Meet Daniella Levine Cava

Daniella Levine CavaDaniella has been a tireless advocate for South Florida residents and communities for over 30 years. She has proven business skills as founder and CEO of Catalyst Miami, an organization dedicated to helping Floridians achieve economic well-being and self-sufficiency. As County Commissioner, Daniella will apply her impressive leadership and organizational experience to solve community problems and restore confidence in local government.

Born in New York City, and raised across North and South America, Daniella’s family stressed giving back and working to create equal opportunity. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and graduate degrees in law and social work from Columbia University. Daniella came to South Florida in 1980 to join her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, a Miami native, who returned home to join his father in medical practice.

Daniella served special needs children and immigrants at Legal Services of Greater Miami, then represented children in the child welfare system as Associate and Legal Director for the Guardian Ad Litem Program.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Daniella was recruited to create a new intake system for child abuse cases with the Department for Children and Families (DCF). Her efforts were concentrated on the neighborhoods of County Commission District 8 where she helped restore the lives and homes of those devastated by the storm. Due to her success with this special assignment, she was promoted to Manager for Foster Care, Adoptions and Child Welfare Legal Services.

In 1996 Daniella founded Catalyst Miami to help low- and middle-income families through education and advocacy. Catalyst is an innovator in health and human services and an incubator for new approaches to community and economic development. As president and CEO, Daniella managed a staff of 30 and a budget of over $2.5 million from a mix of public and private sources, growing during an economic downturn and recognized through countless awards for innovation and impact. Catalyst Miami “offers a smorgasbord of services in areas such as financial assistance—from how-to’s on taxes and home ownership to healthcare,” wrote the Miami New Times. “It’s a one-stop shop for people looking to pull up to the middle class…”

At Catalyst Miami, Daniella launched the Prosperity Campaign in alliance with the business community, Chambers of Commerce, United Way, and local banks. The Prosperity Campaign helps people increase their income and savings, and has brought in hundreds of millions in income tax credits and other programs, money reinvested in the local economy. Catalyst helps approximately 5,000 people each year to become more self-sufficient.

Daniella has helped thousands improve their standard of living and enter the middle class. She has created hundreds of jobs through programs such as Public Allies, ReServe, and internships throughout the nonprofit and government sectors. Hundreds of new civic leaders have graduated from Catalyst’s programs, including new immigrant leaders in Homestead. These graduates are now active members of school, community and civic life.

Ann Kimble came to the Catalyst Miami seeking tools to advocate for the disabled. After her Catalyst training, Ann started her own business for transportation for the disabled. She received grant funding, worked with commissioners, and mastered the legal issues to help disabled drivers. “Daniella planted that seed in me, that we can help ourselves,” Ann says. “Catalyst has the classes to teach us how to better our lives. They’ve given me so much that I can’t give them back enough.”

Daniella has served on the Florida Bar Committee on Legal Needs of Children; the boards of League of Women Voters, Orange Bowl Foundation, North Dade Medical Foundation and the South Florida Health Information Initiative. She’s won awards from the Red Cross, American Society for Public Administration, ACLU, FIU, National Council of Jewish Women, League of Women Voters, People for the American Way and American Association of University Women. And she was selected as one of 11 “leadership fellows” by the International Women’s Forum in 1999.

Daniella has been a trustee-level member of the Greater Miami Chamber for over a decade and a member of the Steering Committee for One Community One Goal. She also serves on two economic development advisory boards at Florida International University and the community healthcare advisory board at University of Miami.

Daniella and Robert raised two children, Eliza and Edward Cava, in Miami-Dade, supported by strong networks of friends, families and co-workers. They welcomed Fanny, Daniella’s beloved mother in law, and countless interns, family and friends to live in their home. Daniella is poised and excited to apply her extensive and effective experience for the benefit of our entire county, growing jobs, developing effective programs and responsibly managing public funds.


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