Activist & Researcher

Michelle Esther O’Brien is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at New York University. Her work is on the politics of welfare, social movements and political economy. Currently, she is writing on labor struggles among social service providers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Michelle received her Masters of Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work, CUNY (now Silberman School). She graduated in 2011, receiving the Dean’s Award at the top of her class. She spent several years working in HIV/AIDS service agencies, as a community organizer, support group facilitator and case worker. She served as the Executive Director of Housing Here and Now, at the time the leading coalition of tenant rights organizations in New York City.

Michelle has extensive experience in group facilitation, workshop and conference planning, and public speaking. She is available to participate in forums, speaking engagements and to facilitate workshops. In 2003 she did a five-college speaking tour on trans liberation politics. Recently, she has been speaking on the history of welfare unionism and battles against welfare retrenchment. She organizes with the Radical Social Work Group, a NYC-based group that welcomes new members to our monthly politics. She helps edit current events news stories at Organizing Upgrade. She is a proud member of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at NYU.

Michelle is open about being trans, queer and a socialist.