Michael Roberts joined McKnight as senior program officer with the Midwest Climate & Energy program in November 2022. In this role, he oversees and develops significant grant portfolios that support efforts to build power through partnerships, aligning McKnight’s climate and equity goals to advance solutions to the climate crisis. Michael has devoted his career to working at the intersections, connecting issues of climate resilience, land stewardship, community development, and social justice.
Michael most recently lived in Athens, GA, where he worked locally on issues of land conservation, farmer and food system development, and building bridges between local community development and weatherization and renewable energy initiatives. He also provided philanthropic strategy advisory services in the arenas of environmental justice, climate resilience, and racial equity as an independent consultant.
Prior to that, Michael served as the Food & Agriculture program manager for the 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation, where he designed, facilitated, and managed funding for a variety of public-private partnerships. Michael applied an asset-building and collaborative approach to strategic grantmaking, expanding the 11th Hour Project’s national portfolio of Food & Agriculture into the Southeast in 2014 with a focus on addressing issues facing low-income farmers and communities of color.
Other highlights from Michael’s time at The Schmidt Family Foundation include supporting an organizational cohort in collaboration with USDA Rural Development to improve food access and farm resiliency outcomes; providing catalytic support to launch a land lending program targeting low-income farmers at California FarmLink; and facilitating the expansion of The Common Market into the Southeast.
Michael holds a master’s degree in environment and sustainable development from University College London, where he specialized in sustainable agriculture and participatory research methods. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Common Market Southeast. As Michael gets settled in Minnesota, he is looking forward to exploring Minneapolis’ many parks, paddling in the boundary waters, learning to cross country ski, and teaching his daughter how to ice state.
Favorite quote: “Successful organizing is based on the recognition that people get organized because they too have a vision.” – Senator Paul Wellstone