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The Self-Made Myth Co-Author: Mike Lapham
Co-Author of the Self-Made Myth: Mike Lapham
Mike Lapham is the founding director of Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy. Responsible Wealth amplifies the voices of more than 700 progressive business leaders and other affluent individuals in public policy debates to pro- mote progressive tax policy and greater corporate accountability in Congress, in the media, and in corporate boardrooms.
Born in Glens Falls, New York, the youngest of four boys, Lapham was raised in Rochester, where he attended excellent and well-funded public schools. He earned his BA at Dartmouth College, where he majored in urban studies and public policy and wrote his honors thesis, “The History and Causes of Homelessness.” He later received a master’s degree in community economic development (the nonprofit equivalent of an MBA) from New Hampshire College.
Lapham was a fifth-generation owner of the Finch, Pruyn & Co. paper mill in Glens Falls, New York, co-founded by his great- great-grandfather Samuel Pruyn in 1865 and sold in 2007. Lapham donated more than half a million dollars of his income in the 1980s and 1990s to nonprofit organizations doing community organizing and social change work.
Lapham inherited a passion for economic and social justice from his parents, who were active in civil rights and economic justice efforts. Following college, he spent 10 years developing afford- able housing in both the private and public sectors. As a housing specialist at Mintz Levin law firm in Boston, Lapham gained experience in the financial and legal aspects of housing development, becoming a statewide expert in use of the Comprehensive Permit Law to build mixed-income housing.
In 1990 Lapham joined the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department as a project manager, working with both for- and nonprofit developers, service providers, and neighborhood groups to create housing for people with AIDS, the homeless, and the mentally ill. He became the city’s AIDS housing project man- ager, leading the campaign to develop 500 units of AIDS housing in Boston. His six years of working for the city provided insight on the importance of public programs as well as the challenge of working in the public sector, where expectations are high but resources are limited.
In 1997 Lapham co-founded and became the founding director of the Responsible Wealth project at United for a Fair Economy. Thanks to the support of his colleagues at UFE and the dedicated members of Responsible Wealth around the country, the project continues to thrive. Lapham is regularly interviewed for regional and national print publications and is a frequent guest commentator on CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, and various radio programs.
Lapham rides his bike to work year-round on public roads, bike paths, and bike lanes and is an avid squash player. He lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, with his wife, Amanda, and their three young children.