Michael Despines

Michael spent 18 years working across the African continent, travels extensively, and studies how US consumption and policy decisions are harming our planet.

Speaking Options

The American Dream – 2.0

Worried about the quality of life the world will be able to offer your children or grandchildren?  Concerned about your health? Interested in living a life that is not so chaotic and stress filled? Have a nagging sense there could or should be much more to life?

In this presentation, Michael will highlight the megatrends feeding your anxiety and will offer solutions that will challenge your world view but offer hope and inspiration.

Selected Media



“An outstanding keynote presentation…clear and compelling.” – President, Western CT State University

“His presentation was enlightening, horrifying, and inspiring all in one. Michael explained in depth the coming exhaustion of space and resources on the planet Earth. As a student and a leader in La Crosse International Friendship Exchange, I truly appreciated Michael Despines as a guest speaker. His credibility and experience was unmistakable. On top of a great presentation, he was a down to earth man who was willing to discuss just about anything. I would recommend him to any audience!” – University of Wisconsin student

“The issues you brought forth in your presentation has been the topic of my week, and I’ve had numerous conversations about it.  It has given me the motivation I needed after years of hopelessness. Thank you for taking on this extremely difficult task of making people aware of the major consequences of our lifestyle.” – University of Wisconsin student

“Michael exploits a clever series of graphic illustrations to convey some rather complex ideas. The visual representations drove the point home for me. Up until I attended this presentation, I only had a simple and superficial understanding of how we are threatening the planet. Now I really get it.” – Director of Humanitarian Affairs,  International Rescue Committee

About Michael

Michael has conducted extensive reading and research on environmental science, climate science, energy technology, consumption, economics, and other topics related to sustainability.  Based on this research and life experience Michael created “The American Dream 2.0 ,” a powerful presentation to increase public awareness and action on these issues.

For 18 years Michael lived and worked in Africa as a senior manager, strategist, and advocate for several international relief and development organizations.  As Regional Director for the International Rescue Committee he supervised programs in Rwanda, Burundi, The Republic of Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Tanzania.  Michael spent six years in eastern DRC as the country director overseeing a broad range of humanitarian and development programs.  He has also worked for the International Medical Corps in Angola, and Action against Hunger-USA in Rwanda.  He began his overseas work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon.

Upon returning to the US Michael worked with Environment America, Clean Air-Cool Planet, and spent a year with Friends of the Earth advocating for sound US policy to address the impacts of climate change and he co-authored a report on the risks associated with the use of carbon offsets. 

As the Vice President of International programs for the Institute for Sustainable Communities Michael oversaw programs active in China, India and Bangladesh focused on reducing the environmental and climate impacts of factories and the global supply chain.  He also oversaw programs working with cities in China to promote low carbon. urban development.  Most recently Michael led the Snow Leopard Trust’s efforts to save the endangered snow leopard and promote conservation led development in central Asia.

Michael has a B.S in Electrical Engineering, a B.A. in General Arts and Science, and a Masters in International Management.

Michael is also a passionate amateur nature and wildlife photographer and his images can be seen at Michael Despines Photography.

Who Caught Your Eye?

Let us know by completing the form and we'll be in touch quickly!
    Please select one or more speakers of interest.
  • Please tell us more! Who is your audience? What are you goals? Why do the speakers interest you? Do you want a standard talk with Q&A or something more?
  • Please enter an ESTIMATED budget for the speaker fee and travel. (This field will only accept one amount and not a range.)
  • Please enter a date or date range in the text field provided.
  • What else to we need to know to make this a great event? Don't hold back!