Michael is particularly interested in pursuing creative joy. It comes in the form of his singing, which he does with his band Chupacabra. It comes in the form of design projects, a discipline he started with one-time partner and still close friend, Rick Bach. But it manifests itself most remarkably and demonstrably through his paintings, which are showcased in both national and international galleries and forums and are almost purely based on self-expression vs. commissioned work.
He talks about his 17 – yes, 17 – different moves he made as a child growing up between Ohio and Florida and how he pretty much ran into the same type of kid no matter where he lived and basically treated the whole experience as akin to camping. He discusses how art shouldn’t be a committee experience, compares the process to cooking, that the art of creating everyday is an act of defiance and reveals to us his favorite part of the day.
Our conversation with the VP of Community Affairs for Highmark and President of the Highmark Foundation begins with her upbringing in Homewood with parents who dealt with the hardships of poverty but never let them feel like they were poor. She earned her undergraduate degree at PITT and her master’s degree from CMU all the while holding down a full-time job with Mellon. It was the influence of one of her teachers at PITT, Dr. Lawrence Howard, which initially fueled her interest in public management and eventually led her to her current position.
Yvonne candidly discusses how she faces down and deals with the issues that are still commonplace surrounding white privilege in the corporate and governmental environments by pushing hard everyday with passion, optimism and no fear. She speaks to the “ROI of empathy” and how that is integral to any organization’s CSR policies.
A fervent supporter of the Pittsburgh arts scene, she has been inspired and awed by the talents of the local artists and has helped promote them through development and participation of forums and gallery openings. And it turns out that Yvonne Cook, does indeed, love to cook. We are all invited over to her house for the dinner and conversation question.