Michelle has worked with youth in out-of-home care since 1989, her child welfare career has included front-line staff positions in residential settings, a home-based intensive supervision worker, and youth development work in a therapeutic foster care agency. Prior to co-founding Ampersand Families in October 2008, Michelle directed The Homecoming Project.
Michelle has developed and led workshops nationally and internationally for foster and adoptive parents, social workers, Guardians ad litem/CASA volunteers, and others involved in the lives of youth in care. She has authored professional articles and two books (in partnership with youth) aimed at helping youth engage in their own care. Her leadership was integral to the development a 12-unit permanent supportive housing program in St. Paul, Minnesota that is home to youth who became homeless upon leaving a residential placement.
Michelle’s first education into the world of child welfare came in high school when she was placed into foster care in Colorado. She aged out of care in 1985. As a ‘graduate’ of foster care, Michelle is passionate about the need for system reform and the essential role that young people can take in leading child welfare to more effective, youth and family-focused strategies.
Michelle and her spouse, Jill, are incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to provide a home and parenting to six young people, now ages 20 to 35. Together we have built a loving, quirky and wonderful family that brings much joy (and a bit of stress. occasionally.) to all of us.
Michelle holds a master’s in social work from Augsburg College in Minneapolis (1994).
Michelle loves to travel, and has been very fortunate to have been to some amazing places. When all is said and done, though Michelle is most happy paddling in the Boundary Waters or wandering somewhere in the mountains of Colorado.