BY JON CRONIN
For Luis Miranda, early career achievements inspired him to lend a helping hand—which he has come to see as his purpose.
Miranda was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States at age 18 to attend graduate school and get his Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
“I quickly realized that I would make a lousy psychologist,” he said. “But I did get one good thing out of the Ph.D.—my wonderful wife.”
Miranda said that when he was a young man, he did not know what he wanted to do with his life. He said that he was fortunate to get a job with the city and realized after nearly a decade that working in politics was what he wanted to do. Miranda decided that when he could, he would help others in the same boat.
Miranda worked for the city for a decade during the 1970s, a time when New York was on the verge of a financial crisis. At a time when his family was growing, he looked around at his peers and saw that people were getting fired and the city’s workforce was shrinking.
But he knew that New York City was where he was going to spend his life and raise his children.
“It was then [that] doing what was right for the city became a passion,” he said.
Miranda worked in former Mayor Ed Koch’s administration during the 1980s. He was a special advisor for Hispanic Affairs and served as director of the mayor’s Office for Hispanic Affairs from 1987 to 1989.
He credits Koch for teaching him what it means to work as part of team.
“He was a great mentor of mine,” he said. “You didn’t have to agree with him 100 percent of the time, but if you agree enough, you can work with him. I learned from him that when you work as a team, you work together, you don’t bring to the table what you disagree on.”
Miranda said that when he worked for the mayor, he believed that city government was “an entire administration of terrific city servants.”
“We created a network of people who cared about the city and were great at their craft,” he said.
In 1989, Koch appointed Miranda to the board of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. He continued to serve during David Dinkins’ administration and, in 1993, was appointed its chairman by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
In 1990, Luis became the founding president of the Hispanic Federation, one of the nation’s leading Latino nonprofit organizations dedicated to addressing the human services and health needs of the Hispanic community. As president of the federation for eight years, Miranda became one of New York City’s leading voices for increased support to Latino nonprofits and a widely admired partner for corporate and private philanthropic leaders.
After eight years at the federation, Miranda started his own company—the MirRam Group, which he has operated since 1998.
He believes that building one’s own business should not prevent one from participating in philanthropic endeavors. After strengthening the city’s network of Latino business and charities as president of the Hispanic Federation, he continues to be involved with nonprofits throughout the city.
“Being in business doesn’t mean stopping all of your volunteer activity,” he said.
Shortly after founding the MirRam Group, he founded the Amber Charter School in East Harlem in 2000. Miranda was also on the board of directors for the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
He is also the chairman of The Broadway League’s Latino audience development program, Viva Broadway. He is a board member of the John Jay College Foundation, vice chairman of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and a member of the advisory boards to Nielsen Ratings and R.Evolucion Latina.
Through his work with the MirRam Group, Miranda has led numerous campaigns in the City Council and state assembly and aided Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s winning bids for U.S. Senate.
“Latinos are still under represented,” Miranda said. “They are numerically present, but underrepresented in almost every field—from theater to politics. Part of what we must do is to find that talent and run for office and get elected or go into whatever field they’re good at to succeed. It doesn’t happen overnight. There is no magic cure, you need talent. Being Latino isn’t enough.”
Miranda is not the only family member to have seen success in New York City. His son—Lin-Manuel Miranda—is the creator of the Broadway sensation Hamilton.