Brown, Michael J. 1947-

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Brown, Michael J. 1947-

(Michael Jacoby Brown)


Born April 3, 1947, in New York, NY; son of Robert (an artist) and Frieda (an artist) Brown; married; wife's name Susan (divorced); married Jessica Goldhirsch (in public health), 1999; children: Corita, Nessa Orit Goldhirsch. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1969; Harvard University, M.P.A., 1991. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Swimming.


Home—Arlington, MA. Office—Jewish Organizing Initiative, 99 Chauncy St., Ste. 600, Boston, MA 02111. E-mail—[email protected]


Jewish Organizing Initiative, Boston, MA, founder and executive director, 1998—. Affiliate of Union of Minority Neighborhoods and Dunk the Vote; community organizer and volunteer, including work for Vermont Alliance, beginning 1978. Also worked as a teacher and construction worker.


Building Powerful Community Organizations, Long Haul Press (Arlington, MA), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Social Policy and Journal of Quality and Participation. Founder and editor, Rutland Voice.


Michael J. Brown told CA: "I have worked as a community organizer for over thirty years. I have recruited and trained hundreds of volunteers and professional community organizers, conducted dozens of workshops, worked as a staff organizer for several community organizations, and started some organizations myself. I have worked with unions, fighting for better wages and working conditions for firefighters, garbage collectors, and public school teachers. I have also worked as a community activist, fighting for fair utility rates, fair taxes, better schools, and many other causes.

"I started out in community organizing as a volunteer, while working as a teacher and construction worker. In 1978 I got my first job as a paid community organizer for the Vermont Alliance. Since then I have organized mobile home tenants, low-income renters, and low-and middle-income people around a wide range of issues. I have knocked on thousands of doors, sat in thousands of kitchens, and consumed gallons of coffee and Kool-Aid. I have organized hundreds of community meetings in dozens of church basements and storefronts to build organizations with volunteers from a wide range of ethnic and racial backgrounds.

"I have worked with and for dozens of health, political, labor, and religious organizations, including the Vermont Alliance, Massachusetts Fair Share, the Jobs with Peace Campaign, and B'nai B'rith. I mostly had fun and learned a lot throughout it all. I also made thousands of mistakes, sometimes over and over again, until I finally learned not to make those same mistakes. One motive for writing my book was a desire to help others avoid the same mistakes I made.

"In addition to decades of on-the-job training, I studied organizational development and behavior. In my work and my writing, I have tried to bridge the academic world of theory and the daily reality of practice at the community level.

"I also served as an elected official in Rutland County, Vermont, and as the founder and editor of a community newspaper. In 1998 I founded the Jewish Organizing Initiative, where I have raised and leveraged several million dollars to train dozens of young people as community organizers."

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Brown, Michael J. 1947-

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