Commissioner Cava comes to elected office after having served as an advocate for South Florida residents and communities for over 30 years. She served special needs children and immigrants at Legal Services of Greater Miami, and then represented children in the child welfare system as Associate and Legal Director for the Guardian Ad Litem Program.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Commissioner Cava was recruited to create a new intake system for child abuse cases with the Department for Children and Families (DCF). Her efforts were concentrated on the neighborhoods of County Commission District 8 where she helped restore the lives and homes of those devastated by the storm. Due to her success with this special assignment, she was promoted to Manager for Foster Care, Adoptions and Child Welfare Legal Services.
In 1996 Commissioner Cava founded Catalyst Miami (former called Human Services Coalition of Dade County, to help low- and middle-income families through education and advocacy. Catalyst is an innovator in health and human services and an incubator for new approaches to community and economic development.
At Catalyst Miami, she launched the Prosperity Campaign in alliance with the business community, Chambers of Commerce, United Way, and local banks. The Prosperity Campaign helps people increase their income and savings, and has brought in hundreds of millions in income tax credits and other programs, money reinvested in the local economy. Catalyst helps approximately 5,000 people each year to become more self-sufficient. Catalyst is also a leader in civic engagement, training and supporting thousands of local residents to play a more active role in local government and community life.
Commissioner Cava has helped thousands improve their standard of living and enter the middle class. She has created hundreds of jobs through programs such as Public Allies, ReServe, and internships throughout the nonprofit and government sectors. Hundreds of new civic leaders have graduated from Catalyst's programs, including new immigrant leaders in Homestead. These graduates are now active members of school, community and civic life.
She has served on the Florida Bar Committee on Legal Needs of Children; the boards of League of Women Voters, Orange Bowl Foundation, North Dade Medical Foundation and the South Florida Health Information Initiative, and several national boards. She's won awards from the Commission on Ethics, Red Cross, American Society for Public Administration, ACLU, FIU, National Council of Jewish Women, League of Women Voters, People for the American Way and American Association of University Women, among
others. She graduated from Leadership Florida and was selected as one of 11 "leadership fellows" by the International Women's Forum in 1999.
She has been a trustee-level member of the Greater Miami Chamber for over a decade and a member of the Steering Committee for One Community One Goal. She also serves on two economic development advisory boards at Florida International University and the community healthcare advisory board at University of Miami.
Born in New York City, and raised across North and South America, her family stressed giving back and working to create equal opportunity. Commissioner Cava received her bachelor's degree in psychology with honors from Yale University and graduate degrees in law and social work from Columbia University. She came to South Florida in 1980 to join her husband, Dr. Robert Cava, a Miami native, who returned home to join his father in medical practice.
Daniella and Robert raised two children, Eliza and Edward Cava, in Miami-Dade, supported by strong networks of friends, families and co-workers. They welcomed Fanny, Daniella's beloved mother-in-law, and countless interns, family and friends to live in their home.