 1975, during which time he had the privilege of presenting former mayor Neisen Kasden with an award for the outstanding essay in a Beach High Essay Contest. Jerry also served on the Miami Beach Housing Authority in 1967 and as Chairman from 1973 to 1975 during the period that Rebecca Towers was being planned and constructed. His other involvement with the city and the county include serving as first Chairman of the Nuisance Abatement Board, The Jewish Museum of Florida board, United Way Trustee, City Parking Authority, President of the Miami Beach Electrowave from 1996 to 2005, Florida Grand Opera Board, the South Florida East Coast corridor Coalition and the Jay Malina International Trade Commission.

In the late 1970s, Jerry was contacted by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation to organize a group to start and open a JCC on Miami Beach. Serving as Founding President from 1979 to 1984, he convinced the City Commission to lease to the JCC the city-owned house on Pinetree Drive just north of 41st street, the current location of the new Galbut Family Miami Beach JCC. Jerry also convinced Jerry Libbin to move to Miami Beach and serve as the first JCC Executive Director. Schwartz subsequently has served on the Board of the Jewish Federation, Super Sunday Chairman and Lawyer’s Division Chair and he has served as a member of the National Board of the JCCA since 1984.

In the late 1970s when the Dade County School Board was attempting to change the Miami Beach school boundaries, he worked with Nancy Liebman, Susan Gotlieb, Mayor Matti Bower and others to ensure that any change did not adversely affect our children. As a result of his efforts he was appointed by the Superintendent to work with the next Superintendent, Joe Fernandez, to establish a procedure to be followed for changing school boundaries. Those efforts resulted in the Attendance Boundary Committee, which Jerry chaired for several years. He was subsequently appointed to serve as the Ad Hoc Committee Chairman of the Booker T. Washington Community School for the purpose of obtaining the support of the community to convert the school temporarily to a Junior High School.

He has further served as President of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, Second Chairman of the MBCC Pillars, Chairman of the MBCC and the Miami-Dade Coalition of Chambers.

For those efforts Jerry received a Florida Congressional District Community Service Award, a Certificate of Merit from Dade County, a Dade County School Board proclamation and various City of Miami Beach Proclamations, the Tower of David Award for the State of Israel Bond in 1989 and the Nestor Torres Miami-Dade County Days Ambassador of the Arts Award in 2007. His most recent involvement and interests have been regarding children and their education. He has served on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami- Dade/Monroe Counties from its inception until he was term limited in 2012 and on the Board of the Children’s Trust also from its inception until he was term limited in 2009. He further takes great pride in his involvement with and the accomplishments of the New World School of the Arts, where he has been involved since 1990 through the Foundation Board and the Executive Board where he currently serves as Chairman.

With all of his activities, Jerry still finds time for his most important activities: his wife of 51 years, his three children and his wonderful three grandchildren along with some bike riding, rollerblading and golf.

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