INDULGE presents personal stories of resiliency, hope and strength from Miami’s community leaders

At INDULGE, we like to think outside the box. For our team, it’s all about the stories behind the people belonging to our diverse community that we feature in every issue and now as part of our limited editorial series MOSAIC. In the past four weeks, we have brought you personal stories of resiliency, hope and strength from Miami’s community leaders — each walking us through their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Today, we continue in our mission to present our readers with relatable and oftentimes moving examples of inspiration in a challenging time. Our commitment as a top regional publication is to further examine how our melting pot of cultures and personalities is the very reason that South Florida has become a mosaic to be inspired by.

Because we represent Miami’s diverse community.

Because we care.

Because every person has a story to tell.

Featured this week is Ludlow Bailey, cultural curator, art advisor and founder of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (CADA); and Alexandra Villoch, chief executive officer of Baptist Health Foundation ; and Juan Carlos Liscano, Vice President Miami Hub Operations of American Airlines.

Ludlow Bailey, cultural curator, art advisor and founder of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (CADA)

“Art and culture will play an important role in the healing and revitalization globally and in our entire South Florida community.”
“Art and culture will play an important role in the healing and revitalization globally and in our entire South Florida community.”

You describe yourself as a cultural curator, art advisor, writer, art broker and film producer. How do all of the professional hats you wear influence your life?

Through everything I do, I am committed to using art and culture to make a significant impact on the quality of life for all of our community. My company’s name is CADA (Contemporary African Diaspora Art) and we are dedicated to giving Contemporary African Art and artists a platform of exposure to reach and teach new audiences. We produce multi-disciplinary art exhibitions, panel discussions, art talk theater, seminars, curriculum, video and film.

How did you cope with the stay-at-home measures during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The art exhibition landscape changed during this period. I have been working mostly on CADA conversations online, zoom town hall sessions about the impact of COVID-19 on the black male, our community, and recently some discussions about the death of George Floyd.

I have also been sharing more information (videos and visual images) of my last recent show, Roots of the Spirit, which was staged at the ArtServe in Ft. Lauderdale. It was the largest black art show produced in South Florida and was designed to unpack the spiritual and metaphysical infrastructure of global contemporary black culture.

Have you taken any time for self-reflection?

I have had a lot of opportunity to do some writing about spirituality and abundance. I am writing mostly about potential spiritual solutions for black dysfunction in the United States and in the diaspora. I also recently participated in a 21-day abundance challenge online event coordinated by Deepak Chopra.

Describe how your industry can influence the community now, at such an important moment in our history?

I believe the creation and production of culture is a vital activity in the development and growth of balanced, economically viable, healthy, and thriving communities. Art and culture provide significant spiritual and empowering resources and opportunity for human growth and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the death of George Floyd and many other men of color has created a socio-economic and political shift in the United States.

Concurrently, the post-pandemic fallout is likely to create an even greater increase in poverty, social unrest and a level of unprecedented chaos and stress in the United States and in our community. Art and culture will play an important role in the healing and revitalization globally and in our entire South Florida community.

What would you say makes art such an important part of both the local and global healing process you mention above?

With so many stereotypes that we need to address, I think that the art platform provides a safe place for our community to have meaningful and important discussions about race issues and the history of black people globally.

What is a lesson you have learned or realization that you have made during this time?

Parenting is my most important life responsibility. I have spent a lot of time talking to my children. My oldest girl is 28 years old. My second girl is 22 years old and my young son is 20 years. Taking care of my health has become a major priority. I am working intentionally on becoming my highest self. I am paying more attention to my spiritual practice and I am being mindful of living life in the present.

What would you like to see happen in the near future, in terms of our culture and how we relate to people?

I see the need for the county to support more cultural programming and the development of sustainable cultural institutions in the black community.

What is something you tell yourself and others in the hopes of inspiring or simply adding some joy to the day?

The best is yet to come. Black excellence rocks.

Alexandra Villoch, chief executive officer of Baptist Health Foundation

“I spent time doing (or trying to do ) a 1,000-piece puzzle to relax (sort of), and taking daily 3-mile walks with my husband... And of course, digging in my garden and working on my orchids.”
“I spent time doing (or trying to do ) a 1,000-piece puzzle to relax (sort of), and taking daily 3-mile walks with my husband… And of course, digging in my garden and working on my orchids.”

Tell us about the work you do:

As the CEO of Baptist Health Foundation, my role is to lead our team in raising critically needed funds to help drive research, afford the latest technology that helps support extraordinary patient care, and now — in the time of COVID-19 -– ensure that our frontline caregivers have all the equipment and support needed to be safe and take care of our patients (visit BaptistHealth.net/Giving for information about our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund).

Our doctors are driving cutting-edge research that is already showing great promise with treatments. Through the generosity and vision of our donors, we are helping to fund everything from iPads for patients who are isolated from their families to see and speak to their loved ones, to meals for our nurses and caregivers, to incredible research.

How did you cope with the stay-at-home measures?

I spent time doing (or trying to do!) a 1,000-piece puzzle to relax (sort of), and taking daily 3-mile walks with my husband to be sure we got fresh air and our exercise! And of course, digging in my garden and working on my orchids. I have certainly done my share of cleaning and organizing every drawer, down to finally organizing my recipe binders! I am normally already pretty organized, but I’ve gone a bit overboard now.

How is your Baptist Health influencing the community at this time?

Baptist Health – which encompasses 11 hospitals from Palm Beach on down to the Florida Keys, along with over 100 outpatient centers – has really led the way in offering telehealth to our community. Early on as this crisis started, we took the unprecedented step of offering free telehealth visits via our Care on Demand to everyone in our community. This allowed people to remain safely at home, visit with a doctor via their cell phone or tablet and get diagnosed. Please download the app (BaptistHealth.net/CareOnDemand) and use code CARE19 for your first visit. The community has embraced this convenient way to access the best in medical care and this is really a trend that will remain.

We have also led the way with COVID-19 clinical trials. They include the use of convalescent plasma, using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat those who are ill in the hope that antibodies present in survivors can fight the virus and improve outcomes in infected patients. In addition, Miami Cancer Institute physicians are researching the use of mesenchymal stem cells, a type of umbilical cord blood cell known for its ability to prevent the severe lung inflammation common in very ill COVID-19 patients.

What is a lesson you have learned or realization that you have made during the past three months?

How fragile our whole world is, how interconnected we all are and how precious our health is.

What do you think the ‘new normal’ will look like, as we start to step out of our homes and start to engage again with local businesses?

I love the term “the new normal.” This is going to be with us for some time – and will affect how we live, work and play profoundly in order to ensure that we are safe and that we take care of those around us. We will find new and safe ways to connect and approach our lives and business. For us in healthcare, our first and foremost concern is ensuring the safety of our patients and our caregivers.

Is there a mantra that you find helpful?

“Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” Now is the time to be flexible, nimble and adaptable – change will be a constant.

Juan Carlos Liscano, vice president, miami hub operations, at American Airlines

“I have found a relationship with my mother that I never had before. And it’s all because she moved in with me, my wife and my kids due to the circumstances.”
“I have found a relationship with my mother that I never had before. And it’s all because she moved in with me, my wife and my kids due to the circumstances.”

How is American Airlines important to the Miami community as we move through Phase 1 of post-pandemic measures?

American Airlines has been an anchor and an economic engine to this community for three decades. Miami’s tourism-based economy gives American — as the hometown airline — a critical role as we think about recovery. We’ve been sharing plans on our resumption of service: how we are keeping our aircrafts safe and clean and how we are taking care of our customers and team members, as we want the community to feel safe when they decide to travel again.

Tell us about the work you do for the company.

I have the privilege of leading more than 13,000 team members. My job is to ensure that the team is giving our customers the best customer service and that they are getting them to their final destination safely and on-time; and that our team members are cared for and have the resources they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

Did your home life dynamic shift during quarantine? If so, how did you adjust to any changes?

Things at home have changed quite a bit since March. My 78 year-old-mother moved in with us, as did my son who lost his job at a restaurant in New York City. Somehow, everyone was aware and respectful about the notion that they couldn’t go out, meet their friends, or go to school. This has brought us all closer together in a great way. In terms of work, American Airlines is part of critical infrastructure or essential businesses and so it continues to operate flights. I continue to go to the airport five days a week.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. What is something positive that you experienced in your personal life that was a direct result of the stay-at-home measures?

I have found a relationship with my mother that I never had before. We have connected in a way that I never thought possible and it has brought joy and satisfaction to both of our lives. And it’s all because she moved in with me, my wife and my kids due to the circumstances. Who would’ve thought?

Do you think South Florida will bounce back quickly from the shutdowns?

Recovery will be slow, but it will come. I started my career 26 years ago right here in Miami. I know we are a resilient and capable community. The road will be hard, but overcome we will.

What is message you’d like to share with the Miami community?

I want people to know that they can count on American Airlines to feel safe when they’re traveling. Everyone is thinking about that well-deserved vacation or is in need of a visit to a loved one they haven’t seen in a while. These have been difficult times and we are here, ready to welcome our customers back on our flights, taking the necessary precautions to ensure they feel safe.

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