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Michael Clausen: Monthly Staff Spotlight

CQL is excited to continue our Monthly Staff Spotlight series in 2023. This offers an opportunity for you to get to know our team even better! We’ve asked the staff member a series of questions about their history, background, experiences with CQL, as well as some information about them personally. In January 2023, we’re featuring Michael Clausen, CQL’s Director of Personal Outcomes.

What is your position at CQL and what does that role encompass?

I am the Director of Personal Outcomes. This is a new role for me at CQL. In this role, I am responsible for all things Personal Outcome Measures®. Additionally, I work on projects, supervising and hiring staff, other types of training activities, and more sporadically now, accreditation.

Why did you decide to get involved in the human services field?

I feel like the human services field found me. I have family members with disabilities and have relatives who have worked in the field. I took a job as a Direct Support Professional with a local service provider during college and have been in the field ever since: nearly my entire adult life. Many people say they work in this field because it is rewarding and you can make a real difference in people’s lives. I would agree with that and would add that the opportunity to share experiences with people was something that I was particularly drawn to: Celebrating together, going places together, and sometimes grieving together. While I no longer support people directly, the opportunity to innovate is the thing that has kept me in the field for all of these years. In our field, there is real opportunity for people who are willing to think differently and be creative.

Right now especially, those who are willing to embrace new ideas for service delivery will emerge as
leaders. Significant challenges are often a catalyst for meaningful change, and there are so many
exciting things happening in our field: The embrace of community-based employment, (real) person-centeredness, use of technology, and improved practices in staff development to name a few.

What is your professional history, background, and experience?

I began in this field as a Direct Support Professional. More so than any of my other previous experience, being a DSP has helped me to understand the unique challenges, how to best support people, and how to be a leader in this field. I worked as a Service Coordinator for six years, which really helped me to understand how everything in our field works (or sometimes, doesn’t work). I worked in quality and compliance, which allowed me to innovate on a more global level and during this time I developed a real passion for data.

In 2012, the organization I was working for made a commitment to CQL accreditation and the use of the Personal Outcome Measures®. At that time, I became a certified POM Trainer and helped to lead the organization through their first CQL accreditation. This was a major milestone for our organization and completely changed how I thought about service delivery. CQL held us to the standard that all organizations engaged with CQL are held to: Universal best practices and continuous quality improvement. I was hooked on the values, ideals and overall approach, and in 2015 was hired by CQL as a part-time Quality Enhancement Specialist.

In 2017 I became a full-time Quality Enhancement Specialist. I continue to serve as a volunteer Human Rights Committee member. I am also a 2019 graduate of the Developmental Disabilities Leadership Institute.

What are three skills you have that help you in your work?

  1. Versatility
  2. Creativity
  3. Passion for Data

Is there anything you would like to share about yourself personally?

I am a husband, brother, son, and father of eleven year old twins. I enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, canoeing, hiking, and disc golf. I have visited 45 states and 4 Canadian provinces. I live in the very northeastern-most corner of Upstate New York, nestled between Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains, and a short drive from Montreal, Canada.

CQL Lightning Round!

What is your favorite book?

Animal Farm by George Orwell. My wife has also helped me to develop a love for Russian literature. Especially Fyodor Dostoevsky.

If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?


What is your go to karaoke song?

With friends: Bohemian Rhapsody. My wife and I enjoy doing a duet of Mecca by Gene Pitney. Unfortunately, this song is so obscure that most karaoke DJs don’t have it in their catalog.

What is one trick you use to stay productive?

I do everything I can to be more efficient. I love work, but hate doing things twice or doing things that are redundant. In recent years, cloud computing and the ability to have everything stored in a central location and accessible from any device has been a game changer.

What is one item you can’t leave home without?

My iPhone. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with technology and do enjoy being in the woods in a remote location with no cell phone service.

What is the first concert you ever attended?

When I was 15, The Grateful Dead played what turned out to be one of their last few shows about 30 minutes from where I lived. Me and a few friends skipped school and went to the concert. This was quite an experience for a 15 year old!

What is one city that you would like to visit?

Marrakech, Morocco

What is your favorite TV show?

The Simpsons

Do you have a secret talent?

Not really a secret – I enjoy working with my hands. Building things, fixing things, and unfortunately sometimes making things even more broken. If there is a DIY video on YouTube, I’m usually willing to give it a try.

What actor would you want to portray you in a movie about your life?

Keanu Reeves

What was your first job?

When I was in high school, I worked as a part-time dishwasher at a nursing home. I don’t think I lasted very long. I would come home every day covered in pureed carrots.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Professional musician. I still play a bit of guitar and drums, but am probably the least talented musician in my family so I’m glad the Human Services thing worked out.

What instruments do you play?

Guitar and drums. I was gifted a ukulele for my birthday so am learning that too. I also have a banjo that I want to learn at some point.

What is one song that you are kind of embarrassed you like?

Nothing I listen to really embarrasses me but sometimes people are surprised by how eclectic my musical tastes are. I like lots of different styles of music: rock, metal, classical, county, hip hop. I really love music from other cultures and other languages as well. There is so much great music all over the world and I think if you limit yourself only to music in the English language, you are really missing out!

If you could only eat one food for a full week, what would it be?

Pizza! I think you can have all of the different food groups in one pizza, and there are so many different types and varieties.

What is your favorite food?

I don’t have a favorite food, but if I am choosing the restaurant it will probably be something Asian. Either Thai or Vietnamese.

What is one song you have completely memorized?

I could sing (poorly) just about any song by my favorite band, The Pixies.

What is your favorite hobby?

Disc golf

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About CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.