Michael Dean is just an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things in Louisville, Kentucky. When he visited campus from February 1-3, 2012 as part of the Global Leaders in Residence program, he left a lasting impression of leadership and service that won't soon be forgotten.
Dean's passion is revitalizing underserved inner-city neighborhoods. For three days, Dean visited classrooms and gave inspiring lectures about saving inner-city kids, rehabbing inner-city structures and homes, getting quality food to low income families, achieving community sustainability, and more. In speaking about his experiences in Louisville, Dean provided students with concrete, useful strategies to apply right here in our local community.
Faculty, staff, and students alike were impressed with Dean's strategies and influenced by his passion for his work with inner-city neighborhoods. Here's what a few members of the Westminster community took away from Dean's visit:
Dr. Therese Miller
"Michael stressed single point focus AND just do what you think needs to be done….. Too many ideas get talked to death. When you do, you learn and do again. He also stressed that a positive neighborhood identity is important. California Collaborative determined that being "green, wireless, and moving to the arts beat" was the California Neighborhood identity outcome. "
David Strawhun '13
"Visiting with Michael Dean gave me insight into what it really takes for a community to reinvision and recreate itself. His idea of cooperative change through a community of leaders was a refreshing take on how progress should be made--as a movement achieved by those who know their environment best. It is experienced social leaders like Mr. Dean that help show us how community goals may come to fruition."
Dr. Bob Hansen
Michael challenged our students to see the world through the eyes of those living in inner-city neighborhoods and those leaders that are attempting to create strong, positive and healthy communities. He didn't sugarcoat this kind of work but he demonstrated how important it is to revitalize neighborhoods that have lost their identity and are not providing a healthy place for children to flourish.
Michael took every opportunity to talk with students - in classes, in the hallways, at lunches, and at the leadership conference. He modeled what he preached - listening and relationship building is at the heart of being a good leader.
Hannah Minchow-Proffitt '12
"I valued Mr. Dean's candor throughout the time he spent with us. I noticed that he has a way of casually inspiring the students and faculty. I will never forget his simple, yet powerful reminder: 'Kids want a safe place.'"
Sandra Nivyabandi '15
"What I learned from Michael Dean is that everything is rooted to the interactions we make, meeting new people, not labeling the individuals that we meet. Essentially investing in the relationships that we form, and investing them through humility. I take this from the story he told us during the lunch of his friends that were concerned for him. He invested in these relationships of his caring friends, and they cared by recommending a book he ought to read, and he succumbed to humility through later reading the book. Additionally, I learned that one ought to live in, with, and around their passion. He shifted careers because his then profession was not his passion. He desired to work with Churches, and at the end, it is all about what pleases you most."
Jennifer Hanson '12
"I loved the simple, concrete examples of how each of us can improve our community. Remember: go for the low hanging fruit!"
About Michael Dean
A liberal arts graduate from the University of Cincinnati, Michael is in his second career. For 25 years, Michael was a research associate at the U of Wisconsin-Madison's Space Science & Engineering Center; today, Michael is dedicated to revitalizing underserved inner-city neighborhoods.
Most recently, he has been engaged with the California Collaborative of Louisville where he helps create and develop neighborhood-based projects --initiatives that enhance neighborhood pride and that provide mechanisms for individuals, families, schools, churches and other organizations to positively influence life in their community. He has been especially successful in promoting access to fresh fruits and vegetables to inner-city families.
About Global Leaders in Residence
The Global Leaders in Residence program is designed to bring leaders from a variety of academic and professional fields to campus for 2-3 days during which time they will speak to classes, interact socially with our students, consult with our faculty/staff, and deliver a campus-wide presentation on their efforts to make a difference in today's world.