Photographer. Social media consultant. Businessman. Entrepreneur. Audio-visual producer. Social justice activist.
Michael B. Maine is a man with many hats, and we’re very fortunate that one of his roles brings him into service as a Whidbey Institute board member. With roots in Dallas and San Antonio, communities and connections in New York, Victoria, and Chile, and a home base in Seattle where he provides freelance social media consulting and media production services, he works with a diverse range of businesses, organizations, and individuals at the intersection of business and mission.
When asked what kind of work he does, Michael shares a case study of a Credit Union in San Antonio, whose graphic designer brought him in to marry graphics with marketing strategy. “I went in and helped them decide why, as humans, they they worked there. What were their actual goals, apart from return on investment? When they woke up in the morning, what were they trying to accomplish? If they were successful in their business, what would have happened in the world outside their wallets? I helped them connect real values and mission to their strategy. By reconnecting to their human side, they realized they wanted to help people build a better relationship with money in general.” The outcomes of that work were revealed in metrics which Michael determined would help measure happiness—the number of parents and children opening accounts at the same place, for instance, or the smiles counted on the faces of customers in the branch. Then, Michael was able to partner with the graphic designer to design collateral, a logo, and website elements that matched the reassessed mission and goals.
“I really care about the individual as a whole person,” he said, “and everything I do, whether professional or personal, revolves around how I can truly be with the person that I’m with at that moment. That manifests in different ways, but at the end of the day I really love the growth that I can experience through encountering other whole humans. I see people not as a means to the end, but as an end in and of themselves.”
“I really love the growth that I can experience through encountering other whole humans.
I see people not as a means to the end, but as an end in and of themselves.”
Michael’s photography and media work is another means by which he connects and learns with other people, and his fascination with institutions and issues factors into his choices of photography projects and subjects. His professional photography, in the commercial and editorial realms, often has a social justice lens. “when I’m photographing someone for a company headshot, for instance, I look at the message we’re trying to send,” he said. “What messages are we normally bombarded with that we don’t know we’re perpetuating? I try not to photography women from above, because in society we have a lot of messages in which women are looked down upon.” Michael also values the opportunity to build relationships and trust with his photography subjects, finding that connecting person-to-person opens up new possibilities in his work. “When people don’t see me as a boss, they’re willing to get comfortable and bring their full self to me.”
Michael is currently working on several art and photography projects that revolve around empathy. These include Peace by Piece, Blue is Not My Favorite Color, and Homogeneity is a myth. The latter project, in cooperation with makeup artist Juel Bergholm, is an effort to promote a more nuanced conversation between and among people by drawing attention to models’ individuality.
In his role on our board, which he’s held since 2015, Michael is eager to connect more people with the Whidbey Institute at Chinook. “I envision this as a place that is not only open to all people, but really informed and designed by all people,” he said. “We are at a point where we can reach out and invite participation by a broader range of people in determining what we offer, what the work means, and what structures we put in place to hold it. We can become a place where everybody feels considered and welcome regardless of geography, class, race, or ability.”
“I envision this as a place that is not only open to all people, but really informed and designed by all people.”
Michael’s skills and interests align well with our organizational needs around outreach strategy, long-term planning, and program development, but perhaps his greatest strength is his love and respect for the many individuals who feel called to be in this work with us, or who should be here but have not yet been invited. “We can create more ways of belonging,” he said, “while continuing to honor and respect our legacy and the magic of this place.”
To learn more about Michael, visit www.michaelbmaine.com.