Who’s Obama’s “Man in Miami”?

as published in Poder magazine, February 2010
Back in early 2007, when Sen. Barack Obama was beginning his long-shot campaign for president, he turned to his friends. One name came to mind in Florida.

“Call Ricky Arriola,” Obama told the state’s campaign finance chief, Kirk Wagar. “He’s the person who knows me best in Florida.”

…Wagar would quickly discover why Obama was recommending him.


By day, Ricky Arriola heads Inktel Direct. By night, he serves as chairman of the board of the Performing Arts Center Trust, which oversees Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. This month’s issue of Poder magazine takes a close look at why he is respected as “one of Miami’s most community-spirited businessmen.”

“A pocket-dynamo, Arriola, 41, is currently chairman of the Performing Arts Center Trust that oversees Miami’s three-year-old concert and opera hall complex. In November he was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, regarded as the nation’s preeminent cultural body which serves as a liaison between the White House and federal agencies.

He’s also now an active member of the Democratic National Committee, working on three campaigns: Alex Sink, for Florida Governor, Rosa Scarcelli for Governor of Maine and Alexi Giannoulias of Illinois for the U.S. Senate.

On top of that he runs 40-50 miles a week and is currently training for a series of triathlons, as well as the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. “He’s incredibly disciplined,” says Rosa Sugrañes, CEO of Iberia Tiles and a past president of Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council. “I get exhausted just thinking about Ricky’s schedule, and I have a lot of energy, too.”

Arriola takes it all in his stride. ‘I just have very full days. I get up early and I work until my head hits the pillow. I try to schedule things in advance and stay organized.’ “

His hard work pays off. During his tenure with the Arsht Center, the institution has balanced its budget for two years straight, paid off its remaining bank debt seven years early, and boosted its operating revenue from $28.7 million in 2008 to $30.4 million in 2009. Ticket sales for Adrienne Arsht Center programs increased from $5.1 million to $6.6 million over the same period.

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s commercial success has enabled it to maintain and even expand its investment in local arts programming, cementing the Center’s role as a springboard for South Florida artists.

We’re so proud of Ricky and the Adrienne Arsht Center for representing Miami’s best community service and cultural support. For more information on the Adrienne Arsht Center’s programming, community outreach, and educational services, visit www.arshtcenter.org.