Michael has a Master's in Social Work, focusing on policy and administration from the University of Wisconsin. He is an advocate for marginalized people and devoted to elevating their voices to help them be heard. For the past four years, Michael has collaborated with John Adams to create rational policies and sustainable programs for people experiencing homelessness, first at Bethel Lutheran Church's Homeless Ministry and then at The Beacon Day Resource Center. These changes were possible through teamwork and partnering with the community to understand the organization's needs and the neighborhood's and tackle social problems on a systems-level.
Michael has specialized in systems analyses and research on best practices, and he has worked across organizations and systems to examine problems and find solutions. Michael has studied the Criminal Justice System and how the policies and procedures affect people in many ways, from psychologically and economically. It creates individuals who suffer from PTSD and cannot stay in a shelter because it reminds them of prison. They struggle with rules and people who enforce them blindly. A criminal past is a barrier to housing, with this understanding of systems that allow Michael to help the person transcend their past and present and build a better future.
From 2018 to 2021, Michael served as The Beacon's community and partner relations specialist. At Bethel, Michael and John realized the importance of talking with neighbors and working with the community. The need to work with the community grew at The Beacon by addressing issues with neighbors and local businesses, educating on what the Beacon was doing and the problems around people who are homeless or "socially displaced." Working with this population has taught him that it is crucial to talk with different people and ask and listen to difficult questions. Through such discussions, he has learned about his own inherent biases and how to transcend them.
In August 2020, in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, Michael did a lot of self-reflection. He was inspired to write a very personal essay entitled "White Guilt in an Era of Black Lives Matters," published in Street Pulse, "Madison's street newspaper"; in it, he closely examined his own feelings about and reactions to racism. "I need to [get] over my guilt of being white. . . I can't change the fact that I was born white. I can change how I react and interact with others," he wrote.
The relationship and team dynamic that John and Michael have formed is a unique and influential change agent. They offer both personal expertise and a proven track record in the Madison and Dane County area. They decide to create Catalyst for Change Inc. (CFC), a nonprofit in 2020, to take their expertise and go out into the community. To talk with people, collect data, and come up with creative ideas to address these issues. This is just the start for CFC, and we are excited to tackle the problems in our community with a social justice lens focusing on human dignity.