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Two South Florida philanthropists, one an alumnus, present gifts to support Ferré Institute
Norma Jean Abraham, left, interviews students Luis Moros and Prachi Lalwani for a video project on the life and legacy of Mayor Ferré.

Two South Florida philanthropists, one an alumnus, present gifts to support Ferré Institute

The Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership receives gifts from alumnus Paul Carl Velez '75, MS '77 and the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation

October 31, 2022 at 1:00pm

More students will get to experience and learn from the legacy of former Miami Mayor Maurice A. Ferré, thanks to two recent gifts to the Maurice A. Ferré Institute for Civic Leadership.  

The first gift, a $100,000 contribution from the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation, will create the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation Scholarship Endowment and is expected to begin providing scholarships to students as early as the 22-23 academic year.

The late Anthony Abraham was the honorary consul of Lebanon in Miami for more than three decades. He and his late wife Genevieve devoted their lives to helping others through the foundation they created in 1976.

This is the Abraham Foundation’s first major gift to FIU.

“We are all born into this world naked, and we leave without any earthly goods, so it is up to each and every one of us to leave a legacy that empowers the lives of the suffering, hopeless and forgotten,’’ said Thomas Abraham, chairman of the foundation and son of the late Anthony Abraham.

Norma Jean Abraham, vice president of the foundation, has been involved with the Ferré Institute for some time, helping to conduct interviews with students about the importance of civic leadership for a video project on the life and legacy of Mayor Ferré being produced by Mayor Ferré’s daughter, artist and art educator Meme Ferré.

Meme Ferré and Norma Jean Abraham have been friends since the early 80s.

“They're both daughters of important Miami community leaders and are continuing in their families’ legacies of community leadership,” said Agatha Caraballo, founding director of the Ferré Institute. “We are grateful for their generous support and involvement in our work.”

The second recent gift to the Ferré Institute comes from FIU alumnus Paul Carl Velez '75, MS '77, president and CEO of the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami.

Velez, who received his MPA from FIU, was recently recognized as part of a National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Through the Borinquen Health Care Center, Velez will contribute $25,000 to the Ferré Institute for operating funds to support various activities and staffing. The center made an additional $25,000 donation to the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine to create the Borinquen Health Care Center Scholarship.   

Caraballo said the two gifts to the Ferré Institute are significant as part of its early history at FIU. The institute was launched in May 2021 with an initial $2 million gift from the Maurice A. Ferré Foundation. The foundation has committed to helping raise an additional $3 million to support the institute.

“These generous gifts allow us to offer invaluable scholarships and professional development opportunities for deserving students who are deeply committed and passionate about civic leadership and engagement,’’ she said.

“We greatly appreciate the Abraham Foundation and the Borinquen Center for their incredible support of the Ferré Institute at FIU and for their tremendous service and impact in the community.”

For more on the Ferré Institute, visit