Having it All

By Angela Caraway-Carltona | Photographs by Ricardo Mejia

They juggle successful careers, personal relationships, philanthropic commitments and the hardest job on the planet: parenthood. And they’re making it work. Meet these modern-day Miami parents who are making a difference at home and in our community.

Valentina Shah- Owner of Valentina Shah & Panarea Couture & Shail Shah- Hotelier

Parents to Maximilian and Olivia

You lived in New York for ten years; why did you decide to move to Miami?

VS: While New York was the perfect work environment for us, we moved to Miami two years ago to offer our children a lifestyle that included more outdoor activities and incredible childhood memories that Miami’s environment can give you. We go boating every week. We go to deserted islands, swim with stingrays and interact with nature.

Shail is from India, and Valentina, you’re from Italy— how do you share your different cultures and backgrounds with your children?

VS: Even with two completely different cultures, in terms of religion, language and food, we combine the best of each culture in our daily life. At home we speak four languages—I speak to Max and Olivia in Italian, Shail in Gujarati, our nanny in Spanish and at school in English. Also, food is a big cultural component, so we always include Italian, Indian and Latin in our weekly meals—Max knows how to make homemade pasta and he loves to help Shail make Indian Roti.

With an office in Doral, how do you enjoy a day as a family there?

VS: My office is located on the Finger Lakes—there is a waterski club there, where my husband and I ski during lunch breaks. I like to “test drive” all my swimwear on the slalom course to make sure the suits are comfortable. Also, Max enjoys coming to the office and driving the forklift in the warehouse. We also have a little garden next door where we farm our vegetables.

Carlos Zumpano- Founding partner at Zumpano Castro, LLC. & Monica Zumpano- Desinger 

Parents to Daniella, Isabella and Gianna

How do you juggle a hectic work life with your family life?

MZ: I have learned that if you always make your faith and family a priority, all else will fall into place. As parents, it brings us great happiness to see our girls flourish. Daniella and Isabella are honor students at their schools and follow their passions. Daniella is an amazing artist and a great high school swimmer; Isabella is also a wonderful artist and an accomplished dancer, and Gianna is a joyful 2-year-old addition to the family.

You’re very active in the community. What’s your favorite way to volunteer as
a family?

CZ: Every so often we pick an event to volunteer together. For instance, I have volunteered with our two older daughters, Daniella and Isabella, at the Superfest event at FIU sponsored by the South Florida After-School All-Stars, where our daughters presented awards to the respective school winners. I sit on the Board of Directors of this non-profit, which provides after-school activities to numerous middle school children in Miami-Dade County.

How has your family given back to Doral?

CZ: A project which is dear to our family is the Gian Zumpano Aquatic Center at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, which is almost complete and is named after our older brother who passed away in 1990 and lived an exemplary life. My brothers and I were part of the initial Belen Swimming Team at the existing school and went on to see its growth throughout the years. My hope is that Belen students residing in Doral and the surrounding areas can enjoy this impressive facility.

Sandra Santiago- Experiential & Events Director, Miami Design District  & Alexander Fernandez- Founder & CEO, Rentix LLC

Parents of Tristan

With busy work schedules, how do you approach parenting?

AF: We want our son Tristan to have fun childhood memories that include his par-ents—not memories of parents who work all the time. As a result, we’re constantly tweaking our schedules and parenting roles. We used to have live-in help, but we decided it was taking a toll on our relationship with Tristan. We ensure that one of us is at home in the evenings to do homework, bath time and reading. We don’t want to miss a beat of those precious moments that fly by.

What does your free time as a family look like?

SS: The Design District, which happens to be my place of work, aka second home, is Tristan’s ultimate playground. We expose him to activities such as the Miami Symphony Orchestra at the Palm Court Performance Series and he can freely wheel around in Jungle Plaza on his scooter and interact with public art like the Blue Man (Le Corbusier) in Palm Court. We love boating; we have a beautiful sailboat that we use as frequently as possible. Alex enjoys hobbies that Tristan can partake in like flying remote-control planes and fishing.

What values do you hope to pass on to Tristan?

SS: We support each other’s interests and ambitions and encourage Tristan to follow his own pursuits. We hope Tristan grows up to be a smart, kind, generous and responsible person who’s not afraid to take risks and enjoys everything life has to offer.

Kathryn Mikesell- Founder & Executive Director The Fountainhead Experience & Dan Mikesell- President & Co-Founder, Port IT Global 

Parents to Galt and Skye (not shown)

You have a membership to almost every non-profit institution in Miami, so why is this so important to you?

KM: It’s important to us to support as many local organizations that we can, as each one plays a unique role and serves a different audience. Art and culture are driving forces in the evolution and growth of Miami. Miami has many part-time residents and few people living here are born and raised Miamians. Earning their support is challenging and something with which all non-profits struggle. We try to do our part by not only supporting institutions financially but equally by encouraging others to do so as well.

How do you give back to the community as a family?

DM: We often take our children out with us to show others that it is both OK and rewarding to take the whole family to cultural events. Secondly, many of the events we host at Fountainhead Residency are open to broad audiences and we continuously seek to make the art world more inclusive for appreciators and potential collectors. Lastly, a good part of our art collection is from Miami artists, and buying work from them and local galleries is the best way to ensure those resources remain in our community.

What’s your idea of fun as a family?

DM: We try to do interesting and memorable things with our children. For example, our recent trips with them include El Salva-dor, Vermont, Cuba and we are taking them to Colombia for a few days later this month. When we travel, our focus is on activities that the kids enjoy and will recall with joy.

 

Adam Gropper, MD- Owner, Vivid Vascular (Offices at Kendall Regional Medical) & Kari Gropper- Vivid Face Esthetician/ Electrologist

Parents of Jonathan, Ethan and Rachel

You both work together, so how do you balance work and your home life?

KG: It’s a good thing we do or we’d probably never see each other. We both work long hours and enjoy what we do, and we like being around each other at work. With our youngest getting ready to head off to college, we have a lot of time for ourselves in the evenings these days.

What advice do you have for working parents trying to raise a family?

AG: I think it’s easy to lose focus of the relationship when there are kids constantly demanding attention. You must plan time together on a regular basis and stick to it. Also, couples need to be honest with each other about what they need; if not, resentments build up and 10 to 15 years down the road you have a real problem.

You recently renewed your vows last May after 10 years of marriage, and all the children were there. What was that experience like for the family?

AG: As a blended family with each of us having kids from previous marriages, the vow renewal was an important moment for the family. The kids were all pretty young when we got married, and it was wonderful for them to now be old enough to celebrate this milestone with us.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GROPPERS

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed