Milagro Center New Director
New director hopes to expand offerings at Milagro Center
May 10, 2002
DELRAY BEACH -- As the
Milagro Center celebrates its fourth year, the center known for cultural and
arts programs and its multicolored exterior will hire its fourth executive
Lhisa Almashy, a multicultural teacher and administrator with
the Palm Beach County School District, will start her new job on June 5. She is
replacing Elena Leonardi, the director for the past two years who resigned on
April 30 for health reasons, said Maria Santamarina, the interim director.
Almashy will take over the nonprofit center on Southeast Second Avenue
as it tries to break away from the financial backing of its founder Thomas
Worrell, a developer and philanthropist who made a fortune as a newspaper scion.
At the same time, the center is trying to expand beyond its tradition of
offering exhibits, classes, and an after-school program by opening for legal
counseling, fair-housing workshops and employment training for immigrants and
"We've been on a plan to be self-sufficient within two years,"
The Milagro, which means miracle in Spanish, was an
aging paint warehouse before Worrell purchased it and turned it into a community
center intended to teach and promote the arts. His organization planned to
provide most of the money for the center's programming until directors were able
to make it stand on its own.
As Leonardi departed, the center faced an
estimated $40,000 shortfall in its $250,000 budget. Organizers are hoping to
erase the deficit before December through fund raising. If they can't, Worrell's
foundation will have to chip in more money, said Santamarina, who declined to
explain how much the foundation currently provides.
The center has faced
budget crunches before, but it's always survived, she said.
the nature of nonprofit work," Santamarina said.
Leonardi could not be
reached for comment this week. She was hired by the center's former executive
director, Joseph Bernadel, who left in March 2000 to pursue the start of a
museum and a charter school. Before Bernadel, Lisa Bright ran the
Bernadel said he didn't find it unusual that the center has had
so many executive directors in its short life.
"I don't look at it as
being odd," he said. "People come there and they evolve."
said her priorities will include broadening the center's fund raising and going
after private and public grants. She hopes to expand programs and market the
center beyond Delray Beach.
A graduate of the University of San
Francisco, she has eight years of experience of teaching and administrating
multicultural programs at the school district. She oversaw the creation of a
curriculum for Hispanic studies and ran a program that paired students from 18
schools with directors of cultural organizations for several months of learning
about other countries and cultures.
"I want to create programs that help
foster a sense of understanding and tolerance for all cultures," said Almashy,
whose family comes from Venezuela. "The Milagro Center already embraces this,
and I'm hoping to champion this further." Leon Fooksman can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6647.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida
Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel