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Horatio Alger Award Names Merrimac Ventures Chairwoman Ramola Motwani as 2024 Recipient 

The recognition names 11 outstanding individuals who have overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success.

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. has awarded Ramola R. Motwani, the chairwoman of Merrimac Ventures, a South Florida-based real estate development and investment firm, membership in the prestigious organization. Motwani will join ten other outstanding business, civic, and cultural leaders across North America to receive the 2024 honors. The Horatio Alger Award has been bestowed annually for over 75 years upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities and remained committed to higher education and community charitable efforts.

Motwani was one of seven children born in undivided India. She was young when India gained independence from Great Britain, and her home state became a part of Pakistan. Motwani’s parents were forced to move their family to New India due to differing politics, leaving all they had built behind. Despite the challenging times, they encouraged her to pursue higher education. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from Jai Hind College in Mumbai, followed by a law degree from Government Law College in Mumbai.

In 1969, Motwani’s then-future husband, Ramesh “Bob” Motwani, immigrated to the U.S. to complete his MBA. Six years later, she joined him and the couple got married. They moved to Missouri, where they established Sona Enterprises, a retail and wholesale import business. Eventually, they relocated to Florida and purchased the Merrimac Hotel. Together, they managed several other inns and resorts. Unfortunately, in 1994, Bob passed away suddenly at the age of 47, leaving his wife to manage their growing business and raise their teenage sons alone. Despite the challenges, she was determined to succeed and held onto their portfolio while expanding it significantly by acquiring additional properties. She even led the initiative to rezone Fort Lauderdale Beach for high-rise luxury development, which paved the way for the neighborhood’s first luxury hotel, the Conrad Fort Lauderdale. As the chairwoman of Merrimac Ventures, her family-owned and operated real estate management, investment, and development company, she has completed over $3 billion in various projects, with another $3.7 billion in the works for the near future.

“A generous philanthropist whose giving centers around education, Ramola Motwani embodies the characteristics shared amongst Members of the Association,” Terrence J. Giroux says, Executive Director of the Horatio Alger Association. “Hard working, compassionate and resilient, Motwani grew the business she started with her late husband into a leading hotel management and development company. She’s a strong female leader, and we’re proud to welcome her to the Association and look forward to the impact she will surely make.”

Motwani’s focus on philanthropic giving is on education. In 2019, she, along with her two sons, introduced the R. Motwani Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Broward College, which is the first academy named after her and aims to motivate local youngsters to pursue a career in the hospitality field; many of whom are first-generation college-goers. She participates in various community organizations, including the United Way of Broward County, the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Motwani has been inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame, the Nova Southeast University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame and awarded dozens of prizes for her inspirational leadership. The United States House of Representatives recognized her for her exceptional contribution to the development of the City of Fort Lauderdale. The City of Fort Lauderdale awarded her the Founder’s Award. She was honored with a tribute from the Florida House of Representatives for her business success and community engagement.

“I’ve faced challenging times throughout my life, but I’ve always pushed myself to never give up hope,” said Motwani. “It’s when things get tough that it is most important to stay positive and keep going. That is a message I hope to share with Horatio Alger Scholars, and I look forward to working with my fellow Members to ensure the young people who are a part of this Association feel supported as they continue on their own individual paths to college and beyond.”

In 2024, the Horatio Alger Association will have granted annual need-based scholarships for 40 years to high school students who have demonstrated determination in pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles. The Horatio Alger Association, which aims to safeguard the American Dream for future generations, also strives to educate young individuals about the countless opportunities provided by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. These scholarships are made possible through the generosity of Horatio Alger Members, who have collectively donated over $245 million to aid more than 35,000 students.

“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion and a deep appreciation for higher education,” James F. Dicke II says, Chairman of the Horatio Alger Association and a 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own endeavors, but they give generously to causes, organizations and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees exemplify the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it.” 

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.