Raised in Kentucky, Michael has spent much of his adult life in Europe and Africa. Thrice selected to the Who’s Who of International Photojournalists, he has written and photographed many feature stories for such publications as National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, Newsweek, Life, Stern, Geo, and Paris-Match.
He has interviewed dozens of government leaders, among them former South African President Nelson Mandela, the late King Hussein of Jordan, the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, former French President Francois Mitterrand, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and former Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad.
Moreover, Michael is currently developing several major media projects: a movie about African traditional religion, a campaign for women’s empowerment in Africa, and a major event in Vietnam celebrating friendship with America. His other activities include producing and directing the trendsetting crowdsourced World Memory Film Project, a major social media effort against xenophobia and atrocity, created together with internet and film enthusiasts around the world. The WMFP is supported by the United Nations and several Hollywood personalities.
In 2012 he helped produce the feature narrative film OKA!, shot in the equatorial rain forest of Central African Republic, and released to high praise in theaters across the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11/01, Michael founded The Friendship Caravan to nurture understanding among people of diverse cultures and to raise awareness about how global climate change affects people in fragile environments. He is also co-founder of Amman Imman: Water Is Life, an American NGO to bring permanent water sources to thousands of sub-Saharan nomads.
Michael has created several major media events that attracted millions of followers on international TV and through the World Wide Web. Among these are:
– The American Friendship Caravan, a multi-state event bringing together political, religious, and student leaders to express world friendship and solidarity. It attracted a media audience estimated at 8 million, and included a live three-hour town meeting broadcast nationwide on CSPAN and hosted by Michael.
– Friendship Fest Morocco, a two-year rock festival in Marrakesh, Morocco. Including well-known American and African music groups, the event attracted 90,000 people the first year, and 200,000 the second year.
– Earth Day Morocco, the first-ever nationwide celebration of the environment on the African continent. It brought together more than five million people (including many leaders from Europe, South America, America, and Africa), was publicized worldwide, and stimulated significant change in environmental policy at the Moroccan government level. It led to multi-billion-dollar accords with Europe to create a solar energy network in the southern Morocco.
In the 1990’s he founded The America To Africa Society (ATA) to create media events that counterbalance negative stereotypes about Africa with positive information about its people and culture. At its peak ATA had offices in numerous countries, including Morocco, Senegal, France, Luxembourg, and the USA.
Michael recently finished his first novel, The Lakmy Book, to be published in 2020.
Over the years, Michael has been interviewed dozens of times in European, American, Arab, and African media. He is a regular political commentator on France 24. He is an International Honorary Rotarian. An alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he also holds a degree in Psychology from Amherst College, Amherst, MA.
Married to and working together with Binh Kirtley, who was raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Michael just returned from an important trip to Vietnam, where Binh and he are planning major media activities in 2020.