RE commencement speaker: Jeffrey Miller '79

Penny Townsend
Jeffrey Miller ’79 has spent decades empowering students across Miami-Dade County: He has been a longtime benefactor of Breakthrough Miami, the educational program founded by two Ransom Everglades alumni. He co-founded an inner-city charter school, Beacon College Prep, to elevate public school education in Miami. He has championed the University of Miami since his undergraduate days there.
Though his educational reach is wide, his high school alma mater occupies a special place in his heart. Through participation, philanthropy and mentorship, Jeff has helped Ransom Everglades update and enlarge its campuses, improve its programs and live out its mission. 

For years Jeff has been fully engaged at RE all the while honoring his commitments to the larger Miami community. In recognition of his decades of service, Ransom Everglades has named him the 2021 commencement speaker and recipient of the Founders’ Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the Community.

Jeff has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me since I arrived to RE in 2014. He has also helped me understand the complexities of our amazing school and dynamic city. Few can match his generous spirit, keen sense of humor and delightful personality – and no one has a bigger heart. He has made a huge difference inside and outside of Ransom Everglades. It would be difficult to find a better model of Paul Ransom’s charge to each matriculating student to “put more into the world than you take from it,” and I am grateful to call him a friend.

Some of Jeff’s best memories of his time at Ransom Everglade include his great mentor Dan Leslie Bowden. Their friendship endured throughout Jeff’s adult life, and Jeff made certain that Dan was able to retire comfortably and surrounded by the things and people he loved. He considers Ransom Everglades a key community asset, a school that sends out graduates who have the capability and empathy to face the challenging problems of their time, and make their hometown a better place.

“Many thanks to Ransom Everglades for honoring me with the Founders’ Award,” Jeff shared in an email. “For almost five decades RE has been a huge part of my life. Many dear friendships emerged from my years as a student, as a parent and as a trustee to the RE community. I regard Ransom Everglades as a cornerstone to the South Florida community – not only for seeking educational excellence, but for emphasizing community outreach and selflessness.”

Jeff, who with his siblings received the United Way’s prestigious Tocqueville Award in 2014, has also served RE in every conceivable role. He has been a trustee and chair of the board. He co-chaired the REinventing Excellence capital campaign. He created the Dan Leslie Bowden Endowment in the Humanities and, this spring, RE will name its original quad the Miller Family Quad. With current trustee Melissa Krinzman ’87, he co-founded Krillion Ventures, a venture capital fund that provides seed funding to tech-enabled companies in Miami and other locales. As we watch the tech explosion in Miami, it is no surprise that Jeff was well ahead of the curve.

He also is a parent of Anthony Miller ’15 and Lenny Miller ’21, who is graduating this spring.

“The true mark of success is not how much one amasses in life,” Jeff said. “A better barometer might measure the many ways one can give back to a community that has supported a foundation for so many blessings.”

Those words provide a great segue to many of the stories below. I’m not sure we have ever had a busier month at Ransom Everglades – as you will see when you read through this issue of the Dell + Cannon. From the appointment to a new Director of Arts, to the selection of the 2022 Dan Leslie Bowden fellows, to the school’s ambitious and inspiring celebration of Earth Week – the sheer volume of work and activities will amaze you – we are indeed a school on the move.

Penny Townsend
Head of School
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Coconut Grove, FL 33133
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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.