Upcoming ‘Heart Crawl’ among ways young philanthropist supports museum
At 25, Cristina Mas is a young professional who’s already noted for community leadership. The group she founded and now serves as president, the Young Associates, has raised more than $55,000 in less than two years for the Coral Gables Museum.
The first fundraiser of 2013 is right around the corner — the second annual Gables Heart Crawl, featuring a love theme and starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Tarpon Bend, 65 Miracle Mile. From there participants will progress to The Local, Fritz & Franz Bierhaus, JohnMartin’s and The Bar. “If your New Year’s Resolution was to find someone special, this is the event for you,” she says.
Despite her relatively short tenure in the fundraising arena, Ms. Mas’ leadership and impact have already been singled out.
For example, Ms. Mas was recognized at the 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards on Nov. 13. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Miami presented her the Joyce Galya AFP Scholarship Award and the AFP Ralph E. Chamberlain Scholarship Award for her work to engage young professionals in community philanthropy.
In addition to the Young Associates group, which focuses on networking and socializing while raising money and awareness for the museum, Ms. Mas also volunteers with Radio Lollipop at the Miami Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society and ShelterBox, a disaster relief organization.
Her biggest commitment is the Young Associates. “We plan events that bring people into the Gables,” explains Ms. Mas, “and our reach is to professionals not only from the Gables but to those who may have a love and affinity for the city of Coral Gables and the arts.”
Ms. Mas herself grew up here and is a fan of the arts. After graduation from Loyola University in New Orleans and working in Louisiana for a while, she returned to South Florida and took a position at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School in business, admissions and development. Today, Ms. Mas is assistant director of advancement for the University of Miami, building relationships to raise funds for the university.
Soon after the Coral Gables Museum launched its first exhibits in 2011, its board chairman asked Ms. Mas to join the board with the main assignment of planning events. Ms. Mas recognized a market for young professionals like herself interested in the arts, looking to network with other young professionals, attend fun upscale events and raise money for a good cause. So she organized a committee of several other young professionals – and hence began the Young Associates.
The group’s first challenge, with only three months to organize, was a party for the Coral Gables Museum during Art Basel. That inaugural Young Associates event in late 2011 was the first Party on the Plaza, and it raised about $25,000.
“I love being a part of the Young Associates and creating Party on the Plaza because not only do I get to plan events, but I get to promote local Miami artists,” says Mas.
The Young Associates numbers about 70 like-minded professionals and community leaders under age 40 who host events to connectwith peers and promote museum membership and the arts. About 20 of the group serve on its planning committee.
The group holds an event almost every month with turnouts of 100 to 500 people at venues such as the Coral Gables Museum Plaza and the Delano Hotel. Ms. Mas says one of the most successful events was the second annual Party on the Plaza Nov. 2 featuring more than 550 guests, many generous sponsors, and excellent food and entertainment.
The Young Associates also held a holiday-themed event Dec. 4 at The Stage – a live-arts nightclub venue in the Miami Design District – in partnership with six other young professional groups to benefit Radio Lollipop and the Miami Children’s Hospital. The group also held “DrinkedIn,” a speed networking happy hour event, at the Coral Gables Museum on Dec. 12.
Ms. Mas says she’ll continue to work on growing and strengthening the Young Associates. In addition to the upcoming Valentines’-themed Heart Crawl, she’s planning Trivia and Karaoke Night and is in the beginning stages of planning a Fourth of July pool party at the Venetian Pool.
Ms. Mas says the involvement is gratifying and rewarding.
“I definitely think [Young Associates] has opened doors in philanthropy for me and created networks,” she says. “It has been the most positive thing I’ve done so far in my career.”
For more information about the Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave., and the Young Associates, visit http://www.coralgablesmuseum.org/youngassociates.php.
Sara Miller is a sophomore student leader at the University of Miami majoring in public relations in the School of Communication and minoring in marketing and psychology.