RE: What made you want to become a member of the Alumni Board?
Phil Cassel ’03: Ever since I started at Ransom Everglades in sixth grade, I feel like I never really left the community. Most of my family members and closest friends are Ransom Everglades alumni, and I have lived in Coconut Grove since I returned to Miami after college. I continued to find myself on campus through coaching water polo, scrimmaging against the high school water polo team and alumni pick-up basketball games. I got involved in the Young Benefactor group as I felt motivated to support financial aid to help qualified kids attend RE who might not have otherwise had the opportunity. Joining the Alumni Board became a natural next step to further my involvement.
Rachel Greer Narvaez ’99: I joined the Alumni Board because I am grateful for the incredible education I received and feel it’s my duty to volunteer and give back to the school that gave me so much. Also, joining the RE Alumni Board was a great way to meet people I didn’t know but who have a shared experience and similar goals. When I moved back to Miami with my husband in 2007, very few of my high school friends were back in Miami. I made wonderful new RE friends even though we didn’t know each other as classmates.
RE: How long have you been on the Alumni Board?
PC: I am starting my fourth year on the Alumni Board.
RGN: I am the longest current serving member of the board with 11 years under my belt! I joined in 2012 because of Ben Quevedo ’98 who is a great mentor to me. We have a three-year term limit unless you serve on the executive board, and I served as Vice President twice and Secretary so I had the privilege of staying on longer.
RE: How has RE played a role in your life?
PC: I met my wife Charlotte in Ms. Edmund’s sixth grade Flex class, so I guess you could say it has had a pretty big impact. As I mentioned, most of my closest friends also went to Ransom Everglades. The education I received and athletic experience in water polo and swimming enabled me to get into Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has led to many professional opportunities. The teachers and mentors I had, from Mrs. Onorati at the middle school to Mr. Stavisky ’85 at the upper school, prepared me for whatever was thrown my way as I progressed through my academic and professional career.
RGN: I was a member of the first 6th grade class at RE in 1993, and RE has played an important role in my life since that time. Both of my siblings are alumni, and we all credit RE for giving us incredible preparation for college and beyond. I cannot overstate the training that I received and how Ransom Everglades set us up for success. I also met my life-long best friend the first month I started the 6th grade at RE, Dr. Kate Lampen-Sachar ’99. Now Kate and I have daughters in the RE Class of 2029. Those relationships are what life is about.
RE: Tell us about your life after RE.
PC: I went on to MIT where I majored in mathematics. During college, I had internships at a fantasy sports startup, the Boston Celtics doing statistical analysis and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. I also played four years of varsity water polo at MIT. After graduating a semester early from college, I was an assistant coach for the RE boys and girls varsity water polo teams and tutored math. I went on to work at Alvarez & Marsal for three years as part of their restructuring group, providing turnaround consulting work for distressed and bankrupt companies. Next, I spent almost two years working at Rialto Capital, a real estate private equity firm, helping launch their finance group. For the last twelve years, I have worked with my father at Cassel Salpeter & Co., a fifteen-person boutique investment bank focused on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and other advisory services. I became a partner in the firm about four years ago. I married Charlotte Joseph Cassel ’03 over 10 years ago. We have a 6-year-old daughter (Emilia) and a 3-year-old son (Abraham). We live in North Coconut Grove, a few blocks from the middle school.
RGN: I graduated from Barnard College in 2003 and Columbia University School of Law in 2006. While in college, I met my husband Damian who was a JD/MBA student at Columbia. We married in 2006 and moved back to Miami in 2007. Today I work part-time with Damian in real estate development and investment. I live on Miami Beach with Sammy, my 16-year-old maltipoo, my daughter Jules ’29, and my son Levi, who is in 4th grade.
RE: What experience did you have at RE that stays with you to this day?
PC: Playing water polo at RE taught me a lot of things including teamwork, discipline, striving for goals, balancing a demanding schedule and more. Some of my closest friends still to this day played water polo with me, including my uncle, and classmate Michael Cassel ’03. Coach Felix joined me at MIT, and now I am godfather to his son Levi (who he named after my little brother).
RGN: My favorite experience at RE was the mentorship I received from teachers I had when I was a student. I was incredibly lucky to have teachers who were interested in supporting and helping me whenever I needed them. From former teachers Paul Quick to Christine Rose, my mentors were genuinely invested in my development as a person and a student.
RE: What is happening at Ransom Everglades today that excites you?
PC: The ongoing campus transformation is hard to miss if you step foot on the upper school grounds. The growing community engagement through REconnect is putting us in a position to rival any local college network. The talk around town is that Ransom Everglades continues to be the top academic institution. There is no shortage of exciting things happening at RE.
RGN: The most exciting thing to watch as an alumna is how dynamic RE is today. Our school leadership and professionals strive to improve and progress at an exciting pace. Of course, our school should maintain its traditions, but the world is different, and I love to see how RE is racing to stay ahead of the curve. Our facilities, programming and classroom experiential learning are cutting edge.
RE: As a Co-President, what are your goals for the next two years?
PC: I hope that we can further engage the alumni community, getting people back on campus and creating more connections between alumni both personally and professionally.
RGN: Past Co-Presidents Vanessa Chartouni-de la Serna and Todd Mestepey ’91 did an amazing job and left us a strong foundation. Phil Cassel ’03 and I are excited to focus on strengthening the connection between current students and alumni. Through this connection, we hope current students will be inspired to emulate our activism when they are alumni. We are also focusing on including an even greater number of Alumni in our campaigns and events and broadening our reach with more diverse programming. We are expanding committees and our expectations of our Board members. By utilizing Board Members and their committees effectively, we hope to maximize our impact on the RE community and the entire Miami community as a whole.
RE: What are some things alumni can do to get more involved with RE?
PC: That’s the best part: there are no rules on how you can get involved. Find something that speaks to you and dive in. Come to a sporting event, join an affinity group, post a job on REconnect or come to alumni events. The list goes on. Come talk to us if you want to get more involved, and we will find you a role that you will be passionate about.
RGN: Join a committee! We have something for you no matter what your interests are, and we would welcome any help you can offer. From volunteer projects in our local community to fundraising or mentoring current and recent students, we would love your help!