Born in Whitefish Bay, WI, Michael Gosman went to Whitefish Bay High School and then continued his education at Indiana University. After graduation, he moved to New York in search of a job and worked for the History Channel and A&E Television. After a couple years of work, he took a summer off to travel Southeast Asia. When he returned from his travels, he decided to go back to school and attend the University of Chicago Law School. Gosman graduated from law school in 2009 and went to work for a large firm in Milwaukee for three years. During this time, he realized he didn't find the work satisfying.
He first learned about ACTS Housing when he met the then-director of the program, Carl Quindel. Gosman was amazed and inspired by the talented people who worked at ACTS. So he joined the program as a volunteer. After developing the first fundraising community for the organization, his next big task was to get the name of ACTS Housing out into the community in order to get more support. After 6 to 8 months of his limited volunteer efforts, he started to see his work pay off. He quickly realized that he enjoyed the work he was doing at ACTS and began to wonder how much impact he could have on the community if he was devoted to this job on a full time basis. In January of 2013, he became the Assistant Director of ACTS. As Assistant Director, he was involved in fundraising, strategic efforts, and the startup of ACTS' nonprofit affiliate ACTS Lending. He soon became the Executive Director of the ACTS Lending program, and eventually took on a position as Director of ACTS Housing once Quindel stepped down.
Gosman was raised in the suburbs, and didn't know much about the Washington Park neighborhood. Indeed, he had some preconceived notions about what families might be like and the quality of life in inner city neighborhoods. It wasn't until he got to know the ACTS team and the families who worked with ACTS that he gained a better appreciation of the strength and strong community bonds that exist in this neighborhood. He has learnt that the people of this neighborhood have an enormous sense of hospitality, and they can make you feel very warm and welcome.
Gosman remembers that when ACTS started, crime, drug use and violence were high. In comparison, the neighborhood today has made many strides in the right direction. According to Gosman, ACTS has helped 600 to 700 families in the Washington Park Neighborhood alone. Last year, ACTS helped about 120 families, and Gosman thinks that they are close to increasing that number to 250 families per year. He sees a potential in documenting the ACTS model and spreading it into other cities around the country. However, he believes that the ACTS model works only if it is led by people from the local community. It is important to have a team that lives in and is familiar with the neighborhood. Retaining intimate relationships and connections to the neighborhood has helped ACTS succeed as an organization.
Michael Gosman, Interviewed by Joe Gaudreau, Esme Barniskis, Murray Smith, June 2016