William “Bill” Michaelis

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San Francisco

San francisco state university, professor emeritus

Founder of the CalSAC Trainer Network | 1996-1998


Dr. Bill Michaelis is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at San Francisco State University.  With Ezra Holland, he is also the co-owner of Children-Together.com, an international play event and leadership training organization.  Over the past 40 years, Bill has presented over 2,000 fun-filled, thought-provoking workshops, events and keynote speeches around the world to clientele as diverse as Paramount Pictures and the government of Austria. Bill is a strong advocate for the power of play:  He has written, taught and consulted extensively in the area of play and its applications to creativity, learning development, self-esteem, and healthy living for all age groups.  

Bill was also there at the beginning of the afterschool movement and at the beginning of CalSAC almost 30 years ago: “In the beginning we realized that there was a need in the community for more diverse after school care and the parks & rec programs couldn’t meet the need alone. We believed in investing in training – we saw it as the best proactive tool we had for building quality afterschool programs.  When running programs in Richmond and in Southern California, I always made sure the training line item didn’t get cut from my budget because training is what keeps problems from happening and helps build positive youth development.”

Looking at the OST field in the present day, Bill sees a ton of potential:  “I love to see the next generation coming forward to take leadership.  I remember Simon Lee when he was a youth leader in my workshop.  He later served as CalSAC’s Board President and was the Executive Director of GLO afterschool program.  He just kept working his way up until he was running the organization.  I love to watch that development happen.” 

Bill is humbled to see that these new leaders are maintaining the legacy of afterschool and making it even better. He warns that we must be careful to not let the work deviate too far from its original intent, or young people won’t be getting all their needs met: “There are so many great programs in the field: STEM, English learners support, etc…but we must be sure that afterschool never equals more school.  This doesn’t mean we can’t do homework help and other educational programs, but we have to keep it fun – we have to model playful leadership.  If kids feel hammered in school and then they feel hammered in afterschool, they won’t follow the program, they won’t grow and they won’t get what they need.”


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“Play keeps kids motivated – and not just the superstars.  It creates a place for everyone to have value and helps kids to explore new aspects of themselves.”