More than one hundred of the of the city cultural leaders, non-profit professionals, philanthropists, and social sceners turned out honor Melanie Cohen, the founder of SocialMiami.com, the online publication that has helped to transform the city into the exciting cultural center it is today.
The occasion was SocialMiami.com’s 15th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon, which was held recently at the Palm Court in the Design District, and served as the ideal occasion to kickoff the new cultural season.
“What an amazing event to showcase Melanie Cohen and SocialMiami for her 15 years of promoting Miami’s charities, nonprofits and social events. She is the bomb,” said George Neary, director of cultural tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, who served as the emcee.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Melanie Cohen who, completely and absolutely, singularly designed and created a site that has become the must go-to-calendar for all things happening social, arts, and philanthropy,” said veteran publicist Charlie Cinnamon. “Heart and soul, she gives it all she’s got and we, in our South Florida community, owe her a special thanks, good wishes and support to carry on for another 15 years plus,” he added.
Lending a note (or rather a musical note) of excitement to the gathering was Roberto Iarussi, an acclaimed Italian–American tenor and protégé of Luciano Pavarotti, who serenaded Cohen with his stellar performance of the light-hearted Italian song “Chitarra Romana” (Roman Guitar).
“I was delighted to meet Melanie Cohen personally and partake in celebrating her important accomplishments. Her achievements have helped establish Miami as a relevant cultural center,” said Iarussi, who has performed nationally and abroad in some of the world’s most prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
A longtime devotee of Miami, Iarussi has recently made the city his home and will be performing here, as well as in Los Angeles and New York City, to culminate with the release of his highly anticipated crossover debut CD, “I Believe,” in which he is accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra and also features another great artist who has Miami roots, Arturo Sandoval.
Prior to the luncheon, guests mingled outside in the Palm Court Plaza, where, surrounded by the luxury shops and world-class sculpture, they sipped wine as guitarist Claudio Spiewak played. The guests then made their way into the large event space, where they dined on an elegant three-course dinner created by Joy Wallace of Joy Wallace Catering | Design | Special Events to showcase her fall menu.
During the luncheon, Cohen reminisced about the early days, when she was inspired to create an publication back when email and cell phones were a novelty.
Cohen told the audience she created SocialMiami.com to solve two problems that all nonprofit organizations faced – creating an up-to-date calendar and publicity for events.
“Back then, the majority of nonprofits either didn’t have a website or were in the process of building one. Most staff people did not communicate by email. And they didn’t have a clue about how SocialMiami would work or benefit them.”
“We launched in September 2000, and it has been trial and error since then. The basic plan has remained intact – build a database of people who support local charity and arts events to help organizations publicize their events and to keep a community calendar current and as complete as possible,” she added.
Since then, SocialMiami.com has become the leading online publication of the city’s arts and philanthropic scene. But it still holds true to its core values, said Cohen. “What we do best, I think, is provide recognition for people who put on the events, whose hard work makes the events successful,” she said.
More Info: SocialMiami.com