Q: What Do you Do for a Living?
A: By day: Librarian. By night: All the things! I keep pretty busy with community-based projects. Can't say they provide me with much of a 'living,' but they definitely help me live!
Q: Tell Us About Your Family and Pets!
A: I am married and we share a house and lots of fur with a delightful puggle named Xena.
Q: Which Neighborhood Do You Currently Call Home?
A: Merion Village
Q: Why Did You Move to Your Neighborhood?
A: Originally, work and happenstance. But we've stayed because of the people.
Q: Where Else Have You Lived?
A: I've traveled the world but only ever called Central Ohio home.
Q: South Side Organization(s) Where You Work/Volunteer
A: Youth Services at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Parsons Branch; Board Chair with Southside STAY; At-Large Education Commissioner with the Columbus South Side Area Commission; Founder of South Side Story
Q: How Are You Active in The South Side?
A: I think the most comprehensive way to answer this is that, as much as possible, I try to show up for kids.
At the library, I'm involved with everything from programming to outreach to branch operations, with a focus on supporting youth and young minds. I've worked at five different CML locations, including four on the South/Southeast Side. More at columbuslibrary.org
With STAY, I lead all aspects of our mission, which comprises supporting and empowering the neighborhood public schools in the Columbus City Schools South High School pathway. More at southsidestay.com
With the area commission, I chair a committee and advise commissioners, community organizations, and the public about all aspects of Pre-K, K-12, and Adult education within our area. (We're also set to add an At-Large Youth seat, which my committee will help support!) More at columbussouthside.org
With South Side Story, I interview folks with a tangible connection to South Columbus and share their stories in different spaces. Right now, my focus is on kids. Got a story? Let's connect!
Q: What Are Some Causes or Organizations That Are Important to You and Why?
A: Amplifying the voices dreams of youth and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline (where kids are essentially funneled from the public education system straight into the criminal justice system.) There's a group locally, Voices of the Unheard, that's doing work around both of these things.
Supporting local art and artists. One that I really enjoy - and have become a monthly patron of, in fact - is Streetlight Guild. They are a performing arts organization that curates events across disciplines with an emphasis on Columbus-based, original, and underrepresented voices.
Advocating and fighting for more power, access, and legitimate civic representation at the ground/neighborhood level. There isn't any one group that I would point to for this locally that's hitting it out of the ballpark. I think that's by design in some respects, and it just shows how much work we have to do as a city. That all said, I thoroughly appreciated my experience with the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, which focuses on galvanizing residents across a wide range of demographics - age, race, socioeconomics, professional experience, etc - and equips them with the knowledge and tools to become change agents within their neighborhoods.
Q: What's Your Favorite Thing About the South Side?
A: The people.
Q: If You Could Make One Improvement to the South Side, What Would It Be?
A: More spaces for kids that validate and value them *as kids.*
Q: What Would You Tell Someone Who May Move to the South Side?
A: It's a great place to live, learn, work, and play.
But come correct. This is already a thriving community here. Make the time to get to know it and appreciate who and what's here. Being a good neighbor is about way more than mowing your lawn. Growth does not equal development. If you're trying to 'fix' something/one, that doesn't mean you're supporting it/them.
Sustainable development happens when opportunities are abundant and work for everyone. So, if you're thinking of moving here? Commit to being a part of that.
Thank you, Mike for allowing the MVA to shine the South Side Spotlight on you! Each week, we will feature at least one individual who lives, works and/or volunteers on the South Side and who helps to build and strengthen our community every day. If you’d like to nominate someone for the spotlight, email us at email@example.com.