Meet Mike Donahue

Mike Donahue is a youth specialist, author, speaker, and podcast host who has been speaking to and mentoring young people for over three decades.

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My name is Mike Donahue, and I created this website with the desire to connect with people who have gone through similar trauma that I have experienced in my life.

When I look at the road I’ve traveled, I sometimes can’t believe all the crazy things that have happened to me. It’s been a wild ride that includes speaking in live settings to over 2 million people: writing five books and sharing stages with prominent figures like the Secretary of Education under Barack Obama and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell. I’ve been lucky enough to speak in high schools in every state and 10 different countries, have been invited to speak in several schools after the trauma of school shootings, including Parkland, FL, and two of the students who were killed in the Columbine tragedy attended the youth group that I led in Denver, Colorado. I worked for Congressman Tom Osborne—after he led the Cornhuskers to three national championships—on student leadership initiatives in Nebraska. Several state Governors have called on my company to help with school culture issues after a crisis. A friend and I once sat with Katie Couric over a glass of wine for two hours in NYC and I had dinner in the house of Michael Flaherty, the founder of Walden Media, the company that created the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Yet, before the public speaking and the advocacy, long before chatting with Katie Couric, I endured the kind of personal betrayals that leave deep, unseen wounds. During my junior and senior years of high school, I lived in my own apartment, the culmination of escaping years of mental and physical abuse from my mom. My house burned down when I was 14. I was stabbed by my mother and molested in my teen years by two different men. I was involved in a Christian cult for ten 10 years, I worked for a televangelist for three years and I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, which prior to 2004 brought some of the most traumatic experiences in my life.

My life experiences tell the tale of how a lack of true love in my childhood created an emotional vacuum and made me susceptible to the allure of the word “love.” It’s also an examination of our very human need for validation, the lengths we’ll go to achieve it, and how the absence of love and validation leave us vulnerable to the allure of those who would groom us in order to exploit and control us. I have seen multiple sides of that dynamic—I’ve felt its presence as long as I can remember. Through podcasts, blogs, books, and live settings, let me offer up my own story of missteps and moments of clarity, in the hope that it can help you wherever you are.

Resources for Students from Mike Donahue

“When I started speaking in schools in 2001 shortly after the Columbine massacre, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of social anxiety and pain that teenagers are experiencing in schools. Social media has thrown gas on the fire, so today it’s even more critical that we are providing real answers to the questions young people are asking.”

— Mike Donahue