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There’s a quote I keep on my desk, by Winston Churchill,
that reads: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” That’s been my guiding maxim throughout my career. Looking back on it to date, I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to many communities, and each step forward for each human being I’ve personally connected with has been incredibly fulfilling.


At Premier Education Partners (PEP), the organization I now co-manage, we’re all about making meaningful and measurable gains in the day-to-day lives of students facing challenges. And my work as the Executive Director of the High Point School of Bergen County for special education students in grades 6–12+ with moderate to severe exceptionalities keeps me face-to-face with the kids who inspire my efforts while also mentoring and guiding the remarkable staff that implements our holistic education model on their behalf every day.

Other recent experiences have included my short-term stint starting up a teletherapy company that now provides tens
of thousands of in-school support services sessions for students nationwide and my long-term, career-defining tenure as the head of Specialized Education Services Inc.,
a private special education organization of day schools that grew to 75+ programs under my leadership before
eventually merging with Catapult Learning.

My road to organizational leadership was paved with so many milestones and wonderful memories, like my positions at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, Rutgers Preparatory



Schools, the Veterans Administration Hospital (Lyons, NJ), and the Center for Cognitive Rehabilitation (New Brunswick, NJ). And my diverse background—with degrees and formal training in accounting, social work, and clinical psychology—has allowed me to wear many hats: teaching graduate-level classes at Rutgers University and the Community College of Baltimore; presenting at symposiums and conferences; serving on multiple boards; attending Harvard Business School’s Key Executives Program; providing individual and group private counseling; volunteering for numerous worthy causes; even hosting my own “Dr. Mike” radio show for a time. Everywhere I went and with everyone I met, I can only hope that I left as much of a mark on them as they did on me.

Through it all, I’ve particularly relished coaching and collaborating with so many fellow helping professionals, constantly learning from each other and pushing one another to be better, do better, devise ways and means to generate better outcomes for communities in need. That’s why I wanted to write a book of my cumulative experiences to share with my colleagues. That’s what got to me to this particular place at this particular time.

These days, no matter what I’m doing—whether it’s implementing a new educational policy, enhancing a motivational program, or fostering a healthy work environment—my overarching goal is the same as it was back when I was a social work intern: to make a positive difference in the lives of those around me, striving to create a lasting impact that gives back far more than it takes. The plaque on my desk reminds me of that every day.



“I wrote this book for two main reasons. First, to express my gratitude to the helping professional leaders who encouraged and championed me along my own path. And second, to inspire other helping professionals to dismantle
self-imposed limits, break down barriers, and make their mark
in their field
like no one else could.”

- Michael L. Kaufman

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