Upcoming Events

  • September 27, 2010, “Community involvement in family safety,” Dakota County Social Services, Apple Valley Government Center.  I will provide a 1.5 hour presentation to Dakota County staff, including a brief biography of my time in foster care, how it benefited me and what I did with what was given to me, followed by some observations of the more difficult issues often faced by foster children and adoptive children and their families, in cases of reunification, and what practitioners (social workers and other county and private staff) can do to help. These observations will rely on my nonprofit experience working with the child protection system in Hennepin County for several years, working with prisoners and their families, and my current private practice experience working with families in need of interventions at many different levels.
  • November 12, 2010, “Adoption and its aftermath: belongingness, attachment and identity,” 2010 Annual Fall Conference, Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (MAMFT), Northland Inn, Minneapolis, Minnesota. This workshop will discuss with mental health care practitioners what we can do to facilitate meaningful exploration and resolution of issues resulting from adoption for adoptive parents, siblings, and adoptees. This workshop will build upon the ideas developed over a series of previous similar workshops that addressed how attachment between an adoptee and their adoptive family may not be adequate to sustain the bonds that hold them together, but by encouraging exploration of identities families and their adoptive children are much more likely to reach deeper, more meaningful, and long lasting relationships. If you are interested in attending this workshop, you will need to register for the Fall Conference.  See the MAMFT website for further information: www.minnesotafamilies.org.

A History of speaking to many audiences

Over the years, Michael Kinzer has presented numerous topics to corporate, nonprofit and client populations. All of these speaking engagements share a single theme: understand your process well and you will understand how to reach your next goals. Put in simpler terms—if you know the process that led you or your organization to where you are now, you will know what you need to do, differently or the same, to get to where you want to go.

An additional theme has emerged in Michael’s speaking engagements and become more pronounced while he has worked in the mental health and nonprofit organizations fields: “if I can, so can you.” If that sentiment strikes you as a bit arrogant, that’s understandable. Read the following, and then come back and read the theme again.

A story of survival and positive change

I started my therapy career working for a nonprofit named Reuben Lindh Family Services that helped parents get their children back when Child Protection took them away. During that time, I spoke with a mother who had lost her children. She told me the story of one of her many children, a boy. Her husband thought this child was the product of an affair. The boy was not treated well. One day, Dad went for a walk with the boy, came back and said the boy had died on the walk, had “fallen” down a sewer. The boy survived, thanks to his screaming in the sewer and the neighbors who heard the screams and fetched him out.

Michael at seven years old

Michael at seven years old

For ten years after that, dad beat the boy and made sure in every possible way that the boy understood he didn’t belong with the rest of his family, that he shouldn’t be alive at all. At 12, Child Protection stepped in. By then, the boy had already started to get high, to drink plenty, to fail in school, to runaway from home for days at a time. By 16, he’d dropped out of high school and was committing crimes to support his habit.

Here’s the thing, this mother telling the story, she wasn’t a Reuben Lindh client. This mother was my mother. I was the boy in the sewer.

During my teenage years, I turned things around in my life. I found a good foster home. I stopped using drugs. I went back to High School, graduated with honors. I went to college, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota, then went on to law school and then graduate school. Along the way, some of the people I knew died, went to prison, or both.

A few years ago, Oak Park Heights Prison offered me a job to work there as a therapist. During the interview process, I told the staff a part of my childhood story. The director asked, “do you know how you were able to make the changes in your life to avoid ending up in a place like this (prison)?” I said, “I was able and ready to hear when I needed help from others, reached out, and used that help when offered to make changes I couldn’t have made alone.” Now I am the one offering the help to those who will take it.

These and many other stories and themes about survival, change, choices, liberation, responsibility and possibilities permeate the themes of my speaking engagements. Audiences repeatedly tell me that my presentations are engaging, useful, thoughtful and captivating. The following is a list of presentations and speeches Michael has given over the past several years. Please call Jupiter Center to find out more about how Michael can inspire your audience with stories, ideas and his passion for change and liberation from limitations.

Previous Speaking Engagements (A Sampling):

  • Workshop and Discussion with Dakota County Adoption and Foster Care staff, “Adoption and Foster Care, making a difference to help families adjust,” Hastings MN, July 2010
  • Speaker, Foster Care and Adoptive Care support group, sponsored by Dakota County, Apple Valley, MN, May 2010;
  • Presentation to inpatient chemical addiction patients, on addiction recovery, mental illness, and therapy:  The Retreat, Wayzata, MN, February 2010;
  • Joint panel participant at Annual ADHD Symposium, Presentation of “ADHD and Therapy, beyond medication, giving voice to distraction,” Lakeville, MN, February 2010;
  • Live interview with Don Shelby on WCCO Radio, current work in the nonprofit sector to increase successes of prisoners reentering society, June 2009
  • Minnesota Dept. of Health and Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota: “Teleconference on best practices for working with families to prevent child abuse,” June 2009;
  • Live televised interview on Fox 9 Morning News, discussing the needs of prisoners and their families, March 2009;
  • United States Dept. of Health and Human Services, Roundtable Conference on Best Practices for working with families of incarcerated fathers, numerous panel discussions, September 2008;
  • Annual Conference of Regional Corrections Education Association, “The Family Strengthening Project: A model for reducing recidivism,” April 2008
  • Presenter, “Stories of Hope: Compassion and Hope,” March 2008;
  • Keynote Speaker, Graduation Ceremony at St. Cloud Correctional Facility, January 2008
  • Keynote Speaker, Graduation Ceremony at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility, November 2007
  • Televised Interview: “Healing Conversations,” Charter Communications, February 2007

A Few Examples

Click on the following presentations to see or download materials Michael has used to present topics to a wide variety of audiences:

Keynote Speech at St. Cloud Correctional Facility (PDF) DEA stands for “Decide Every Act” and CIA stands for Consequences, Intent and Action. This is a speech I gave at state prisons when I was asked to give the keynote. This version is the latest.

Stories Of Hope I gave this speech a couple of years ago at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville. Its not a religious speech in any way, but it was given as part of an evening event at the Church, which was called “Stories of Hope.” I presented on the topic of “Compassion and Hope,” based on the importance of those who were there for me when I needed it most, and about my own turn being there for others as a therapist.