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Who is Mike?

Mike Dames of Harrisburg, North Carolina, has been a professional educator for 18 years. Mike is presently the director of HOPE worldwide Charlotte. As director of this faith-based organization, he is using the aha! Process research (Framework and Bridges Out of Poverty) to help this organization achieve its mission of improving the lives of individuals who are living in poverty. He started his career in corporate America and worked in marketing for 13 years. He began his career in education in 1995, serving as a behavior specialist. Mike has served as a special education teacher at the elementary and middle school levels. For several years he served as a high school administrator. Mike also served as a case manager in the area of mental health. He is a living example of an individual who grew up in situational poverty in a single-parent household who successfully transitioned out of poverty. Mike is a national consultant who has worked with various schools and human service providers in his community and across the nation to embed the Bridges and Framework constructs into their organizations. Through aha! Process, Mike provides training and consulting services for Bridges Out of Poverty, Boys in Crisis, and A Framework for Understanding Poverty.

Mike’s credentials


  • M.A. in School Administration, Gardner-Webb University
  • M.Ed. in Special Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • B.S. in Marketing, Florida A&M University

Work history

  • Director, HOPE worldwide Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Singles Ministry Leader, Charlotte Church, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Assistant Principal, Union County Public Schools
  • Teacher, Union County, Cabarrus County, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools
  • Behavior Specialist, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools
  • Case Manager, Charter Pines Area Mental Health

Mike’s aha! moment

I officially joined the aha! Process team in 2003 after hearing Ruby conduct a Framework workshop. The research helped me to understand why and how individuals transition out of poverty. This helped me to do a personal assessment. Although growing up we did not have a lot of physical resources, my life was rich in bridging social capital. I decided then that this important message of how you teach students in poverty and help adults living in poverty build resources needed to be shared with others.

Mike’s passions

I enjoy teaching and speaking. I like to serve the poor. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people from all economic classes gain the skills to learn and be able to better interact, serve, and relate to one another. My passion is empowering and equipping people with knowledge that can improve their lives and assist them in transitioning out of poverty. I also like training the volunteers of organizations who serve the poor, with a focus on the faith community.

Mike’s best training

My favorite training moment was during a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop for the executive leadership team of the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. The research impacted them so much that they have had their entire organization trained in Bridges Out of Poverty and are now using Getting Ahead with their Work First clients. This organization is the largest human service provider in the state of North Carolina.

What does Mike do for fun?

I enjoy practicing hospitality, traveling, riding motorcycles, cooking, and listening to jazz.

What are people saying about Mike?

“This was the best training I have attended in a long time. Mr. Dames was outstanding! Thank you.”

“I really enjoyed Michael Dames’ presentation today. He taught me some really great and interesting things about poverty that I didn’t know. He is a very good person who makes the time worthwhile. Great job!”

“Third time I’ve heard this topic, best version yet, and the only one to give me direct strategies to use with clients.”

“I have been to a lot of workshops, but this was information that was very useful and interesting, also very enlightening. The presenter was awesome and very interesting. I feel like I can use this information in my job and life.”

“Mike has a great sense of humor to keep a group of teachers listening.”