December 28, 2022

podcast graphic with headshot of Michelle Jackson and title

This episode offers an incredible story – and perhaps a bold new model for increasing investments in America’s nonprofit workforce.

You’ll learn how a group of nonprofits showed elected leaders the essential value of the nonprofit human services workforce, and broke through malaise and noise to secure historic state and local government investments in nonprofit workers!

You’ll hear the story of the #JustPay Campaign, which was initiated by the Human Services Council. Through this ongoing campaign, social workers and others have built solidarity with one another and flexed their collective power! It has gotten results. Successes include Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) increases in government contracts and other major financial investments in the nonprofit human services workforce.

Host Rusty Stahl speaks with Michelle Jackson, Executive Director of Human Services Council of New York to get the story, the struggles, and important lessons-learned for funders, nonprofits, and associations.

We also discuss the HSC’s involvement with efforts to improve how New York City government contracts with nonprofits to deliver social services, and how the City pays for “indirect” costs in these contracts. The effort to pay for “indirect” costs was also discussed from the NYC government perspective in Season 2 Episode 12 with Jennifer Geiling. (Note: at Fund the People, we know that the cost of nonprofit workers should not be treated as “indirect” costs. That’s why we believe funders should flip the funding formula on its head.)

This final interview of Season 3 explores Talent-Investing Principle #3, “Address the Problem, Not Just the Symptoms.” The historic successes discussed in this episode cut to the heart of how nonprofits can work together to end the starvation cycle and begin a healthy new cycle of talent-investing. To learn about the Eight Principles of Talent-Investing, listen to Episode One of this season. 

Resources from this Episode:

Human Services Council of New York:

Just Pay Campaign:

Guest Bio:

Michelle Jackson, Executive Director, Human Services Council

Michelle was appointed Executive Director of HSC in May 2020 and previously served for many years as the Deputy Executive Director and Deputy Director. HSC advocates for the nonprofit human services organizations that provide critical services for New Yorkers such as programs for seniors, youth, and the homeless and disabled. Currently, Michelle oversees the COVID-19 response within the human services sector, coordinating with government and other external partners to ensure that human services providers are equipped to address the profound social, economic, and public health challenges facing communities and the human services workforce.

Under her roles as Deputy Executive Director and Deputy Director, Michelle coordinated HSC’s government relations strategy and has led revolutionary policy changes, leading both City and State campaigns to improve the nonprofit sector’s ability to maximize social impact in communities most notably in securing over $200 million in cost-of-living adjustments for NYC human services workers and $120 million in nonprofit infrastructure investments. She also represented HSC at public hearings and relevant government taskforces on these issues.

During her tenure with HSC, Michelle has been at the forefront of efforts to streamline the relationship between nonprofits and government, culminating in the launch of both City and State procurement systems that include a standard contract for human services and a simplified online procurement system, HHS Accelerator and New York Grants Reform, respectively. In addition to her expertise in government contracting, she leads the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York campaign, a coalition of over 350 human services providers across New York State, which calls for increased State investment in the human services sector’s workforce and infrastructure.

Michelle has penned numerous op eds highlighting the human services workforce and has been recognized as a 2017 Albany Rising Star by City & State and as a 40 Under 40 Nonprofit Rising Star by New York Nonprofit Media in 2015. Prior to joining HSC, she graduated from Suffolk University Law School in Boston in 2007, earning a Juris Doctor with a concentration in International Law. While in law school, she interned for the International Consortium for Law and Development, researching and drafting legislation for developing countries, including the 2005 Iraq Constitution, and volunteered for Shelter Legal Services where she provided free legal aid to indigent women at Rosie’s Place. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Politics at Saint Mary’s College of California in 2004.

Listen on Spotify.
Listen on Apple Podcasts.
View all previous episodes of the podcast.