Michael Jacoby Brown
“My parents took me to picket lines when I was a child and I inherited their need to “change the world.” As a Jewish child, I learned about my relatives in Europe whom “Hitler had killed” and how unfair it was that rich people ruled the world. As a teen, I traveled from New York to Montgomery, Alabama for the last few days of the Selma March. I felt the power of the “beloved community” to confront evil. Later, I learned about the power of “state violence” as I was beaten and jailed for demonstrating against racism and the war in Vietnam. But I also saw the power of organized people to stop it. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by the many laws and policies that community and labor organizations have fought for and won. Helping to build organizations that fight for peoples’ right to live with dignity and security is what gets me going in the morning.”
–Michael Jacoby Brown
Michael Jacoby Brown’s passion is to strengthen the effectiveness of social justice organizations and to help people uncover their gifts–“what God put them on the Earth to do”–and use them. He has over thirty years of experience as a community organizer, non-profit executive director, trainer, and consultant with community, social justice, labor, religious, government, and health organizations. He’s trained hundreds of community and labor organizers who’ve gone on to lead campaigns and organizations.
Brown is the author of Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World. (Long Haul Press, 2007). In 1996, he founded the Jewish Organizing Initiative, where he served as Executive Director for ten years. During his tenure, he created a training and fellowship for community and labor organizers, and leveraged several million dollars to support it.
He started out as a volunteer, while teaching high school, working construction, running a community newspaper and serving as a local elected official. He’s worked as a community organizer for the Vermont Alliance, Massachusetts Fair Share, B’nai B’rith, The National Jobs with Peace Campaign, and Metropolitan Interfaith Congregations Acting for Hope, and as a trainer and consultant for numerous community, labor, religious, and government and health organizations.
Brown is currently a board member of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods (http://www.unionofminorityneighborhoods.org/) and Dunk the Vote 4Ever. He’s also an active member of Congregation Beth El, Sudbury, MA, where he previously served on the board and as Vice President of Tikkun Olam (Social Justice).
He has a BA from Columbia University and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is married, has two children, and lives in Arlington, Mass.
Michael possesses great empathy, an open and warm personality, and outstanding communication skills that people gravitate to. He organizes and trains people where they are, and he relates to all peoples…Jew, Muslim, Black, White, Latino, with humility and ease. All are comfortable and engaged when Michael comes into a room.
Horace Small, Executive Director, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Boston, MA
Michael’s approach to organizing has helped me think about being more deliberate and strategic in planning leadership development. I cannot praise his work enough for me personally and to the social justice movement overall.
Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU, Massachusetts
Michael has a wonderful capacity to move people through a process of learning to identify the issues impacting their communities to find solutions. He is a model of how an organizer and trainer should serve communities by example and by knowledge.
Walter Davis, President, National Organizers Alliance
Michael’s accomplishment as the founder and multi-year executive director of the Jewish Organizing Initiative cannot be overstated. He created and implemented a totally original concept, which has had a profound effect on the lives of the participants in the program and upon the well-being of the organizations in which those trainees were placed.
Michael Sales, Co-Founder, Art of the Future
Michael carefully and skillfully guided my colleagues and I to rebuild our organization and inspire new leadership, which made a big difference. Michael has provided high quality mentoring to me as a dispute resolution professional, providing useful insights and advice that have improved my decision-making as a professional. Michael has displayed a level of personal caring and wisdom while offering real solutions to issues I was struggling with as a professional.
Michael’s work was thoughtful and engaging. He took the time to get to know our staff and deliver a program based on their needs. Most importantly our staff felt the workshop met their needs. If you are looking for a facilitator who listens well and designs programs for the people in them, Michael Jacoby Brown is a good choice!
Tim Dean, Education Coordinator, 1199 SEIU MA Division, Boston, MA
Michael helped me understand the fundamentals of effective organizing and critical stages in organizational development. He employs a variety of techniques that engage the trainee in skills development, time management, and personal reflection to grow the individual in a comprehensive way.
FayeRuth Fisher, SEIU, 1199
Michael was a great trainer, mentor and teacher for the JOI “fellows.” He was also an effective fund-raiser. Michael’s expertise is in organizational consulting, strategic planning and executive coaching for leaders of non-profits. Michael is very hands on and knows how to get things done.
Michael Frieze, Chairman, Gordon Brothers Group
Michael is a genuine master of organizing tactics. He has a rock solid grounding in a multi-disciplinary understanding of the change process. The coaching he provided for me was tremendously helpful.
Dave Buck, Cambridge, MA
The workshops and support you provided us in the areas of strategic planning and board development, as well as your continued consulting support through the years have been a tremendous benefit to our residents…
Paulette Ford, President, Camfield Estates, Boston, MA
Michael was an effective speaker and engaged and inspired the students, helping them think through practical, real solutions to pressing real-world problems.
Rachael V. Cobb Associate Professor and Chair, Government Department, Suffolk University
Michael Brown is masterful, savvy, and strategic. He played an instrumental role in advising me and other leaders during Keshet’s early years and has offered invaluable consultation countless times over the years since then. He is a powerful facilitator and strategic thinker; he is also a mentsch through and through. I am grateful to call him my advisor and mentor.
Idit Klein, Founding Executive Director, Keshet, Boston, MA
Michael was quick to understand and appreciate cultural differences in a country he had not visited before and able to tailor his message accordingly. Michael is an insightful, challenging and fun presenter who started his time with us as a new colleague and finished as a good and trusted friend.
Brian Smith, Executive Officer, Local Community Services Association, New South Wales, Sydney, Australia