SAGE CEO Michael Adams Named a Nonprofit Power Player
We are excited to announce that SAGE CEO Michael Adams has been named to the PoliticsNY and amNY Metro Nonprofit Power Players list. This diverse list of leaders, innovators, and advocates highlights some of today’s most influential people working towards a more equitable and engaged New York.
“Thank you to PoliticsNY and amNY Metro for this wonderful recognition,” said Adams. “It is truly an honor to be listed among such inspiring, innovative, and dedicated leaders of the New York nonprofit world.”
To mark the launch of the Nonprofit Power Players list, we chatted with Adams as he reflected on some of the highlights of his career.
Was there something or someone that inspired you to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector?
Adams: I have been fortunate to have many mentors and role models who have inspired me to dedicate my career to advancing social justice by working in the nonprofit sector. Professor Jerry Lopez, one of my professors when I was at Stanford Law School, was one of my earliest influences. Jerry developed the concept of “rebellious lawyering,” which opened my mind to think about how I could use my legal training in innovative and non-traditional ways designed to right power imbalances and build equity. That philosophy motivated me to join the nonprofit sector and has inspired my work over the last three decades.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Adams: It’s hard to pinpoint one proudest moment of my career. A common theme through all the moments I think of is that they have been projects where amazing teams of people have worked together to achieve things that had previously seemed impossible.
Examples that come to mind are when we successfully advocated to build the country’s largest all-affordable LGBTQ+-welcoming older adult housing complex in Fort Greene, Brooklyn; when we convinced Congress to amend the Older Americans Act to make LGBTQ+ older people and older adults living with HIV as priorities for federally-funded elder services; and when SAGE and five national people of color aging organizations joined forces to form the Diverse Elders Coalition so that we could advocate together for elders in our respective communities.
What policy changes could be made to aid in your work within the nonprofit sector?
Adams: We’ve already made some key policy changes that benefit SAGE’s work, including New York State’s enactment of a law in 2022 requiring that sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status be considered when deciding which older adults are in greatest need for services, and similar legislation enacted by Congress in 2020. But much more needs to be done. For example, we desperately need Congress to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law protecting LGBTQ+ people in housing, employment, elder care, etc.
As we move into a new year, SAGE and Adams will continue to uplift the voices of LGBTQ+ elders, lead transformative change in the way we think about aging, and advocate every day for a world where LGBTQ+ elders can live fully with the dignity and respect they deserve.