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Manny  Diaz

Manny Diaz

Former Mayor of Miami


A force in local, state, and national politics for nearly three decades, the Honorable Manny Diaz was first elected mayor of Miami in 2001, having never before held elected office. He was re-elected to a second term in 2005 and was chosen to lead the United States Conference of Mayors as its president in 2008. Diaz came to public prominence as the lawyer representing the Florida-based relatives of Elián González, who in 2000 was at the center of a custody battle between his aunts and his Cuban father. Read More >

As former mayor, Diaz developed a vision for Miami as an international city that embodies diversity, economic opportunity, effective customer service, and a highly rated quality of life. To achieve this goal, he re-engineered Miami’s government from top to bottom.

During his two-term tenure, Diaz was recognized for completely transforming Miami and for launching many innovative programs in the areas of urban design, sustainability and green initiatives, education, infrastructure investment, affordable housing, law enforcement, poverty and homelessness, and art and culture.

He chronicles his work transforming the city in his acclaimed book, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time.

Mayor Diaz has received almost 100 awards and recognitions for his work, including recognition as one of America’s Best Leaders by US News and World Report and The Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government, the Americans for the Arts National Award for Local Arts Leadership, the American Architectural Foundation Keystone Award, the AIA (Miami Chapter) Governmental Leadership Award, the Congress for the New Urbanism Groves Award, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce Power Leader of the Year and Green Visionary Award, the Hispanic Magazine Government Award, the South Florida CEO Magazine Business Leader of the Year Award, the Poder Hispanic Magazine/Global Crisis Foundation Climate Award, the Urban Research Annual Urban Leadership Award from the University of Pennsylvania Institute, recognition as Urban Innovator of the Year by the Manhattan Institute, recognition as an Outstanding American by Choice by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, and an American Institute of Architects Presidential citation.

Diaz is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council of the US Department of Homeland Security and serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation and honorary regional chairman of NewDEAL. He also serves as the chair for Fair Districts Florida and is a member of the board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research, the Miami Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Urban Land Institute, the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, the National Environmental Education Foundation, City Year Miami, and the Florida Afterschool Network. He also serves on the advisory boards for the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation, the Sustainable Cities Institute, the US Green Building Council - South Florida Chapter, and Project 2050; on the Florida advisory committee for the US Global Leadership Coalition; and on the Florida steering committee for The Children’s Movement of Florida.

Former mayor Manny Diaz served as a resident fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and has resumed his successful corporate and real estate law practice as a senior partner at Lydecker Diaz in Miami. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Understanding America

Speech Topics

Transforming Miami, Transforming Your Brand

In two terms as mayor, speaker Manny Diaz transformed Miami from a poor, crime-ridden, and economically stagnant city to a flourishing metropolis with a hurtling skyline. In this fascinating keynote based on his new book, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time, Diaz explains how he set out to transform the city’s brand by attracting the best and brightest to its shores and by returning the sizzle to hot spots such as South Beach, which had fallen by the wayside. His strategy? Constant innovation. The public will always look for the next big thing, he says, so corporations, organizations, cities, and governments must always reinvent themselves in order to stay in the limelight. Diaz—who is frequently approached by mayors from across the nation about re-branding their cities—will share his strategies and insights with you to help you successfully transform your brand.

Understanding the New America: The Hispanic Dynamic

As a child, Manny Diaz listened to his parents and grandparents, who’d fled Castro’s Cuba, ask themselves how they’d lost their country. Years later, as Elián González’s lawyer, he watched Miami’s non-Hispanic population go up in arms demanding that “Cubans go home.” Determined to make the US his home—as well as that of the rest of Miami’s Hispanic population—Diaz took action to transform his city into a hospitable place for its exceptionally diverse population... and succeeded by a landmark. Today, mayors from across the country turn to him for advice on how to civically engage their Hispanic constituents. In this keynote, speaker Manny Diaz reveals the “New America” as exemplified by his city: one that owes its ethnic diversity, in large part, to its Hispanic population. He is in a unique position to explain the significance of the Hispanic vote and the problems with our immigration system and does so intelligently and insightfully.

Miami: A Green Case Study

At the beginning of Mayor Manny Diaz’s tenure, Miami did not contain a single green building. Today it boasts 200. In this timely keynote, Diaz explains how he galvanized the business world into investing into green buildings and development by providing them real financial incentives. After having gathered experts from around the world, he explained how green buildings would yield higher rents, enhance tenant retention, save on operational costs, and increase resale value—essentially, he showed businesses how their investments would make “business sense” while helping save the planet. Speaker Manny Diaz tells audiences how to make green development a priority where it was previously nonexistent.

The Translator to the Americas

“When Buenos Aires sneezes, Miami catches a cold,” Diaz says to point to his city’s deep-rooted ties with its southern neighbors. As the single-most diverse city in the US, Miami attracts a sky-high amount of Central and South American business (virtually every Central and South American municipality is represented by its own bank in the city). As such, Miami is the center of commerce uniting North and South America. In this keynote, speaker Manny Diaz discusses the convergence of South and Central America’s economy with our own, as well Cuba’s economic future and the emerging opportunities it represents. As an expert on North and South America’s economies, Diaz, who named Miami “the translator to the Americas,” is himself a translator to both regions.

The Miami Compact: A Successful Education Reform