Michael Lerner Bio Michael Lerner is president of the board and co-founder of Commonweal. Born in New York City in 1943, he graduated from Harvard in 1965 and received a Ph.D. from Yale in political science in 1970. He taught at Yale in the political science department with a joint appointment at Yale Medical School before moving to Bolinas in 1972 on a sabbatical working with the Carnegie Council on Children.

Michael resigned from Yale to co-found Full Circle, a residential school for at-risk children, in 1973. His work at Full Circle focused on the role of nutrition in the learning and behavior disorders of children. That work led him to co-found Commonweal in 1976. Commonweal grew directly out of his experience at Full Circle. Healing and justice for at-risk children has been a core Commonweal interest since inception.

Michael has wide-ranging interests. His founding vision of Commonweal was as a center for healing ourselves and healing the earth. Those interests led him on the one hand to the mysteries of the inner world of healing, depth psychology, spirituality, mythology and mystery, and on the other hand to the material and social words of power, politics, the environment and justice.

Throughout his career he has been drawn to frontiers of knowledge including the American counter-culture, nutritional and environmental factors in child development, environmental health and justice, the global polycrisis, and the evolving continuum of integrative medicine, functional medicine, and intuitive medicine, especially regarding integrative cancer care.

He has a lifelong interest in psi phenomena, non-ordinary consciousness, the structures of human thought, cosmology, soul survival, and the Anthropic Principle that suggests life permeates the universe. He is fundamentally a mystic. He has conducted over 200 recorded conversations with thinkers, writers, artists, and healers through The New School at Commonweal.

Michael has a long engagement with journalism. He began as president of the Exonian at Phillips Exeter Academy and continued to evolve, as Political Editor of the Harvard Crimson, a copyboy and subsequently editorial assistant at the NY Times, a city desk reporter at The Washington Post, and a stringer for Time Magazine. He also reported for The Washington Post during a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil in 1965, and he reported from Israel for The Washington Post and The Atlantic Magazine during The Six-Day War. Much of his work exploring frontiers of knowledge takes an investigative journalistic approach.

His published works span a range of fields and include “Respectable Bigotry” in The American Scholar, “Anarchism and the American Counterculture” in Government & Opposition, and writing on integrative cancer care in The NY Times Magazine.

He is the author of “Choices in Healing – Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer,” from MIT Press, 1996. He was the chief consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment of the US Congress for its landmark report “Unconventional Cancer Treatments” in 1990.

He is the author of “A Gift Observed: Reflections on Philanthropy & Civilization” (Commonweal, 1990).

He was co-editor with Fred I. Greenstein of “A Source Book for the Study of Personality and Politics” from Markham, 1971, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Michael is also the co-founder and president emeritus of Smith Center for Healing & the Arts in Washington, DC, co-founder of the Health & Environmental Funders Network, co-founder of the Resilience Funders Network, and co-founder and president of the Jenifer Altman Foundation and the Barbara Smith Fund.

In addition to co-founding Commonweal, Michael initiated several of its landmark projects, including the Cancer Help Program, Sanctuary, Healing Circles Global, Cancer Choices, The New School at Commonweal, the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, Omega, and the Omega Resilience Awards,.

He received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship for contributions to public health in 1984 and a US-Japan Fellowship from the Japan Society in 1990.

Michael has been married for over 40 years to Sharyle Patton, who directs the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center. They live in Bolinas, California and on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, Washington. Michael’s son Joshua Lerner is married to Shana Stanton. They are both attorneys in San Francisco. Their daughter Ava Marie will soon enter high school.

Michael remains active in a range of projects both within and beyond Commonweal. His lifelong interests in psyche and cosmos, in healing ourselves and healing the earth, and in practical and invisible paths to service and wholeness, continue to evolve.

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