Michael Edwards is widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on civil society, philanthropy, and social change. For the past thirty years, he has worked to strengthen the contributions of ordinary citizens to their communities as a grant giver, writer, advocate, organizer, and... show more
Michael Edwards is widely recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on civil society, philanthropy, and social change. For the past thirty years, he has worked to strengthen the contributions of ordinary citizens to their communities as a grant giver, writer, advocate, organizer, and activist across five continents, and has lived and worked in Zambia, Malawi, Colombia, India, the UK, and the United States. Michael graduated from Oxford University with a "congratulatory" first-class honors degree in geography, and was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of London for his work on housing the urban poor in Latin America. Dissatisfied with academic research, he entered the world of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 1982 and spent the next fifteen years as a senior manager in international relief and development NGOs, including Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK, the Prasad Foundation, and Voluntary Service Overseas. During this time, Michael became known for his innovative thinking about NGOs and development, and in 1998 he was invited to join the World Bank in Washington, D.C., as a senior adviser on civil society, where he led a program to improve the agency's engagement with a wide range of nongovernmental groups. Two years later, he was appointed as director of the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program in New York, overseeing grants totaling more than $900 million between 1999 and 2008, when he left to become a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, a Network for Ideas and Action, in New York; a senior visiting scholar at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service; and a senior visiting fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University in the UK. Michael also cofounded the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation, which makes grants to voluntary organizations that combine their work for social justice with spiritual principles. Michael is the author of thirteen books and hundreds of articles and op-ed pieces, and his writings have changed the way we think about voluntary action and the transformation of society. He writes regularly for openDemocracy, the Financial Times, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and many other newspapers and magazines, and is a featured speaker at literary festivals and other events around the world. He lives with his wife, Cora, a nonprofit-fund-raising consultant who also teaches at New York University, in Swan Lake, a small community in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains of New York, where they have painstakingly rebuilt and renovated one of the first houses built by settlers who arrived in the 1830s to establish a tanning industry in Sullivan County. You can visit Michael's Web site at http://www.futurepositive.org.