When Barron Channer immigrated to the United States from Jamaica at age 8, he came with no expectations and just one dream: achieving financial freedom for himself and his family.
Now, more than 30 years later, he is the CEO of Woodwater Investments – the private real estate firm he founded in 2012 – and helps young, disadvantaged children learn the ins and outs of real estate.
It was through his study of computer engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and work as a vice president of development and investments for The Peebles Corporation, that Channer came to feel confident in the skills he’d need to start his own company.
His work caught the eye of The Miami Times in 2016, when it profiled Channer as one of its “New Generation of Dreamers.”
Seven years later, a commitment to living a life informed by the tenets of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream hasn’t wavered.
“It’s a vision of Black people arriving at a place of equity, agency and inclusion,” Channer explained. “It is an opportunity to succeed on fair terms, an opportunity to fail, but a fair opportunity to participate.”
He relates this to predominantly African American neighborhoods in Miami. He believes that while the wealth of the city has grown in the last 20 years, Black Miami’s piece of it has not.
“Black Miami is generally poorer, has less health and enjoys worse infrastructure, whether that be cultural, educational, environmental or physical infrastructure,” said Channer.
He believes Black Miami represents a realistic example of the future of Black America.
“Miami – because we’ve had that natural balance of these different groups – we represent an example of how Black people are going to live going forward, and if we can’t get it right, that spells problems for America generally,” Channer said.
He recognizes the challenges that have fueled the outrage felt, especially since the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police and similar incidents that followed.
“It really awakened people to the fact that there are issues in our society that Black people are more prone to that still need to be addressed,” Channer said. “It also gave the younger generation a moment to play an active part in shaping a future of larger equality and inclusion for the Black community.”
And he’s dedicated even more time to that community, as an ambassador for African American art at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and a board member at Baptist Health South Miami. He is also the founding chairman of Black Angels Miami, which he says is one of America’s fastest-growing collective of investors of color.
Channer’s work at Woodwater Investments focuses on opportunistic development to value-add acquisition of income-producing properties. Once heavily focused on investing in South Florida alone, he’s now interested in expanding to the state’s west coast and other parts of the country.
He credits Miami-Dade County Public Schools for giving him a quality education, and would like to give back by starting a speaking program for public school students that will provide insights on business and technology led by professionals in those industries.
“At some point this year I’m intending to engage with the public school system to be able to allow me and some colleagues involved in real estate to be able to present our story to young people,” Channer said.
Apart from work, Channer recently became a dad to a 3-year-old and is “enjoying the experience and learning bit by bit with her mother.”
Angela Rivas Miami Times Contributor | This profile is a collaboration between The Miami Times and the Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media at Florida International University.