Empower By Example, Episode 10: Michael Yonas, Director of Research and Special Initiatives for The Pittsburgh Foundation
Michael strives to cultivate culturally sensitive opportunities for informing interventions that reflect the priorities of communities, organizations and other stakeholders. His most recent efforts have focused on examining the influence of stress on health, systems for serving the homeless, and strategies for promoting community and school safety. He is influenced by years of community-based practice, service and research, focusing primarily on the role of neighborhood and systems-level factors impacting disparities in health.
In this episode, we discuss Michael’s role at the Pittsburgh Foundation. His grant making portfolio is broad and varied, and his interpersonal relationships with funders bring many engaged and creative outcome-driven solutions. His work with Michelle McMurray (https://pittsburghfoundation.org/michelle-mcmurray) has been instrumental to The Rock Family Foundation and how we partner with other organizations.
As we heard about in EBE Episode 9 with Tammy Thompson, Michael is working on national RFP’s around the benefits cliff, or The Cliff Effect. We discuss the programs at Circles of Greater Pittsburgh and how they are helping to mediate tough situations for those individuals and families who are up against The Cliff Effect.
Michael is a “data guy”, and you can hear his expertise throughout in this episode. His knowledge of the problems that surround families in poverty and the numerous meaningful statistics he is able to communicate make him an invaluable partner in the Pittsburgh philanthropy circles. His recent work is well-known throughout the city from grassroots organizations, to large county-run systems, to city policy meetings. He focuses on amplifying the voices of youth and organizations that are doing youth-led work.
You can read The Pittsburgh Foundation’s report A Qualitative Study of Youth and the Juvenile Justice System here: https://pittsburghfoundation.org/sites/default/files/100%20Percent%20Pittsburgh%20–%20Youth%20and%20Juvenile%20Justice%20Report.pdf
More information about the Juvenile Justice Dashboard can be found here: https://pittsburghfoundation.org/tools-to-thrive
When Michael began telling his personal story of volunteering, I was so inspired. His explanation of what his community service has meant in his life, and how he has pushed through the uncomfortable parts of volunteering is a shining example of how to live a life of service, professionally and personally.
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Laura Rock In 2017 Laura founded The Rock Family Foundation to serve young women of color who are exiting foster care and other county run services. Going from for-profit sales to non-profit management was a huge switch, and Laura found ways to pull in the strategies and benchmarks from her past career into the private foundation.