GIRDWOOD: {research and leadership}

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John Girdwood is currently completing his PhD in Sociology at Michigan State University on Poverty and Work in America. His dissertation was rooted in the “Can Man” identity and role familiar at college football tailgates and public sporting events. After realizing the “Can Man” was often a homeless individual, Girdwood took his study to the homeless shelters, centers, and missions nearby and performed an embedded ethnography for six weeks. He slept undercover in a homeless shelter to gather qualitative data that would later be analyzed in his study.

As of 2014, Girdwood has published two books: “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Sociology Remix.” He also produced a full length documentary film “Our Dreams” and its accompanying soundtrack. He volunteers as the Executive Director for the OMIA Foundation, a local organization that gives scholarships to youth.

Current Projects

Administrative Fellow at the CMU College of Medicine: Sit on executive and quality improvement committees to bridge the gap between administration and practice; Project collaboration to implement organizational integration across wide spectrum of service lines and coverage area

Educational Bio

Received a Master’s of Science in Administration with a focus on Non-Profit Leadership from Central Michigan University; Thesis research covered access, knowledge, and enrollment rates of public benefits programs; Currently writing a dissertation on structural inequalities to fulfill the requirements of a doctorate in Sociology at Michigan State University (Go Green!)

Girdwood is also a novice web designer. He has developed websites for the American Sociological Association (Family Section), Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice, the OMIA Foundation, Elder Law of Michigan, and many other organizations. This website is an example of Girdwood’s work. He even stylized the Twitter feed above by inserting the following code into the CSS:


Location: Michigan, USA

Industries: Academia and Health Care

Objective: Improve Everything

Interests: MSU Football season ticket holder for many years; avid gardener; philanthropy; and I make films

Click here for my Google+ PageSOCIOLOGYpodcast

Click here to view my dissertation website

Awards, Honors, and Memberships:

  • American College of Healthcare Executives
  • American Sociological Association
  • OMIA Foundation, Board Member

Teaching Experience:

  • Michigan State University
  • University of Michigan (Flint)
  • Saginaw Valley State University
  • Adrian College
  • Delta College
  • Alma College

ASA Section Memberships and Interests:

  • Family
  • Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility
  • Medical Sociology
  • Sociological Practice & Public Sociology

Documentary Film Producer: OUR DREAMS

CLICK HERE to purchase on Amazon or watch for free on YouTube

What’s the film about?

It started with a single research question: Are sports a viable career option for youth living in a post-industrial city?

John Girdwood interviewed athletes all over Michigan to hear perspectives on the viability of pro sports as an occupational aspiration. With more leagues overseas and a growing group from Flint who are finding success there, is it something youth can aspire to? At the same time, there are less factory jobs available. The film “OUR DREAMS” looks at sports careers for youth in post-industrialized cities.

CLICK HERE to read more about the film on IMDb.com

Health Care Leadership: View Profile

For the past six years, I’ve held progressively responsible leadership positions in healthcare with an additional passion for helping students realize positive outcomes through academic study while moonlighting as a college professor. The Central Michigan University College of Medicine Fellowship has combined my experiences into an opportunity for making the greatest impact.

Key Accomplishments

John Girdwood

  • 2-year implementation of paperless record keeping system to track unpaid labor cost-savings averaging close to $500,000 annually
  • Initiated several projects to stimulate growth through fund development including partnerships with the Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Michigan State University, and the Buick Open (PGA)
  • Participate in Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement team that originates concepts that gain board approval
  • Played vital role in launching Hospice Foundation, assisting Vice President in sustainability plan for $300,000 endowment
  • Positioned subsidiary volunteer program into corporate 2012 integration focus
  • Appointed 3 individuals to Board of Directors for McLaren Homecare Group, a $90 million annual revenue healthcare non-profit

Appearance on ABC 12

Non-Profit Management

The OMIA Foundation was incorporated in 2007 while I was taking masters classes at Central Michigan University. I believe in pragmatic learning, so I performed an exercise in non-profit administration byactually going through with forming a 501c3 organization. At first, I personally funded an effort to get more music into classrooms. I would take my guitar and play music for preK-12 classrooms and bring a lesson along with the music. It was fun, but other professional obligations pulled me in another direction. That’s when we turned the OMIA Foundation into a scholarship source.” – John Girdwood, Executive Director

Social Media

Learn more about John Girdwood on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, IMDB, Amazon, or searching for him on Google. Consider donating to the causes that John supports, especially the OMIA Foundation. View lectures by John on YouTube or search for his Podcast on iTunes. The “Our Dreams” soundtrack is also available through Amazon or the Google Play store.