A Word from Michael 

VISIONS program director

Hometown: Reading, Massachusetts
Current Location: San Francisco, California

What is your Relationship to VISIONS?

I was Nicaragua director 2011–2012 and Dominican Republic staff 2004.

What was most memorable about your VISIONS experience?

What we can learn from one another—our stories, our experiences—are the foundation for which we build all other types of learning and new ways of being.

What did the VISIONS experience teach you about yourself and life outside yourself?

The VISIONS experience taught me how to better recognize and listen to my instincts and also to better engage with all the ways in which we speak to one another, both spoken and unspoken. It taught me how to merge the needs of my communities with my own needs.

Where are you now?

I’m in San Francisco studying to get my marriage and family therapy license and working as an academic counselor for graduate students.


It’s waking up every day and focusing on the little actions that can make my world and the larger world a better place. It’s trying not be dismayed by the barrage of challenges before us. It’s being proud to be queer, being brave to be creative, being humbled by the daily sacrifices people make for one another. 


Communities are groups of people who share practices and beliefs. They share a common language to express their identity. They will support and stand up for one another.

What is something that makes you hopeful for the future?

Each VISIONS group I worked with reminded me of the audacity of youth and how young people only need to be empowered to achieve great things.

What do you feel is one of your greatest strengths that you have to offer the world?

I like to think I have an ability to help others in drawing out their strengths and big ideas and inspiring them to be put into action.

In what ways, big or small, would you like to change the world?

As a therapist in training, I’m recognizing more and more the power of empathy and human connectton. I hope to help make the world a kinder place.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Having helped other people feel they have bettered their life and the world in some way. Also, I’m a writer by hobby so I’d love to leave some stories behind.

What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

Running my own accessible practice as a psychotherapist, continuing to find ways to contribute my skills and my voice to others in need, and planning my next big trip.

What would you like to say to other members of the VISIONS community?

You are my people—I miss you!

Anything else to add?

I still have never worked with a better team than my VISIONS teams.

Do you have a VISIONS Story?

Fill out an interview for our Spotlight Series or submit a story of your own format or creative expression.

Recommended Posts

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin, VISIONS Leader

Spotlight: Marvin Mastin, VISIONS Leader

From 1992 to today, VISIONS leader Marvin Mastin has led trips to Vietnam, the British Virgin Islands, the Montana Blackfeet Reservation, and everywhere in between! Let’s learn more about Marvin’s intimate & unique VISIONS experience.
Spotlight: Cecilia Boyers, VISIONS Alum

Spotlight: Cecilia Boyers, VISIONS Alum

Let’s hear from Cecilia Boyers! This multi-talented VISIONS alum is a veteran of five programs, holds two master’s degrees, and is an aerial silk acrobat, masterful banjo player, and new mom!
Spotlight: Ashlin Ivester

Spotlight: Ashlin Ivester

VISIONS Alum Ashlin Ivester reflects on her Dominican Republic experience, prepares for VISIONS Peru, and shares about her volunteer project back home.

VISIONS in The New York Times