Alumni Spotlight: Michael Goodman (’04)

Rev. Michael Goodman, MDiv MPH DrPH, graduated from Campbell University with a Major in Religion and Philosophy in 2004. His time at Campbell provided a rich setting to explore life values, commitment, meaning and calling within a nurturing and thoughtful Christian environment that has continued to feed his life commitments and passions. After graduating from Campbell, Dr. Goodman continued his theological training at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Responding to a call he heard as an undergraduate student at Campbell, Dr. Goodman travelled to Malawi with his wife (Lauren Raimer, a pediatrician) to work in the response to children living with HIV in southern Africa in 2009. He there encountered the harsh reality that some mothers had to decide whether to expose their children to HIV-virally infected breastmilk or unsafe drinking water – asking whether they’d prefer to risk their children’s lives to HIV or diarrheal illness. This prompted Dr. Goodman to return to the United States and earn master and doctoral degrees in public health at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

Dr. Goodman is the founding president and executive director of a non-profit organization, Sodzo International, that aims to improve the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable children. This organization works with children who live on the streets of Kenya – helping them to find their way back to community life, developing to their fullest potential. To date, this organization has helped over 300 children find their way off the streets and back into community life – attending school, contributing to the economy, starting families, and leading other children to actualize their God-given potential. This organization also started an innovative program to improve the capacity of communities and families to care for their children, blending group-led microfinance, social cohesion, education, and health promotion. This program convenes over 6,500 families weekly to empower themselves and create sustainable transformation in their communities. Dr. Goodman is also an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is fully funded by the National Institutes of Health currently to adapt this program to families living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya with the hope of reducing family violence, improving mental health and clinical outcomes. Dr. Goodman has been first-author on over 30 peer-reviewed publications related to this work, and has begun leading the adaptation of these programs to the United States context with communities in low-income housing. He served as chief liaison between the county health district and medical students volunteering over 5,000 hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is happiest in the presence of his wife and two children (ages 10 and 8).