Michael Cole-Schwartz brings to Spitfire – and his clients – a passion for social change and more than a dozen years of experience in nonprofit communication strategy, message development, rapid response media relations and multimedia advocacy.
Michael works with clients on a variety of issues including expanding access to quality health care, protecting and restoring precious water resources and ensuring the dignity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Through programs of the Packard Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he provides strategic communication counsel and capacity building support to state health advocacy organizations expanding coverage and increasing quality. In the environmental realm, Michael oversees Spitfire’s work with the Choose Clean Water coalition focusing on the Chesapeake Bay, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s clean energy and Great Lakes freshwater work, as well as the American Forest Foundation. A skilled trainer, he helps clients learn how to build communication plans, ace television interviews, up their messaging game and plan winning campaigns.
Prior to joining the Spitfire team, Michael was on the front lines of the movement for LGBTQ equality as the director of communications at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). He was a leader in the planning and implementation of campaigns to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” expand the number of states with marriage equality and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for the first time ever in the U.S. Senate. As a principal spokesperson for the organization, he appeared on television programs from Countdown with Keith Olbermann to Al Jazeera’s Inside Story, and in print publications from The Economist to People magazine.
In another role at HRC, Michael was the director of new media, bringing his public relations experience to bear on how the organization interacted with online communities. His portfolio included editing the organization’s blog, working with other bloggers and citizen journalists to advance LGBTQ issues and managing HRC’s state-of-the-art, in-house media center. Michael also worked on the press team focusing on local markets which brought him to dozens of settings – everywhere from church basements in Topeka, to the steps of the Supreme Judicial Court in Boston, to producing a documentary short in Wasilla, Alaska. He was also the founding producer and on-air correspondent of “The Agenda with Joe Solmonese” – HRC’s weekly live show that aired on XM Satellite Radio.
Michael’s previous experience also includes time at the U.S. Embassy to Belgium and the U.S. House of Representatives. A proud native of New England, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University and lives in Washington, D.C., with his husband Steven and their dog Gary.