Michael Slater is a landscape designer, garden manager, and public interest advocate in Salem, Oregon.
Michael grew up in suburban Minneapolis and attended the Honors College at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he studied Chinese history. After college, Michael lived in Taiwan for two years. He returned home in 1995 and took a position as an intern for US Senator Paul Wellstone. He then went on to take leadership positions with Minnesota ACORN, Service Employees International Union, Las Vegas Interfaith Council for Workers Justice and, Project Vote, a national voting rights organization that he directed between 2008 and 2017.
Michael decided to change his career focus after the disappointment of the 2016 election. He left Project Vote in 2017 and, in 2018, co-founded the Mission Street Parks Conservancy (MSPC). He led MSPC through its initial launch as a full-time board president for two years. In 2020, he started a landscape design practice. In 2021, he agreed to serve as MSCP's Garden Manager.
In addition to his work with MSPC, Michael serves on the board of trustees of Temple Beth Sholom and is a commissioner for the Salem Planning Commission.
Michael is married to Lori Cain, a middle school language arts teacher with the Salem-Keizer School District. They are parents to Ben Slater.
Slater has spent much of his career in nonprofits, working remotely from Salem as president of Project Vote, a voting rights advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
"After the 2016 election, Slater said he turned to gardening as therapy to help him cope with his sadness and disappointment. That led to his involvement in the park and eventually, to a decision to take a break from his career and focus on growing the conservancy. - Salem Report