by Brooke Wilzen
I had a chance to sit down with BEST’s board president, Michael Maine, and learn a little more about his background, his involvement with BEST and where he draws his inspiration for his work.
Michael, how did you first become involved with BEST?
I was first introduced to BEST by former board member Lorinda Rowledge. After being introduced to BEST, I immediately wanted to learn more and become more engaged. I joined the board in 2012.
What motivates you about the mission of BEST?
I feel strongly that modern-day slavery, in all of its forms, is one of the most vile institutions on the face of the planet. As a descendant of slaves I still feel the effects of the institutionalized forced labor of and genocidal practices towards an entire group of people. The psychological, economic, and social effects permeate throughout not only the victims, but all of us who share this world. No human being should have to experience the suffering brought about by human trafficking or forced labor of any sort. As Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter write in The Slave Next Door, “America was born with the congenital disease of slavery, and legal or illegal, it has never left us. Today, we are still conflicted about our slave-holding past and its ugly aftermath.” Much of what is going on now is underground. It’s time to raise awareness and take action.
What role do you think business plays in preventing human trafficking?
Business is both powerful and influential. I see how businesses can use this power and influence to shift social norms by adopting policies and best practices to prevent human trafficking. I have a background in finance and marketing. After spending several years working on marketing strategies, marketing plans, and financial models, I’ve found that the successful businesses are the ones that have a deeper understanding of purpose. Those organizations are the ones who find a way to persevere. They are the happiest, most sustainable, and the most profitable. Their communities welcome them and they welcome their communities. Together, they build products, services, and programs that benefit all involved and all affected.
Michael is a socially engaged artist who holds an MBA and owns and operates his company Menrva Labs. He has been featured as a speaker for TEDx and is currently working on several projects that address social issues.