By Marcella McCarthy
If you’ve ever met Raul Moas, you know he talks fast and smiles a lot, and whenever possible, he inserts a joke or a “Miami-ism” to keep the conversation genuine and lighthearted. You may also know he’s deeply committed to Miami (he’s a native!) and his Cuban roots. And while many of us know him for the work he’s done to help grow Miami’s startup and tech ecosystem, first as Managing Director of Miami Angels and now as Miami Program Director for the Knight Foundation, have you ever wondered what he is like in his life outside of work? I have, and thought you might have, too. So on behalf of Refresh Miami, I reached out to “get to know him.” Here’s what I learned:
What neighborhood did you grow up in? South Miami
What part of growing up in Miami did you think was “normal” until you left Miami and realized it was just a “Miami thing?” Culturally, I thought it was normal to bring croquetas to every social occasion from funerals to birthdays.
If you were to move from Miami, in addition to the people, what would you miss most? The water, the views of the water. And the global international nature of the city.
What’s something people don’t know about you? 1) I have a bad habit where I have a second dinner around 10 or 10:30 pm every night. 2) I want to open a food and beverage business one day and I would probably emulate places found in San Sebastian (a resort town in the Basque Country in Spain). It would also reflect Miami and me and my Spanish and Lebanese heritage.
You went to Belen Jesuit Prepatory School, a Catholic all boys school. What was that like? In Miami, there’s a whole “thing” around it, a reputation, but it was very formative and it really reinforced the things my parents instilled in me. Everything that I think about social justice today came out of my time at Belen.
What did you get in trouble for as a kid? I burned the yard down once when I was 14. I remember seeing a weed torcher online and I got my dad to sign off on it. After I burned the weeds in our yard with it, I didn’t pour enough water on them. We left for the Keys for the day and when we got back everything was torched to ashes. The fire department had come and we had some unhappy neighbors.
What do your parents think about your career choice? Immigrants' kids have 5 career options: lawyer, doctor, CPA, engineer, and one other. But social impact work and non-profit administration are definitely not one of them. I think my parents still don’t fully understand what my day job is; they pray that I can pay my mortgage and take care of my family. And here I am, social enterprising and social impact investing and they’re like, “What’s that?”
I hear you built a jungle gym for your son, can you tell us more about your love of building things other than organizations and communities? Yes, I built a jungle gym for my son Lucas, who is 3. I love to build; I think my wife has been pleasantly surprised by how handy I am, which I don’t think was apparent when we were dating. We recently re-did our home and I pulled out some Bob Villa inspirations with the exception of the roof and septic tank. I also built some gardens and raised vegetable beds. And I built my son’s bed -- I added a tent so it looks like a little house.
What are some of the things your wife Melissa loves about you? I’m a really loyal person, so for people who are in my tribe, I’ll follow you into battle any day of the week. Also, while I’m fast-paced and a million miles an hour at an event, when I’m at home, I’m the biggest softie.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic, but some people see a silver lining. What, if anything, have you enjoyed about this work-from-home year? I’m home for dinner and I’m able to put my kid down to sleep more often. There are also moments where he pops in and says, “I love you,” and he’s totally manipulating me, and I know it, but it’s still amazing.