YPL: Tell me about your experience as a Young Professional Leaders member? What did your involvement look like?
Michael: One of the best experiences of my life!! Having the opportunity to develop the vision of what started as an Emerging Leaders initiative with Aiko Bethea and then to have Milton Little agree to move forward with the idea was a surreal and amazingly rewarding experience. When I was asked to be the first chair of YPL it was truly an honor to serve in this role back in 2010-2011.
YPL: What is one of your favorite memories or moments during your time with Young Professional Leaders?
Michael: What started as a great idea from Katerina Taylor of the Services Committee that first year turned into one of the best ideas of our initial board – to have a service event with a social gathering afterwards. It was called a Service Social back then and now has evolved to the Day of Service. My family annually serves during the Holiday of Service event (one of our favorites). My children were so excited to be interviewed for the 2013 HoliDay of Service video and that was a highlight for me and my family (still have the video 😊). Also, having six of our original board member pictures put on the sides of the Gifts In Kind Truck was pretty cool as well.
YPL: How are you continuing to stay involved in the community? How did your involvement in Young Professional Leaders affect your decision to give back?
Michael: After starting and serving on the YPL board I joined the board of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. Janice McKenzie-Crayton who was the CEO at the time knew about my background starting YPL and asked to me co-chair a new young leaders board called Young Leaders Council with Amy Agami. It was a great experience and honor to be able to serve both in a board role and start a second young leaders board as well.
YPL: What would you say to someone who is considering joining Young Professional Leaders?
Michael: It is a great opportunity to serve with other young leaders that are focused on making a big, positive impact in our community. The impact is evident in the many service events hosted every year by YPL as well as the $220,000 raised at the annual black tie event “Night for a Brighter Tomorrow” in 2019. Young Professional Leaders are made up of some of the most dynamic and giving community leaders. There have been 14 “40 Under 40” Atlanta Business Chronicle award winners in the nine years YPL overlapped with the survey (2020 list is not out yet). That is 1 ½ YPL members a year! Also, the Atlanta Business Chronicle highlighted United Way Young Professional Leaders as one of the premier young leaders organizations in Atlanta a few years ago.
YPL: What is your favorite quote or personal mantra?
Michael: Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi