Michael Rysavy

Michael Rysavy Sr. Project Manager

“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I learned from a formative age the importance of safe and equitable spaces. Focusing my efforts on directing resources to the most vulnerable in all communities and amplifying their voices is something I feel very strongly about, and I want to lend my skill sets to that effort in any way I can. ”

I’ve always considered myself to be a collection of eclectic (and oftentimes conflicting) experiences. Not to get all philosophical, but that has imbued me with a strong sense of adaptability while remaining true to myself and my values. It’s a skill that easily could have taken my entire life to really learn, but now I get to use it daily. I think that really drives and informs my passion for DEI+B. 

My professional career has been a patchwork of roles that all (at least in my head) quilt together, allowing me to approach challenges from many perspectives. I have been at various chapters of my life: a student, an artist (and barista), a salesperson, a photo retoucher, a commercial printer, a manufacturing assistant, a supply chain analyst … you get the idea – I’ve worn a lot of hats, and I’ve met a lot of very different people who live their lives in equally different ways.

Through that prism, I’ve tried to establish the foundations of my life. From my roots in rural South Dakota to changing majors in college and trying on different careers, all the way to where I am now – managing projects (and personalities) in the frenetic whirlwind of the advertising industry. It hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Q+A with Michael Rysavy

PeopleOfBarkley Art DEIB 1


What is one thing you can’t live without?

Absolutely my friends and chosen family. The people that genuinely make my life better just by being there. Honorable mention to my cat Nancy.

What is one thing about you that most people at work don’t know?

Here at Barkley, I bet a lot of people don’t know that I have an educational background in traditional film photography. I used to shoot with large format field cameras down to little plastic 120mm holgas. It’s a dying art form in the age of digital imagery, but there’s something really nice about the manual process and having something tactile at the end.  

What's an unpopular opinion you feel strongly about?

Pineapple and coconut are disgusting. And together? It’s a no for me, but you do you. Live your tropical fantasy. 

Life without social media or life without music? 

I can live without TikTok (probably), but music? Not a chance. It helps me unpack emotions, provides a soundtrack for my day-to-day, and overall helps me navigate the world and see different perspectives. 

Do you believe in aliens?

I think it’s pretty self-aggrandizing to assume we’re the only life in the universe. Especially when we barely understand the mechanics that hold the universe together. That said, I think there’s some truth to thinking maybe it’s for the best that we don’t know for sure.

Why do you serve on the DEI+B Advisory Council?

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I learned from a formative age the importance of safe and equitable spaces. Focusing my efforts on directing resources to the most vulnerable in all communities and amplifying their voices is something I feel very strongly about, and I want to lend my skill sets to that effort in any way I can. 

On a personal level, I came into my professional career not seeing many people in positions of leadership and influence that were openly queer. Representation matters and broadens our perceptions of what is possible to achieve. If I can be that person to someone else, they can dream even bigger. 

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