Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute 2019
Born March 31, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York, Michelle Krug lived with her younger sibling and single mom in the projects. Michelle’s life as an organizer/activist began at 5 years old, walking the picket line with her mom, a teacher. She grew up in a household that did not eat grapes in solidarity with the UFW’s boycott. At 6 years old she fought to have her own bank account. She finally won that battle at 7 years old, and immediately typed up the following, “Responsible 7 year old to watch your child after school – 5 cents an hour.” She put the advertisement in each mailbox of each building and thus began her work life. She was competent, responsible, reliable, on time, and serious, learning at a young age many valuable lessons about people and work life. Michelle left home at 12 years old and connected with social justice/community organizers who became her de facto family. She became a block captain for their local food co-op, advocated for rent control, a woman’s right to choose, and civil rights among other social/economic justice issues. Education has always been important to Michelle and was a place of safety for her. She made her way to college and won a Regents Scholarship which allowed her to do her junior year in Liverpool, England. It was there that Michelle became involved in Operation Namibia, a peace group of young people from many different countries, whose focus was to take banned books to South West Africa, now known as Namibia. During this time, they had to work on the boat that would take them to Africa. While working on the boat, Michelle was asked to take the carpenter a Phillips screwdriver and screws, what she took him was a flat head screwdriver and nails. The carpenter just laughed, but Michelle realized that although she was considered an educated person in our society, she had no clue of how our world is put together. For example, how does electricity get to the outlet, how does that white stuff between the bricks hold the building together, etc. This epiphany started her journey with various apprenticeships/trainings in England and then back in the United States.
Once back in the US, Michelle moved to San Diego, working in a variety of jobs until she began her thirty-year career with the City of San Diego. Beginning as a Motive Service Tech then shortly transitioning to Waste Water Operator. Throughout her work career Michelle was involved in her union as a steward, executive board rep, and delegate to the labor council. Outside of work she was involved in both candidate and issue campaigns, was elected to the SD Democratic Party Central Committee, and as a delegate to the California Democratic Convention. She was, and continues to be, an advocate for immigration reform, affordable housing, decriminalizing homelessness, disability access and inclusivity, quality public transportation, environmental awareness and justice, LGBTQ rights, education (including restorative justice, ethnic studies, cultural competency, parent empowerment, and funding equity for neighborhood schools). Upon retirement Michelle has not stopped; she serves on the executive boards of both AFSCME Retirees and the California Alliance of Retired Americans (CARA). Currently she is actively volunteering with the Rapid Response Network soliciting donations, collecting clothing, and doing overnight staffing, etc. She also registers new voters at the monthly Naturalization Ceremony as well as out in the community. She has facilitated the passage of Project Labor Agreements in various school districts. Michelle worked on environmental justice legislation to protect Barrio Logan residents such as Proposition B&C to create a geographic barrier between industrial use and residential neighborhood living spaces. More recently she helped gain needed support for AB805 which mandates more transportation equity in our county. She works tirelessly to support all workers, their communities, and families, be they janitors, hotel workers, teachers, or taxi workers. Behind the scenes, at board meetings, communicating with her extensive network, walking picket lines, supporting boycotts, attending rallies, and tabling, Michelle continues to fight for workers wherever she is needed. At three years old, Michelle’s nursery school teacher wrote, “Michelle is a justice seeker.” She has never wavered from that stance.