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Life & Work with Michael Thomas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Thomas.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I grew up in Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University after Booker T. Washington aka Arts Magnet. The earliest part of my college career sent me down the path of music performance and music therapy. When the university decided to temporarily suspend its music therapy department, I decided to study philosophy and religious studies. Those two majors don’t do much for immediate employability but they make for great dinner conversation.

My biggest influence in college was Sigma Phi Epsilon, a fraternity that instills balance and growth in its members. I enjoyed the multiple aspects of managing a small organization through my college years and received the most joy from participating in volunteer events in the community, most notably the Special Olympics Volleyball tournament. Events like that one inspired me to seek a career in the disabilities world and I began my career at the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

After living in Corpus Christi and Las Vegas for four years, I moved back to North Texas and took the role of Executive Director with My Possibilities, which was a small board-run organization at the time. I’ve since been here over 11 years and have enjoyed watching the organization and our HIPsters (Hugely Important People) grow from our hard work. Today we are one of the largest educational organizations for adults with intellectual disabilities in the State of Texas.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Other than COVID? We can just get that one out of the quickly. Managing an organization through the effects of COVID-19 was absolutely the hardest thing my team has ever had to do. We definitely didn’t come out unscathed, but I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish.

Outside of that, when you go from an organization of 4 individuals to 90, you most definitely hit speed bumps along the way. You learn what to do or not to do in certain situations, you deal with the loss of staff, friends, family, HIPsters, and you constantly have to reinvent yourself to adjust to the demands of the community and world around you. The only thing that is constant is change.

An ongoing obstacle (which is improving) is convincing the rest of the world that hiring adults with disabilities is not just the “right thing to do,” it’s great for your business too. We actively educate and train our HIPsters to prepare for work in many different work environments but we just don’t have enough companies willing to step outside of their comfort zone and let us prove to them that we have their next amazing employee ready to go. (Reach out to me!! We can help!!)

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
As the Executive Director of the organization, ultimately every single thing is my responsibility. The program, finances & budget, development goals, construction, people initiatives, talent development, marketing, technology systems, etc… The good news is that the team here is unbelievable and I have the support necessary to ensure everything moves forward according to the organization’s plan.

Growing up, I played soccer pretty religiously, nearly 1,000 games in my lifetime. I can’t say that I was ever the best player on any team, but I like to think we won more than we lost. That’s because you have talented players with unique skills who combine to form an amazing team. My Possibilities has an amazing team and I’m in no way the most talented player. I think something that sets us apart is that we are willing to acknowledge that greatness in each other and position people to use those talents to the best of their ability. We don’t always nail this 100%, but it is a focus for me as the Director to get it right as often as possible.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
First and foremost, my family. My wife and boys (Julie, Jackson, & Maxwell) are everything to me. Watching the boys grow up and become the best little humans they can be while Julie and I try to figure this parenting thing out… it all comes with its ups and downs but it is the primary source of my happy.

Secondly, surrounding myself with great people makes me happy. I get such joy from being near people who care passionately about helping others, each in their unique way. That drive and determination to make the world a better place inspires me and lifts me up.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All photo credits to go to My Possibilities Photo of Jake at Soap Hope – photo credit to Matthew Shelley

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