Touching Miami with Love is celebrating twenty-seven years of impact in 2022, and I have had the pleasure of leading this great organization for over sixteen of those years. When I was asked to move my family from Detroit, Michigan, to Miami in 2005, I had no idea where this journey would take me.
Coming on the heels of outstanding leadership, I was pleased to cast a new vision for the organization. I knew that to see the maximum impact on the lives of those we served, we would need to increase the time that our staff spent with the children and youth in our community.
We increased the number of weeks and length of our summer programming day, moved our afterschool programming in-house with my wife, Angel, in the lead, and concentrated on providing a holistic program with an academic emphasis. I also shifted middle and high school youth engagement from a drop-in program to a positive youth development model emphasizing academic, college, and career readiness. I led the staff to create a wide array of engaging components, and over the years, we saw the fruit of our efforts through graduation rates soaring to 98%, with 83% of our program graduates entering college.
After years of organizational growth and impact, the time is right for me to hand over leadership. Therefore, it is with great joy that I announce Trina Harris as incoming CEO as I step down this summer.
In 2009, Trina Harris, an Overtown native, joined our staff. Trina was first a neighbor and friend of Angel and I before becoming a co-worker after an impromptu interview one evening in our living room. I take seriously the intentional investment of time with staff to cultivate their leadership potential and Empower them to share their unique gifts. It has been a joy to empower Trina as she rose through our organization from the Children’s Program Coordinator to the Overtown Site Director, and following our merger with Open House Ministries, she became our Senior Program Director over both TML sites.
Over these years, TML experienced remarkable organizational growth as we expanded to serve thousands of children, youth, and adults. During this season, Trina, Angel, and I increased the organizational capacity through diversifying our funding, creating internal systems, and assembling a talented staff reflecting Overtown and West Homestead. Angel and I recognized the timing was right to begin to think about a transition as we witnessed Trina’s leadership capacity.
Leaving a great organization like TML was not an easy decision. So, together with the Board of Directors, we initiated a succession plan guided by best practices in organizational leadership, recognizing that leadership transition is a healthy part of an organization’s growth. I wanted a sustained period of intentional leadership cultivation while building TML’s internal capacity to excel. I believed Trina might be the next person to lead Touching Miami with Love, and in 2020, I was pleased to promote her to Vice President following Angel’s departure.
After outlining a procedure to help determine the right person to lead TML after my departure in 2022, the Board of Directors’ process resulted in a unanimous vote on a candidate.
Along with the Board, I am confident in Trina’s ability to lead TML in the future with extraordinary success. I have such peace about saying goodbye to this place so dear to us because of the talented and gifted people, many of them program graduates, who will carry this organization forward alongside Trina. Furthermore, our founders and strong supporters at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and CBF Florida support the choice of a capable, indigenous community leader like Trina to succeed me and have pledged their continued support.
We recognize the value of being transparent, and we have created a Frequently Asked Questions sheet on our website and welcome any questions. During these final months of this transition and beyond, I ask that you join me in sharing not only your financial support but also your blessing for Trina as she leads. I know many of you already love and respect Trina, and I encourage those who have not yet met Trina to get to know her and share the support and kindness you have done for my wife and our family over these many years.
Finally, you may be asking, “What is next for the Pittmans?” Our plans aren’t final, and we covet your prayers, but we will seek opportunities that will permit us to split our time between Miami and Texas to be closer to our parents as they age. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve at TML and for your continued partnership in impacting the lives of thousands of children, youth, and adults over these years.