A second-generation Cuban-American and native of Miami, Fl, Michael has called Western North Carolina home since 2011. He joins the Dogwood team after 15 years spent in the direct provision and management of behavioral health and substance use treatment programs. Michael’s introduction to behavioral health work began as a field guide in a local wilderness therapy program, an experience that hooked him on the power of relationship-based change. He’s since delivered services to children and adults in a variety of settings, including community, educational, hospital and criminal justice-based treatment.
In addition to providing treatment directly to clients, Michael’s experience includes the formation and management of new programming. As a school-based social worker in rural Virginia, he worked to expand his agency’s service offerings through the creation of a Medicaid-funded therapeutic day camp for at-risk middle schoolers. At Asheville’s Mission Hospital, Michael assembled a multidisciplinary team of professionals to restart North Carolina’s first diagnostic Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Clinic, eventually doubling clinic capacity and bringing diagnostic clarity and tailored service recommendations to hundreds of families throughout our region. In his work with Buncombe County’s Justice Services Department, Michael guided the county’s drug treatment court through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and pulled stakeholders together to pioneer new programming, including offering housing, case management and peer support resources to motivated individuals re-entering the community from detention, ensuring that no person leaves jail without a chance for stability, safety and recovery.
Michael holds a BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MSW from the University of South Carolina and is currently completing graduate coursework in business administration. He’s licensed as a Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) in the state of North Carolina. Michael lives in Asheville, with his wife Elizabeth and their two young children. On weekends, he loves to discover new running trails, listen to live music and try out new recipes in the kitchen.