Fatherhood motivates Birthline’s new executive director

Michael Stalboerger joined Birthline Inc. of St. Cloud May 16 as its new executive director. The Christian-based organization provides education, mentoring, support services and referrals to those affected by an unintended or crisis pregnancy.

Family is what drives Stalboerger, who lives in Cold Spring with his wife, Mandy, and their two children Noah, 6, and Peyton, 4. Noah is just finishing kindergarten and Peyton goes to preschool at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Richmond, where Mandy attended as a child.

“Once I became a father, I knew that was the role I was designed to play,” Stalboerger said. “So everything I do is with my kids in mind. They are my motivation. I want to do what I can to help further Birthline to grow and expand so that individuals have the information and support needed to become the parent they were designed to be.”

Michael Stalboerger joined Birthline as executive director May 16. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor
Michael Stalboerger joined Birthline as executive director May 16. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

Stalboerger, who grew up on a dairy farm in Central Minnesota, brings to the organization a strong work ethic and long history of social and human service experience in the non-profit sector.

“I have always had a desire to help improve others’ well-being,” he said. “What really got me excited about this organization is the fact that Birthline invests in individuals, invests in people and tries to improve their lives by providing support and educational services.”

The majority of his background is in substance abuse and mental health counseling, beginning his professional career at the Catholic Charities St. Cloud Children’s Home in the early 2000s after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Most recently, Stalboerger worked as program coordinator for the Community Adult Mental Health Initiative, a four-county collaborative that includes Stearns, Benton, Sherburne and Wright counties, where he provided advisory and leadership services.

The search

Elisa Schneider, a member of the search committee for the new executive director, said when they received former executive director Carrie Tripp’s resignation a few months ago, it was with “great sadness.”

“She had done a wonderful job,” Schneider said. “We had just completed a strategic plan and it identified that one of our greatest strengths was our executive director. So we needed to take some time to think about what that meant.”

In the meantime, Tammy Lindell, Birthline’s outreach and education director, stepped in as interim director.

“We are also grateful for the work Tammy has done in the last few months. She really stepped forward and kept things going,” Schneider said.

The search committee, which was comprised of board members and longtime supporters of Birthline, determined they needed someone with strong leadership skills who could be a community advocate for Birthline. So when they learned Stalboerger had just completed his master’s degree in organizational leadership through Gonzaga University, Schneider said that was very attractive.

“We also wanted someone with strong pro-life views, and Mike came to us with a strong passion for family and life issues,” she said. “The way in which Mike interacts with everyone, whether they are men, women, young or old, he has a genuine calmness and peacefulness. He is someone you feel you can trust. He’s authentic and that was just the icing on the cake.”

One of the concerns the board wanted to address is the fact that Stalboerger is male — the first one to serve the organization as its executive director.

Stalboerger said growing up with four sisters helped him to be more sensitive. He doesn’t see his gender as a detriment to the organization; in fact, he thinks it could benefit some of their programming.

“There are so many fathers out there that want to become more involved in their children’s lives,” he said. “Sometimes the chips are stacked against them, sometimes it’s self-imposed, which is understandable, but I’m hoping to explore ways to engage [them]. Anybody can be a father, but it takes a special someone to be a dad. So if my being part of Birthline can help draw other fathers in, that’s an added benefit.”

He’s also aware that his presence as a man might be threatening to clients who have been victims of violence or abuse.

“I’m very aware of that and I’m exploring some additional training opportunities for myself to make sure I have a holistic viewpoint and to try to counteract that,” he said. “I hope that as people get to know me, they will see that I live my life by being authentic and transparent. I’m also a big fan of going against societal roles of what males are supposed to be and just try myself to be a better human and have that come across in my demeanor. But I am very aware of who might be on the other side every time that door opens.”

Stalboerger wants to work as a team at Birthline. He attended college on a baseball scholarship, and the “team” philosophy is in his blood, he said. Although it’s still early, Stalboerger said he can already tell the Birthline team is phenomenal.

“I’m just excited to be another piece of the puzzle that is Birthline with the support of the team and the board of directors,” he said. “With my professional experience, I’m excited to expand our services. We just received a larger grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, which is very positive for us, so we can serve more clients. With great things that are provided, great things are expected, and that’s what I hope to work toward.”

For more information about Birthline, call 320-252-4150, visit online at www.birthline.org or on Facebook and Twitter.

Author: Kristi Anderson

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