Michael Ziomko, FCEP

Mike joined Thompson & Associates in early 2016.  Since 1987, Mike has worked in the field of philanthropy with a focus on planned giving – first as a consultant, a broker at E.F. Hutton actually, and then as an employee of nonprofits including St. John’s University, the University of Minnesota, Children’s Minnesota, and Fairview and Ebenezer.  At the last two nonprifts, he has worked as a client of Thompson & Associates.    

Philanthropy has been a good fit for him, because it meant working with people about the things closest to them, the things they felt important.  It has also given him the chance to exercise those parts of his life that don’t get out much – details, structures, agreements, numbers – as well as those that are most important to him – promises given and accepted, dreams, visions, and meaning.

Mike considers himself an old hippie who has for decades been angling to discover how he can help save the world.  That seems to have distilled into the judicious cultivation of a few native talents that he has tried his best not to ignore or abuse. 

For instance, an undergraduate degree in philosophy in 1971, which was quietly tolerated for its total lack of relevance to the main chore of making a living, has come into its own in the last few years with its obvious application to the social determinants of health for the growing senior population.  It’s not just about pills and procedures any more – it’s about loneliness, depression, loss of meaning, and fear.  Those are largely philosophical issues that can only be satisfied with personal reflection and community solutions. 

And another – learning to make pottery in 1973, clearly a flower child activity, has become the engine of a social justice enterprise that combines art, community well-being, and helping to feed others.  It’s called Empty Bowls (not his idea), and he has spent the last 11 years helping to make it happen in the Twin Cities.  But more than just social justice, it has become the path for him to integrate his own personal search for meaning with beauty and the grace of everyone getting along.

He hopes to expand his work in this area to the numerous university ceramics’ programs around the state and the statewide community gardening effort currently based in the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches.

In the late 90’s while he was employed at the University of Minnesota he went back to school and earned a degree in the history of science.  He was particularly interested in the point in Western history when we came to think of the world around us as something essentially inert, a thing that was just there for us to use.  It was about the same time that we came to disregard more and more the ineffable, immeasurable sources of life in our own lives.  He believes he got a decent answer from those years of reading, writing, and thinking.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s he was a business owner and entrepreneur in the somewhat disparate fields of electrical and solar engineering.  He originated the work on a patent in the latter field that was brought to successful conclusion by a group at Stanford.

Mike grew up in Texas frequently visiting family on the East coast – making Yale an easy choice for his collegiate studies.  He finally settled in Minnesota.  He never married (at least not yet); his family is chosen, and they are a quirky and lovable lot.

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