Michael Joseph was known for childhood antics. At the age of five, he hid under church pews to avoid worship. When he was 11, he defied his parent’s rules for bicycle riding. Joseph was struck by a car, lived to tell the story but his mother called him stubborn.
The 38-year-old Little Haiti native matured, learned to serve others through public service and dreams big.
Joseph is a graduate of Miami Edison Senior High School, an inaugural member of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence program, a Thurgood Marshall law fellow and group seven commissioner of North Miami Beach. He is an attorney who champions civil rights and land use cases at the law firm of Galbut Waters and Associates.
“I come from very humble beginnings and two parents who are Haitian immigrants,” Joseph told The Miami Times Feb. 20.
“My dad was a custodian and my mother worked tirelessly as a housekeeper at a motel, but me and my sister were never hungry, despite their meager pay. Our parents always provided and instilled hope.”
Sustaining family values is the bedrock of his existence.
“In the summer of 2007, I was scheduled to enroll in law school at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Joseph. “Right before I was supposed to leave, my dad got sick with pneumonia and was hospitalized for several months. I had to make a decision of going to Pitt or staying in Miami to take care of my parents. I chose to stay.”
That decision didn’t cause Joseph’s dreams to falter. He rebounded and enrolled at St. Thomas University school of law. In 2010, Joseph earned a juris doctorate and walked into his destiny.
“Dr. Laurinus Pierre gave a young kid fresh out of law school his first big break in civil rights litigation,” said Joseph. “In 2011, the doctor sued the city of Miramar for wrongful arrest by the police. I represented him and reached a successful settlement.”
In 2018, Commissioner Marlen Martell left the North Miami Beach group seven seat to become city manager for North Bay Village. Joseph was elected and took the helm.
“One of my first priorities in office was to meet the 80 or so North Miami Beach public works employees,” said Joseph.
“When we met, I got emotional and cried because they wore the same uniform as my dad and do the hard work of keeping the city clean. I understood where these men and women come from, and I’ll never forget where I come from.”
Joseph serves as the commission liaison for the code enforcement board, public utilities commission, and the education committee. He heard the pleas of seniors who couldn’t afford their water bills and acted.
“On Sept. 17, my proposal to restore quarterly billing by NMB Water was approved and adopted,” said Joseph.
“This was exciting news and means water bills will effectively decrease throughout the year. The vote lifted a burden for nearly 200,000 customers in Miami Gar- dens, Aventura, Sunny Isles, and throughout North-Dade whose bills were three or four times that amount.”
Joseph has been married to wife Asia for five years. The couple lives where Joseph serves in the Sunray West neighborhood. In 2017, they welcomed their first child, Alexander. When Joseph speaks of his son, he applies lessons from his own lineage and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“My dreams for Alex are that he will have immeasurable resources that me and my father didn’t have and the liberty to become a change agent in his own right,” said Joseph. “A dreamer of the next generation is someone who pushes the envelope, takes it to the next level and appreciates risk. Dr. King changed the world by seeing what is not possible and making it possible. He said, if not now, when, and if not me, who?”