More About the Author
About the Author
Michael Jacoby Brown has worked as a community organizer for over 30 years. He has 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 himself. He has worked with unions, fighting for better wages and working conditions for fire fighters, garbage collectors, and public school teachers. He also has worked as a community activist, fighting for fair utility rates, fair taxes, better schools, and many other issues.
He started out in community organizing as a volunteer, while working as a teacher and construction worker. In 1978 he got his first job as a paid community organizer, for the Vermont Alliance. Since then, Brown has organized mobile home tenants, low-income renters, and low- and middle-income people around a wide range of issues. He has knocked on thousands of doors, sat in thousands of kitchens, and consumed gallons of coffee and Kool-Aid. He has 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.
Brown has 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. He mostly had fun and learned a lot throughout it all. He also has made thousands of mistakes, sometimes over and over again, until he finally learned not to make those same mistakes. One motive for writing this book is a desire to help others avoid the same mistakes he made.
In addition to decades of on-the-job training, Brown also has studied organizational development and behavior. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In his work and in his writing, he has tried to bridge the academic world of theory and the daily reality of practice at the community level.
Brown also has served as an elected official (in Rutland County, Vermont) and as the founder and editor of the Rutland Voice, a community newspaper. In 1998 he founded the Jewish Organizing Initiative, where he has raised and leveraged several million dollars to train dozens of young people as community organizers. He is now a consultant and trainer with NeighborWorks America, Visions-Inc, the Fairmount Community Development Collaborative and other community, religious and labor organizations. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, is married, and has two children.