I debated with myself about what to put on my name tag for the reunion. I’m currently known as “Michael” and that’s what will be on my name tag. But many of you probably remember me as “Omar”. I’ll answer to either. At some point over reunion weekend I may cross out Michael and write in Omar.
I have many great memories of my Gator Days. There are many people I consider friends but sadly have not kept in touch with. I’m hoping we reconnect at the reunion and keep in touch. I remember my Allegheny years as being fun; a great educational experience with plenty of drama! What great groups we had in Baldwin and Crawford. Who can forget the Baldwin Hall water fights and shaving cream bombs in the middle of the night? Of course with all the fun I was having freshman year my grades sucked so I spent the next year working to get them up high enough to apply for a junior year abroad opportunity at the University of Manchester in England. The junior year abroad experience was fantastic and I am so grateful that Allegheny offered that option.
I was also in search of a major and ended up picking history after testing the waters in political science, sociology, philosophy and english. I switched to Dr. Paul Knights (Skipper) as my adviser and he and Ruth became friends, visiting with my mom and I in Lakewood, OH after my Allegheny experience was over.
I certainly created a lot of drama for Dr. Knights. While at the University of Manchester I took all history courses and toward the end of that year word came down from the Allegheny that I had too many history credits and would not be able to graduate on time. There was much back and forth about that but finally the issue was resolved when it was determined that the rule about credits didn’t apply to people in the class of ‘67. Phew!
More drama came when another threat to graduation came from the fact that I had not completed my college reading requirement before my senior year. There were new rules about having to complete college reading before senior year that I had to fight and I eventually prevailed and graduated on time after passing the college reading exams.
There were courses that standout in my memories: Dr. Knight’s’ Indian Seminar (I studied the Incas!), Dr. Cares’ English History and Dr. Ross’ philosophy in literature. I also remember a computer course I took where we worked with punch cards to program solutions to math problems I didn’t understand. Now I’m modeling the use of social media for our members. I’ve come a long way!
Education after Allegheny
After Allegheny I went on down the road to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. I was preparing myself for work in government and did very well. This was the beginning of realizing how well Allegheny had prepared me for life. All those papers and exams at Allegheny and learning to think and write clearly stood me in good stead (except for a statistics course that was a killer) and I still get high marks for my ability to communicate and write.
While at Pitt I got a fellowship with what was then the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in DC. My work focused on grants administration policy, which proved fortuitous since later on my career shifted to working for nonprofits doing fundraising and writing grants.
I read recently that Barry Manilow came out as gay and talked about how he kept it secret because he didn’t want to offend his fans. I instantly related to his comments. It never seemed right for me to come out at Allegheny or Pitt or the Navy or most of my jobs since. Frankly, I wasn’t even comfortable saying it to myself. It was a shocker when I finally did come out and friends all said they already knew….kind of like no one was surprised at Barry Manilow’s announcement. In my work at the Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) I am supported in my efforts to advance LGBTQ issues on the local, state and national levels. We recently worked with a coalition to pass conversion therapy bans in Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Cleveland is next. Our association has made a focus on diversity a top strategic goal.
On April 1, 1996 I met my partner Greg. After 20 years of being together we were married on January 30, 2016.
Where I’ve lived
Since the Navy I have mostly lived in Columbus OH. I had a brief stint in Meadville, when I directed the County’s drug and alcohol program.
Greg and I live in Clintonville on the north side of Columbus not far from the OSU campus. We are involved in our street association and I serve on the Board. Our home has been on the Clintonville Homes Tour. Because of our involvement in the Clintonville Historical Society we were selected to have a memorial for people from Clintonville who were killed in World War II in our yard. A Vietnam Memorial is just up the street from us. A memorial service is held in front of our house every Memorial Day, complete with a bagpiper.
I finished at Pitt in 1969 as Vietnam and the draft were in full swing. This was not a great time to be looking for a job. No one wanted to hire someone, train them and then have them drafted. I could only do so much substitute teaching and it was coming down to being unemployed/living at home or enlisting. I took what I thought was the easier route and enlisted in the Navy. Because I was color blind I could not be an officer….red/green running lights on ships! My second day at boot camp I was drafted to work in a supply office because I could type and I knew the alphabet. I got to skip physical training, rifle training, other classes and exams. I was sure I was going to be assigned to an office in Washington or Pearl Harbor. My orders came through and I was off to Pearl Harbor but only for a day as I headed to Subic Bay in the Philippines to meet up with my ship: The USS Ute (ATF 103). No one knew what an ATF was and no one had heard of the Ute. I waited and waited, spending a lot of time in sleazy bars. One day I was rushed to the dock as my ship was arriving and departing almost immediately. An ATF is a sea going tug boat by the way. Shore duty wasn’t in the cards for me. I worked in the ship’s office maintaining personnel files. I set up education programs to help shipmates get their GEDs. I became the Captain’s phone talker, relaying his orders to the crew when we were on exercises and arriving or departing the dock. My job was not to question his orders even he was saying “all ahead full” when he meant “all back full” as we were arriving at a dock in Midway. That wasn’t pretty and the Commodore was watching. Even though I was color blind I often stood watches and maneuvering the ship when everyone else was seasick. Since I could type I was pressed into service to type up evaluations of my Captain and others in the fleet. That put me in an interesting and sometimes awkward position. I received an honorable discharge after 2 years and eight months of service.
After the Navy I ended up in a position in Ohio Governor John Gilligan’s office in Columbus as Director of the Governor’s Youth Action Program. This program was designed as a response to Kent State as a way to get young people involved in government and to open up communications with students. It was a pretty cool gig. We had access to most state government resources so we could do things like get the National Guard to help with clean ups along rivers and in urban areas. When Gilligan lost his re-election bid, our program died and I was shifted to a role in the Ohio Youth Commission, coordinating delinquency prevention programming. It was from this experience I learned that I wasn’t cut out for working in a bureaucracy.
Thus began a series of jobs with not for profit organizations with my main focus being on public relations and fund raising/grant writing. I’ve done this kind of work as a consultant and for a halfway house for ex-offenders, a program for emotionally disturbed children and for a drug and alcohol program. The drug/alcohol program was in Meadville/Crawford County and we worked closely with people at Allegheny to develop training for resident hall advisers. I also got involved in the community and supported the creation of a program for battered women that many said was not needed but definitely was and still is.
I shifted from human service organizations to working for the opera in Columbus OH as Director of Development. I worked for Opera/Columbus for 8 years and left to become Executive Director of the Ohio Psychological Association where I am now…20+ years later. We provide information, support, advocacy and education for Ohio psychologists. The Ohio Psychological Association has been recognized as the top state psychological association twice during my tenure and twice recognized for the Best Diversity Program, Best Graduate Student Program and Best Early Career Psychologist Program. We are currently working on legislation to permit appropriately trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications as they now do in the military, Louisiana, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois and Idaho. Ohio has a serious shortage of prescribers which negatively impacts access to needed health care.
Our children / grandchildren
We have two Golden Retrievers, Lucia and Lacey.
I have three years remaining on my contract with OPA. Several leaders in line to be President of the association have talked to me about extending my contract through their term. We’ll see!
Current activities / hobbies
Opera remains a strong interest. We subscribe to the Pittsburgh Opera and attend Sunday matinees. We regularly visit antique malls and arts festivals. The Columbus Dispatch did an article about us and our many Christmas trees (we have had as many as 43 trees in our house each with a different theme). We collect Raku pottery, ink wells, dip pens and art. Obviously, we also collect Christmas ornaments and Santa Clauses! I am active in the Downtown Columbus Kiwanis Club and have been a trustee of the Club and its Foundation.
My contact Info
Address: 196 West North Broadway Street, Columbus OH 43214
Phone: Home: 614-263-2786; Cell: 614-204-5756
Email: Twitter: @mor528