As a champion of people without housing, leader continues his family’s legacy of public service.
For Michael Bailey ’24 MHL, public service runs in the family.
His father and grandfather were in the military, his mother was a public educator and his sister is in uniformed services. “Everybody serves,” Bailey says. “It just felt natural for me to follow suit.”
Entering college, Bailey was sure he wanted to be a surgeon. But when his younger brother was misdiagnosed with skin cancer, he had an epiphany. While his family had the resources to get a second opinion, Bailey realized not everyone was as fortunate. “So that switched everything for me,” he says. “I wanted to play an advocacy role and ensure every family has a champion out there to fight the battles they shouldn’t have to fight.”
This experience launched him into a career in social services and community development. It also led him to the Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership (MHL) program at Brown.
In September 2023, Bailey was appointed president of Compass Housing Alliance, a 100 year old nonprofit organization based in Seattle that develops and provides essential services and affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in the greater Puget Sound region. Previous to this role, he served as Deputy Director of Operations and Homelessness at the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department.
“I’m an eternal optimist who truly believes I can change the world,” he says. “And now I’ve got this phenomenal team of people who are just as crazy as I am. My job is to ensure our organization lives up to its mission and belief that everybody deserves a home. We’re doing everything in our power to help make that possible.”
In addition to housing, Compass provides for essential needs like mail services, case management, shelter and housing referrals, showers and laundry, access to medical professionals, and more. The agency has 19 locations and teams with congregations, governments, and service providers to support people throughout the Seattle area.
“When you break it down, you can change an individual’s path, and that does change their world,” Bailey says. “Seeing that happen keeps me going.”
Pierre Glover, a Brown University Master of Science in Cybersecurity alumnus, who knew of Bailey’s commitment to housing and healthcare, encouraged him to investigate the School of Professional Studies’ Healthcare Leadership program. Once Bailey did, there was no turning back. “I had looked at other institutions, all of which had phenomenal reputations,” he says. “But something about the Brown experience and culture aligned perfectly with what I’m trying to accomplish.”
For the program’s capstone, known as the Critical Challenge Project, Bailey worked to set up a mobile health unit for individuals living unsheltered in Seattle, expanding on existing services in King County. A modified version of the project received funding from the city council after the concept evolved to have a greater behavioral health focus and involve a community partner. “It was beautiful to see the project get legs,” he says, “and I was excited to share the news with the folks in my cohort.”
When asked about his biggest takeaway from his experience in the MHL program up to this point, Bailey points to its alignment with his glass-half-full outlook on life. “If you can dream it, you can build it,” he says. “I think Brown prepares you to take that on. You come to the program with a dream about what you want to shape or influence. And then everything you do prepares you to successfully execute on that dream. It’s the education, the tools and being around like-minded and supportive people who make you feel you are truly without boundaries.”
Bailey encourages professionals accepted into the MHL program to dream big and leverage the available resources, including the faculty, the connections made and the mentors and professional coaches. “You have the opportunity to come out a completely different person,” he says. “So take in the entire Brown experience. It’s an honor and privilege to be there. And don’t forget to be in the present. Don’t focus on graduating. Just enjoy being in the program and living through it.”
He notes that everyone in the program is open, flexible, and excited to support others.
“They serve those who serve, if you will,” Bailey says, “and I appreciate that.”